Charro beans or frijoles charros is a traditional Mexican dish that combines stewed pinto beans with onion, garlic, bacon or pork fat, and other ingredients like chiles and tomatoes. This version lightens things up with lower fat center cut bacon, goes for convenience with canned pinto beans, and adds some authentic smoke flavor via the Traeger grill. What you’re left with is a rich, creamy, super flavorful side dish that elevates any Taco Tuesday!
Ingredient and Prep Notes for Smoked Charro Beans
The recipe calls for canned pinto beans, but you can certainly use dried beans. Using a traditional frijoles charros recipe as a guide, soaking a pound of beans in water with two tablespoons of kosher salt for 8-12 hours should be your starting point. You’ll definitely want to drain and rinse before using for your smoked charro beans.
Aside from the beans, you can get creative with the ingredients. Most recipes call for jalapeño, but I’m a poblano lover. (As evidenced by our migas breakfast tacos.) You could increase the heat with other chile peppers and ingredients. Have fun!
As for smoking, I used the Traeger Pro 575 and their Signature pellets. If you don’t have a smoker, you can cook these beans in a slow cooker or Dutch oven in the oven. I’m sure you could even pressure cook them. To make up for the lost smoky goodness, you could add a little smoked paprika or smoked salt.
Ideas for Serving
If you notice the meat on the smoker next to the beans in the process photos below, that’s our Traeger smoked pork tenderloin. It’s seasoned with a blend of Mexican spices and finished with a sweet and spicy hot sauce glaze. You can cook these two at the same temperature for an easy one-two combo.
Other smoked main dish ideas for your charro beans:
- Smoked Mexican Burgers
- Pellet Grill Carnitas
- Smoked and Shredded Beef Tacos
- Beer Can Chicken with Mexican BBQ Sauce
- Smoked Salmon Street Tacos
- Baked Taquitos or Air Fryer Quesadillas
- Ninja Foodi Shredded Mexican Chicken
- Chicken Tacos Al Pastor
- Pressure Cooker Barbacoa Beef
The possibilities are endless. Be sure to let me know what you end up serving your Traeger charro beans with and what you think about the recipe in a comment or review. I always appreciate those!
- 8 slices Center Cut Bacon, diced
- 1/2 large (125g) Onion, diced
- 1 Poblano Pepper, diced
- 5 cloves Garlic, minced or grated on a microplane
- 3 cans (15 oz each) Pinto Beans, undrained
- 15 oz can Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 1 tsp Dried Oregano
- 1-2 C Beef or Chicken Broth, as needed
- Preheat smoker to 225ºF with lid closed.
- Place the diced bacon in a cold 12" cast iron skillet and turn on a medium heat. Once the fat begins to render after 4-5 minutes, add the onion, poblano, and garlic. Cook for another 4- 5 minutes until the veggies are soft and just starting to brown.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and scrape any crispy bits off the bottom of the skillet. Cook for 30-60 seconds until sizzling.
- Add the pinto beans, cumin and oregano, and bay leaves. Stir everything together and add about a cup of broth to create a thin consistency.
- Smoke the beans for 3 hours, stirring and scraping the sides of the skillet occasionally. The finished beans should be tender with a creamy broth. (If the beans get too thick/dry early in the cook, add more broth and continue smoking.)
- Remove the bay leaves before serving and top with queso fresco/cilantro, if desired.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: about 1/2 C (5 oz)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 130Total Fat: 2gCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 8g