A quick guide to Mexican beans (2023)

by Lesley Tellez

Amid all the recent talk of beans, guess what I found yesterday? An entire page devoted to Mexican bean varietals, on the June page of my 2010 Mexican gastronomy calendar. (Yes, I’m a food nerd.) I had the calendar turned to March for some reason, so I’d been staring at a dozen varieties of ollas. When I finally updated it — boom. Beans. There they were.

The page was too big to scan the descriptions, so here’s the key, starting from the upper left corner and moving from left to right. Now maybe you’ll realize why I’ve been so confused about their names. There are so many bean varieties here, it’s hard to keep up.

Starting with the upper left corner as No. 1, the second row far left as No. 4, etc.:

1. Alubias
2. Ayocote café
3. Vaquita roja
4. Ayocote morado
5. Habas
6. Bayos gordo
7. Moro
8. Pinto
9. Flor de Mayo
10. Negros
11. Vaquita
12. Garbanzo
13. Mantequilla
14. Ayocote negro
15. Peruano
16. Sangre de toro
17. Amarillo
18. Alberjón

I bought some Peruanos at the tianguis yesterday, and I’m excited to get ’em cooking in my clay bean pot. (As Joan mentioned in the comments yesterday, Rick Bayless says they’ve got a creamy texture, and they go wonderfully with pork.)

Have you cooked with any of these? Any tips you want to share?

Source: Todo de México Gráfica Gastronómica

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Comments

  1. A quick guide to Mexican beans (2)Cooking in Mexico

  2. A quick guide to Mexican beans (3)Lesley

    Hi Kathleen: Yes, just turned the calendar to June. I blame my tardiness on the move. 🙂

    I’ve seen Mexico Cook’s bean page — I think Cristina was the one who inspired me to buy a clay bean pot. Her molletes look amazing.

  3. A quick guide to Mexican beans (4)Nancy

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    I would say the numbers are a bit mixed up… Negros would be 9, Garbanzos 7, Peruano 13, Habas, 14, Alubias 18, and possibly Amarillo is 4.

    What do you think?

  4. A quick guide to Mexican beans (5)Adriana Legaspi

    hi Lesley! I might say that the order is different as you have reported…. alubias al at the end in the last row at the right, and then acoyotes cafes, vaquita roja at the left side and so….
    But it doesn’t really matter….
    Beans are wonderful part of our culture and life in México since centuries.
    The peruanos mixed with some clavo and canela and 2 o3 dried chiles make an extraordinary mole or CLEMOLE named Xapin Xapu from the coast of Veracruz that served with pieces of pork meat is wonderful dish with prehispanic roots.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Do not forget to visit an recommend GASTRONOMÍA PREHISPÁNICA in facebook.

  5. A quick guide to Mexican beans (7)Joan

    Darn! I was hoping there would be a contest to name the beans.

  6. A quick guide to Mexican beans (8)Lesley

    Adriana and Nancy: Thanks for pointing that out. I’ve adjusted the image, so the numbers should be correct now. Apologize for the early-morning mistake!

    (Video) Ultimate Refried Beans - How to Make Refried Beans for Nachos & Burritos

  7. A quick guide to Mexican beans (9)Kindra

    There’s the vaquita beans! 🙂 Aren’t they pretty? I like the taste and prefer them to the usual varieties that we eat in my house. My husband’s family sows mixed varieties of beans, so when they harvest them, they are all mixed up. For the most part, they are pinto, pinto negro (the speckling is black instead of brown) flor de mayo (another favorite) butter, and ojo de liebre. Those are our ‘every day beans. Then we also have the previously mentioned patola – which does not look like the alubia in the photo and frijol negro. There are some bags of frijol negro in the Comercial Mexicana that say Frijol Negro Queretaro. I lived for a time in QRO and I don’t remember their black beans tasting any different.

    I throw my beans in the crock pot early in the a.m. and go to work in the US. When I return at night, they’re ready. Sometimes I throw in some of those chicharrones that still have the meat on them to give them flavor.

  8. A quick guide to Mexican beans (10)Margaret S.

    Some of the more exotic ones that aren’t sold in the supermarket here are sold by a merchant with a stall at our local weekly mercado sobre ruedas. By coincidence it was just last week that I decided to try some of these less common types of beans.

    I bought vaquita rojo, moro and ayocote morado (by the way, the picture for the latter doesn’t look like the ones I bought). Today we tried the vaquita rojo in an un-Mexican stew with Caribbean seasoning—they were excellent. Ayocote morado is very good in a sauce of dried chiles (pasilla?). Any suggestions for the moros?

