Dry pinto beans are a budget-friendly, healthy way to enjoy a variety of main and side dishes, from burritos to chili to refried beans to vegan bean burgers. Though dry beans are nearly as hard as little rocks, with a quick cook, pinto beans become soft and ready for onions, garlic, chiles and/or other spices. Beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber, and when combined with whole grains, such as crackers, rice or tortillas, they make a complete protein that contains all nine of the essential amino acids.
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Prepare the Pintos for Soaking
Dry pinto beans must be sorted and checked for debris, small rocks and shriveled beans. Measure the amount of beans you need for your recipe. Two cups of beans results in 6 cups of cooked beans, so if you need one 15-ounce can of beans, prepare 5 ounces of dried beans to make 1.75 cups of cooked beans or make a pot of beans so you have enough to make refried beans or chili the next day. Put the cleaned beans into a colander and rinse thoroughly.
Quick-Cook Pinto Beans
To quick-cook pinto beans, put the washed beans in a large pot and then add 6 cups of water for every 2 cups of dry beans. Bring the water to a full boil and hold at a boil for two to three minutes. Turn off the burner, cover the pot and allow the beans to soak for at least one hour.
Drain and rinse the beans and then cover with fresh water and bring it back to a boil. Turn the burner to medium-low and simmer for one-and-a-half to two hours. Add more water as needed. When the beans are easy to mash with a spoon, add cooked ground meat, tomatoes, sauteed onions, spices and other ingredients according to your recipe.
Hot-Soak Pinto Beans
Hot-soaking pinto beans helps reduce the gas-producing compounds that cause gastric distress after enjoying your favorite bean dish. Put a large pot on the stove and add 10 cups of water for every 2 cups of pinto beans. Bring it to a boil and keep it boiling for two to three minutes. Turn off the burner, cover and let the beans soak for four hours or more.
Drain and rinse the beans. Cover them with fresh water and bring it back to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until the beans are tender. Drain and/or add the other ingredients according to your recipe.
Pressure Cook Quick Pinto Beans
The fastest way to cook pinto beans with or without soaking is to use an electric multicooker or pressure cooker. Follow the manufacturer's directions and add the beans, spices and other ingredients. Add enough water to cover the beans with 2 inches of liquid, making sure the pressure cooker is not more than half full. If desired, add 1 tablespoon of salt and up to 4 tablespoons of oil for every 2 cups of beans to reduce foaming and help the beans hold their shape.
Cook the pinto beans for 15 to 20 minutes. For best results, once the beans are finished cooking, allow the pressure cooker to naturally release the pressure for another 18 to 20 minutes. If the beans aren't quite ready, cook at high pressure for another 10 minutes and then quick-release the pressure.
Soak the Beans Overnight
When you do have time, clean and prep your beans the night before you plan to cook. Put 10 cups of cold water into a large pot for every 2 cups of pinto beans. Add the beans, cover and put the pot in the refrigerator overnight or for at least eight hours. Don't leave the pot on the counter, as harmful bacteria can grow when the beans are left to soak at room temperature.
In the morning, drain, rinse and add 3 cups of water for every cup of the soaked beans. Bring the pot of beans to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer gently for two hours. Stir occasionally and add more water as needed. When the beans are tender, add the rest of the ingredients and finish cooking your pinto beans according to the recipe.