Slow Cooker Charro Beans (Frijoles Charros)

These authentic Mexican charro beans, Frijoles Charros, are a classic Mexican pinto bean dish that is packed with flavor from a combination of bacon, jalapenos, onion, garlic, and spices. Easy to make and so delicious! Jump to Recipe

187 CALORIES 33g CARBS 7g FAT 16g PROTEIN
6 Green
2 Blue
2 Purple
MyWW® SmartPoints™ New!

These slow cooker charro beans are slightly spicy with the smoky taste of cumin and garlic in a tangy tomato sauce. They make the perfect side dish for any Mexican meal and also to switch things up for a cookout or BBQ!

Frijoles charros, meaning Cowboy beans, is a traditional Mexican bean dish usually made with bacon, ham hocks, and/or chorizo. It's infused with jalapenos, garlic, and onions to create a deep, deliciously rich flavor. It's an amazing side dish for Chile Verde, Beef Machaca, or Albondigas

They are a dish that my husband constantly searches for on menus all over town, and that until this batch, I couldn’t quite get right. However, I finally developed a recipe that is lightened up for me yet still reminds him of the beans he used to eat in Mexico City.

To lighten it up, I only used bacon (instead of three or more types of pork) and infused a lot of additional flavors with garlic, jalapenos, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and spices. These beans are stew-like and are delicious as a side dish or served over brown rice for yummy Mexican spin on rice and beans. They also taste amazing served alongside Carne Asada with fresh guacamole,  pico de gallo, and warm corn tortillas.

Frijoles charros with bacon, jalapeno peppers, onions, tomatoes, and pinto beans topped with fresh cilantro.

What You’ll Need for Charro Beans

Here is a bit more information about what I used to make these delicious slow cooker charro beans.

  • Pinto Beans: Since you are going to make this in the slow cooker, use dried pinto beans. You can also use kidney or black beans with it, but pintos will have the best taste and texture.
  • Onion: Any type of onion will work. Just make sure it is diced really small so that you aren't biting into large pieces of onion.
  • Jalapenos: These are optional, but I really suggest you add them. They give the beans wonderful heat! If you prefer a smoky heat, swap in some chipotle peppers canned in adobo.
  • Garlic: Mince some fresh garlic cloves - it will infuse the beans with the most flavor. You can always use garlic powder as a replacement in a pinch, but it won't have the same bold taste.
  • Tomatoes: Any type of chopped tomatoes will be perfect in this recipe. You can also use drained canned tomatoes.
  • Bacon: For the best taste, use thick-cut bacon that you fry until it is nice and crispy. You can also use ham or turkey bacon. Another option is crisping up some chorizo in a skillet and using that.
  • Bell Pepper: The bell pepper color isn't as important. I used green bell pepper, but you can use red or yellow instead.
  • Spices: For the spices, I used a combination of salt, cumin, and oregano. Bay leaves are also a great addition.
  • Broth: Either low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth is best in this recipe. If you don't use low-sodium broth, then just omit the added salt.
  • Garnish: Garnish with your favorite toppings - I used fresh cilantro. A scoop of pico de gallo is also delicious.

What To Serve With Cowboy Beans

Charro beans are traditionally served with all kinds of Mexican dishes from tacos to enchiladas to braised meats. Sometimes you will find them in a large pot at a taco stand where patrons can ladle out the beans on to their plates. Other times they are served almost like a soup as an appetizer with some tostada shells.  No matter how you serve them, these Mexican pinto beans truly taste great with anything. 

Recipe Tips And Ideas For Frijoles Charros

Follow these tips to make sure that the beans turn out smoky and perfect every single time!

  • Rinse and sort dried beans before you cook with them. This will help you catch any particles that might be in the bag of beans.
  • If you are trying to cut down on your salt intake, you can use less broth and more water. Then, just add more jalapenos, cumin, and oregano to boost the flavor.
  • Cover the beans with boiling water. If the water is boiling, you don't have to soak the beans overnight.
  • Use these beans to make refried beans. After they are fully cooked, mash them together and reheat them in a pan.

How to make charro beans on the stove top? Instant Pot?

For both of these recipes, start by soaking the pinto beans for about 8 hours in water.

