Pinto beans

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Pinto Beans or Rattlesnake Beans

Pinto Beans or Rattlesnake Beans are shorter, fatter and squarer than borlotti beans. Pinto beans are used throughout Mexico and Southwest USA.

They have an orange-pink colour speckled with pink markings - "pinto" is "painted" in Spanish.

They taste savoury. Pinto beans are used in stews, mixed with rice and are the best bean for refried beans.

To prep them:

Allow about 55g per person of dried pinto beans. Soak overnight in water. Drain the pre-soaked pinto beans, chuck away the water and rinse. Place in saucepan. Cover with about 2 litres of water. Bring to the boil, simmer and cook for 1½-2 hours until the pinto beans are tender. Skim off the scum that develops on the top of the water when the pulses begin to cook. Do not add salt, because it toughens their skins.


Beans last for a good length of time, but do toughen with age, so buy in smallish quantities. If you buy in bulk, check for dirt and insects as these are not uncommon and should be anticipated. Store somewhere dark and cool, and free from potential insect contamination. Tins are a godsend to any cook as they are quick to prepare and long lasting.

Further reading

  • Christian, G. (2005) Real Flavours: the handbook of gourmet & deli ingredients, Grub Street. ISBN 1904943209.
  • Stobart, T. (1981) The Cook's Encyclopedia: ingredients & processes, Harper & Row. ISBN 0060141271.