    And I want to give a shout-out to chorras, not just one of our favourite bean dishes, but one of our favourite dishes altogether. Try them if you ever get a chance. You make them the next day with leftover sopa de habas, just dribble the soup onto a tortilla, tostada-like, while it fries in oil. Heavenly!

  9. A quick guide to Mexican beans (11)sweetlife

    love all the beans, but my personal fav are pinto beans, ya I’m from Texas and we eat alot of pinto beans, I should branch out and try some thing different….

    (Video) Charro Beans Recipe (ALL INGREDIENTS) How to Make Easy “Frijoles Charros”

    sweetlife

    • A quick guide to Mexican beans (12)Lesley

      Sweetlife: Yep, it’s good to break out of the comfort zone sometimes. And welcome to the blog. I just checked out yours — love your photos.

  10. A quick guide to Mexican beans (13)rafael patiño

    I believe because the mexican government has contracted with fmi world bank and the development bank méxico lost his black beans(sweat and with a good aroma (queretaro and veracruz kind), the bad governors have ask for money to those before mentioned bank institutions), the same méxico could loose his independence in the mexican type of corn, may be many could say I am wrong, but 30 years ago those institutions began to take away the mexican varieties of beans, fruits, vegetables, and never will let mexico to have trains as before, mexico never will be independient, but those organism countries they invented have all what he had 3 decades ago, china is not what many believe, china has not the hand made qualified, china is a dragon of paper, only Germany and México are better than many asiatic countries, and who i believe enjoy with the mexican god things are the slaves countries of the fmi, world bank and countries of south america, central america, the caribe, asiatic, even countries before coomies, mexico had good food and now the bad rulers they want to destroy it and destroy our stomachs, that is my commentaries.

  11. A quick guide to Mexican beans (14)Jaime Guerrero

    does anyone know where I can get all these different types of beans in the US?

  12. A quick guide to Mexican beans (15)Debra Helmer

    Jaime, Rancho Gordo carries all these beans and shipping is cheap! There are always fresh (this years crop) and Steve has the most amazing selection. http://WWW.ranchogordo.com

    Enjoy.

    (Video) Mexican Beans From the Pot

FAQs

What type of beans do Mexicans use? ›

“Although there are many varieties of beans in Mexico,” writes another favorite author, Mely Martínez, in The Mexican Home Kitchen, “black beans and pinto beans are the most popular.

How many types of beans are in Mexico? ›

Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L) are a staple food in Mexico, right up there with corn. They are part of the traditional trio-planting of Las Tres Hermanas (the three sisters). The exact number of bean types varies from expert to expert, however, most agree that there are at least 200 different edible bean types in Mexico.

What do Mexicans eat refried beans with? ›

Refried beans make the perfect side dish for Mexican food. Serve the beans warm and you could sprinkle some cheese on top. Other uses include, as a filling for burritos, spread over tostadas, dolloped on top of nachos, or simply as a dip on their own.

What do you season pinto beans with? ›

Cover the beans with water and add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, bacon, garlic, bay leaves, onion, bell pepper and some salt and pepper.

What beans do Mexicans eat the most? ›

The pinto bean is perhaps one of the most common type of beans used in most Mexican dishes. Like the black bean, the pinto bean is also loaded with nutritious elements including high fiber and protein. Pinto beans are served both whole and mashed, which will become the refried bean.

How do you get the bitter taste out of pinto beans? ›

Sugar (brown sugar, maple syrup, molasses): If your beans taste a little bitter, add just a bit of sweetener.

How do Mexicans eat beans? ›

In Mexico, the classic kinds of beans (black or red ones) are often eaten with meat or rice. The white and the pink ones are used especially to cook soups with vegetables.

What are kidney beans called in Mexico? ›

Everyone can share everything — from guacamole and fajitas to tacos and nachos. If I had to pick one dish that you see on the menus of Mexican restaurants 99% of the time, it has to be refried beans — or frijoles refritos as they call them in Spanish.

Do Mexicans eat refried beans? ›

Refried beans (from Spanish: frijoles refritos, lit. 'well-fried beans') is a dish of cooked and mashed beans that is a traditional staple of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, although each cuisine has a different approach when making the dish.

