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Borracho beans, or “drunken beans,” are flavorful pinto beans simmered with bacon, spices, and beer. Made in the slow cooker, enjoy them on their own or to round out any meal.
We almost never ate beans when I was growing up, but when I moved to Texas that all changed.
Now I try to work beans into our meals often, whether that’s through a chickpea salad, black bean soup, or butternut squash tacos with beans.
My kids are partial to refried beans, but my own favorite are borracho beans.
I love to serve them when we’re having dinner with friends, or whenever I want to have a delicious pot of leftovers at the ready!
What are borracho beans?
It’s possible you’re unfamiliar with borracho beans — I hadn’t heard of them until I was nearly 30.
Borracho in English translates to “drunken,” so these beans are simmered in beer to give them lots of flavor.
Don’t worry, only one bottle of beer is used for the entire batch of beans, so you won’t feel any alcoholic effects from eating them!
What are charro beans?
If you need to abstain from using beer in the recipe, or simply prefer it without, swap in more broth or water instead. Instead of borracho beans, you now have charro beans!
Ingredients for borracho beans
While everyone’s family borracho bean recipe is slightly different, this is what I use in mine.
Dried pinto beans – I prefer to use dried beans for a few reasons. One, dried beans are a lot cheaper than canned beans!
I also like to control the amount of salt in the beans, which is easy with dried beans.
Finally, because we’re cooking the beans in a slow cooker, the dried beans will have plenty of time to plump and soak up flavor.
If you prefer to not soak the beans, make sure you add extra time for them to cook.
Bacon – Bacon is sauteed and added to the beans. I add the bacon right away, but you can also wait and add it toward the end of cooking time.
Onion, garlic, and jalapeño – These are also sauteed, using the fat that renders from the bacon. The heat of jalapeño peppers can vary, so add more or less based on your own tastes. You could also use poblano or serrano pepper instead if you like.
Dark Mexican beer – Negra Modelo is the perfect beer for borracho beans. You can also use a black lager or German dunkel, or even Shiner Bock.
While Negra Modelo is a darker beer in style, it’s not a stout, so don’t swap in a Guinness if you’re looking for the classic borracho bean flavor (though that would probably still be delicious!).
Vegetable stock – Beans need a lot of liquid to cook and plump up, so vegetable stock and water are added.
Chicken stock can be used as well. Just grab what you have on hand!
The extra liquid will also help to create a delicious broth that can be served with the beans or enjoyed on its own.
Spices – To season the beans, I use salt, cumin, paprika, and Mexican oregano.
Mexican oregano has a different flavor than the oregano you might use for Mediterranean dishes. If you don’t have Mexican oregano, you can substitute marjoram, which has a more similar flavor than Greek oregano.
Cilantro – Fresh chopped cilantro is added at the end of the cooking time. If you don’t like the taste of cilantro, leave it out, or serve it on the side for guests to add as they wish.
How to make borracho beans in crock pot
To make these beans, you’ll first need to soak the dried beans for 8 hours, or overnight. Place the beans in a large bowl, picking out any grit or loose bits. Fill with enough water to cover the beans by a few inches.
When you’re ready to cook the beans, start by cutting the bacon into small pieces. Cook the bacon in a saute pan. If you have a saute function on your slow cooker, use that!
Once the bacon fat has started to render, add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño and saute until soft. Add the spices and stir well, until fragrant. Add to the slow cooker crock.
Add the beans and stir well, then stir in the beer, vegetable stock, and enough water to cover by 2 inches. Top with bay leaves.
Place the cover on the slow cooker and set on low for 6-8 hours. Sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro and serve.
Can I make borracho beans in the Instant Pot?
If you’re pressed for time but still want delicious beans, you can make this recipe in an Instant Pot.
Saute the bacon, onion, garlic, and jalapeño directly in the Instant Pot. Add the beans, beer, and vegetable stock.
Note: You will not need the extra water if making this recipe in the Instant Pot.
Cook the beans for 20 minutes at High Pressure, then natural release for 10-15 minutes.
If using unsoaked beans, cook for 30-40 minutes at High Pressure, then natural release for 10-15 minutes.
What to serve with borracho beans
We love to make these beans when we are grilling, but borracho beans are wonderful with virtually any meal, or simply served with rice and tortillas.
Try them with bison picadillo or steak roulade.
Top the beans with pickled jalapeños or pickled red onions, especially if you use them to make nachos!
Don’t forget to serve the beans with more Negra Modelo, or a frozen margarita.
Leftover borracho beans will keep stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
You can also freeze them!
To freeze borracho beans, let them cool completely, then transfer to freezer bags or containers. For freezer bags, remove excess air, seal, and lay flat to freeze.
Label the bags or containers and freeze. Frozen cooked beans will last for about 3 months.
Thaw in the refrigerator or heat slowly from frozen in a saucepan on the stove.
- 1 pound dried pinto beans
- 4 ounces bacon, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 jalapeño, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika, smoked preferred
- 12 ounces dark Mexican beer, such as Negra Modelo
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- Chopped fresh cilantro, to serve
- The night before you want to make the beans, place the dried beans in a bowl and cover with 8 cups water to soak.
- When ready to make the recipe, drain beans and set aside.
- In a saute pan (or saute function of your slow cooker), cook the bacon. Once the fat has started to render, add the onion, jalapeño, and garlic and cook until bacon is crisp and vegetables are softened.
- Stir in spices, then add beans and stir again.
- Add beer, broth, water, and bay leaves. Cover and set on Low for 6 hours. Taste and cook longer if needed.
- Serve with chopped fresh cilantro.
These were the best! So delicious! Will make again!
I was looking for this recipe and could not for the life of me remember what it is called. Thank you SO much! This tasted exactly like the recipe I was trying to recreate. Perfect!
I looooove beans! I can’t wait to make this recipe. It sounds like it’s got all the right flavors in it! Yum!
My family loves beans and these were delicious! The recipe was easy to follow.
Everyone loved these beans at my football game day party! So easy and flavorful! A great way to make pinto beans!
These borracho beans were SO tasty! I’m definately going to be making them again!
I learned a lot from your post about how to prepare borracho beans that I didn’t know. Thank you for a great recipe!!
I love a pot of beans and I make them delicious. I can’t wait to try your recipe. It sounds delicious. Thanks for posting it. I will probably include a ham hock as well.
Hello, my daughter has requested these beans for dinner tomorrow, but my car is out of commission, and I don’t have pinto beans at home. I’m wondering if I could swap out black beans, black eyed peas, or even chickpeas or for the pinto beans?
Hi Julie, yes, you can use another kind of bean in this recipe. I’d recommend black beans or black eyed peas.