Mexican Pinto Bean Spice

Pinto Bean Spice

My favorite way to cook pinto beans is with a ham hock or some bacon, maybe a little broth, but that’s because I just love the flavors of Mexican beans just as they are. They’re like a delicious foil for everything else that probably IS spicy on my plate. But everyone I know seems to like to spice up their beans, so I’ve come up with this fun Mexican Pinto Bean Spice.

Mexican Pinto Bean Spice

Mexican Pinto Bean Spice

I think I first came across Mexican Pinto Bean Spice on Amazon of all places. And people just raved about it. So I started experimenting on my pintos as I cooked them, especially when I make my “Doctored Up” Restaurant Style Refried Beans. Am I completely won over to the spicy side? Maybe not totally, but I do have to say this Mexican Pinto Bean Spice is a little magical and has a place on my kitchen shelf. And it’s not just for Pintos, anymore!

About Pinto Bean Spice:

I think you’re going to love this little spice – and yes, I use it in my Spicy Pinto Beans Instant Pot or Stovetop, canned pintos, and refried beans, but I’m also finding myself sprinkling this in all kinds of Mexican or Southwestern dishes. It’s a great little shortcut to get more flavor on the table with very little effort.

This simple little spice relies on what you probably have already in your kitchen cabinet, or at the very least, what you can get at the store. What you have here are classic spices used when cooking Mexican and Southwestern food.

I mixed this up so that you won’t have to do any dicing or sauteeing of onions or garlic or anything else when making your pintos or refried beans, whether they are made from scratch dried pintos, pintos from a can or refried beans from a can. Just drop this magical Mexican Pinto Bean Spice by the tablespoon or teaspoon full, as much or as little as you’d like. Done.

Mexican Pinto Bean Spice

Mexican Pinto Bean Spice

Making Pinto Bean Spice:

There’s really not too much to making up your own Mexican Pinto Bean Spice, especially if you have access to different Chili Powders – if not, no worries. I’ve given a workaround. Play with this spice as much as you’d like, adjusting amounts or maybe adding to. Here’s the run-down:

  • There’s good ol’ chicken broth, the powdered stuff (from Mexico if you want) for that kind of rich background note. Add a ham/pork stock powder if you have it or want it, instead. And you don’t have to use the powder if you don’t want to. You can leave it out and cook with your own broth. You might need a bit of salt since I didn’t add any salt into my mix – that powdered broth of any kind is pretty salty.
  • Then there’s the enormous amount of onion powder – that’s because it takes a lot of onion powder to make up for one diced and sauteed onion. The garlic powder is a bit more concentrated so you don’t need quite as much.
  • As for the chili powder, add a basic store chili powder to your mix, which is a blend of a lot of things, or even better, add a single chili powder. Ancho, guajillo or another choice (not too hot of a chili, though, unless you’re into the burn!) You can always doctor this mix up with a little cayenne or chipotle powder, to taste.
  • If you don’t have access to chili powder, you can take whole dried chiles, toast them in a hot skillet, turning often, until they puff a bit. Let them cool, break them up taking out the seeds and removing the stems, then grind them in a spice grinder or blender.
  • For herbiness, there’s the Mexican (or regular) oregano or epazote, a classic Mexican addition to pintos. Epazote is said to have “magical” qualities (helps with any bloat, gas, etc.)
  • The paprika is there just for a bit of backbone, but the smoked paprika gives a special flavor. Use either, but don’t go for one of those hot paprikas because the flavor would be a bit out of place. Just what you can get at the grocery.
  • Last of all comes the cumin, the spice that adds the classic Mexican or Southwestern note. I put in just a little but I’m a little sensitive to cumin. Up that to as much as you’d like.
  • Other additions: If you’d like, you can add a little sugar or hotter spices like chipotle or cayenne or maybe red pepper flakes.

So there you go, all the classics to flavor your Pintos or Refrieds or any other Mexican dish you’d like to make, with probably what you have on hand anyway. Think of what a great shortcut this is!

Mexican Pinto Bean Spice

The Chicken Broth I use in Mexican Pinto Bean Spice

Saving Money on Pinto Bean Spice:

It’s difficult to price out a spice mix like Mexican Pinto Bean Spice because there are so many variables. What you do have over just buying one is total control over the ingredients, which is especially great if there are medical issues such as allergies or reasons to avoid salt. It’s also great to control the quality of ingredients and customize to your taste.

