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Tender pinto beans, zesty spices, and a thick gravy all come together in this simple, affordable, and easy recipe for homemade Ranch Style Beans! Simmer them on the stovetop or prepare them in a Crock Pot — the flavorful dish is a perfect Southwestern side for your next cookout or a hearty vegetarian dinner option. The beans would be perfect for camping, too!

Close overhead shot of ranch style beans in a white bowl with cheese on top

You’ve probably enjoyed a can of Ranch-style beans from the grocery store, but maybe you didn’t realize just how easy it is to make them yourself from scratch. You’ll know the ingredients, you’ll be able to control the sodium and spices to suit your preferences, and you’ll save some serious cash!

What are Ranch Style Beans?

Ranch style beans are typically made with pinto beans in a chili gravy. They are similar to baked beans or “pork and beans,” but are not sweet like baked beans, and they don’t normally include bacon or pork. The zesty, bold, slightly spicy seasoning is the hallmark of Ranch style beans, and includes garlic, onion, chili powder, cumin and paprika (among other ingredients).

The beans are especially popular in Texas, where they are served alongside Tex-Mex or Mexican food like enchiladas and tacos; as a main dish with rice, cheese, and other toppings; or as a side dish at cookouts with grilled chicken and steak. No matter where you live, you can now enjoy the classic Western dish at home with just a few minutes of actual hands-on prep!

Ranch-Style Beans versus Chili Beans

In grocery stores, you can find cans of beans labeled “Chili Beans” and “Ranch Style Beans,” so what’s the difference? While the flavor of these two types of beans is very similar, and they’re both in a chili gravy, the taste is somewhat different. Chili beans can be made with pinto beans (like Ranch style beans), but they can also be made with red beans or kidney beans. The two types of beans can be used interchangeably in recipes, so Ranch style beans can be used in chili, if necessary.

Ladle scooping up ranch style beans

Ingredients for Homemade Ranch Style Beans

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a big, flavorful pot of ranch style beans. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Dried pinto beans: the most popular bean by crop production in Northern Mexico and the Southwestern United States. These beans are most often eaten whole (as shown here), but are also popular when mashed and then refried.
  • Tomato paste: gives the sauce a rich, thick, concentrated tomato flavor.
  • Onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, paprika and cayenne: all add flavor and zesty spice to the beans.
  • Brown sugar: for just a hint of sweetness.
  • Salt and pepper: to enhance the other flavors in the dish.

How to Make Ranch Style Beans

I’m showing you the stove top method in a Dutch oven, but I have also included the slow cooker instructions below. Either works, so let’s get started!

  1. Soak the Beans. Since you’re starting with dried beans, it’s important to soak the beans for at least 6 hours before cooking them on the stovetop. If you plan to use the Crock Pot, you can skip this step.
  2. Boil the Beans. After the beans have soaked, drain off the water and return the beans to the pot. Add 1 quart of fresh water, bring the pot to a boil, and then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the beans for about 1 ½ hours.
  3. Add Remaining Ingredients. Stir in the tomato paste, onion, garlic and seasonings.
  4. Simmer. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and then simmer (covered) for 1 more hour. The beans are done when they’re nice and tender and the gravy is thick.
Soaking dried pinto beans in a dutch oven
Process shot of making ranch style beans
Seasoning for ranch style beans in a small bowl
Shot from above of a ladle full of ranch style beans

What goes with Ranch Style Beans?

Serve the beans as a main dish with rice and a variety of toppings. You can set out shredded cheese, sliced jalapeño, chopped onion, sliced green onion, chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley or cilantro) and sour cream. Don’t forget a side of skillet cornbread!

You can also offer the beans as a delicious side dish with any of these entrées:

Front shot of a spoon in a bowl full of homemade ranch style beans

Preparation and Storage Tips

  • If you plan to simmer the beans on the stovetop, be sure to allow enough time to soak the beans first. I recommend at least 6 hours, or up to overnight. If you’re using the Crock Pot method, you can skip this step.
  • The beans will stay fresh at room temperature for up to 2 hours. After that point, they should be refrigerated.
  • Leftover beans will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • You can freeze the beans for up to 1 month.
  • To reheat beans: thaw frozen beans in the refrigerator overnight. Warm over low heat, just until they reach the desired temperature.

