Beans: Frijoles de Olla or Beans from the Pot


Beans: Frijoles de Olla or Beans from the Pot

The uses of beans in Mexican cooking are immense. Although you can buy them already made, if you make them at home they have a much nicer flavor and you will give your kitchen an irresistible smell. You can make a lot of them and refrigerate a batch which should last in the refrigerator for about 4 to 5 days. You can freeze another batch which will last for months.

I will give you two tips, included in the recipe below, if you make them at home:

1. Don’t add the salt in the beginning or it will toughen the beans. Add it at least after an hour of cooking when the beans are already a bit soft.

2. You don’t need to soak them the night before cooking. Yes, that helps to reduce the cooking time, but it is not necessary. If you do soak them, don’t soak them more than 12 to 14 hours, because they may begin to ferment and you will finish with a Chinese rather than Mexican tasting dish.

I like making them with either Black beans, traditional in the South of Mexico, Peruvian beans, which are more used in the Central part of Mexico, or with Pinto beans which are more customary in the North. The latter ones have a creamier feel and more subtle flavor.

Traditionally Frijoles de la Olla are cooked in an earthenware pot. It does impart a special Pueblo style flavor.

Many cooks in Mexican kitchens make them in pressure cookers, as it cuts the time almost in half, but I am a bit weary of them, as I have seen one too many explode!! Plus, cooking beans only requires you to be home for a certain amount of time, you don’t need to do anything but peek in every once in a while to make sure that there is still enough liquid.

I cook mine sometimes in an old earthenware pot and sometimes in a normal large cooking pot. They both work very well.

Beans from the Pot

Frijoles de Olla
5 cups beans, 2 cups cooking broth
Pati Jinich
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: beans, onion, pati's mexican table, pinto beans, Recipe, refried beans
Author:Pati Jinich
Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
The uses of beans in Mexican cooking are immense. Although you can buy them already made, if you make them at home they have a much nicer flavor and you will give your kitchen an irresistible smell. You can make a lot of them and refrigerate a batch which should last in the refrigerator for about 4 to 5 days. You can freeze another batch which will last for months.


  • 1 pound (or about 2 1/4 cups) pinto, peruvian or black beans
  • 1/2 white onion, about 1/2 pound, outer skin peeled off
  • 10 cups water, may add more if necessary
  • 1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste

To Prepare

  • Rinse the beans in cold water and drain. Place them in a big heavy pot and cover with enough water to come up to at least 3″ above the top of beans, about 10 cups of water. Incorporate the onion and bring to a boil. Let the beans simmer, partially covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, until the beans are soft and then add the salt. Don’t add the salt in the beginning or it will toughen the beans.
  • Let them continue simmering, for about another 15 minutes, or until the beans are so soft they come apart if you hold one between your fingers, and the broth has thickened to a soupy consistency. If the beans are not yet soft and the broth is drying out, add more water. Before eating, remove the cooked onion with a slotted spoon.

123 comments on “Beans: Frijoles de Olla or Beans from the Pot

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  1. Pati, I watch your show every time it is on. I love to cook and I love Mexican food. These beans….so delicious. Plain and simple to make. almost zero effort and a delicious result. I can use them to make so many things, or alone like the bowl I just ate for “quality control” I did not soak them, only inspect and rinse. I did add a smoked pork tail, part of my southern tradition. Thank you for always inspiring me. You show us how simple these dishes really are to make.

    1. Thanks so much Michell for your kind words. These beans are really incredible, you know, you can use them to prepare molletes, beans with pork, roasted tomato and black bean soup or just a bowl of beans with some sour cream, queso fresco and chopped jalapeno, yum!

  2. I have been cooking pinto beans all of my life, but this easy recipe turned out the best beans ever! Thank you, Patti!

      1. lol! I am now an expert, thanks to you, Pati. Sorry I spelled your name incorrectly! I love your show and watch it faithfully. You are always so happy, and it is a joy to see you and your boys cooking and eating together.

  3. Pati, I love your show. My older brother is a linguistic anthropologist. He spends a lot of time in rural Oaxaca. I love ancient food ways. I am currently locked down due to coronavirux, so I’ve been cooking lots of long cooking time things. I made red people from dried posole, with your recipe, yum. Now I’m gonna try beans. Thank you for all of your recipes! After beans, I’m doing chilorio. I make mole all the time I buy coloradito paste on Amazon. So yummy! I love in Colorado so I have access to many Mexican ingredients. You rock!


