Borracho beans, frijoles borrachos, or drunken beans are made by cooking pinto beans with beer, chiles, bacon, and other Mexican staples. While they’re not traditionally smoked, these beans are the perfect side dish to throw on the Traeger or your grill of choice alongside your favorite proteins.
Cooking them slowly for several hours on a pellet smoker like this develops a ton of flavor, and the added smokiness works perfectly with all the other traditional ingredients.
How to Make Borracho Beans
While your smoker heats up, start by cooking some diced bacon until it’s just shy of crispy before adding diced onion and peppers. The recipe calls for one jalapeño pepper and one fresno pepper, but any type of chile pepper will work for drunken beans. Use bell pepper or poblano pepper for a milder kick or something like a habanero or serrano for spicier beans.
Cook the veggies for about five minutes until the onion has softened and turned translucent. At which point, you can add garlic, Mexican oregano, and ground cumin. Wake up the garlic by cooking for about a minute until it’s fragrant.
Time for the beans and beer. Borracho beans are made with pinto beans, and I like the convenience of using canned pinto beans. If you want to use dried pinto beans, use one and a half cups and soak them just like you normally would before using this recipe.
My recipe calls for a dark Mexican beer. As you’ll see in the photo below, I used a non-alcoholic lighter beer. Which is to say, any beer gets the job done.
If you’d rather skip the beer, you can use chicken broth to make my smoked frijoles charros. They’re very similar recipes, with the charro beans calling for a bit more bacon.
I also like to add diced tomatoes to my borracho beans in the form of Mexican-style RO-TEL, which is a combination of diced tomatoes, green chiles, cilantro, and lime. Fire roasted crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes broken apart also work great.
Making Smoky Drunken Beans on a Traeger
While my recipe calls for cooking these beans at 300ºF for three hours, you can flex the temperature and cook time to match your main dish if necessary. The charro beans mentioned above, for example, have slightly less liquid and cook for three hours at just 225ºF alongside my smoked Mexican pork tenderloin.
If you need to go at lower temperatures, you’ll either need to smoke longer or reduce on the stovetop more before going on the smoker. For higher temperatures, you may need to start with more liquid or add as needed throughout the cook.
Other examples of meals you could make together might include my smoked pulled beef tacos at 275ºF, Texas style smoked trip tip at 250ºF, beef and chorizo shotgun shells at 275ºF, or reverse seared tri tip tacos at 225ºF then finished on a hot grill (or in a cast iron skillet).
What to Serve with Traeger Smoked Beans
It’s also worth mentioning, there’s nothing wrong with cooking these beans on their own. They make a great side dish for any Tex-Mex spread, smoked or not. Here’s a handful of ideas:
- Dutch Oven Pulled Chicken Tacos
- Spicy Bison Tacos
- Smoked Pulled Chicken Tacos
- Traeger Reverse Seared Steak Tacos
- Al Pastor Style Ground Pork Tacos
- Slow Cooker Pulled Beef Tacos
- Traeger Steak Fajitas
- Easy Weeknight Steak Tacos
Okay, you get the point. You really can’t mess up these drunken beans. And I think it’s time to get cooking.
There is a full recipe card below that you can print or save to your device. Leave any questions you have about making smoked pinto beans or anything else in the comments below. And if you love this recipe, I always appreciate recipe reviews.
- 4 slices Bacon, diced
- 1 Sweet Onion, finely diced
- 1 Jalapeño Pepper, seeds removed and finely diced
- 1 Fresno Pepper, seeds removed and finely diced
- 4 cloves Garlic, crushed or minced
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Dried Mexican Oregano
- 10 oz can Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles (RO-TEL)
- 3 15-oz cans Pinto Beans
- 3 cups Dark Beer (like Modelo Negra, Dos Equis Amber, or Shiner Bock)*
- 3 Bay Leaves
- Cilantro and Cotija Cheese, for serving
- Preheat your smoker to 300ºF with the lid closed.
- Add the bacon to a Dutch oven over medium heat on the stovetop. (If you don't have a Dutch oven or smoker-safe pot, you can start in a skillet and transfer to a large aluminum grill pan.)
- Once the bacon is fully cooked but not yet crispy, add the onion and peppers. Cook until the veggies soften, about 4-5 minutes, before adding the garlic, oregano, and ground cumin. Cook for another minute until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the beans (undrained), diced tomatoes and green chiles, beer, and bay leaves. Stir everything together and transfer to the smoker.
- Smoke uncovered for 3 hours or until the beans have picked up your desired level of smoke. Stir occasionally and add more beer or broth if needed.
*You can use any beer, including non-alcoholic beer.
You can adjust the temperature and cook time for these beans to work with other main dishes on the smoker if needed. You may need to increase the beer for longer cooks or higher temperatures, and vice versa for shorter cooks and lower temperatures.
For dried pinto beans, use 1 1/2 cups and soak ahead of time before using this recipe.
I used a Traeger Pro 575 with Signature Pellets for recipe testing.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1/2 cup (about 112g)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 115Total Fat: 2gCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 5gProtein: 6g