  • Stovetop: Saute the bacon with onions, jalapenos, green peppers, garlic, tomatoes, and spices. Add the pinto beans and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook for about 2 hours or until the beans are creamy and tender. 
  • Instant Pot: Saute the bacon with onions, jalapenos, green peppers, garlic, tomatoes, and spices. Add the pinto beans and chicken broth. Cover the Instant Pot and turn it to 30 minutes. Then let the Instant Pot or pressure cooker naturally release before removing the lid. If you haven't soaked the beans, cook them for 50 minutes and let them fully naturally release.

Crockpot charro beans in a bowl with Mexican pinto beans, onions, jalapenos, and spices with a slow cooker on the side.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions I frequently get asked about by some readers…

How do I make these beans sweeter without adding extra calories?

Some types of baked beans have a sweet undertone to them. If you want to add a hint of sweetness, just add a little bit of honey to the beans. If the calories are a really big issue for you, you can use a brown sugar substitute instead.

How do you store leftover slow cooker charro beans?

The best way to store leftover charro beans is in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The beans will stay fresh for up to a week this way. Then, reheat the beans in the microwave or on the stovetop in a saucepan.

If you heat them in the microwave, cover the dish - they tend to splatter!

Can I use these beans in a taco?

I do not recommend using these in a taco. They have a thick sauce to them that will make your taco quite messy. These beans make a better side dish. If you want to use them as a taco filling, mix in some rice or quinoa. You could also drain off some of the broth. 

Can I use different types of beans instead of pinto?

Pinto beans really are the best kind to use in this recipe. If you want to use black beans or kidney beans, they will work too! The texture will be slightly different, but they will work.

Are charro beans and borracho beans the same thing?

Borracho beans and charro beans are very similar except that borracho beans are made with Mexican beer. Given that borracho means drunk in Spanish, it's no surprise that the secret ingredient of those beans is beer.

Can frijoles charros be made with canned pinto beans?

For a shortcut, start by sauteing the bacon with the onions, jalapenos, green peppers, garlic, and tomatoes. Once they are tender, add the canned pinto beans, spices, and about 1 cup of broth. Simmer for about 25 minutes for the flavors to deepen and combine. Then serve. 

Mexican Charro beans with bacon, tomatoes, onions, garlic, spices, and jalapeños in a bowl with a spoon,

More Delicious Slow Cooker Mexican Recipes You’ll Love:

The Recipe
Slow cooker frijoles charros, cowboy beans, in a bowl with creamy pinto beans, jalapenoes, tomatoes, onions, and fresh cilantro.

Slow Cooker Charro Beans (Frijoles Charros)

PREP TIME: 10 Min
COOK TIME: 8 Hours
TOTAL TIME: 8 Hours, 10 Min
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Ingredients

US METRICS
  • 1 lb dry pinto beans, rinsed and sorted
  • 1 U onion, diced
  • 2 U jalapenos, diced and seeded (or chipotle peppers)
  • 3 U garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 U tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 U pieces bacon
  • 1 U green pepper, diced
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth, boiling ( or vegetable broth)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro

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Instructions

(Hide Photos)
1

Chop the bacon slices into small pieces and saute until crispy in a small pan.

Bacon being cut into small pieces in a cutting board.
2

In your slow cooker, add the beans, onions, jalapeños, pepper, tomatoes, garlic, salt, cumin, and oregano.

Spices being added to a slow cooker for charro beans.
3

Cover the beans with about 6 cups of boiling chicken or vegetable broth. You could also use water but I like the additional flavor of broth. Make sure the water is boiling – this essentially eliminates the need to soak the beans overnight and is a good trick when cooking beans in the crockpot.

Pinto beans with vegetables, broth, and spices being stirred in a slow cooker.
4

Add in the crispy bacon and the bacon drippings from the pan. Stir together and cook on low for 6-8 hours until beans are soft and tender.

Charro beans being served in a bowl with a spoon.
6 Green
2 Blue
2 Purple
MyWW® SmartPoints™ New!
Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 2/3 cup (213g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 187
Calories from Fat 61
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
10%
Saturated Fat 2g
10%
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
0%
Cholesterol 8mg
3%
Sodium 387mg
17%
Total Carbohydrate 33g
11%
Dietary Fiber 8g
32%
Sugars 3g
Protein 16g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

Notes

Tip: These beans are delicious just as is, but also make a great refried bean. Simply mash together and reheat in a pan for a quick and simple refried bean that is full of flavor.
Slow cooker frijoles charros with bacon, chile peppers, onions, and spices served in a bowl.
† SmartPoints™ calculated by Slender Kitchen; Not endorsed by Weight Watchers International, Inc.
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