cowboy beans frijoles charros instant pot

Cowboy Beans Frijoles Charros Instant Pot

When I lived in the Southwest, I used to miss “Baked Beans.” It seemed that anytime I ate out and ordered beans as a side, they were either Cowboy Beans Frijoles Charros or some kind of Barbecued Baked Beans. Now that I’m in the Midwest, I miss those Cowboy Beans. Go figure, huh? Not anymore, though!

cowboy beans frijoles charros instant pot

Frijoles Charros or Cowboy Beans

When you think of Cowboy Beans Frijoles Charros, think of tender, slightly smoky beans flavored with bacon and onion and something with a bit of a kick. Yep, I’m going there again: a little poblano pepper, a little jalapeno or serrano. They’re saucy and sassy at the same time.

About Cowboy Beans Frijoles Charros:

Cowboy Beans Frijoles Charros is a traditional Mexican Dish, named after the Mexican Cowboys, the Charros. They are almost a stew of pintos, onion, garlic, and bacon and can include chiles, cilantro, tomatoes, along with ham, sausage, pork or chorizo.

Serve Frijoles Charros as a main dish (maybe cornbread or tortillas on the side) or as a side for any Southwestern or Tex Mex or Mexican food. They’re great just slopped in a tortilla and rolled up as a quick burrito, by themselves, maybe with rice or any other filling you’d like along with the beans. These aren’t a copycat Chipotle recipe (they are sooo much better) but can be used in a burrito just like Chipotle’s beans. Maybe in the Copycat Chipotle Chicken Burrito recipe, below. I’ve given you several links as options that go great with Frijoles Charros.

I adapted this recipe for the Instant Pot from a recipe developed by J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats. At first I was a bit taken aback by his use of canned fire-roasted tomatoes in what is normally a very simple, traditional dish. I threw caution to the wind (mostly because I didn’t feel much like charring and peeling my own poblanos, tomatoes, and onions in 90-degree heat) and tossed in Rotel. It was the right call.

cowboy beans frijoles charros instant pot

Frijoles Charros or Cowboy Beans

About Cooking Cowboy Beans Frijoles Charros in the Instant Pot:

Beans are known to be a bit of a pain to cook. There is the soaking and the waiting and long hours of cooking. And traditional cooking methods tend to have a lot of stirring or watching when made stovetop or in the oven.

The pressure cooker comes to the rescue. A few minutes for a quick soak, then the ingredients are dumped in. While it can take a good bit of time to cook beans, even in the pressure cooker, what you don’t need to worry about is babysitting. You don’t need to stir, you don’t need to check them, and you don’t have to worry about them drying out or scorching.

About Eating any Beans, including Cowboy Beans Frijoles Charros:

The poor bean. It has a reputation. The unmentionable one. There are ways to mitigate that including eating more beans! Soaking and rinsing helps with that, too. Beans are so healthy and so full of good things (see what the World’s Healthiest Foods has to say about the Pinto) that they are well worth spending a little time getting comfy with them. Beans and rice are also, combined, an excellent source of protein, and you’ll see beans and rice served together in many cultures throughout the world.

cowboy beans frijoles charros instant pot

Frijoles Charros Cowboy Beans


Cowboy Beans – Frijoles Charros Instant Pot

Classic Slow Cooked Frijoles Charros done in the Instant Pot

  • Author: only slightly adapted from Serious Eats
  • Total Time: 1 hr 15 minutes + soak
  • Yield: 8 to 12 servings 1x


  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 12 ounces diced bacon
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 to 3 serrano chilis, minced (remove ribs and seeds if you prefer less heat) may use the milder jalapeno if desired
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 14 ounce cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes with juice or 2 cans Rotel, with juice
  • 4 cups home-made or low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke, optional
  • 2 sprigs (about 1 teaspoon dried) epazote, optional, substitute with 1/2 teaspoon dried (preferably Mexican) oregano
  • large handful of chopped fresh cilantro, optional


Presoak beans:

Sort through beans, removing any stones or dirt, rinse well. Add to Instant Pot along with 2 teaspoons salt and 8 cups water. Set to saute (high) and bring to a boil. Immediately place on lid and lock, use the manual function to set to high pressure and two minutes of time.

When time is up, allow to go to the keep warm function for 10 minutes. Release any remaining pressure in short bursts but watch the valve. If any foam or bits of beans come out, stop immediately (the valve may clog) wait about 10 minutes and release any remaining pressure, again in short bursts.

Drain beans and rinse well. Rinse the Instant Pot liner, along with the lid if there is bean residue or foam on it.

