Cowboy Beans – Frijoles Charros Instant Pot

cowboy beans frijoles charros instant pot

Classic Slow Cooked Frijoles Charros done in the Instant Pot


  • 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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