These spicy and delicious Ranchero Beans are the perfect accompaniment to any taco dinner or Mexican fiesta. Enjoy with table cream and cotija cheese to help mellow out the spice and especially with tortillas!
*this post contains affiliate links, read my disclosure here.*
As those in Houston are now finding themselves to rebuild their homes and lives, this recipe is in dedication to them. If you have the means, please consider making a donation to the Houston Food Bank for those who are having to start all over. Thank you!
Want to know a secret about me? When I go out to eat at a Mexican restaurant, the determining factor for what I order is if the dish comes with beans. Refried beans in particular. Nothing beats refried beans to me. But there has to be something said about ranch beans. Ranchero beans are spicy and smoky and just plain amazing and perfectly paired on the side with tacos or even wrapped up in a burrito!
The trick to making amazing ranchero beans, is to add as much flavor in the beginning as possible. I love making my beans with bacon; I feel like bacon adds a depth of smokiness that you can’t get anywhere else (using chorizo as a substitute would be amazing!). My addition of chipotle peppers adds a subtle spice but a lot of rich flavor. I also like adding the adobo sauce that the peppers are stored in because… why skimp on the flavor?!
I feel like I’m saying the word flavor a lot right now but I can’t stress how important flavor is in this post! Beans are super absorbent foods, much like potatoes and eggplant. So, it is super important to introduce robust and fragrant seasonings and aromatics to beans as much, and as early, as possible so the beans turn out as fantastic as possible.
As I discuss in my Slow Cooker Green Chile Pork recipe, adding juices of the roasted veggies is super important. Not only does it help to get the blender going and create a “smoothie” (more or less) with the veggies, but you don’t want to miss out on all the nums that comes from blistering the onions and tomatoes. Again, since we’re using bacon in this recipe, we want to accentuate “smoky” as much as we can.
I have heard peoples differing opinions about whether or not to cook beans in the liquid they were soaked in. Some people claim that cooking them in the soaking liquid attributes to more gas as a by-product of eating beans. That could be true, and if it really makes you feel uncomfortable, drain the beans, rinse them and use clean water to cook them in. I like to cook them in the soaking liquid because, again, flavor!
While the recipe I’ve written calls for cooking in a pot (I honestly did it this way because my slow cooker was already being used), I would definitely opt for cooking the beans in a slow cooker. I would do everything the recipe calls for; except I would cook the onions, garlic and bacon in a skillet, add the tomato paste and adobo sauce and then add it to the crock pot with the beans and everything else.
An important note to remember about cooking beans, always season your beans with salt after they have finished cooking. The reason is that because salt extracts liquid and flavors from foods; seasoning beans before they’ve finished cooking, will often lead to tough beans. Nobody likes tough beans. So, season well while the beans are still in the liquid.
I also love the addition that fresh, chopped cilantro adds to these ranchero beans. They cut through the meatiness with their limey, pungent taste and it rounds out this dish so well. If you would like to eat these beans by themselves (which I totally do as well!), I love to serve them with a bit of table cream (loosened sour cream) and some cotija cheese. Creamy, meaty, smoky beans. Life just doesn’t get much better than that my friends!
Enjoy these ranchero beans as part of your next Taco Tuesday or other Mexican fiesta. I would highly suggest paring them with my Chipotle Chicken Street Tacos! Match made in heaven.
These easy bacon ranchero beans are great to make in a pot or in a slow cooker. With just a few steps, this Texan inspired ranch bean recipe will be a hit with tacos, as a side or in burritos. We enjoy ours with cotija cheese and sour cream.
- 2 cups pinto beans soaked overnight
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 onion ½ sliced, the other half medium diced
- 3 Roma tomatoes
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 3 chipotle peppers drained and adobo sauce reserved
- ¼ # bacon cut into medium dice
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- Water to cover beans
- To taste salt
The night before, soak beans over night with enough water to fill a large container as beans will expand.
Set oven to broil and move oven rack to most top position. Bring a large sauce post to heat over medium- high heat.
Line a small sheet pan with tin foil. Place Roma tomatoes and sliced onions on foil. Dress with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place sheet pan in oven and broil veggies until blistered. Turn veggies over so opposite side can blister. Once veggies are done, remove from oven and allow to cool.
Once veggies are cool, place tomatoes and onions in a blender along with half a bunch of cilantro and chipotle peppers. Blend until smooth.
When sauce pot has come up to heat, sauce onions, garlic and bacon together until onions become tender and bacon has rendered most of it’s fat, about 10-15 minutes
Once bacon has rendered, add tomato paste and adobo sauce and stir until well mixed and toast for 2 minutes.
Add beans and soaking liquid to the pot, the tomato puree and top off beans with more water. You will have to add more water as the cooking process goes on, as the beans will continue to absorb the liquid. Cook beans until tender, about 6-8 hours.
Once the beans have become tender, chop the rest of the bunch of cilantro and add to beans, stirring until well mixed. Season beans as well with salt, about 2 teaspoons worth.
Serve as a side, garnished with table cream and cotija or in a burrito or however you prefer.