Frijoles de Olla


Savory Frijoles de Olla (Beans in a Pot)

These delicious savory pinto beans are a staple in our household. We have them straight from the pot (de olla) and then 'refry' them later in the week. I refry by simply puréeing them, omitting the oil, which makes them much healthier.
They are also a staple in the Cruz household from my Lola Cruz Mystery Series. Lola's family owns Abuelita's where all the food is authentic.


  • 4 cups dry pinto beans
  • 3 quarts water
  • 3 cloves garlic washed and peeled
  • 1 onion peeled and halved
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3 Tbsp salt to taste


  • Rinse dry beans carefully. Remove any debris. Put all ingredients into a large pot (or slow cooker or Instant Pot!). Cook on medium heat for 4-5 hours or until beans are tender. Add more water, if necessary. If using an Instant Pot, these beans cook in 35-40 minutes. It's miraculous!
  • To make a quick version of refried beans, remove most of the water and purée beans, garlic, and onion with an immersion blender.
  • For traditional refried beans, heat oil or lard in a large frying pan. Strain beans and add to hot oil. Allow to simmer, then mash with a handheld potato masher or similar tool.
  • Variations: Add ham hocks or bacon. If you are in a hurry, use garlic and onion powder!
  • Tip: Salt the water very heavily! The beans will come out very flavorful as a result. Drain the majority of the water before serving or puréeing.


Frijoles de Olla