What to add to refried beans to make them taste better? ›

What you need
  1. Refried beans – You will need a can of refried beans. ...
  2. Sour cream – This helps to make a creamy texture and adds a bit of tangy flavor. ...
  3. Hot sauce – Hot sauce is optional but does add a nice hint of spice. ...
  4. Cumin – Adds a slight smoky flavor to the beans.
25 Oct 2021

How do I make canned refried beans better? ›

Instructions
  1. Melt butter in a skillet.
  2. Add onion and saute until translucent. ...
  3. Add refried beans, break up and combine with butter, onion, and garlic.
  4. Add half and half, stir.
  5. Add sour cream.
  6. Season with salt, pepper and cumin to taste (I used 1 teaspoon of each).
  7. Add cheese.
4 May 2022

How do you eat canned refried beans? ›

There are tons of great ways to use canned refried beans in appetizers, dinners, salads, and sides. Sure, you can just warm them up and serve them with a main dish like steak or chicken. Or, you can go all out and mix them in with Mexican rice or with pico de gallo and guacamole on homemade tortillas.

When should I add seasoning to beans? ›

Add seasonings & continue cooking.

When the beans have simmered for 30 minutes, season them with salt. Continue cooking until the beans are tender, adding more water if they begin to look dry. The cooking time could be anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours more, depending on the size and freshness of your beans.

How many hours does it take to cook pinto beans? ›

Beans that are old may have difficulty softening and require longer to cook. Also, the longer your beans have had to soak, the more quickly they will cook. Once soaked for 6-8 hours, we find that pinto beans require about 40-50 minutes at a simmer to fully cook.

How can I add flavor to beans without meat? ›

Shallots. Shallots are another must for cooking flavorful vegetarian beans. Known and enjoyed for their mild flavor, shallots are often thought of as a perfect union of onion and garlic. Although they have many similarities to onion and garlic, their flavor is sweeter and more delicate, with less bite.

Why do Mexicans eat so much beans? ›

Mexicans has been eating beans for a long time already. They´ve been eating beans since the Aztecs and the Mayas. When the Spanish came, they introduced livestock; sheep, pigs, chickens, goats, and cattle. Later on, the Spanish journeyed to Asia, and brought wheat and sugarcane.

What are pinto beans called in Mexico? ›

Mexican pinto beans, also known as Frijoles de la Olla, literally translates to “pot of beans”.

Why are beans so common in Mexico? ›

Beans have been around since pre-Hispanic Mexico and served as a base for daily meals. They were consumed ground up, processed into a paste or mixed with grains. On cold days, beans were milled into powder, and mixed with corn flour to create masa for tamales.

How do you make beans taste good? ›

Toss drained/rinsed/dried beans with a bit of olive oil (or avocado oil) and your favorite seasonings. You can add crushed whole seeds (coriander, cumin, fennel, mustard, etc.), woodsy herbs (thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage), red pepper flakes, crushed garlic cloves, and of course salt and pepper.

How do you take the bitterness out of beans? ›

Easy Ways to Reduce Bitter Taste in Any Food
  1. 1 Balance out bitterness with some fat.
  2. 2 Cover the flavor with sweetness.
  3. 3 Sprinkle some salt over your food.
  4. 4 Try a pinch of baking soda.
  5. 5 Squeeze in some vinegar or lemon juice.
  6. 6 Add some spice to your foods.
  7. 7 Cook with herbs to cut through the bitter taste.

Why do my beans taste soapy? ›

If you're wondering what these are, Newgent explains: “Saponins are a group of naturally occurring plant compounds found in beans and other plant foods, like quinoa and spinach, that can produce foam when they're dissolved in water or other liquid.” Saponins are known for causing this soap-like lather (fun fact: “sapo” ...

Do Mexicans eat a lot of black beans? ›

You know it! Although black beans are a part of the Mexican diet, they are only traditionally found in the southern and Gulf Coast states; the rest of the country sticks with pinto beans. But black beans became associated with Mexican food in los Estados Unidos mostly because of food trends that gabachos loved.

When did Mexicans start eating beans? ›

There are indications that this plant's cultivation began in Mexico some seven thousand years ago. It is also a known fact that in more recent times the Aztecs -who demanded payments in kind from the people they conquered – often asked for beans as a tribute.

How do you use epazote in beans? ›

Rick Bayless: What is Epazote and How to Use it - YouTube

What are the most traditional ingredients of Mexican food? ›

The most popular Mexican ingredients are beans, rice, avocado and limes. They're utilized in nearly every dish, from hearty enchilada casseroles to creamy drinks like horchata.

Where does Mexico get its beans? ›

According to Mexican trade statistics, the United States is Mexico's principal foreign supplier of dry beans, with a 95-percent share of Mexico's total dry bean imports.

Are Mexican red beans kidney beans? ›

Red beans are smaller than kidney beans but of similar shape. Used in many Southern and Creole dishes, they are sometimes called Mexican red beans. They can be found in a variety of foods, ranging from soups to salads to chili. The adzuki bean, which is often used in oriental dishes, is another variety of red bean.