When you’re buying a spice mix that’s ready-made and there is salt on the ingredient list, especially if it’s high on the list, you’re paying a premium for one of the cheapest flavorings, ever. If a mix uses a powdered broth, you can bet, too, they’re using a cheap one. Well, I do, too, but mostly because I think that Knorr bullion brings a certain sumpin’ sumpin’ to the party. Stop by a Mexican market for some of your spices. You’ll be surprised at the low prices.

Most of the common ingredients can be bought in larger jars from your big box store and even some larger stores, which will save you some money. And even most of the more expensive spices can be bought there as well. So there you go –  go forth and spice! And if you want to use this Mexican Pinto Bean Spice on anything other than Pintos or Refrieds, just go right ahead. It’s like a little magic at your fingertips. If you’d like to see some of my other Spice Blends, check out my collection of Spice, Herb and Flavor Packet Substitutes.

Mexican Pinto Bean Spice

Mexican Pinto Bean Spice


Pinto Bean Spice

  • Author: mollie
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1/4 cup 1x
  • Category: Spices & Herb Blends
  • Cuisine: Mexican or Southwestern


  • 2 tablespoons of chicken broth powder or pork broth powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder (try a single chili powder)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 dried teaspoon oregano (preferably Mexican) or epazote
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or regular grocery store paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • may also add a teaspoon of sugar or brown and/or a little cayenne, chipotle or red pepper flakes


Mix all the ingredients together. Use a tablespoon or two for a pot of dried pinto beans or a teaspoon or so to a can of pinto beans or refried beans.

Makes about a quarter cup. Increase as desired.

Keywords: Dried Beans, Mexican or Southwestern, Mexican Pinto Bean Spice, pinto beans, Spice & Herb Blends

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag us — we can't wait to see what you've made!


I’ll be sharing Pinto Bean Spice at Fiesta Friday #237, hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens
I’m also linking to the Lazy Gastronome’s What’s for Dinner Sunday Link up party.

Mexican Pinto Bean Spice

28 thoughts on “Pinto Bean Spice

  1. Kalena

    Thanks for this info. It will be on my to do list! I have an aunt who is Mexican and my background has some Portuguese(Açorean) roots and both our fejão/frijole recipes both use similar ingredients to yours except for the addition of Bay Laurel(Bay leaves). Give it a try I think it adds even more authenticity to the beans!🤙🏽 Aloha!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Kalena, love your name by the way, So pretty! Thanks for the shout out and the hint. I was dressed down on Pinterest by a gentleman who was Mexican and who believed no spices should be added to Pintos (and I actually love them plain or with epazote best) so I read your comment with great interest! I had to look up Açorean and realized how little I know about Portugal, the islands, the history! I did know about the Pasteis de Nata which I love but that was about the extent of it! And how I came about having a Portugese Tart in Minneapolis, Minnesota is a whole nuther story, lol! But next time, yes I will try the Bay! Thanks for the hint and thanks for visiting!


  2. Lyn

    Since I use dried beans, do I use this spice after the beans are cooked or as they are simmering? This is definitely going in my spice drawer, either way.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Thanks, Katherine, good to hear! I have only heard of and seen photos of Anasazi Beans! I haven’t ever seen them in the stores out here in MN. How fun!! 🙂

  3. Beth Powell

    I like to buy my Mexican spices from a supermarket with a good Hispanic section like Walmart, Mainers, HEB or some local market with a great selection.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      That’s a great idea! In the twin cities, the selection varies by neighborhood in stores like that, too. I saw some Japanese Togarashi spice at a Walmart! You could have knocked me over with a feather!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Rusty, I did address in the narrative that you could use ham stock, but for some reason didn’t at it in as an option on the actual recipe; I’ll do that and thanks for noticing.For a long time, I couldn’t buy ham or pork seasoning where I live so chicken is always my “go to.” so either works very well. Have a great day!


    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Bryan, it’s just a chili powder made from one chile only, like ancho, guajillo, chipotle, for instance as opposed to regular old “Chili Powder” that you buy under that name which is a blend of various items, usually chiles, paprika, maybe oregano and other things, depending on the brand.

  4. helenfern

    I love making my own spice blends. This sounds like a perfect combination – Thanks for sharing at the What’s for Dinner party!

Hearing from you makes my day! Comment below.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.