Lupe Tortilla's Charro Beans is a delicious side dish that's perfect with any Mexican main course, or any time you want a hearty side dish of beans.
Full disclosure:, I have always hated beans. I hate them 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 they edible, they were actually good! Just goes to show you that a bunch of bacon can fix just about anything...even frijoles a la charra.
If you REALLY like beans, check out my recipe for Gallo Pinto! It's a Costa Rican breakfast version of rice and beans and it's SO GOOD!
What are Charro Beans (Frijoles Charros)?
The Spanish name of this recipe is frijoles charros. It has a base of canned pinto beans, but then it's made magical by the addition of veggies - diced tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, and onions. These flavors really work well with the beans and make something amazing out of a very plain can of beans!
Charro beans are an authentic Mexican recipe, but go hand-in-hand with any Mexican or Tex Mex main dish.
Can You Use Dried Pinto Beans?
Some people may not want to use canned pinto beans, and that's totally ok! If you prefer, you can cook dried pinto beans instead. Rinse one pound dried pinto beans, cover them with water to about three inches above the beans, and soak them overnight or for about eight hours. Transfer to a large pot, cover with 10 cups water, then boil for 2-3 hours.
I mentioned above that I don't care for the smell of cooking beans, so I don't do this. I like the recipe just fine with canned pinto beans!
Adjusting the Spice Level
If you like spicy charro beans, you can add more jalapeno peppers or even add a ghost pepper or habanero pepper. If you don't like any spice, you can omit them or use a bell pepper instead. It's nice to be able to customize the dish to different people's tastes.
You could also add something like chipotle peppers. Chipotle peppers are smoked and dried peppers, and they lend a delicious and aromatic smokiness to the final dish. If it's too hard to find chipotle peppers, then you can probably find dried chipotle in the spice section of your local supermarket.
Then to make a good thing great, we add bacon. If you're a vegetarian, you can of course leave out the bacon, but for it it simply makes the dish. The smoky flavor goes really well with the earthy beans and vegetables. Bacon makes everything better, after all!
And the entire dish gets topped off with fresh, vitamin-packed cilantro. Which also happens to be beautiful. By the way, if you have that gene that makes cilantro taste like soap, I'm so sorry. You don't know what you're missing.
I also have to share my gratitude with someone who goes by DiBs over at Texas Monthly (page has now been removed), 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!
Goes great with Lupe's Fajitas Grandioso recipe! I love Mexican food, so I hope you'll enjoy all of the Mexican recipes on my blog. You can also check out my recipes for White Chicken Enchiladas, homemade Flour Tortillas, and my Walking Taco Bake Casserole.
Lupe Tortilla's Charro Beans Copycat Recipe
- 2 16oz cans pinto beans
- 4 slices bacon
- 2 jalapeno peppers seeded and diced
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 large tomato diced
- 2 teaspoons cilantro fresh, chopped
- In a medium saucepan, warm beans and the juice from the can.
- 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 to beans,
- Once bacon is cool enough to touch, break into small pieces and add to beans.
- Bring to a boil, then add cilantro.
- Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes.
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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.
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,
<3 ;D <3
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!
How much masa would you add to this recipe and when? Also, did you see Mike's suggestions on seasonings? Do you agree?
That was the best response I’ve read all day!! Also, you know LT is awesome when people are trying to copycat the recipes!
Tomato was in my LT beans.
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.
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!
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!
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!!!!
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.
Did anyone say add beer? Because add beer ;) this will make them Borracho (drunken) beans.
Isn't everything better with beer? This sounds like a good idea to me!
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.
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!!
Shannon, thanks for posting your results, that's great to hear!
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!!
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!!
I'm going to have to try it Mike's way too, I think :) I haven't made these in awhile!
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.
Thank YOU for the feedback Linda!
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.
Same! I wish Lupe's would expand to Florida!
Amazing! Tried this recipe and it is BETTER than Lupe's. You must use Mike's variation of it. Thank you so much for posting this. I closed my eyes, took a bite, and my spirit was transported back to Houston.
Look at that, Susan, you’re post is still getting viewed, all these years later.
Was looking for a copycat LT bean recipe and found your post. Even though I do have a LT very close to me, I may have to try yours (and Mike’s) suggestions.
Are you still in FL and has LT opened a restaurant in your area?
Greetings from Houston (Katy), TX.
Hi Susanne! No, there are no Lupe's in Florida, sadly. We do have a Chuy's in Orlando! But that's the only one of my three favorite chains from when we lived in Houston. (Guadalajara being the third). Lupe's did ship the meat for awhile but I think they've stopped that service. At least, it's no longer on the website. We did it a few times for special occasions.
I'd love to hear your feedback if you do try this recipe!
Say hello to Texas for me ;)
From the bottom of my Itty bitty heart. I hate all beans. But 3 years ago after 5 bean hating decades in this world I had LT beans. 3 times in Houston. I've spent the last 3 years asking every restraunt with a a taco on the menu for beans. It was a series tragic dark days of being presented every bean dish that ever made me hate beans. I am about 8 hours from Houston and therfore a LT. Today I took my plight to FB. An angel gifted me the link to this recipe and my world is complete. LT you have my entire bean heart. Susan, you're in the running for sainthood. Theresa, WHO HURT YOU? poor thing.
Thanks again and stay peachy yall
Thepeachy1 - Your comments made me laugh out loud, thank you so much! It sounds like you and I have a lot in common when it comes to beans ;) And your comment about Theresa was perfect LOL.
This recipe is missing the mix of spices that Lupe Tortilla uses for the bean dip. My brother was the head chef at the Lupe Tortilla in Sugar Land. He would give me a Tupperware of the spice to finish this recipe that differentiates their bean dip from all the other Mexican restaurants nearby. By far, Lupe Tortilla has the best bean dip. Across the parking lot where Lago Mariscos is today used to be another Mexican restaurant that had the best avocado dip. I forget the name of the restaurant. Pappasitos has the best fajitas. And then Chuy's is a good all around Mexican restaurant for everything else.
Thanks for the comment, Sam! This recipe isn't for bean dip; it's for the side dish of beans that's more like a soup. I'm not sure if we're referring to the same dish or not. (I would never order bean dip since I don't like it LOL!) I do want to say that I'm happy about your appreciation of Chuy's. It's the only TexMex place I ate at in Houston that is also in Florida, so I really enjoy them. My family does not. :(
I needed to trim the grocery budget, so I decided rice and beans is an ideal cheap meal for my family of 6. To our great disappointment, we discovered unseasoned rice and beans is nearly inedible.
I need a recipe with flavor!
And Lupe Tortilla beans do not disappoint.
I’ve been using this recipe for five years. I soak and cook dry pinto beans, instead of using canned beans. It’s now a family favorite!
My high school senior insists I teach him this recipe before he leaves for college.
Ashley, thank you for your comment! I'm so glad this works well for your family and that your teen will be carrying it with him.
Which type of canned pinto beans do you suggest?
Nicole, I don't really have a preferred brand. I usually get whatever is on sale, or the store brand!