Cook’s Tips and Recipe Variations

  • Adjust the seasoning: Taste the beans and adjust the seasoning to suit your family’s taste. As written, these are fairly mild beans. You can add as much cayenne or hot sauce as you like to increase the heat! You’ll also want to season well with salt and pepper.
  • Oregano is another nice addition to the seasoning blend.
  • Substitute dried ancho chiles, ancho chile powder, or jalapeno for the chili powder called for here.
  • Ranch Style Beans with Meat: As written this Ranch Style Beans recipe is vegetarian and vegan. If you prefer, you can add a ham hock or cooked bacon to your pot of beans.
  • Nutrition: This healthy vegetarian dish has about 222 calories per serving, 12 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of fat and 42 grams of carbohydrates. Pinto beans are an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients may provide several benefits, including improved blood sugar control and heart health. Pinto beans are also rich in various antioxidants and may help lower your risk of chronic disease (source).
Overhead shot of a bowl of ranch style beans with a pot nearby

More Bean Recipes to Try

Close overhead shot of ranch style beans in a white bowl with cheese on top

Ranch Style Beans

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 2 hours 30 minutes
Soaking Time 6 hours
Total: 8 hours 40 minutes
Servings 6 – 8 people
Calories 222.9 kcal
Tender pinto beans, zesty spices, and a thick gravy all come together in this simple, affordable, and easy recipe for homemade Ranch Style Beans!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 (16 oz) package dried pinto beans
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper, optional, for heat, to taste
  • Optional, for serving: hot sauce, grated cheese, sliced jalapeno, sour cream, sliced green onion, chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

Instructions

  • Rinse beans. Place in a large pot and cover with 7 cups of water. Let stand 6-8 hours, or overnight. Drain and return beans to pot.
  • Add 1 quart (4 cups) of fresh water to the pot with the beans. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 ½ hours (or until beans are tender). Add remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 1-1 ½ hours longer (until beans are tender and gravy is thick). Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

ALTERNATIVE SLOW COOKER METHOD:

  • You do not need to soak the beans. Simply place the dry beans, onion, garlic, tomato paste and seasonings in the slow cooker. Add 7 cups of water and stir. Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours, or until the beans are tender.

Notes

  • Adjust the seasoning: Taste the beans and adjust the seasoning to suit your family’s taste. As written, these are fairly mild beans. You can add as much cayenne or hot sauce as you like to increase the heat! You’ll also want to season well with salt and pepper.
  • Oregano is another nice addition to the seasoning blend.
  • Substitute dried ancho chiles, ancho chile powder, or jalapenos for the chili powder called for here.
  • Ranch Style Beans with Meat: As written this Ranch Style Beans recipe is vegetarian and vegan. If you prefer, you can add a ham hock or cooked bacon to your pot of beans.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/8 of the beansCalories: 222.9kcalCarbohydrates: 42.2gProtein: 12.6gFat: 0.4gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 458.5mgPotassium: 263mgFiber: 9.7gSugar: 5.2g
Keyword: pinto beans recipe, ranch beans, ranch style beans
Course: Lunch or Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. Hi, my beans are cooking as we speak in the the slow cooker but it’s more of a broth and I would like it to be thicker. How would I do that? Took a taste and the flavours good probably needs more salt. Also I was only able to put in about 5 cups of water due to cooker being smaller. Thanks!

    1. Hi, Debbie! Beans thicken quite a bit as they cool, so definitely keep that in mind. If you like, you can pull out some of the beans, mash them, and then stir them back into the pot. This will thicken as well. Finally, you can transfer the mixture to a pot on the stovetop and just let them simmer (uncovered) until the liquid reduces to the desired consistency. Hope that helps!

      1. Yum! They turned out fantastic. I Insta-pressured them for 30 min the first soak, drained and pressured again for 30 min. with 1 lb of crumbled raw hamburger. Then added all the flavored ingredients and let it simmer on warm until the cornbread finished, about 20 min.

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe is a keeper!!
    I made a few minor alterations and used the crockpot method. In place of 4 cups of the 7 cups of water, I used vegetable broth. My paprika is smoked paprika which I really enjoy. I also added 1.5 pounds of browned ground beef toward the end of cooking. Thank you so much.

    1. Thank you, Sheila! I’m so glad that it worked well for you. I bet the beef and smoked paprika were great additions!