These Borracho beans (“Drunken” beans) are simmered in dark bear to create a bold and flavorful broth with pinto beans, bacon, chilis and spices. They can be made with dried or canned pinto beans and cooked on the stove-top, slow cooker or in the instant pot.
There’s a restaurant near my house that serves incredible Borracho Beans and I’ve been determined to make my own that are just as good! I adapted these from my tried and true Charro Beans recipe and they’re a total winner!
What are Borracho Beans?
Borracho beans, or “drunken” beans, are similar to Mexican Charro Beans but are simmered in beer, rather than water or broth, giving them a unique flavor.
How to Make Borracho Beans:
1. Cook the Pinto beans: Rinse beans well and add them a large pot with 6 cups of water, a small chunk of onion, bay leaf and ½ teaspoon of salt. Bring them to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the beans for 1 to 2 hours, until the beans are tender, but not bursting. (The drier the beans, the longer it will take).
2. Drain and reserve broth. Once the beans are tender, drain them, reserving ¼ cup of the liquid.
3. In a large pot add the bacon and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove some of the grease. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. Add ham, diced tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, oregano, paprika, cumin, black pepper and cook for 5 additional minutes.
4. Add the cooked beans, reserved broth, and beer. Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve garnished with cilantro.
Instant Pot Method: Turn Instant Pot to sauté setting. Add bacon and chorizo and cook. Remove some of the grease. Add the onions and garlic, and cook until the onions are softened. Add ham, diced tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, oregano, paprika, cumin, and cook for 5 additional minutes. Add dry beans, beer and 3 cups of chicken broth. Secure the lid and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release before removing the lid (about 20-30 minutes). Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Slow Cooker Method: Saute bacon, chorizo, onion and garlic in a pan and add to slow cooker with ham, diced tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, oregano, paprika, cumin dry beans, beer and 3 ½ cups of chicken broth. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours until beans are tender. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Beans: 5-6 cups of canned pinto beans may be substituted. Reserve ¼ cup liquid from the canned beans and discard the rest. Skip the first part of the recipe and add the beans and liquid when directed in step 2 of the recipe, under “Make Borracho Beans”.
- Omit the beer: If you don’t want to add alcohol, make charro beans instead (similar recipe that uses chicken broth instead of beer).
- Substitute black beans: You can substitute dried black beans, cooking them the same.
- Vegetarian/Vegan Borracho Beans: omit the meat and add vegan chorizo, extra beans (like black beans), or additional vegetables like tomato, celery, and bell pepper. Also substitute 1 tsp vegetable bouillon.
Make ahead and freezing Instructions:
To make ahead: The dry pinto beans can be cooked and stored, along with their reserved liquid, several days in advance, or the entire recipe can be made 2-3 days in advance and stored in the fridge. Rewarm over low heat on the stove. To make the dish even simpler, you can substitute canned pinto beans (see my notes in the recipe card).
To freeze: Once the beans are cool store them in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and rewarm in a pot on the stove.
Serve as a side dish with any Mexican main dish, like:
- 1 pound dried pinto beans* (2 cups)
- 6 cups water , or more if needed
- ¼ of an onion
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 bay leaf
For the Borracho Beans:
- 5 slices bacon , chopped
- 1 cup diced ham or sausages
- ½ of a yellow onion , chopped
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 tomatoes , diced*
- 1 jalapeno or serrano pepper , seeded and chopped
- ½ - 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce , chopped (optional, but recommended for a smoky spice)*
- 1 cup fresh chopped cilantro (about ½ bunch)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- Salt and pepper , to taste
- 12 oz. dark beer (Mexican beer, if possible)
Cook the Pinto beans:*
- Pour beans into a colander and rinse them off, removing any unwanted pieces. Add to a large pot with 6 cups of water (or enough to cover them by about 2 inches), a small chunk of onion, bay leaf and ½ teaspoon of salt.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1 to 2 hours, until the beans are tender, but not bursting. (Mine usually take about 1 hour but depends on how dry/old your beans are). Check them a few times during cooking to make sure they are covered in water and add a little more water if needed.
- Once the beans are tender, drain them, reserving ¼ cup of the liquid. Set aside.
Make Charro Beans:
- Add the bacon to a large pot and cook for about 5 minutes or until cooked. Remove some of the grease. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. Add ham (or sausages), diced tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, oregano, paprika, cumin, black pepper and cook for 5 additional minutes.
- Add the cooked beans, reserved broth, and beer. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper, or additional spices if needed.
- Serve garnished with cilantro, as a meal with warm tortillas, or as a side dish.
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Serving size is about 1 cup.
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