Forget tacos and celebrate Cinco de Mayo with some Charro Beans (Frijoles Charros) cooked in the Instant Pot and served alongside some carne asada, grilled Mexican street corn, fresh tortillas, and horchata for a delicious and culturally authentic Mexican food experience at home!

For more delicious bean recipes, be sure to try my Instant Pot Refried Beans, Instant Pot Pork and Beans, and Best Baked Beans recipes!

a white bowl of charro beans

You'll love Frijoles Charros (Charros Beans)

  • Multiple ways to make them! You can make these in the Instant Pot, on the stovetop, or in the slow cooker, depending on how much time you have and which method you like best! I've included cooking instructions for each approach below.
  • Bacon! Doesn't bacon make everything better? It adds a great smoky flavor and chewy texture to these beans that is fantastic.
  • Easy - Aside from a little chopping and stirring, there's not much to making a batch of charro beans and they go great with everything from Mexican food, to grilled meat, to steak, tri-tip, or ribs.
An image of a blue bowl full of charro beans (also known as frijoles charros or cowboy beans) made in a pressure cooker.

Why do Americans Celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

I promise to get to the recipe but the nerd in me has questions that needed answering first! Like why do we celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the United States? Most Americans think Cinco de Mayo is celebrating Mexican Independence Day, but that is actually the 16th of September, not May 5th.

On May 5, 1862, outnumbered Mexican forces in Puebla, Mexico defeated reputedly superior French forces in a battle that ended up being a turning point in an ongoing Mexican-French conflict. If France had won instead, it would have given them a chance to help the Confederacy in the American Civil War, which could have hugely impacted the future of the United States of America.

Cinco de Mayo was first celebrated in California in 1863, the year following the battle. There were parades, people dressed in Civil War uniforms, and speeches were made about how the Battle of Puebla fit in with the larger narrative of the abolition of slavery. It eventually became more of a celebration of Mexican identity and we continue to celebrate it today with an emphasis on food, culture, and traditions of Mexico but with little historical knowledge of the date's significance.

What are Charro Beans?

Charro beans, also known as frijoles charros or "cowboy beans", got their name from the Mexican cowboys who ate them.

They are a traditional Mexican side dish that seem to have originated in Northern Mexico and are made by cooking dried pinto beans long and slow until soft, but not mushy, with ingredients like onion, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, and meat (usually bacon, but occasionally ham, sausage, and chorizo).

There is a variation on charro beans known as borrachos beans, which is essentially the same recipe, just with Mexican beer added to the charro beans (borracho means "drunk" in Spanish).

An image of a blue bowl full of pressure cooker charro beans (also known as frijoles charros or cowboy beans).

What are Charro Beans made of?

  • Dry pinto beans
  • Bacon
  • Onion
  • Jalapeno
  • Garlic
  • Water
  • Beef broth - Chick broth will do if that's all you have on hand.
  • Diced tomatoes with green chilies - You can buy cans of these combined at the store, or just use a can of each.
  • Cilantro
  • Salt
  • Spices - For authentic Tex-Mex flavor, use ground cumin, chipotle chili powder, dried oregano, smoked paprika, and black pepper.

How to make Charro Beans Recipe in a pressure cooker

While you could absolutely make this easy charro beans recipe in a slow cooker or on the stovetop by adding a little extra water and soaking the beans overnight beforehand, I really wanted to use my Instant Pot for them so I didn't have to plan ahead.

An image of a bowl of Mexican pressure cooker pinto beans called charro beans in front of an Instant Pot.

I got my Instant Pot a couple of months ago and have been experimenting with it here and there, with varying degrees of success.

But this is the first pressure cooker recipe that I feel ready to share here on the blog since cooking pinto beans in the pressure cooker is so much faster than on the stovetop or slow cooker and they turned out amazing!

It's hugely rewarding to take a recipe that would normally take at least 8-10 hours and have them ready from start to finish in about 1 hour 15 minutes of total cooking time.

  1. To make these charro beans in the pressure cooker, begin by cooking the bacon in the bottom of the Instant Pot on the sauté setting.
  2. When the bacon is almost crispy, add in the onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes more, until the onions begin to soften.
  3. Then, it's just a matter of adding all of the remaining ingredients and pushing a button! Once the Instant Pot pressurizes, the beans only take 30 minutes to cook, followed by about 30-45 minutes for the pressure to release on its own.

