Frijoles charros is a flavorful, hearty soup from Northern Mexico. Beans are simmered in a delicious concoction of aromatic chorizo, ham, sausage, and vegetables. This charro beans recipe is also very easy to make and will be a tasty addition to your Mexican menu.
What are frijoles charros?
Frijoles charros, known in English as Charro Beans, is a Mexican recipe made with cooked beans and various types of meat and vegetables. The combination of all those amazing flavors and textures delivers a delicious soup that is often served alongside carne asada.
Its origin comes from the northern states, wherein colonial times, the “charros” – Mexican cowboys, well known for their hats – used to prepare these beans with ingredients common to the arid lands where they worked.
Hence, the beans were prepared with a simmering broth containing onions, garlic, chili peppers, and different types of meat; creating a hearty, nutritious, protein filled meal.
Nowadays, the recipe for frijoles charros hasn’t changed too much, there are a few variations – like the ones mentioned below – but the essence of the recipe remains intact.
Variations & Ingredients
- Nuevo León variant: Frijol peruano, also know as peruano (canary beans) are the ones used to make frijoles charros, along with onions, chili peppers, tomatoes, cilantro and cueritos.
- Jalisco variant: Instead of cooking the sauce with the bean’s broth, this dish is eaten in its dry version, the charro sauce is prepared separately and added on top of the beans.
- Coahuila variant: Flor de Mayo (Mayflower beans), bacon, chorizo, sausage, garlic, onion, tomato, cilantro, and chicharrones (crispy pork rinds) are the main ingredients for the Coahuila charro beans recipe.
- Frijoles borrachos: “Drunken” beans couldn’t be left out of this list. While cooking, add a cup of beer to your pot of frijoles charros, and ta-dah! Drunken beans for the meal!
What type of beans to use
These are some of the most common types of beans used to make frijoles charros. But, regardless of which one you choose, making frijoles de la olla will be the best option.
Their flavor and nutrients are retained, unlike canned beans, as they have no preservatives.
- Pinto beans: Besides being the ones used in the original charro beans recipe, they can also be eaten in many other different dishes, such as burritos, chili con carne, soups, or served as a side dish.
- Mayflower beans: Mostly eaten in the center and south of Mexico, prepare them in soup or use them to make enfrijoladas.
- Canary beans: Their soft consistency makes them perfect for dishes where mashed beans are required. You may eat them with rice; nachos; sopes; tostadas or as soup.
- Other types: If you can find any of those types of Mexican beans where you live, use what you have available, just notice that the cooking for those beans might be different. You can also use canned beans as the last option.
The ingredients I am using are pretty much the most common to make frijoles charros. Besides from using borlotti beans (available where I live and with a very similar taste and texture as pinto beans), there’s also Mexican chorizo, ham, hotdog sausages, and bacon as a protein source.
Then onions, tomatoes, and jalapeño peppers to make the base soup flavor. And last, simple seasonings like minced garlic, pepper, cumin, and guajillo powder, the last is completely optional and I added it because I had some at home, feel free to leave it out or to use smoked/spicy paprika instead.
The Step By Step Recipe
Place 2 cups of uncooked and cleaned beans in your instant pot. Add 5 cups of water, a chunk of onion, and 1 garlic clove. Cook at high for 40 minutes, then naturally release the pressure for about 20-30 minutes while you chop and prepare the rest of the ingredients needed for this charro beans recipe.
Fry and sauté
In a large braising pan or pot add the bacon and start cooking over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Bacon shouldn’t’ be totally browned but just slightly crispy on the edges. Also, there should be enough grease to keep cooking the other ingredients.
Now, add chorizo and crumble it with the back of a spoon, while cooking for 5 more minutes. Again, there should be a little more fat in the pot, this time also from the chorizo.
Add onions and jalapeño peppers, stir and cook for 4 more minutes or until onions are slightly translucent. Keep the heat at low as you don’t want to burn the other ingredients.
Stir in tomatoes, garlic, guajillo powder (optional), and cumin. Cook for 3 minutes just to give the time to tomatoes to release their juice and flavor with the spices.
Last, add hot dog sausages and ham, mix well and cook for 3 more minutes to combine the flavors.
Add the cooked beans with the cooking water, plus more water if desired. The quantity of liquid is really up to you. Some people like their charro beans with lots of broth and others with less.
Cook for 20 minutes and then taste. I didn’t add any salt to the soup because many of the ingredients had salt already, so taste first and if you think is necessary, add salt. Turn off the heat and serve frijoles charros as suggested.
How To Serve
There are various ways of serving this recipe, depending on if you using them as a side dish, or as a main meal. The most common toppings are queso fresco (or panela), chopped cilantro, onions and serrano chilies, avocado slices, lime juice, and crumbled chicharron.
Useful recipe notes
- To thicken your frijoles charros you can use a potato masher and mash the mixture a little bit.
- Adjust spiciness to your taste, add more chili peppers if you want to. Or add 1-2 tsp of chili powder.
- If you use canned beans you can add half water and half beef stock to the stew instead of the beans cooking water.
Watch How To Make It
How To Store & Reheat
Charro beans can last in the fridge stored in airtight containers for up to 4 days. And they also freeze wonderfully for up to 3 months in bags. To reheat, place frijoles charros in a pot, add a splash of water, and heat up over medium heat.
Frijoles Charros (charro beans)
- 4 cups cooked beans (read note 1)
- 3 cups beans cooking water (read note 2)
- 6 oz Mexican chorizo (about 2 links, casings removed)
- ⅔ cup bacon (cut into small bites)
- 3 hotdog sausages (cut into small bites)
- ⅔ cup ham (cut into small bites)
- 3 small tomatoes (chopped)
- 1 small onion (chopped)
- 1 jalapeño or serrano pepper (chopped)
- 1 garlic clove (minced)
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp guajillo powder (optional)
- 1 small bunch cilantro (chopped)
- 1 small onion (chopped)
- queso fresco
- warm tortillas (corn or flour)
- In a large pan or pot add the bacon and cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Bacon shouldn’t’ be totally browned but just slightly crispy on the edges.
- Add chorizo and crumble it with the back of a spoon, then cook for 5 minutes.
- Stir in onions and jalapeño peppers, cook for 4 more minutes or until onions are slightly translucent.
- Add tomatoes, garlic, guajillo powder, and cumin. Cook for 3 minutes while stirring constantly.
- Add hot dog sausages and ham, mix well and cook for 3 more minutes.
- Put in beans plus the cooking water (read note 3).
- Cook for 20 minutes and then adjust with salt to taste (read note 4).
- Serve with chopped cilantro, onions and and queso fresco.
- Check out our recipe to make frijoles de la olla (cooked beans).
- You can use beef stock instead beans cooking water.
- The quantity of liquid is really up to you. Some people like their charro beans with lots of broth and others with less.
- I didn’t add any salt to the soup because many of the ingredients had salt already, so taste first and if you think is necessary, add salt.
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