Santa Maria Pinquito Beans

A classic accompaniment to grilled tri-tip, a California classic.


All cooked up and ready to serve!

  • 1 pound or 2 cups pinquito beans (or pintos)
  • 4 slices thick bacon, cut in 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 4-ounce can diced green chilies
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Wash and sort beans.  Place in a large pot.  Cover with enough water to cover beans by twice their depth.  Bring to a boil for 5 minutes.  Turn off fire and let sit for 1 hour.

Add a few more cups water, as needed, and return to a gentle boil; reduce to a simmer. Cook over low heat, covered, until tender, 2 to 3 hours. Add enough water during cooking to keep beans covered by about 1/2 in. (they should be a little soupy).

While beans are simmering, cook bacon in a medium frying pan over medium-low heat to render the fat about 8 minutes. Add onion and cook another 10 minutes. Stir in green chiles and minced garlic, and cook until flavors have mingled, 20 to 30 minutes.

When beans are tender, gently stir in onion mixture, salt, pepper, and garlic salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid has thickened slightly but beans are still quite soupy, 10 to 15 minutes.

I got my pinquito beans from And yes, I paid for them!

Regular pinto beans can also be used, as can the little red beans found at the hispanic stores often used in Central American cooking.


The beans.


The seasoning ingredients.


Rendering the bacon…


One hour after the quick-soak boiling.


All cooked up and ready to serve!

Goes best with:


A nicely grilled tri-tip roast! Buen provecho!

My tri-tip recipe:

My macaroni and cheese recipe:

I checked out a lot recipes online, but this article (  ) at Sunset magazine interviews the original tri-tip grillers.  Salt and pepper are the only seasoning that’s really needed.  Can’t find tri-tip?  Use a sirloin.  Check out their great article for more tips.  I also made the traditional macaroni and cheese and Santa Maria Beans using the Pinquito beans, which are indigenous to that area.

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