Charro beans go great with carne asadaguacamole, Mexican rice, grilled Mexican street corn, and pico de gallo.

An image of a Cinco de Mayo Mexican feast, perfect for a fiesta with fresh tortillas, charro beans, carne asada, guacamole, grilled Mexican street corn, and horchata!

How to store Charros Beans

Store any leftover charro beans in the fridge for up to 4 days in an airtight container for maximum freshness.

You can also freeze charro beans by letting them cool completely, then transferring them to a freezer-safe airtight container or bag and freezing for up to 2 months. Thaw on the counter or in the fridge, then reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave before serving.

How to serve this Charro Bean Recipe

Charro beans are delicious all on their own as a side to all kinds of grilled meats or other dishes. Or you can serve them with rice as a meal all on their own. They are delicious sprinkled with some extra chopped fresh cilantro and a dollop of sour cream.

Frijoles Charros Recipe FAQ

What is the difference between charro beans and refried beans?

Refried beans typically aren't as seasoned as charro beans and they don't include bacon. They are also typically mashed, whereas charro beans retain their bean shape and texture.

What does charro beans mean in Spanish?

Charro means "horseman" or "cowboy" in Spanish so these charro beans or frijoles charros can also be known as cowboy beans.

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Charro Beans (Frijoles Charros)

4.88 from 96 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 10 servings
Forget tacos and celebrate Cinco de Mayo with some Charro Beans (Frijoles Charros) cooked in the Instant Pot and served alongside some carne asada, grilled Mexican street corn, fresh tortillas, and horchata for a delicious and culturally authentic Mexican food experience at home!


  • ½ pound bacon chopped (about 8 slices)
  • ½ yellow onion chopped
  • 1 jalapeno minced with seeds removed (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 15 ounces diced tomatoes and green chilies
  • ½ bunch of fresh cilantro chopped
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper


  • In the Instant Pot using the sauté setting, cook the chopped bacon until crispy. Transfer the bacon to a plate and set aside.
  • Add the onions and jalapeno, and cook until softened. I don't drain the bacon grease because I think it adds to the flavor of the charro beans, but if there is a lot of it, you can drain most of it before adding the onions, leaving just a little to cook the onions in. Add the garlic in the last 30 seconds.
  • Add all of the remaining ingredients along with the bacon to the onions, jalapeno, and garlic in the Instant Pot, then secure the lid and change the setting to high pressure (my Instant Pot has a button for "beans/chili" that I press and set to "Normal") for 30 minutes.  
  • When the time is up, allow the pressure cooker to do a complete natural release before removing the lid.  It will take about 30-45 minutes.  


  • Slow Cooker Method: If making in the slow cooker, follow the same approach by cooking the bacon, onions, and garlic first in a pan, then add the remaining ingredients plus one additional cup of water and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.  There is no need to soak the beans if using the slow cooker approach, but if you DO want to soak them overnight beforehand first, they will cook in 5-7 hours on low instead of 8-10.
  • Stovetop Method: Soak for at least 8 hours or overnight in a bowl of water. Rinse and drain the beans well, then set aside. Cook the bacon until crispy in a large dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot. Transfer the crispy bacon to a plate and saute the onion and jalapeno in the bacon grease until softened. Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds, then add all of the remaining ingredients and cooked bacon to the pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook for another 20-30 minutes until the beans are tender and thickened to your liking.


Calories: 268kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 810mg | Potassium: 810mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 199IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 78mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

  1. 5 stars
    These would be a great side dish for taco night! I love how you can make them in the Instant Pot. Such a time saver!

  2. 5 stars
    Is is wrong that I just want this entire meal for lunch today lol?! I always order charro beans at my favorite Mexican restaurant so I'm so excited to learn to make them at home too.

  3. 5 stars
    I am loving this amazing side dish. It would pain well with so many main entrees. Your dishes are always so amazing!

  4. 5 stars
    Mexican food is well-known for taste, color, and perfect use of spices.Love this recipe. I would love to try charro beans.

  5. IP is a life saver..these charro beans are beautifully done to perfection.Would be such a great side and mexican food never goes wrong.