    1. Hi Emily, thanks for your message. Love to read that you have been busy with some of my recipes, yay! Greetings all the way to Colorado, hang in there and stay strong 😉

    1. Hey Thomas! Peruvian beans have a very distinctive yellowish color when they are raw. Once cooked, they turn light brown, kind of like pintos but lighter 😀

  4. What color are Peruvian beans? I have made beans from the pot with pinto, black, and white beans. I can never find Peruvian beans on a store label.

    1. Hi Tom! Peruvian beans have a very peculiar yellowish color when dry, and once you cook them they turn a light brown, much more lighter than pintos, but are actually a very good substitute of those 😉

  5. Gracias Dona Pati , Un fiel seguidor aprendiendo y disfrutando la autentica cocina Mexicana de todas las regiones, una verdadera experta como es usted. Con todo Respeto y orgullo.

  6. I’m excited to try this. I’ve been watching a lot of your episodes and have a whole list of dishes I want to try. I feel like I’m really learning to cook and growing a passion for it when I watch your show. 🙂 I love beans and have always been hesitant to make them. Thank you for spreading your passion for cooking with us. I’m so inspired!

    1. Thank you Kristyn for this sweet message, so glad to read that you are getting into cooking, you are going to have so much fun 😉

      1. I’ve never been taught to cook from parents or family, my mom always worked so we ate out a lot. But I’m Mexican and I feel like for the first time, I’m learning about my roots and where my family is from (although my family is from Zacatecas and Jalisco). I told my boyfriend you’re like the auntie I never had, teaching me to cook. It’s been a very beautiful experience for me, Pati. Thank you so much!

    1. That’s it Catherine, nothing else! Except when I use black beans, sometimes I add a bunch of epazote at the beginning. Enjoy!

  7. all these years i thought i couldn’t make beans because of the whole soaking thing. I DID IT!!!! My favorite thing ever, my kids most requested for dinner. Canned will never be purchased again. Thank you Pati!!! Love your show, love your recipes. I’m so happy I stumbled upon your show.

  8. Hello Pati. If I was to use Bacon as an additional ingredient, how many pieces of bacon would you recommend? Would the bacon go in raw or partially cooked? Thanks.

  9. Thank you Pati, I love your shows on PBS! And you are so beautiful and fun to watch because you are so passionate about your foods! Your boys are so handsome. I am going to follow your pinto bean recipe. During the last part of cooking I lay a whole large jalapeño pepper right in the middle of the pot, which my husband devours later. Also I have a few favorite spices I usually add. It maybe I will hold off this time so I can taste YOUR beans. Thank you again!💖

  10. Hi Pati!!!!! If I want to add a clove of garlic, should I add it in the beginning or wait a while so it doesn’t overpower the beans?

  11. I cook mine in a small crockpot overnite works great ..when nice in texture smash a few with a fork against side of pot thickens broth nicely

  12. Is there a particular reason you don’t soak your beans? Does it effect the texture/ flavor if you only soak them overnight? If you do soak them how might that effect the rest of your recipe, cooking time etc?

    1. For dry beans I don’t soak…it’s a matter of cooking them the right amount of time to get the right texture.

  13. ¡Hola Pati! ¡Me encanta tu show!

    Oye, un preguntita..lo que pasa es que no tengo una olla grande. Simplemente tengo una pequeña, de esas que son como para hervir agua, quizá como de 2 litros. Aún puedo hacerlos ahí?? Gracias. Un abrazo.

    1. To cure a clay pot you have to wash it with foamy warm water, rinse well, fill it with water and then set it over low heat and leave it there for hours… until all water evaporates. A bit laborious, but worth it, Michael. Have fun with your new olla!

  14. Hi there,
    I was wondering if you had any suggestions as to how to reduce the “gassy” consequences of eating beans.

    1. Dairy seems to make the situation, or make the situation worse. Go light, if any, with accompanying dairy, when eating bean products. I love, love, love chili with grated cheese, but have cut that way back.

  15. Hi Pati! I have a bean pot and would love to use it for these, but it can not go on the stove top. Any suggestions for putting it in the oven?
    Thank you!