Do Mexican restaurants use lard in their beans? ›

In terms of the fat used in Mexican cooking, lard has been a prominent ingredient for quite some time now. According to The Spruce Eats, many chefs prefer using the fat (which is derived from pigs) instead of oil or butter when preparing foods like refried beans or tamales.

Why do Mexicans Refry their beans? ›

They instead are over-enthusiastic in their use of prefixes in language. They will add the prefix "re" to emphasise a point. While the Spanish will use the verb quemar to describe heating something, the Mexicans will add the prefix "re" to make "requemar" to really hammer the point home. Same with beans.

Are refried beans unhealthy? ›

Refried beans may be high in calories, saturated fat, and sodium, which may obstruct weight loss goals, increase heart disease risk, and raise blood pressure.

Do I need to cook refried beans? ›

Can you eat refried beans out of the can? Fortunately, you can eat refried beans directly from the can, because they have already been cooked. They don't need any further cooking or even warming, so if you would prefer to eat them cold, that should be fine. However, you should rinse them before consuming them.

Do you Heat refried beans for tacos? ›

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds until fragrant but not yet browned (or skip this step and use garlic powder instead). Heat the refried beans, cumin and kosher salt until warmed, about 3 minutes.

Can you add milk to canned refried beans? ›

About Canned Refried Beans Restaurant Style:

She'd toss a bit of butter in a pan, then just dump in the canned beans, and once hot and bubbly, stir in a bit of milk, a little if she wanted them thicker, a bit more for smoother and creamy.

What spices can you add to refried beans? ›

Here's a simple ingredient: Bacon fat. I don't use lime or chili powder. I make my own adobo spice mix: Cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and Ground Mexican oregano.. For one can and I use a tablespoon and a half of bacon fat.

Do you add water to canned refried beans? ›

Using water is sort of the default or standard way to thin out refried beans. This is a safe route to take because it'll ensure that you won't add extra flavors to the mix. If you don't wish to alter the taste of the refried beans in any way, then adding water will be a great idea.

How do you thicken refried beans? ›

If your beans are still too watery after prolonged cooking and mashing, consider adding a thickener like cornstarch, all-purpose flour, or arrowroot. To do this, first, make a slurry of equal parts thickener and water, then slowly add it to your refried beans. They should thicken considerably.

Do you microwave canned refried beans? ›

There are a few methods you could use to heat up canned refried beans. The ways we use most often is the microwave and the stovetop. You could also do this in the Instant Pot pressure cooker, using the saute function and stirring them until they are hot and bubbly.

Do you eat refried beans hot or cold? ›

Refried Beans can be served hot, room temperature or cold, as a main dish, side dish, a filling, a garnish or a dip. The traditional bean to use for Refried Beans in some parts of Mexico is Pinto. The dish can also be made with red kidney beans, black beans, or a mix of beans.

Can dogs eat refried beans? ›

No, dogs cannot eat refried beans. Refried beans—a dish made of mashed, twice-cooked beans flavored with herbs, spices, and other seasonings—often contain ingredients toxic to dogs (like onions and garlic) and unhealthy amounts of fat, sodium, calories, and preservatives.

How do you season beans for cooking? ›

Add a pinch of salt. If you have any aromatics lying around — things you'd use to make stock like onions, carrots, celery, bay leaves or woody herbs such as rosemary and thyme — add them to cooking liquid. You don't have to add aromatics, but they'll make your beans so much more flavorful.

How long do I cook beans for? ›

Reduce heat, cover and simmer gently until beans are tender but firm. Most beans will cook in 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on the variety.
...
2. Cooking Beans
  1. Black beans: 60-90 minutes.
  2. Great Northern beans: 45-60 minutes.
  3. Kidney beans: 90-120 minutes.
  4. Navy beans: 90-120 minutes.
  5. Pinto beans: 90-120 minutes.

Do you cover beans when cooking? ›

Or, Don't Soak at All

Keep an eye on the level of liquid, adding more water, broth or stock if the pot looks dry. There should always be liquid covering your beans as they cook.

How long do you boil pinto beans without soaking? ›

Add 1 tablespoon of oil and 4 cups water for each cup of pinto beans to the pressure cooker. Heat the cooker to high pressure and cook the beans for 20 to 25 minutes.

How do you cook beans fast? ›

Cover the beans with water in a large pot, bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, set aside for at least an hour. When you're ready to cook the beans, drain and rinse, put back into a pot, cover with water again, add salt and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes.

