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, smoked garlic, or smoked salt.
And if you’re really ready to party you can swap broth for beer and make my Traeger drunken beans.
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.
You’ll also spy these smoked charro beans in the background of our Traeger reverse seared tri tip tacos recipe. More pairings might include our smoked beef tacos or smoked enchiladas.
For a meatless meal, you could throw some of our Traeger cornbread on the grill with your frijoles charros or some fresh summer corn to make our grilled Mexican esquites.
Other smoked main dish ideas for your charro beans:
- Traeger Skirt Steak Fajitas
- Smoked Mexican Burgers
- Pellet Grill Carnitas
- Traeger Smoked Mexican Stuffed Poblano Peppers
- Beer Can Chicken with Mexican BBQ Sauce
- Smoked Salmon Street Tacos
- Chipotle Traeger Grilled Chicken
- 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!
Traeger Smoked Charro Beans
Rich and creamy smoked pinto beans with bacon, onion, garlic, poblano pepper, and fire roasted tomatoes.
- 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
Monday 24th of April 2023
Wow! So terrific I had to comment—made the beans along with the slow smoked chicken breast as my trial run on my Traeger Ranger. I cut the recipe in half for 2 of us and it made a lot. And the flavor! So so good—I disagree with the comment saying they need salt—the beans and juice are salty and I did use some chicken broth with water for the added liquid. I would rate these in my top ten. Oh, I should mention: I don’t really like beans. Lol! My husband can’t stop talking about them either.
Monday 24th of April 2023
Thanks for taking the time to let me know, Christine. Top ten is high praise!
Sunday 24th of July 2022
I was so excited to try these and the flavor was great but the actual beans were hard. What did I do wrong and is there any way to save them now?
Thursday 28th of July 2022
Sorry to hear that. I'm not sure what could've caused this. Maybe draining the beans and cooking without the liquid? You used canned pinto beans, correct?
Tuesday 31st of May 2022
Recipe needs salt
Monday 29th of November 2021
My husband is not a fan of beans but had 2 servings of these the day I smoked them and then leftover with your air fryer steak bites! These are so delicious!