  16. I’ve used this recipe over and over, and again today on this chilly Florida fall day (65 degrees F, lol). I will never do it any other way with my dry legumes! Today I am using red kidney beans. Toward the end, I may add some browned meat (whatever is in the freezer), and will serve with plain white rice. The left-overs will be my lunch at work all next week. Oh! The glorious economy of rice and beans. Thank you Pati! – Mr. Gus (Gustavo)

  17. I cook my beans in a slow cooker over night, I do not put onions, nor do I add salt. They come out soft and delicious. I put half in the freezer and half in the refrigerator to use during the day.

  18. Hola, Pati. I am so glad to read that you favor dispensing with the tired, old habit of soaking beans! I think there’s a trend now to just cook them and forgo soaking because I’ve read this elsewhere. Oh, black beans are so much better just plain cooked! Love you and your boys and your show!

  19. In Patti’s email Bruce had a question regarding cooking beans until they are soft enough to eat. I do agree with Patti and I often do not soak my beans overnight. Some say that soaking the beans allow them to not create gas. Oh I am not for sure if that was the proper way to phrase that. Also when adding make up water or stock to the beans, only add hot liquid. The cooling down and the heat having to rebound can make the beans tough. Also, if you are adding any acid to the beans such as lime juice or vinegar, add that to the beans at the end of cooking after they are soft. Also you should consider your elevation where you are cooking. At sea level water boils at about 220 deg. F. At 220 your soaked beans should take about 2 hours to cook. Lets say you are at 7000 feet above sea level in southern NM. At 7000 water boils at 190 deg. F. So, you can only cook the beans at that temp. At 7000 feet it will take your beans simmering for 4 hours to get cooked. Hope this helps, Steve Gibson, “Camp Cookie”.

  20. I like to add some smoke pork or turkey bones at the time of cooking, whern are done some chorizo and bacon 🥓

  21. How would I measure for 1 – 2 people? Should I assume 1 cup of frijoles for each person?

    1. Depends on how hungry you are…you can cut the recipe in half to make less but they make for some delicious leftovers!

  22. HI Pati and thank you for opening up my “Mexican Table”! I’m making your beans in my brand new Instant Pot. Do you think I need to be concerned about adding salt at the beginning given that I’m pressure cooking them? I’m playing it safe today, no salt till I “fry” them.

    Oh and I’m stepping outside the box. I didn’t want to use hydrogenated lard so got some pork suet from my butcher. I can hardly wait to smell & taste the beans!

  23. Does the age of the pinto beans matter? My bean broth is not clear it is cloudy and greyish?

    1. ​Hm, it is normal for them to split a little as they soften when they are fully cooked. I usually boil and then simmer too. Maybe you are cooking them too much?​

  24. If I want to use two pounds (dry beans), can I simply double all the ingredients and add enough water to cover 3″ above the top of the beans? Or does it not work that way?

  25. I made these today! I put a whole shishito pepper in the beans along with the onion and oh my gosh, they were so good. It did take over two hours for them to cook until tender — I did not soak them like you suggested. I will most definitely make these again.

  26. Love your cook book Pati. Simple pot of beans is excellent and easy, used them to make your refried beans recipe – awesome! and bean burgers also delicious.

  27. Hi Pati,
    Thank you so much for the Pan de Muerto recipe! I love to bake and am really looking forward to giving it a try! I do have a question about your Frijoles de Olla though. When you add it, how much epazote do you use? And do use it dried or fresh?


  28. I came across your show on PBS yesterday, and I must say, it was wonderful to hear once more, an accent that could have been my own mother speaking, some 60 years ago. That’s why I started to watch, but your recipe lomitos de Valladolid was why I stayed on the channel. Now after the show, I searched to find your recipe for cooking beans, as I thought it might be similar to my mothers, which it is. We also had beans daily, and I love them. After an accident almost 20 yrs ago, I lost the memory of all my and my mother’s recipes. So, now I try to reconstruct them as best I can. I do recognize when something tastes just right, as if my taste buds have better recall than my brain. I never wrote recipes down since I could recall them perfectly, but I would recommend to everyone that they write them down for the next generation. Anyway, back to beans: I think except for a touch of cilantro or garlic, depending on the bean, your recipe is very like the taste I remember. I can only thank you with a grateful heart. (I will be poring over your entire recipe blog!)

    1. I usually make as is with salt, epazote, and onion, but I am of the belief that there are few rules in Mexican cooking… the jalapeno may be a delicious addition! Go for it!

