I can’t believe it’s not bacon: Pinto Beans

Vegan Pinto Beans - The Reluctant Hippie

Make these. Trust me. You will not be sorry. Eat them with rice, add them to quesadillas, dip chips in them – whatever you want to do. Just make these.

I had always made pinto beans with bacon. It’s not an easy flavor to replicate, but smoked paprika does the trick in this vegan dish. The Hippie Husband is a real snob when it comes to beans, and he loved these. So did Little Hippie and Baby Hippie. I made this on the grill last week so we could beat the heat.


  • 1 pound pinto beans, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 7-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14-oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika [EDIT: this depends on the brand of paprika. You might want to try 1 tsp. plain and 1 tsp. smoked, then adjust if needed]
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Water


  1. In a dutch oven or stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and a pinch of salt. Cook until onion turns translucent.
  2. Add the garlic and jalapeno. Cook for one more minute.
  3. Add beans, tomatoes, smoked paprika, a teaspoon of salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and enough water to cover.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. You may cook them on the range over low heat or bake in the oven at 350 degrees (or cook it on the grill on a hot day).
  5. Once the beans are tender, use a potato masher to mush things up a bit. Taste and adjust seasoning (you will probably need more salt, maybe a bit more paprika or pepper).
  6. Stir in cilantro before serving.

6 thoughts on “I can’t believe it’s not bacon: Pinto Beans

  1. Pingback: If You Enjoyed “The Tyranny of the Home-Cooked Meal” | The Reluctant Hippie

  2. Your beans look great…. so I’m thinkin’ you might like a non-tomato-y version that comes out relatively similar? Our rule of thumb, which I’ve taught my children to memorize, is simply this: Salt/Sugar (they round each other out), Pepper/Pepper/Pepper (black pepper, red pepper flakes, cayenne – all to taste….. we can add more later, but these lend towards a ‘meaty’ flavor), Onion/Garlic (preferably both fresh and dried – – – prefer garlic granules to garlic powder, and minced dried onion to powdered onion), Oregano/Cumin/Chili-Powder (depending on the use of the beans, I use more or less of some of these – most often skipping the chili powder if skipping anything). Towards end, rather than mashing some, IMHO – the texture is better if there is a good 15-20 minutes worth of stirring a good bit – – you know, when you are tasting at the end and adjusting the seasoning? It happens naturally when we adjust seasonings and I simply enjoy stirring because I love the smell of the beans while I get some rice or potatoes or slaw or cornbread ready to go with the beans……… // For Jamaican styled black beans, we add allspice and ginger. Anyway, I’ve never seen a recipe online that combines things quite that way, which surprises me, but I don’t plan to start blogging just to let the secret out. —– I try to put vegan on the table as often as possible, but my hubs wants his meaty-grub at times…… It took time for me to get my beans right, but when I did, my husband finally admitted that I didn’t have to keep adding ham to our beans (we have inexpensive Canadian bacon available to us, so he was quick to want to add that……. !not anymore!)…… Still, since I’m not vegan, when there are rib bones in the house, my husband wants those in the beans. I don’t mind, so I toss them in, AND WHEN I DO? PEOPLE HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO FIGHT OVER THOSE BEANS….. They do have a ’rounder flavor’ I guess, but I personally don’t miss it…… I can tell the difference, and I know why some people prefer those bone-in-beans……. so if I’m going to share my beans with someone, and I can get my hands on bones, I do ……… but otherwise, I couldn’t care less…… Those seasoning combinations are surprising………. Feel free to experiment with them and ‘call it your own’……… I’m just surprised to never find all those ingredients in one recipe……..

  3. Pingback: 2018 Freezer Meal Challenge | The Reluctant Hippie

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