Frijoles de la Olla (Beans from the Pot) 


Beans! One of the main ingredients in a Mexican diet. We, Mexicans, have been eaten beans for centuries. Beans are as important as maize for us, we literally eat them almost every day in many different ways, from the pot, fried, in soups, as a cream, etc., but all beans always start this way, cook in a pot, well, traditionally in a clay pot, like the one you see on the picture, people say that beans that have been cook in a clay pot taste different and it is true, well at least that is what I discovered.

You see, in my family, like any other family in Mexico, had a special pot to cook beans and a special frying pan to cook refried beans, my mum’s lasted more than 30 years, it was a aluminium pot, but I quite recently bought a clay pot and I started to cook my beans in it and I totally understand what people say, so if you have the opportunity to get a clay pot, do it! You will thank me for this advice, you’ll see!

Ok, now talking about this recipe, yes! It is a very basic recipe, but there are some people that sometimes get it wrong and I include myself in that group, because it wasn’t until two years ago that I learned to cook beans properly, sometimes I used to put too much water or very little salt, so don’t feel bad if you are one of those persons as well.

But let’s start with the recipe.

Recipe to cook 500 gr beans

Serves around 7 bowls

Cook around 1 hr approx


  • 500 gr pinto or black beans
  • 1 litre or more water
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Fresh or dry epazote (optional)
  • Salt to taste (it is added almost at the end)

To garnish

  • 1 Jalapeño chilli finely chopped
  • 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  • 50 gr coriander chopped
  • Queso fresco or feta cheese crumbled


Soak the beans in plenty of water for 2 hrs, once they have been soaking for a while, the beans will absorb most of the water. Get rid off some of the water and place them in a cast iron casserole pot and add water until the beans are cover, plus a bit more. Add the peeled onion and garlic.

Then place the pot over high. At this stage don’t add the salt, it will harden the beans and they will take longer to cook. When the water starts boiling, turn the heat down to low and cook for around 45 min, check them from time to time and add more water if needed. After 45 min try one grain of bean, if it is a bit tender add the salt and the epazote and cook for 15 more min and check if they are completely tender, then turn the heating off and done.

To have them as a soup, serve some in a bowl and garnish them with chopped onion, coriander, spicy chopped fresh chilli and some queso fresco or feta.



Join the Conversation

  1. Karlita – do you soak the beans?

    1. Yes, just for two hours. Some people do it over night, but there is no need.

  2. Have you ever heard of Frijoles Puercos. I have been trying to duplicate the Refried beans served in California. They are creamy. I just heard that they use Frijoles Puercos with lard. I so wish I could find a recipe that tastes like what we get in restaurants.

    1. Hi! Apologies to reply until today! Yes, frijoles puercos are made with chorizo and other ingredients.
      My mum’s family has their own recipe for frijoles puercos.

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