For the Cowboy Beans:

Replace the liner and set Instant Pot to Saute (high) and add bacon, stirring until the fat is rendered and it is starting to brown around the edges, about five minutes. Add the onions and chilis and cook, stirring, until softened and starting to brown, about four minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the tomatoes or Rotel and cook, stirring up and brown bits.

Add in beans, stock, bay leaves, salt, epazote, if using, or oregano. Replace the lid and set to the Bean setting (high, 30 minutes.) When time is up, allow to go to the warm function and sit for 10 minutes. Release any remaining pressure manually, again watching for any foam from the valve.

Taste and add liquid smoke and season if necessary, discard bay leaves. To slightly thicken beans, stir gently. Add cilantro if desired.

Keeps refrigerated for one week, may be frozen.

Note: the two cans of Rotel, combined, had one cup of liquid. If making any substitutions, make sure that there is a cup of liquid, if not make up the difference with broth or water.

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I’ll be posting this recipe on Fiesta Friday number 179, hosted by Angie and co-hosted by Petra @ Food Eat Love and Laura @ Feast Wisely.Be sure to stop by Fiesta Friday and Petra and Laura’s blogs and see what everyone is making this week.

If you like Cowboy Beans, Frijoles Charros, you might also like:

Cowboy Beans Frijoles Charros (Instant Pot) is a traditional Mexican Dish, named after the Mexican Cowboys, the Charros. Serve them just like pintos or add them to burritos & bowls #CowboyBeans #FrijolesCharrosInstantPot

33 thoughts on “Cowboy Beans Frijoles Charros Instant Pot

  1. Michelle Toftely

    I have made this twice now and it’s super! I like Serious Eats too for the science and perfect techniques, but I need to get dinner on the table and this was perfect! Thanks for a wonderful recipe!!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Michelle! I love them too! I almost felt when they came on the scene that they are so good that any food bloggers like me almost became redundant!! But I love cooking and sharing and hope I still have something to offer, whether the recipe is totally mine or tweaked a bit like this one! Thanks for commenting!! Last time we made this we took some of the leftovers, rolled them up wiht grated cheese and made kind of our own version of those old Taco Bell cheesoritos!! Messy but fabulous!

  2. Michelle


    This is my first recipe from your site and it’s very good! I made it just as written except I had some heirloom beans instead of regular Pinto. Because of this I only pressure cooked them for 15 minutes but they were perfect! I was already making ribs on the grill and I didn’t want to heat up the kitchen by cooking a pot of beans on the stove. Instant pots are awesome!
    Thanks for a super recipe.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Michelle – lucky you to have heirloom beans and its nice you left the timing for them in case anyone else needs it! This would be so perfect with ribs! And yup, I think the IP rocks, too! I love that I can make all kinds of things that I would have to put off until I had plenty of time, pretty much whenever i want to!

  3. Valerie M.

    This is an older post – but hoping for a response. If you have time and DO pre-soak your beans overnight, can you eliminate the pre-soak part of this recipe? Or is an overnight pre-soak not recommended?

  4. Great idea to use the flavored canned tomatoes Mollie! And all that bacon!! They’ve got to taste great!! You have been really busy cooking!! How’s your summer going? xo

  5. petra08

    My American friend (who lives down the road) made home made baked beans for 4th July and I couldn’t stop eating them. Your version looks very similar and sounds delicious 🙂

    • I love cooking beans in any pressure cooker – I’ve made them a lot in my stovetop pressure cooker but this was the first go with the insta pot and they were just perfect. 🙂 I’m with you about the sugar, too, although every once in awhile I’ll do a recipe like that – I’d rather save my carbs for some delish dessert!

  6. Oooh yum, I love these kind of beans.I make a big ol’ pot of pinto beans with onions and jalapenos every single morning for my cart. People seem to LOVE them! I make a very similar version of these (not for my cart) and add a can of beer to them to make Borracho Beans (Drunken Beans). All good. Beans are great, Mollie!

  7. Pingback: Cowboy Beans – Frijoles Charros Instant Pot | My Meals are on Wheels

    • I am not quite sure if I would have bought the instant pot if I weren’t at my folk’s so much, but I’m glad I did. I’ve only had it for a few months so I’m still in the learning stages on some of it! It sure has rescued dinner a few times for me with the way it cooks up frozen chicken so fast…

      Amazon prime day is tomorrow and they usually have a good deal on instant pots from what I hear.

  8. I literally JUST went on a diatribe at the dinner table about how much I love beans, like Bubba from Forrest Gump said with shrimp, and cowboy beans made my list. Yum! Yours look so good!

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