      1. Regarding the Jalapeno, our recipe for beans is quite like this one Pati. Once in the serving dish, we offer chopped onion, Jalapenos and diced tomatoes to spoon over the beans. Serve with a slice of Jalapeno, or plain, cornbread. A meal made in heaven. Love your show!

  29. Hi pati, i just wanted to thank you, I am a white woman narried to a mexican man and i dont know what i would do without your recipes.. thanks again so much.

  30. I love your show especially when you go to San Miguel. We go there often and stay at La Questa me encanta. LA receta para chilaquilles porfavor. Muchas graces.
    La Yola

  31. Our family loves this recipe! It is so easy and so delicious! I look forward to trying more of your recipes!

  32. Not sure if my request was submitted or not, so here I go again.
    I watched your show cooking black beams for Big Brunch Enchiladas and you used an herb comparable to cilantro, but I could not quite understand the name of it. Will you please let me know what the herb is?

    Thank you

    1. Of course Elizabeth, it is called Epazote. Available fresh and also dried in Latino or international grocery stores.

  33. Hi there,
    I just love your show, you inspire me to do more and try new things.
    I just watched you cook black beans in a clay pot for your Big Brunch Enchiladas and you used an herb that is comparable to cilantro. I could not understand the name of it so please let me know what it is.
    Thank you for all you do. Looks like your are a proud mama and a busy one.

    Thank you,

  34. Hi Pati!

    I am making this recipe and I really hope I did it right. Your method seems to not require the beans to soak at all, is that right? I hope I am doing this the right way! My husband loves Mexican food more than anything and I really want to impress him with this. Does the 1TBSP of salt add an overpowering salt flavor to the beans? If so I might want to cut back on the salt a bit. Thanks in advance for any answers!

    1. No soaking! The 1 tablespoon of salt is just enough, for that 1 pound of beans, for my taste. But if you are not sure, you can start with half and add more as you go.

  35. I love your show, and have made many of your recipes and have enjoyed them all. I have a kamado barbecue called the big green egg. I have been making pot beans for years slow cooking them over wood charcoal. I use pinto beans, add lard or bacon fat, onions and water, in a earthenware bean pot. I let this mixture cook for 4 hours at around 225 deg. I then cube up some of my homemade bacon, sautéed with more onion and a Serrano or jalapeño. I also add some chicken broth to boost the beans broth flavor. Usually I let the beans stay on this low slow cooking for around 8 hours. The broth thickens, and the flavors are just amazing. I dont think they are traditional pot beans, but in our home they are a huge staple. Is there a name for beans adding bacon or smoked pork in Mexico? Is that charro beans? Thank you for your inspiring recipes!

  36. Hi Pati,

    I bought a new olla for making frijoles. I have always cooked them in an iron pot, but now I want to use the clay pot. Should I prepare it in a special way? I want to use it on my gas stove and also in my outdoor wood-fired oven. Do you have any tips for doing this?
    Having traveled by car through many parts of Mexico, I love the many regional food styles. I enjoy your show on PBS that re-awakens my memories of those travels. It also inspires me to try cooking the foods I remember and the new ones you show us. Muchas gracias. Myrleen

    1. Thank you so much for watching my show, Myrleen. I am so glad it brings back memories and recipes! Yes: to use your clay pot all you need to do is wash it well with soapy water, rinse throughly. Fill it to the rim with water and place it over low heat, let the water come to a gentle simmer and evaporate. Once you have very little left, like an inch, let it sit there over night. Rinse and use. However, you can’t use your clay pot over high heat even if you have cured it.

  37. Hi Pati,

    I’ve made beans before and will definitely try it the way you have in the recipe. However, how in the world does one get past the gas factor? The household seems to be gassy after a nice bowl of beans and I’ve gotten many tips; use garlic, use olive oil, use baking soda. I’m overwhelmed. Any suggestions?

    Absolutely love that I discovered you on my local PBS station. I look forward to your show every weekend.

    1. Oh well, there are many tricks people use. Some cooks like to soak the beans. Some cooks like to bring the beans to a boil and then drain that water and refill again. I just like to cook them until they are almost coming apart from being so soft… it works!

  38. I have been making beans for some time now and they have never tasted as good as these. I followed your recipe exact using Peruvian beans and WOW! Estan deliciosos! Perfect amount of broth, beans nice and soft and the salt is just right. Thank you. These will go great with chilaquiles tomorrow morning.