  6. 5 stars
    Dried beans are my favorite way to use my pressure cookers (electric and stove top)! Well, I love to use it for stock too...

    This is a brilliant post - informational and interesting. I was born and raised in southern California, spent 22 years in New Mexico, and only recently encountered charro beans when we moved to the Rio Grande Valley of FAR south Texas... This looks like an awesome recipe! Pinning.

  7. 5 stars
    These beans look amazing for a more exciting Mexican side dish! I just love how you work to incorporate recipes that speak to your different ancestries - what a fun way to learn more about the world and also invite interesting dinner time conversations with your girls. I will have to keep this in mind as my son gets older!

  8. 5 stars
    I actually don't think I've ever had Charro beans! I love the flavors in them, and they sound like a fantastic way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. One of the things I've loved most about my Instant Pot is how easy it makes cooking dried beans. The pressure cooker setting must really help to infuse all of those fragrant flavors into the beans in this recipe!

  9. 5 stars
    This looks like a great dish to have not only on Cinco de Mayo but on "Taco Tuesdays" too! Everyone celebrates taco Tuesday, right? lol! Love that it cooks up so quickly in the instant pot!

  10. 5 stars
    Cooked in the instant pot did you say?? I'm there. We're always on the hunt for new recipes to add to taco night. Saving this one!

  11. 5 stars
    Love the history and it's so interesting how traditions evolve, yet still at the same time continue to incorporate a sense of cultural pride for everyone to share and enjoy. AND those beans are happening soon, they look amazing!

  12. 5 stars
    We eat Mexican food several times a week in my house so I can't wait to try these beans! I think they'd be perfect for summer BBQs too.

  13. I love my InstantPot, but have yet to try beans in it. This looks like a great first recipe to try out! (Although I might disregard your 'forget tacos' instruction - fish tacos are my 3 year old's favorite food!)

    1. I think it would depend on the size of instant pot you have. I have the medium 6-quart size and I don't think I would risk it, but I'm sure you would be fine if you have the larger 8-quart size.

  14. 5 stars
    These were so good. We didn't have bacon so used butter to saute the onion. I also cooked them for 35 minutes and then lightly mashed some of the beans. My whole family loved them.

    1. I haven't tried it, but I would think so. They might be slightly watery after thawing, but you could warm them on the stove and cook them for a few minutes to thicken to the desired consistency.

  15. These charro beans are a big, big hit with my family. So delicious and easy!
    Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  16. 5 stars
    I have made this many times! It is fantastic. I often serve on the side with Pork tacos. I see no need for another pinto bean Mexican side dish recipe. This is it!

  17. 5 stars
    I added 1 pound 96% extra lean ground beef and a bell pepper to make it a dinner meal and it came out perfect and tasted super amazing!!! The whole family absolutely loved it! They called me the bean queen! Lol... I will definitely be making this A LOT!! Thank you for sharing!

  18. Mexican-Americans don’t celebrate 5 de Mayo. It’s mainly celebrated in actual Puebla,Mexico.

    1. Mexican-American here, ive held small Mexican food dinners with close friends on cinco de Mayo, and I’ve certainly seen lots of people celebrating with margaritas and tacos and shots of tequila and a good cerveza, it’s kinda like saint paddy’s day in the way it’s just an excuse to hang with friends and drink, and in this case eat. 

  19. These were amazing!! Thank you for sharing your recipe. I did add a few extra ingredients such as a cinnamon stick and a couple teaspoons of cocoa powder. 

  20. Wow, the flavors were great, the soup was delicious but way to much salt for me. My Mexian husband had no complaints. I'll reduce the salt, increase the cook time a few minutes and off we go.

  21. After cooking the bacon, do you chop it up into pieces before adding it back in with all the additional ingredients? 

    1. Sorry for the slow response - we've been away camping. I actually chop the bacon first and cook it by stirring it. It's so much easier that way! But I see I forgot to mention that detail in the recipe so I made the change.

