Frijoles charros is a Mexican traditional recipe consisting of a hearty soup made with pinto beans and a combination of flavorful ingredients, such as bacon, chorizo, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and chili peppers.

The dish is known in English as charro beans or cowboy beans and is deeply rooted in Mexican culinary traditions. They are often served along with carne asada or tacos, making them a beloved staple in many Mexican households.

The homemade recipe is the perfect side for grilled steak or barbecue. Serve them in bowls along with classics like guacamole, pico de gallo, and tortillas de harina, and get ready to impress everybody with their smoky and hearty flavor!

Close-up of frijoles charros in a cooking pan.

Ingredients

  • Beans: Use pinto beans, frijol peruano, Flor de Mayo (Mayflower beans), or mayocoba beans. You can also substitute them with your favorite canned beans if you want to speed up this recipe.
  • Meats: You’ll need Mexican chorizo, hot dog sausages, ham, and tocino (bacon).
  • Tomatoes: Diced fresh tomatoes and jalapeño peppers. You can also use other types of peppers such as serrano chiles.
  • Spices & aromatics: Onion, garlic, guajillo powder (optional), cumin, salt, and pepper.
  • For serving: Chopped onions and cilantro, queso fresco or queso panela, and limes.
Frijoles charros, aka charro beans, ingredients labeled and displayed on a marble surface.

How to Make Frijoles Charros

Cook the beans

Clean the beans to remove any debris or stones. Rinse them thoroughly under cold water.

Add the beans to an Instant Pot along with a chunk of onion and one garlic clove. Pour about 5 cups of water and cook at high for 40 minutes, then naturally release the pressure for about 20-30 minutes.

Cooked beans in an instant pot.

Tip: Alternatively, you can cook your beans with your preferred method. Check my frijoles de la olla recipe to see the different methods to cook them.

Sauté

In a large braising 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.

Frying bacon in a pan.

Now, add chorizo and crumble it with the back of a spoon. Cook stirring constantly for about 5 minutes.

There should be some released fat in the pot from the bacon and chorizo.

Frying chorizo and bacon.

Stir in onions and jalapeño peppers 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.

Frying chorizo, bacon, onions and peppers in a pan.

Mix in tomatoes, garlic, guajillo powder, and ground cumin.

Cook for 3 minutes just to give the time for the tomatoes to release their juice and allow the flavors to meld together.

Cooking tomatoes with the other ingredients in the pan.

Last, add hot dog sausages and ham, mix well, and cook for 2-3 more minutes.

Sausage and ham added to the pan with the other ingredients.

Add the cooked beans along 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.

Added beans to the pan and pouring water over.

Simmer

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 below.

A collage showing the start and end of cooking frijoles charros.

Expert Tips & Notes

  • To thicken the soup you can use a potato masher and mash the charro beans a little bit.
  • Adjust spiciness to taste, add more chili peppers if you want. Or add 1-2 teaspoons of chili powder.
  • If you use canned beans you can add half water and half beef stock to the stew instead of the cooking water from beans.

How To Serve

Frijoles charros can be served in many ways, the most common is as a side dish for grilled meats like carne asada and barbecues.

They can also be served as a main meal along with tortillas or bolillo bread, usually topped with fresh cheese, chopped onions & cilantro, and some type of salsa on the side.

Last, you can also use them to make other preparations like tostadas, burritos, or bowls. Try them on my asada bowl.

a bowl of frijoles charros topped with fresh cheese, cilantro, onions, and a lime wedge.

Store & Reheat

Frijoles charros are good for up to 3-4 days stored in the fridge. Allow the beans to cool down to room temperature then transfer to an airtight container and store.

You can also freeze them up to 2-3 months. Use airtight containers, freezer-safe bags, or vacuum-sealed bags to store the portion you want to freeze.

When ready to enjoy again, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight or use the defrost function on your microwave. Reheat in a pan with a splash of water over medium heat.

Close-up of frijoles charros in a bowl.

FAQ

What is the origin of this recipe?

The origin of charro beans comes from the northern states, wherein colonial times, the “charros” —Mexican cowboys, often cooked hearty and flavorful meals over open fires or in large pots while working on ranches, and this fulfilling dish became a staple in their diet.

Is this recipe the same as frijoles puercos?

No. They are not the same, even though they’re similar and share similar ingredients. The main difference is that frijoles charros are cooked whole and remain intact, while frijoles puercos are mashes, like refried beans.

Is this recipe healthy?

Frijoles charros can be a healthy and nutritious dish when prepared thoughtfully, emphasizing the benefits of beans and minimizing less healthy ingredients. Homemade versions that allow for portion control and ingredient adjustments can be a good choice for those seeking a balanced diet.

Consider using leaner cuts of meat or using them sparingly. Be mindful of the amount of salt added, or use alternatives like herbs and spices for flavor.

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Video

Frijoles charros recipe.

Frijoles Charros (charro beans)

6 servings
A flavorful, hearty soup from Northern Mexico. Beans are simmered in a delicious concoction of aromatic chorizo, ham, sausage, and vegetables.
prep 20 minutes
cook 40 minutes
total 1 hour

Ingredients 

For cooking the dried beans

  • 1 ⅓ cups dried beans (read note 1)
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the charro mixture

  • 6 oz Mexican chorizo (about 2 links, casings removed)
  • cup bacon (cut into small bites)
  • 3 hotdog sausages (cut into small bites)
  • 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)
  • 3 cups beans cooking water (from cooking beans)

For serving

  • 1 small bunch cilantro (chopped)
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • queso fresco (or any fresh cheese you prefer)
  • tortillas (corn or flour)

Instructions
 

Cook the beans

  • Add the beans to an Instant Pot along with onion, garlic, and salt.
  • Pour about 5 cups of water and cook at high for 40 minutes, then naturally release the pressure for about 20-30 minutes (read note 2).
  • Set aside 3 cups of cooked beans along with 3 cups of cooking water.

Sauté

  • In a large braising pan or pot add the bacon and cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes.
  • Add chorizo and crumble it with the back of a spoon. Cook stirring constantly for about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in onions and jalapeño peppers cook for 4 more minutes or until onions are slightly translucent.
  • Mix in tomatoes, garlic, guajillo powder, and ground cumin.
  • Cook for 3 minutes just to give the time for the tomatoes to release their juice and allow the flavors to meld together.
  • Add hot dog sausages and ham, mix well, and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
  • Add the cooked beans along with the cooking water, plus more water if desired (read note 3).

Simmer

  • Cook for 20 minutes, uncovered. Adjust seasonings to taste if needed.
  • Turn off the heat and serve with chopped onions and cilantro, queso fresco, and a squeeze of lime.

Notes

  1. You can skip cooking the beans and use canned. Since you won’t have the cooking water, you can substitute with chicken stock if you want or just add water.
  2. If you prefer cooking the beans in the stovetop or a slow cooker, check out my recipe for frijoles de la olla for specific instructions.
  3. The quantity of liquid is really up to you. Some people like their charro beans with lots of broth and others with less.
Nutrition Information
Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 521kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 53mg | Sodium: 437mg | Potassium: 550mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 566IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 2mg
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Recipe Rating




17 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Good frijoles charros recipe, is different but will have to make them, never had it with sausages and ham, looks delicious and easy to make. Thanks for sharing :)

  2. 5 stars
    Easy, filling, and super tasty! Perfect for the the whole family, especially now that it’s cold. Thanks for sharing!

  3. 5 stars
    Just got my first Instant Pot, can’t wait to play around with it. I’m thinking of going with red kidney beans, I don’t know if I could find Mexican beans in my area. The macros are so good for this considering it’s such a hearty meal!