  39. So true, a Mexican home always has beans. I have a fresh pot I just made. I love caldo de frijoles sprinckled with fresh cheese. So easy and delicious!

  40. Hi Patti, am going to try this recipe today, thanks for the sharing.
    I am trying to find a Mexican bean recipe that a local Mexican restaurant uses. Is it considered bad taste to require of the recipe? It is so very good.
    What do you think of using lard in a recipe and also bay leaves? I have not done so, but am wondering.
    Thanks for the tip about the salt.

    1. It is not bad taste at all, on the contrary! I always find it super flattering when someone asks me for a recipe, it will probably make them fill proud. Lard and bay leaves sounds fabulous: go for it.

  41. Hello!
    My parents are from Mexico so I grew up on rice & beans. My mother (and I think every mexican woman that I’ve asked) always ‘cleans’ the beans by sorting out the ‘ugly’ ones. Picking out blackened, shriveled, and other odd looking beans makes a huge difference to the flavor. Sometimes I’ve found little rocks and very strange beans amongst, yes, even store bought, bagged beans. A NECESSARY STEP for the perfect Frijoles a la Olla!

  42. Hello,

    I bought a small olla. 20oz. I’ve been trying to find a good black bean recipe for this size olla, but I can’t seem to find one. Do you have any tips on how much water, garlic, onions, etc. I should use when cooking black beans in an olla this small? And how long I should cook them for?

    1. I would use a quarter or a white onion, cover with as much water as you can, and cooking time will be about the same, as you are starting with dry beans…

  43. Beans are it, this I know.
    I like to make my beans with an overnight light soak, then epazote, beer and tiny bit of onion and garlic, to give them a slight savory layer.
    I love your recipes and this site!

  44. Thanks for the recipe. I’d like to make a small observation, if after 1 1/2 hr the bean as not yet cooked,and you need to add water to the beans make sure to add hot water and not cold water. Cold water will harden the beans and will slow down the cooking process. As a variation you can also add and herb called epazote about 20 min before there done to give it a different flavor. Saludos 🙂

  45. Hi Pati! I’m just about to try my hand at making the beans. I have fond memories of when I was growing up we would go visit my Nana and she ALWAYS had beans on the stove. I think she would add a dried chile in the pot if I remember right. I thought about trying this but would you recommend putting one in in the beginning or at the end or does it matter? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hola Robert!
      I remember growing up and always seeing a pot of beans on the stove too! And now, I usually just make my beans with some onion, though I do know people that cook theirs with some garlic too. While I’ve never tried cooking them with dried chiles at the beginning of cooking, sometimes I add the chiles in at the end. Here is a link to my recipe for charro beans, where I use jalapenos for another layer of flavor with my beans:

    2. I put a dried chili in my beans when cooking them, also in chicken soup, turkey soup and stews. Take the chili out before serving. It adds a very subtle touch and a hint of spice and heat. Most people can not tell what the flavor is, but love it.

  46. Hi Pati!
    I’m so glad I found your site! It’s wonderful! I’m a Filipina married to a wonderful Hispanic man, so learning to cook authentic Mexican food is a must! lol I grew up eating Mexican food because my best friend is half…so I got to enjoy the wonderful flavors it has to offer!
    I noticed that every household makes different rice and different beans. Though the ingredients are similar, the taste is slightly different. My husband’s grandma makes a different tasting rice and beans than my friend’s mom & grandma. I just thought that was interesting. I favor my friend’s mom’s rice & beans just because I grew up on it, but of course, I had to learn how to make my husband’s grandma’s rice and beans. For some reason though, I just can’t seem to make my beans look like his grandmother’s. She doesn’t put onions in her beans—just a clove of garlic and some bacon or fat of some sort. Have you tried it this way? The beans come out good. They just don’t seem to taste the same, and I can’t figure out why. :\ Anyway, this is just me trying to make sense of everything. Like I said, I’m glad I came across your food blog! I love it!

    1. Hi Char! I agree, there are as many ways of cooking beans are there are cooks! I always make mine with onion, though I would tell you to just choose what you like the best and/or to make what your hubby likes to keep him happy. Thanks for visiting!

  47. Ya te lo dije, pero te lo digo de nuevo… Esta receta y este post me hacen tener mucha nostalgia de la patria.. ¡Qué antojo de unos frijoles de olla en casa de mi abuelo!