  22. Wow, this looks good. Pinto beans have become a daily inclusion in my current diet, and this recipe is one I will try. I had been using my larger pressure cooker to batch cook the beans, but am now using my little 2 and 3 liter PCs with my Induction Cooktop. I just toss in a cup of beans, 2 1/2 cups of water and seasonings and spices and bring to pressure; then I set the time for 35', and when I return 45' later, all is done, about 2 1/2 cups. Sometimes I will add rice/quinoa (~2/3 C) + more water (1 1/3 C) and cook a few more minutes. I like to add bacon, too, or maybe chorizo, pork belly, sausage, or whatever; today I added some tripe I had cooked up. To my huge serving of all this, I add at least a cupful of pico de gallo made just like yours. I am trying to increase my potassium and magnesium intake and decrease my sodium intake. Naturally flavored beans like these are wonderful, because, if I omit the salt, they still taste great and provide all those difficult to come by mineral RDAs. I, too, go back in time to visit with my ancestors when I am preparing and eating a food they might have eaten themselves. And, as you quite know, you cannot really appreciate or share another's thoughts or culture until you have learned his cuisine. It's wondrous travel, no?

  23. These are absolutely amazing. I often have to cook mine longer than the 30 minutes for them to be soft enough but that’s easy enough. The flavor and ease of the recipe is just fabulous. Its a go-to recipe for me. 

    1. My parents make these all the time and they freeze them in zip loc baggies and thaw when they need a bag or two. They are a little soupier when they are thawed, but the flavor is the same.

  24. This is such a good recipe. Thank you. I'm cooking these in quarantine for Easter, so I subbed pinto bean seasoning for the spices and cooked these in my cast iron dutch oven. I soaked the beans, so they only took a couple of hours on the stove. They are delicious. We're having them with cilantro lime chicken and tortillas.

  25. Since my store was out of dried pinto beans, I used 3 cans and halved the other ingredients and seasoning.  The only thing I did not add any of was the diced tomatoes and chilies...just a preference of mine.  The beans came out with great flavor and I will definitely use your recipe again.  Thanks for sharing!

  26. I tried this recipe a couple of weeks ago and got rave reviews. My family licked the plate clean. I am making it again today and it will be a permanent side dish in our home.

  27. Family loved. Served with the Baja fish taco recipe. This is a crowd pleaser. Plan to serve extra beans for a yummy breakfast in the morning.

    1. You could maybe reduce your cooking time by 3-5 minutes. I never bother to soak them, so I can't give you an exact amount, but it should reduce the time under pressure slightly.

  28. I love your story about cooking for ancestry. That is such a wonderful tradition to pass on to your children.

  29. Mexican cuisine is one of the easiest cuisines to adapt to a vegan or vegetarian diet because of the creative use of spices, squash, grains, beans, etc. Growing up in California and then moving to Texas it's fair to say I've been eating Mexican and Mexican-inspired/fusion cuisines since I could handle solid food!

    I can't wait to try this out, vegetarian style with a good meatless bacon substitute or even just some larger slices of carmelised onion and a dash of smoke flavoring? I'll figure something out...this looks like a fantastic recipe and I bet it will go beautifully with a quinoa version of Mexican "rice" and some super fresh tortillas.

    YUMMY! Thanks so much for sharing!

  30. Followed the recipe and they were not done at 30 minutes added another 30min and perfect. Not sure if it was just my instapot or what. But flavor and everything else is on point. 

  31. Easy and delicious!!  It was so good I forgot to take a picture. I had family visiting from out of town and they all loved it. 

    1. Just made these beans. I scooped them out of the IP w/out the liquid, into a large mixing bowl, followed by adding some of the liquid it was cooked in and them blended them into refry w/out the refry. They came out perfect!

  32. Wow!  This recipe is fantastic!  My kitchen smells like a genuine Covina.  Really recommend this recipe serving tonight with chicken & skirt steak fajitas.

  33. If I wanted to cut the receipt in half, would I just got the instant pot time in half? I’m new to the instant pot! Thanks!!

  34. Made this tonight and they are AMAZING!!!  You definitely need to cook them for an hour instead of the recommended 30 minutes (in the pressure cooker/instapot) and you will get the PERFECT texture.  I was born and raised in south Texas with good ol’ TexMex and charro beans.  This recipe is a winner for sure!  I added the jalapeño and it gives the perfect spice.  I’ll be making this again and again!  THANK YOU!

  35. Excellent Recipe! I had to cook mine in the Insta-pot a full hour though. The pinto beans are also white in color and not red like in this photo. Maybe the photo is of red kidney beans??? Next time, i will make it with Pinquito beans. Anyway, great flavor.