Slow simmered pinto beans, Frijoles borrachos, or “drunken beans” get their flavor from dark Mexican beer and bacon. Juicy and bursting with flavor! 

Image of drunken beans in a white bowl with a spoon. A beer bottle cap, lime half, and fresh cilantro are in the background of the photo.

Traditional Mexican fare, frijoles borrachos are about the best beans I’ve ever had. I first tried them at a restaurant up north. When I saw drunken beans on the menu, I had to try them. I like anything with pinto beans. 

When the bowl of beans arrived at our table, I was slightly surprised to see that they were really juicy, actually soupy. After the first spoonful, I eagerly slurped up all the soupy goodness. 

The broth is the best part! Flavored with dark beer, molasses, and lime juice, it’s so so good! I not so subtly asked the waitress what could possibly be in those delicious beans and she gave me a few pointers. Not the whole recipe, of course. 

But don’t worry, I won’t leave you wondering about how to make your own frijoles borrachos, or drunken beans. I can’t wait for you to try this recipe for the most flavorful beans ever!

Image of two bowls of frijoles borrachos, both garnished with fresh cilantro.

About these Frijoles Borrachos:

I like to make these beans using a bag of dried pinto beans. Soak them overnight, and you’ll be ready to go.  Simmered frijoles borrachos take a while to cook but it’s almost entirely hands off. Just let your pot of beans simmer gently on the stove, and enjoy the fragrance. 

To start the party, sauté bacon, chopped onions, jalapeño peppers, and garlic in a Dutch oven until the bacon is cooked and the veggies are softened. Deglaze the pan with a bottle of dark Mexican beer. I like to use Modela Negra.

Now it’s time for your beans to party. Dump the pinto beans in the pan, along with broth, molasses, brown sugar, and seasonings. The beans will absorb the beer and the broth, and get soft. Let them simmer for at least a couple of hours, stirring occasionally to make sure they aren’t sticking. 

Check the beans to make sure they’re not drying out. If you need to, add more broth. Remember, it’s all about the juice. 

When the beans are tender and you’re ready to serve them, stir in some fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro. DO NOT skip the lime juice. It adds just the right note of tanginess. You may even want to add more! I like to serve them topped with a scoop of pico de gallo.

Serve drunken beans in a bowl with a spoon so everyone can scoop up all that yummy juiciness. 

Image of two bowls of pinto beans that have been cooked with beer, bacon, and mexican spices and herbs.

What does the word “borracho” mean? 

Well, you guessed it: “borracho” means drunk or boozy. Since these frijoles (beans) are soused in beer, you could say that they’re drunk. The alcohol will burn off or evaporate during the cooking process so don’t worry that drunken beans will have you feeling tipsy, too!

Image of two bowls of mexican drunken beans.

How to make these drunken beans your own:

  • To make drunken beans vegetarian, simply leave out the bacon, sauté the chopped onions and jalapeño in  2 teaspoons olive or avocado oil, and substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth. These beans have plenty of flavor so I’m guessing no one will miss the bacon. Drunken beans would be perfect for meatless Mondays. Serve the beans with a hearty bread and a salad. 
  • Don’t want your beans to be “drunken”? Make them without beer, and add 1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes. Increase the molasses to 3 tablespoons so you still get the rich caramel flavor that the dark beer gives the beans.
  • If you want to make a quicker version of frijoles borracho, use canned beans. You’ll need three 15.5 oz. cans of pinto beans, rinsed and drained. Instead of 3 cups of broth, use 1 cup. Reduce cooking time to one hour.
  • For a smoky flavor, add 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or substitute chipotle chili powder for the chili powder.

Image of two bowls of soupy pinto beans that have been cooked with mexican flavors.

Storage and Reheating Tips

Leftover beans are so good. Simply put them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge for best results. To reheat, gently microwave the beans or warm them in a saucepan on the stove. 

Make ahead and meal prep idea:

Make a big batch of frijoles borrachos and enjoy them all week! Or freeze them in portion sized containers. 

Beans are the best!

High in protein and fiber, economical and versatile, beans are a nutritional powerhouse! And they taste great! Here’s more bean recipes:

 

Image of two bowls of frijoles borrachos, both garnished with fresh cilantro.

Frijoles Borrachos (Drunken Beans)

Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes

Slow simmered pinto beans, Frijoles borrachos, or "drunken beans" get their flavor from dark Mexican beer and bacon. Juicy and bursting with flavor! 

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces dried pinto beans (2 cups)
  • 6 slices uncooked center cut bacon, diced
  • 1 cup finely diced yellow onion (about 1 medium yellow onion)
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, ribs and seeds removed, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle of dark beer, such as Modela Negra
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. Rinse beans (sort out any foreign objects) and place in a large bowl. Cover with cold water and cover. Soak overnight (at least 12 hours). Rinse and drain well. 
  2. In a large pot over medium heat, add bacon and cook until lightly brown and fat has rendered, 5-7 minutes. 
  3. Add onion and jalapeño and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant. 
  4. Add beer and scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pot.
  5. Add beans, broth, brown sugar, molasses, oregano, chili powder, salt, and cumin. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, partially cover pan, and simmer for 2 1/2 hours or until most of the liquid is absorbed and beans are tender, stirring occasionally.
  6. Before serving, stir in lime juice and cilantro. Serve in bowls.

Notes

  • To make drunken beans vegetarian, simply leave out the bacon, sauté the chopped onions and jalapeño in  2 teaspoons olive or avocado oil, and substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.
  • To make without beer, and add 1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes. Increase the molasses to 3 tablespoons.
  • If you want to make a quicker version of frijoles borrachos, use canned beans. You'll need three 15.5 oz. cans of pinto beans, rinsed and drained. Instead of 3 cups of broth, use 1 cup. Reduce cooking time to one hour.
  • For a smoky flavor, add 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or substitute chipotle chili powder for the chili powder.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 165Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 364mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 5gSugar: 4gProtein: 9g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

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Verdict: Loooove these beans! They have so much flavor and I can easily make a meal out of them.
Husband’s take: Ben never has complaints about these! How can you go wrong with bacon and beer, right?
Changes I would make: None at all!
Difficulty: Easy!