“Beans in a Pot”
Frijoles de la Olla, which translates as “beans in a pot“, is probably the most common dish in Mexico. Beans along with corn and chiles are the foundation of Mexican cooking. Every family has a pot of beans on the stove or in the refrigerator at all times and almost every meal includes beans.
Frijoles de la olla are the basis for refried beans and are used in many other Mexican dishes like refried beans, and enfrijoladas.
What Types of Beans to Use
The beans we used to make frijoles de la olla are Flor de Junio, or “June Flower,” a creamy, delicious variety eaten in Central Mexico.
They may be difficult to find locally, but, you can buy them online through Rancho Gordo Heirloom Beans. Their Flor de Junio beans are grown by small farmers in the state of Guanajuato under the supervision of the Rancho Gordo-Xoxox Project.
Pinto beans and black beans are great options too. Beans vary greatly in taste and texture. Be adventurous and try as many different varieties as you can.
How to Make
We recommend cooking your beans in a clay pot, called an “olla” in Spanish, which adds an earthiness to the flavor. But, don’t worry if you don’t have one. Beans taste great cooked in any type of pot.
A slow cooker is another great way to cook beans. Set-it and forget-it and 8 hours later you have a perfect batch of beans.
The clay cooking pot makes an impressive serving dish on the table.
- Serve a bowl frijoles de la olla as a simple lunch with a stack of hot corn tortillas to dip in the broth.
- Serve as a side dish for just about anything.
- Serve with a dollop of fresh Mexican cream.
- Serve with chopped onion, cilantro, and serrano chile.
- Use the beans to make tacos de frijol or as a garnish for beef tacos.
- Use the beans to make the sauce for enfrijoladas.
- Use the beans to make refried beans.
Frijoles de la Olla (Mexican Beans) Recipe
- 1 pound of beans pintos, black beans, flor de mayo, flor de junio
- ½ white onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 4 fresh epazote leaves or ½ teaspoon dried epazote
- 1 teaspoon of salt add more to taste if required
- Check the beans for any stones or debris.
- In a colander, rinse the beans under cold water.
- Place the beans in the cooking pot and cover with 3 inches of water.
- Allow the beans to soak overnight.
- Discard the soaking water.
- Add cold water to cover the beans by 4 inches.
- Add the ½ white onion and 2 cloves of garlic.
- Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
- Simmer the beans for 2 hours.
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Simmer for 30 more minutes.
- Taste the beans to verify that they are fully cooked and soft. If they are not soft enough cook for an additional 30 minutes.
- Adjust the salt to taste and serve.
- Cooking time is approximate. Some beans need more time to fully cook and others need less.
- A slow cooker or pressure cooker are great ways to cook beans.
- Beans will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. You can freeze them but it will change the texture.
- Buy your beans from a market that sells lots of beans. Fresh is better. The older the beans the tougher they will be.
- You can make frijoles de la olla with pinto beans, black beans, flor de mayo. or flor de junio beans.
- If you can’t find epazote you can omit it or substitute Mexican oregano. The oregano changes the taste slightly but is still very good.
Frijoles de la olla is actually translated as “beans from the pot” or “beans of the pot”
Great recipe by the way. I made something similar but I doubled up on the ingredients!
When does the epozote go in ? With the salt? Thanks!
I found on another website to add the epazote with the garlic. The salt gets added after the beans are fully cooked or they will be tough
Kimberly M. Collins says
The bean/salt thing is a myth. I have heard several chefs address this on various cooking shows, and have seen that it is a myth through my own experience. If you soak the beans overnight there won’t be a problem. If you salt at the end, they will be really bland compared to adding it at the beginning. It literally makes the difference between amazing beans and meh beans. I have made beans with salt added at the beginning for years and have never had a tough bean ever. Now acids do cause beans to be tough. I cook beans mostly through, and add things like fresh tomato (for charro beans) about the last 1-2 hours.
The epazote can be added in the beginning of cooking when you add the beans and stock or water. Dried is recommended for dried beans. It can make some people nauseous, so be careful! Also, beans are really great (best) simmered all day in a slow cooker. We either do 4 hours or high, or 6-8 on low (depending on your slow cooker.) Slow cookers do 3 things very well, to which it’s the superior method:
1. Braising tougher meat like pork butt/shoulder, chuck roast, stews, etc…
2. Cooking beans low and slow and REALLY letting flavors develop.
3. Making stocks that should be simmered for long periods. The longer the better with pretty much any stock. It can make the difference between a full-bodied, deep, gelatinous stock (unless you are making veggie stock, which is still superior in the slow cooker) and an average stock.
