Frijoles de la Olla

Growing up the three food staples were tortillas, salsa, and our simple pot of frijoles. A pot of freshly made frijoles or “frijoles de la olla” is my absolute favorite way to eat frijoles. I love how pure and fresh they taste fresh from the olla. As soon as they were ready to eat I would fill a large bowl of frijoles, add some fresh salsa and scoop them up with a homemade tortilla. My mom always said, “If there are frijoles in the house then you have something to eat.” These little nuggets can be eaten fresh, refried, or mixed in with chorizo. One pot of frijoles can evolve into so many other dishes, for example: refried beans, chili beans, over a tostada, and so many others. Frijoles were the side dish of choice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in our home. Eaten fresh or refried, these little morsels can create a slew of other recipes. The sky is the limit but don’t forget, the secret is starting off with that fresh pot of frijoles de la olla.

Frijoles de la Olla

Yield: 6 servings


2 cups dried pinto beans

¼ onion (optional)

Salt to taste



Measure out the beans. Spread the beans over your counter so you can look for beans that are broken, discolored, or shriveled and remove them. There will also be small stones or pebbles that should be sorted out of the beans during this phase. Discard all of the undesirable pieces.

Place beans in a colander. Rinse the beans thoroughly with cool water for about 3 minutes.

This step is not necessary, but your beans will be lighter in color and “mas bonitos” as my mom says:

Soak your beans for 4 to 6 hours before cooking. Ensure that your beans are covered with a lid. I never soak them and they still come out bonitos. I think they come out bonitos when the beans are fresh. I prefer to be a rebel and skip this step.

Pour the drained beans into a large pot. Add enough water to reach 3 inches over the beans. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and simmer until the beans are tender, about 3 - 4 hours, adding more hot water as the beans absorb liquid. Every pot is different and so check your beans after 2 hours. Most take 3 - 4 hours but I have a pot I love to cook my beans in because it only takes 2 hours.

Add salt and onions (onions are optional) about one hour before complete. Refrigerate beans when cooled. The beans can be frozen in small bowls for later use.

Beans can be refrigerated for (5) days.

Our recipe is featured in the April 2011 issue of Latina Magazine.

Photography by Jeanine Thurston

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  1. I love a good pot of beans. Great tips and picture.

  2. This looks like a great recipe. Very simple and easy to follow. Thanks for posting it!

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  4. We love frijoles de la olla at my house. My Mom adds a couple of garlic cloves while cooking and removes them after. I love a bowl of fresh frijoles with queso fresco. I have to make some now. Thanks!

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  6. I am planning a baby shower for my bestie, and like this recipe. I see you say they can be refrigerated for 5 days. I’d love to be able to make them the day before and reheat, but only if they’ll be delicious still. Thanks for any info.

  7. The beans were a hit at the baby shower, but I made about a million too many. So I froze half the leftovers (my Grandma ate the other half in about a minute). Now, when I thaw them how do I make them refried? Do I drain the water out, or leave it in. I know some people add lard or bacon fat, I usually buy the vegetarian ones in the store, so I don’t think I’d want to. Anyway, what do you recommend?

  8. Sorry, I found my answer in one of your other recipes, you can delete that and this if you’d like.

  9. I would like to know the same thing Ashley Mae!

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  11. Could you specify how many cups of water are to be added to the beans for cooking? Your recipe only mentions three inches of water above the beans. Love your book!

    • Monica it really depends on the pot you use which is why we say about 3 inches of water above the dried beans once in the pot. Sorry wish I could be more specific.

  12. If I double the recipe will it double the time as well?

  13. I feel so dumb, but here goes: my beans always take 6 or more hrs to cook and even then some seem to be just barely done. Frijoles de la Olla are my favorite way of eating beans but I am so discouraged by my own results I have almost given up. Any suggestions ?

    • Hi Madonna,

      What type of pot do you have? I’ve noticed if the pot I use is thicker stainless or a heavy stock pot/Dutch oven my beans cook faster. It might be time to buy yourself a new olla 😉

  14. My absolute favorite way to make beans is to slice up “salt pork” into thin slices, add 3/4 of a stick of chorizo and 5 cups of beans into a large pot. Fill the pot of water up to about two inches from the rim and start to boil the water. After it boils for about 5 minutes, you but it on a low heat for about 30 minutes, covered. Then after 30 minutes, you put alittle more water into the pot and let it stay on a low heat again, until the beans are nice and soft. This is the best way that I’ve tasted

  15. Can you add garlic, cumin, cilantro and bacon to it? I need them healthy but this just seems too easy!! Please help!

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