Monica's favorite gear for
making Chili Beans
These nutritious beans are high in fiber and antioxidants.
I've been using this workhorse regularly for years. It's an essential in my kitchen.
Vegetable broth adds flavor and nutrition to this vegetarian recipe.

Chili Beans

A tasty vegetarian side for Mexican food & grilled meats, or a base for a quick pot of chili

These flavorful, vegetarian pinto beans are an easy, delicious accompaniment to many meals. I recently served these beans with a Mexican menu for a large dinner party. They're great on nachos and taco salads and served as a side with grilled or smoked meats. You can also use these saucy beans to make a quick batch of chili.

This recipe is versatile and easy. My Fiesta Taco Seasoning Mix is all you need to season these flavorful, mildly spicy beans. I used vegetable broth in this recipe so that I would have an option for vegetarians attending our dinner party. You can substitute chicken broth, if you prefer.

These are similar to the cans of chili beans you can buy at the grocery store, but WAY better! They freeze and reheat well. So if this batch is too big for you, you can freeze part of it to eat later.

Beans are nutritious and inexpensive. Pintos are high in protein and good source of antioxidants. They are particularly high in fiber and help stabilize blood sugar and lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes. They're considered one of the best nutritional foods for the money. (Read more about their health benefits here.)


Step-by-step photos for making Pinto Beans in Chili Sauce

Step 1. Assemble the ingredients:

  • dry pinto beans
  • olive oil
  • vegetable broth, low sodium preferred
  • tomato paste
  • taco seasoning mix (homemade or store bought)
  • kosher salt
  • onion
  • garlic

view on Amazon:
organic dried pinto beans,  organic low sodium vegetable broth


  • About the taco seasoning mix: This mix already has a variety of seasonings, making it a one-step way to season these beans. The mix also contains corn starch which helps thicken the chili sauce. You can use a store-bought taco seasoning mix for convenience, but it is SO much tastier and healthier if you make your own. Plus, it's great to have on hand for seasoning tacos, chilifiesta fries, and ropa vieja shredded beef. Here's my recipe:

Click to view and print:
Fiesta Taco Seasoning Mix recipe

IMG_0161 - thumbnail.png

Step 2. Pick through and discard irregular beans or stones. Hint: if you spread the beans on a white/light surface, it's easier to find and pick out the bad ones.

Step 3. In 5 quart pan, dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in 2 quarts water. Add dry beans and soak for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. 

IMG_6090.jpg  IMG_6092.jpg

Step 4. Drain beans in a colander, discard soaking liquid; rinse under running water and drain beans again.


Step 5. Mince the garlic and onions. I like do this in a food processor so they're minced really finely and disappear into the sauce when they're cooked. (You can mince them with a knife if you don't have a food processor.) I mince the garlic first in the food processor, then add the onions (cut into chunks) and process until they're minced.

view my food processor on Amazon

IMG_6103.jpg  IMG_6105.jpg

IMG_6106.jpg  IMG_6109.jpg

Step 6. Add olive oil to a large pan and cook the minced onions and garlic until they're soft.

IMG_6110.jpg  IMG_6113.jpg

Step 7. Add the taco seasoning mix, stir it in, and cook for about a minute--this wakes up all of those spices and brings out their flavor.

IMG_6117.jpg  IMG_6118.jpg

Step 8. Add the tomato paste and stir it in.

IMG_6120.jpg  IMG_6121.jpg

Step 9. Gradually whisk in the vegetable broth. First add about a cup and whisk out all of the lumps. Then keep adding broth and whisking until it's smooth with each addition.

IMG_6123.jpg  IMG_6125.jpg

IMG_6126.jpg  IMG_6127.jpg

Step 10. Stir in the water.

Step 11. Add the soaked, rinsed, and drained pinto beans.

IMG_6131.jpg  IMG_6133.jpg

Step 12. Add the salt and give it a stir. (Note: If you're using store-bought taco seasoning mix, don't add more salt. The taco seasoning mixes are often very salty. Wait until beans are finished cooking, taste, and add salt if needed.)

IMG_6139.jpg  IMG_6140.jpg

Step 13. Bring it a boil and then lower the heat to a low simmer. It may be foamy on top at first, but the foam will cook away. Keep simmering on low, uncovered, for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, until the beans are tender. The sauce will reduce and thicken while it cooks. Taste and add salt, if needed.

IMG_6143.jpg  IMG_6181.jpg

That's it! These are savory, mildly spicy, and delicious.

Serving suggestions:

  • A bowl of chili beans served with crackers, tortilla chips, or cornbread--just like a bowl of soup. Top the beans with grated cheese, chopped onions, sour cream or yogurt, as you would a bowl of chili.
  • As a topping for rice -- not only is this delicious, but the combination of rice and beans is a nutrition-packed complete protein.
  • As a side with Mexican food -- with tacos, enchiladas, tamales, etc.
  • As a side for grilled and smoked meats; great with pulled pork.
  • As a topping on nachos, taco salad, or a tortilla bowl.
  • As a topping on hot dogs -- add some cheese and onions, too.

Use these Chili Beans as a base for a batch of chili. Here's the recipe:

  • 2 cups of these chili beans and sauce
  • 1 pound ground beef, chicken or turkey; browned
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles

Combine the above ingredients, heat them thoroughly, and PRESTO, you've got chili! If you want a thinner chili, gradually add broth or water until you get the desired consistency.

chili beans

I love having these chili beans in my freezer for jazzing up a variety of meals and recipes. I also like to eat a bowl of them all by themselves. Combined with brown rice, they make a nutritious main course.

chili beans

Make it a Yummy day!

Link directly to this recipe Print this recipe
Pinto Beans in Chili Sauce (vegetarian)
By Monica              Servings: 10 cups beans & sauc
  • 1 pound dry pinto beans
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2 quarts plus 1 quart water, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup taco seasoning mix (store bought or make your own; for recipe go to:
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 4 cups (1 quart) low sodium vegetable broth (for non-vegetarian version, may substitute with chicken broth)
Pick through and discard irregular beans or stones. In 5 quart pan, dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in 2 quarts water. Add dry beans and soak for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Drain beans, discard soaking liquid, rinse and drain beans.

In 5 quart pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat; add onions and garlic and saute until soft. Sprinkle on fiesta seasoning mix; stir and cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste; stir to combine. Gradually stir in vegetable broth, whisking to remove lumps if necessary. Add 1 quart (4 cups) water, 2 teaspoons salt, & beans; stir. (Note: if using store-bought taco seasoning mix, omit added salt and add salt to taste later, if needed.) Bring to boil, reduce heat to low simmer. Simmer uncovered for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender. Taste and add salt, if needed.

Serve with Mexican food, burgers, pulled pork, and grilled meats.

QUICK CHILI: The mildly spicy sauce makes these beans a perfect base for making a quick batch of chili--for every 2-3 cups of these chili beans and sauce, add 1 lb. browned ground beef, chicken, or turkey, 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, and 1 can (4 oz) drained green chiles.
Print this Recipe   Share this Recipe

Posted on Monday, October 17th, 2011

Home    |    Recipes    |    Archives    |    About The Yummy Life    |    Contact
The Yummy Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to
Privacy Policy - © 2014 The Yummy Life - All rights reserved