The salt thing is a myth unless you quick soak beans. But, and here is something fun, if you add salt to the soaking water for an overnight soak then through chemistry and the exchanging of salt ions the beans will get extra creamy. Just make sure top rinse them off well after soaking. I don’t remember all of the science but J. Kenji Lopez-Alt did side by side testing and explains it all over on Serious Eats and he gives a great explanation of why (he did get in to food from science).
One thing about the slow cooker for these beans in particular. I’m not sure how much low and slow would benefit beans this simple. For sure with something more complex, like with ham hocks or bacon or charro beans or just more ingredients in general, but I feel like this is so simple it might be unnecessary. I only mention that because it’s summer and hot and, at least where I live, I would end up choking on the humidity from the slow cooker in my little apartment if it was left on and releasing steam all day. (Then again, I’m already wondering what possessed me to want to boil beans on a 90° day. Well, other than yum.)
I agree I’ve been slightly salting the beans when I soak them overnight or in the morning if that’s when I start. Not when I’m cooking them, they plump up better this way. Been doing this for years.
4 years too late but …
Always add the epazote about 10 minutes before serving. The longer you cook it the more flavor you lose. Do not think you can put in at the beginning and just add more as large doses of epazote are toxic. Frijoles de la Olla for breakfast was how I started my days in Mexico City. Wonderful. The beans with some liquid served with chopped cilantro, red onion and habanero pepper. With tortillas de Maíz. Wonderful.
What about adding jalapeno or serrano peppers, garlic, cumin and bacon or pork to them? Does that make the beans more “Americanized”? I am looking to make the most perfect pot of beans!
Douglas Cullen says
Adding peppers and bacon would make the beans more like “frijoles charros.” Here is a good recipe.(http://www.mexicoinmykitchen.com/2011/12/charro-beans-soup-recipereceta-de.html) “Frijoles de la olla” is the most basic way to make beans and they often serve as the base for other dishes.
My dear friend Maria, who taught me everything I know about Mexican cooking always said the beans should be the bland element to eat alongside the spicier foods.
Mexican food like so many shows the true skills of the chef (or Abuela). When done right it is beans water onion, garlic and salt with epazote at the end. It is amazing how with three basic raw garnishes it tastes superb. Adding more strongly flavored items like meat or even more peppers to cook just masks the flavor of the beans. Less is more and soaking for a long time and cooking slow after the initial boil pay dividends.
With those ingredients you added, VB they become frijoles charros.
Jody Felkner says
My daughter learned how to make homemade frijoles from her mother-in-law. Her recipe is stellar but I’ve lost it and am too embarrassed to ask her for it again
So, I thought why not try to make authentic frijoles and share the recipe with her. Thank you. I’ll post the end results….
Mike Slaydon says
I am tired of not being able to ask for recipes. Example Drunk beans
I’ve cooked over a hundred one pound batches. My basic method is to rinse the beans then soak them using 1-1/2 tbls salt in the water covered about 2″. Soak about 8 hrs. Drain and rinse the beans. Pour back the beans into the pot and fill with fresh water covering about an 1″. Put on the lid and it bring to a boil about 18 minutes(set the timer) Stir, then set the heat to a low (set the timer) for 1hour 25min. Midway you can put in onions garlic whatever you want. Do not drain off the bean water. When done I scoop beans and water into 3 containers one to eat 2 to freeze. Bean water provides a lot of flavor. The salted soak water helps the beans cook evenly and after there cooked they don’t need salt. Flor de mayo beans are preferred. .
This is probably a stupid question, but with the onion and garlic, do you add them whole? or should they be chopped up? And if whole, do you remove them before serving?
Take ’em out — after two hours in simmering water, there won’t be any flavor left in them.
Robert A Graves says
If I were to make this recipe I would dice them to splitherines so that they dissolve into the broth as opposed to forcing one to remove them. Then about a half hour before done add in some course chopped onion to blanch and give an extra pop of flavor.
Again, that’s if I intended to make this recipe as a standalone.
Isabel Herrera Hagar says
My grandmother always had a pot of beans going. She had a big family and everyone had to have a bowl of beans. She served then with homemade flour tortillas. We would also add sopa de arroz or fideo into the bowl of beans. She would start them early in the morning and by dinner time they would be cooked perfectly. No matter what else was on the menu we would always have beans.
I would like to buy dried heirloom beans straight from Mexico farmers. Can you help?
David Kapral says
Three sources of heirloom beans and places that can/do sell beans from Mexican Producers are:
Rio Del Rey is in CA and grow their own heirloom beans. Ranch Gordo sells a mix of beans from Mexico and US grown beans. Primary Beans seems to specialize in Mexican grown beans. Hope this helps.
Douglas Cullen says
These are all great resources for the best beans. Thanks for sharing!