Do pinto beans have to be soaked before cooking? ›

If you're the impatient, bean-hungry type, you can cook your beans from dry without any soaking at all. Here's the thing: Beans that have not been soaked ahead of time will always take longer to cook, but they will, indeed, cook.

How do you make beans taste good without salt? ›

5 Ways to Add Flavor Without Adding More Salt
  1. Stir in herbs and spices.
  2. Add a splash of vinegar.
  3. Squeeze or zest citrus.
  4. Sprinkle in some cheese.
  5. Add aromatics like garlic, onions, and shallots.
1 May 2019

What kind of meat goes with pinto beans? ›

Pinto Beans are often served Cowboy style with Barbecue Meats and Cornbread. For a Southern Barbecue you can add Cornbread and Mashed Potatoes. Barbecue Ribs, Barbecue Pork, Barbecue Chicken, they all go well with Pinto Beans. You can even smother your Pinto Beans in Barbecue Sauce and make Barbecue Baked Beans.

Do Mexicans eat black beans? ›

You know it! Although black beans are a part of the Mexican diet, they are only traditionally found in the southern and Gulf Coast states; the rest of the country sticks with pinto beans. But black beans became associated with Mexican food in los Estados Unidos mostly because of food trends that gabachos loved.

What are kidney beans called in Mexico? ›

Everyone can share everything — from guacamole and fajitas to tacos and nachos. If I had to pick one dish that you see on the menus of Mexican restaurants 99% of the time, it has to be refried beans — or frijoles refritos as they call them in Spanish.

Are black beans considered Mexican food? ›

The two most popular types of beans found in Mexican restaurants are pinto and black beans. Pinto beans are, of course, used to make refried beans, while black beans are served as a side dish in soups, salsas, or enchiladas.

Where does Mexico get its beans? ›

According to Mexican trade statistics, the United States is Mexico's principal foreign supplier of dry beans, with a 95-percent share of Mexico's total dry bean imports.

How do Mexicans eat beans? ›

In Mexico, the classic kinds of beans (black or red ones) are often eaten with meat or rice. The white and the pink ones are used especially to cook soups with vegetables.

Why does Mexican food always have beans? ›

Without much meat, sources of protein were limited as well. Enter beans! A native crop and in abundance, beans were used to supplement as a protein for early inhabitants of Mexico. Establishing themselves early on as a quality and important ingredient, beans became forever linked to Mexican food.

Do Mexicans eat refried beans? ›

Refried beans (from Spanish: frijoles refritos, lit. 'well-fried beans') is a dish of cooked and mashed beans that is a traditional staple of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, although each cuisine has a different approach when making the dish.

What are pinto beans called in Mexico? ›

Mexican pinto beans, also known as Frijoles de la Olla, literally translates to “pot of beans”.

What are the most traditional ingredients of Mexican food? ›

The most popular Mexican ingredients are beans, rice, avocado and limes. They're utilized in nearly every dish, from hearty enchilada casseroles to creamy drinks like horchata.

Are Mexican red beans kidney beans? ›

Red beans are smaller than kidney beans but of similar shape. Used in many Southern and Creole dishes, they are sometimes called Mexican red beans. They can be found in a variety of foods, ranging from soups to salads to chili. The adzuki bean, which is often used in oriental dishes, is another variety of red bean.

What is true Mexican food? ›

Burritos, chili con carne, chimichangas, hardshell tacos and enchiladas (as we know them in the U.S.), queso dip, nachos . . . all Tex-Mex. Even fajitas are a Tex-Mex invention (offered to tourists in Mexico now because so many Americans associate fajitas as authentic).

Why do Mexicans love beans? ›

Mexicans has been eating beans for a long time already. They´ve been eating beans since the Aztecs and the Mayas. When the Spanish came, they introduced livestock; sheep, pigs, chickens, goats, and cattle. Later on, the Spanish journeyed to Asia, and brought wheat and sugarcane.

Why is coffee in Mexico so good? ›

out of which Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Veracruz are the most recognized worldwide. The Mexican coffee is distinguished among other coffees around the world by the way in which it is cultivated, given that in Mexico the coffee is grown under shade by a stratum of trees simulating a cultivated forest.

What makes Mexican Coffee different? ›

In Mexico, coffee is often brewed with cinnamon and sugar. The cinnamon and sugar aren't merely added to the coffee after brewing, but they're incorporated right into the brewing technique. The result is a coffee that's at the same time sweet and spicy.

What do Mexican coffee beans taste like? ›

What Does Mexican Coffee Taste Like? The better specialty-grade Mexican coffees are akin to a good white wine: dry with a delicate body, a gentle sweetness and fruitiness, and an acidic snap to finish off the experience.

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