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Instant Pot Borracho Beans

I hate to brag (no, okay, I love to brag), but our burrito bowl game has gotten really strong over the past year and a half. And a big part of the credit has to go to my Instant Pot borracho beans.

Though I don’t think the Instant Pot is a do-it-all savior for every single type of meal, I love having it around for making certain meals and staple ingredients. Like beans!

If you’re one of those people who just reaches for a can of beans because you can’t deal with the long cook time of making beans on the stove, I highly recommend you grab an Instant Pot for this recipe alone.

burrito bowl made with borracho beans
Photo: Casey Barber

(That is, if the Mexican pulled chicken thighs haven’t already convinced you.)

Beans are definitely one of the foods an Instant Pot does incredibly well. Any type of bean can be simmered to the perfect point of tenderness in the Instant Pot.

And because it’s so easy, you won’t feel compelled to make a huge amount—you can do just enough for 2 or 4 servings.

bowl of borracho beans with cilantro
Photo: Casey Barber

What are borracho beans anyway?

Today, we’re playing with pinto beans, the traditional variety used in borracho beans. Borracho translates to “drunken” in Spanish, and that’s why you’ll find beer as one of the ingredients in this dish.

It’s a traditional Mexican, and later Tex-Mex, recipe. And as with many of these passed-down-and-around dishes, recipes vary wildly.

Some have bacon; mine are vegetarian. Some include epazote, but I substitute Mexican oregano, which is always on my spice shelf.

And because I’m me, there are two kinds of garlic in this recipe—both fresh cloves and dried flakes. What can I say? I love a garlicky bean!

burrito bowls made with borracho beans
Photo: Casey Barber

And yes, I do recommend that you at least seek out Mexican oregano here. It has a slightly more earthy, spicy flavor profile than Mediterranean oregano. I promise you’ll notice the difference in a good way.

If you’re avoiding alcohol, you can substitute a quality stock or broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable) for the beer, and you’ll just have beans by a different name. They’re often known as charro (cowboy) beans, ranchero beans, or ranch beans.

But I love the slight sweetness that a dark Mexican lager brings to this recipe, so that’s what I go with. (Mexican lager is also a fantastic beer to use in my favorite pizza dough recipe!)

burrito bowl made with borracho beans
Photo: Casey Barber

What can I serve with borracho beans?

My favorite way to eat borracho beans is, as I mentioned, in homemade burrito bowls. But that’s just one option for these flavorful frijoles. You can also:

  • use them as an enchilada filling
  • fold them with eggs for a breakfast burrito or taco filling
  • top them with a fried egg and salsa for a huevos rancheros-style meal
  • load them into a baked Russet or sweet potato, or serve over mashed potatoes
  • simply serve them in their cooking liquid and top with your favorite chili toppings

Do I have to soak my beans for the Instant Pot?

No, you don’t necessarily have to pre-soak beans when making them in an Instant Pot. But I like to do it anyway.

I think the beans are more tender when they have a chance to take a long soak and really plump themselves up from the inside.

burrito bowl made with borracho beans

To me, beans that go into the pot without a pre-soak are more toothsome and retain a firmer texture when cooked. It might be all in my head, but that’s my experience.

If you choose not to pre-soak—or, let’s be honest, if you forget to pre-soak your beans—just add 15 minutes to the cooking time.

It will be fine either way, I promise!

burrito bowl made with borracho beans

Instant Pot Borracho Beans

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Additional Time: 6 hours 15 minutes
Total Time: 7 hours 5 minutes

Make Instant Pot borracho beans for tender, flavorful beer-and-garlic beans without the all-day simmer time. Great for burrito bowls, enchiladas, or on their own as a vegetarian side dish.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound (8 ounces; 227 grams) pinto beans, soaked for 6 hours
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, de-seeded and minced
  • 1 teaspoon onion flakes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic flakes
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 vegetable bouillion cube
  • 12 ounces dark Mexican lager
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions

  1. Drain the beans and pour into the bowl of the Instant Pot, then stir in the remaining ingredients.
  2. Close the lid tightly and make sure the release knob is set to Sealing.
  3. Set the Instant Pot for 30 minutes on High pressure, or use the Bean/Chili setting if it's available. (The times for the automatic buttons may vary based on your model, so you can always adjust manually.)
  4. When the cooking cycle has completed, turn the Instant Pot off and let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.
  5. Switch the release knob to Venting and let any remaining pressure release until the valve drops.
  6. Carefully open the lid, avoiding the excess steam.
  7. Taste the beans, adding more salt as desired, and serve as you wish.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 92Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 575mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 3g

The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.

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