Lupe Tortilla’s Charro Beans Copycat Recipe

I freaking HATE beans. With all of my heart, mind, soul, and body. The smell makes me gag, even. If I go out for Mexican, I always ask for a double-order of rice instead of beans. (Refried beans are the worst…they look like someone already digested them for you. Ew.)


In a fit of bravery one night, and because a friend really encouraged me to do so, I had a little taste of the charro beans that came with my meal every time I visited Lupe Tortilla’s in  Houston. To my surprise, not only were the edible, they were actually good! Just goes to show you that a bunch of bacon can fix just about anything…even frijoles al charra.

I also have to share my gratitude with someone who guys by DiBs over at Texas Monthly, who unknowingly blessed us by posting this recipe online. To my dear Lupe, please know that I’d come to your restaurant instead of making them at home if you’d only open up a branch in central Florida, but for now I’m cooking away at this secret recipe  in my kitchen!

Charro Beans

Charro Beans simmering on the stove


  • 4 slices bacon
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 16-oz cans pinto beans
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped cilantro

In a medium saucepan, warm beans and the juice from the can. Meanwhile, in a small frying pan, saute bacon, jalapeno and onion until well browned. Remove bacon from pan and cool on paper towels; add bacon grease, jalapeno, and onion to beans. Add tomatoes. Once bacon is cool enough to touch, break into small pieces and add to beans. Bring to a boil, then add cilantro. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Goes great with Lupe’s Fajitas Grandioso!


  1. you missed this receipe by a long shot.. lupes torilla’s charro beans do not have tomatoes in them, and they put corn starch to thicken. sorry monkey go back to banans

    • Theresa, thank you for your input.

    • Juan Loera says:

      Wow, what a sharp tongue, Theresa. Juan Loera here for LT. Although we don’t care to have our recipes copycatted, the addition of tomatoes into the recipe is nevertheless correct. We also use masa, not “flour” to thicken the bean recipe.

      I’m not certain at this point who the “monkey” may represent, but you’re a fair impression thus far.

      All the Best,

      • NotAMonkey says:

        <3 ;D <3

        • KellyAnn says:

          Sounds Awesome!!! I’m going to TRY cooking this recipe from scratch (i.e.,no canned beans) and I hope it turns out great for tomrws family Memorial Day lunch!!
          Thank You for the pointers!

      • John Young says:

        How much masa would you add to this recipe and when? Also, did you see Mike’s suggestions on seasonings? Do you agree?

  2. Actually, all the recipes I have seen for charro beans add a mixture of onion, seeded tomato and seeded jalapeno after the beans have cooked. Even the mexican restaurants in Houston that we visited over Christmas.

    • Awesome Judi…I wish I could get there myself to try them out against my recipe, since my memory of them is, oh, 5 years old at least. It’s been forever since I’ve been to Houston. Thanks for sharing that tidbit.

  3. Well, I’m eating Lupes beans right now (heaven!), and there is a small amount of chopped tomato in them.
    I’ll try your recipe, I’m excited to have a way to enjoy them without waiting in the Lupe line!

    • *sigh* I’m in Florida dieting. Not nearly so much fun!!! Enjoy! And let me know if you try the recipe, Fiona!

  4. I think this is a great basic recipe. I add 4 cloves of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 3/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and substitute 1 Anneheim pepper for the Jalepeno peppers. Also 4 drops Wright’s Liquid Smoke. Women swoon, and strong men weep because it tastes so damn good.

    • That sounds really good Mike! I’ve never heard of Mexican oregano…I’ll have to see if my local supermarket has that. I bet the liquid smoke is good – since the bacon already adds such good flavor. Thanks for the tips!

    • KellyAnn says:

      Ok Mr. Mike,…I following your recipe on these beans later this evening. Can’t wait to have everyone swooning over these Charro beans! Thank You!!!!

  5. What is marvelous about Mexican food is all the regional variations. Where I hang out in southeastern Mexico bits of ham or chorizo go into the charro bean pot if they are available. It’s part of the “little goes to waste” ethos of Mexico. As for Susan’s question regarding Mexican oregano there is such a thing. It is milder, more like marjoram. If substituting “regular” oregano, use about 2/3 of what the recipe calls for.

  6. Jonathan Major says:

    Did anyone say add beer? Because add beer 😉 this will make them Borracho (drunken) beans.

  7. Texans_Gal56 says:

    I have been eating at Lupe Tortilla’s since they opened their first restaurant circa 1984. The addition of those incredible beams some years later made an already top notch restaurant even better. Those beans are amazing. Through the years I have tried to copycat them myself but there was always something missing. This particular recipe is very close to my best effort. I use Rotel tomatoes in mine since we like things on the warmer side.

  8. I saw this recipe and made them last night for a small group. I added the spices suggested by Mike, minus the liquid smoke and only used one jalapeño. Delicious!! Thank you so much!!

  9. Juan Loera , Thanks for the info about the thickening agent (Mesa).
    Someone told me,that a bit of lime juice is added to the receipt. Is that true?
    I made the beans from Susan’s receipt and they are great!!
    Pretty Darn close to the real LT Beans!!

  10. YUM! I searched and searched for a good charro beans recipe and this one is the winner!! I followed the directions but did them “Mikes Way” (from his comment above) and they were AMAZING. FIVE STARS!!

  11. Prepared the charro beans for my Craft Group Potluck yesterday with Mike’s additions. Everyone loved them, and wanted a copy of the recipe. Looks like you have lots of other good recipes to try. I think I’ll cook the chicken and wild rice casserole for next month’s meeting. Thanks for sharing your great tasting recipes.

  12. Delilah says:

    This recipe is really close to the real deal. I usually make them using dried pintos. Never thought about flour to thicken but I am usually making them to eat as beans rather than a dip. And Juan, you need not worry. Lupe’s could publish their recipes in the Chronicle and you would still have an hour wait time. Been a patron of Lupes since you first opened in ’84 and the food has only gotten better. One of the things I miss most about Houston.

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