5 Ingredients or Fewer

Frijoles de Olla

April 29, 2022
5 Ratings
Photo by Ren Fuller
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 3 hours 30 minutes
  • makes about 12 cups
Author Notes

Simple beans with scallions and herbs

I do not soak beans. I have experimented with different soaking methods and different beans, and when you soak beans in water, guess what they taste like—water. My preferred method is to cook them from dry in a simple flavorful liquid over a low flame until they are tender. This method takes only slightly longer than soaked beans, about 1 hour longer depending on the age of your beans (older beans will take longer to cook even if you soak them). I also find that the broth is addictively delicious when you cook from dry. A longer cook time means greater flavor development and a richer broth.

If you can find avocado leaves (fresh or dried), I highly recommend trying them. They have a spicy cinnamon-allspice-citrus flavor that completely changes the way you will think of a pot of beans. They are commonly used in the southern part of México, where avocados are grown. —Rick Martinez

Test Kitchen Notes

Recipe reprinted with permission from Mi Cocina: Recipes and Rapture from My Kitchen in Mexico (‎Clarkson Potter, May 2022).

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon Associate, Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to. —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Frijoles de Olla
  • 1 pound (453 grams) dried beans, such as black, pinto, cannellini, or kidney, rinsed and picked through
  • 3 medium scallions (67 grams), roots trimmed, or 1/4 medium onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • 2 avocado or bay leaves, dried or fresh
  • 3 fresh epazote sprigs or a combination of parsley, oregano, and/or mint sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon (17 grams) Morton kosher salt, plus more to taste
  1. In a large pot, combine the beans, scallions, garlic, avocado leaves, epazote, salt, and 16 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a slow simmer, uncovered, skimming and stirring occasionally, and checking the beans every hour to see if they need more water (you want the beans to always be covered by water), until the beans are tender, for 2½ to 3½ hours. The cooking time will depend on how old the beans are; freshly dried beans might be fully cooked in as little as 1½ hours.
  2. Remove and discard the scallion, garlic, and herbs. Taste and season the beans with more salt if desired.
  3. Do ahead: The beans can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Or, make them up to 3 months ahead and freeze in an airtight container.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Liza Posas
    Liza Posas
  • cpizza
  • 4COOKideas
  • Kendra Hess
    Kendra Hess
Rick Martinez

Recipe by: Rick Martinez

Rick Martinez is currently living his dream—cooking, eating and enjoying the Mexican Pacific coast in Mazatlán. He is finishing his first cookbook, Under the Papaya Tree, food from the seven regions of Mexico and loved traveling the country so much, he decided to buy a house on the beach. He is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit, New York Times and hosts live, weekly cooking classes for Food Network Kitchens. Earlier this year, he was nominated for a James Beard Award for “How to win the Cookie Swap” in Bon Appétit’s holiday issue.

4 Reviews

Liza P. February 28, 2023
Had a bag of pinto beans for I don't know how long. Decided to use this recipe to cook them....and they're still cooking. They were on the stove for five hours and they still weren't done, but I had to go to bed. Put them back on the stove top the next day (today) and still not done after 3 hours of simmering. Altogether I think I used up about 25 cups of water. Sigh. I was so hopeful. Could it be because my beans are too old! Doesn't seem possible.
cpizza September 24, 2022
I did this with an apparently old batch of pinto beans and after 2.5 or 3 hours the beans were still hard as rocks. This upset me, It was taking too long and I gave up. Then the next day I bought new pinto beans and redid everything and it finished up at around 2 or 2.5 hours or so. They were good but barely too salty for me and I measured the salt with a scale. I did fart a good amount after eating though, and supposedly soaking the beans in water the night before helps improve the digestibility of beans.
4COOKideas August 1, 2022
A+ give this simple recipe a try. I am originally from Illinois, we never made or ate a pot beans while growing up. So, I've never had experience with beans I've lived in Texas for over 30 years and really grown to love a good bowl of beans, with rice with cornbread or all by itself. However, I've been a bean cooker failure. I've tried all sorts of methods, recipes, and cookware. All to no luck. They either never cooked properly or did not have flavor. I watched Rick's show one morning and thought, let's give it a try. What really resonated with me was "do not soak the beans overnight, you're beans will taste like water." I tried his recipe using Oregano from my back yard, no Avocado leaves at grocery store, and dry bay leaves. I made it in my enameled cast iron pot, Boling and simmering for almost 4 hours. This was a complete success. I am ecstatic. Thank you Rick, from the bottom of my heart, for my new bean recipe.
Kendra H. July 17, 2022
This broth is MAGIC. I don’t know how something can be simple and complex at the same time…but these beans are!