Favorite Beans

by Kendall Woodruff

So I know we are heading into spring and that people are getting all hot and bothered about asparagus and pea shoots and spring garlic and artichokes. But I want to talk about beans. Big surprise. We should probably just go ahead and change the name of this blog to beans and badass cocktails. I'll check with Mady and get back to you. 

This post is gonna be short and sweet because these are the only beans you will ever need to make. These aren't the kind of beans you save for cold winter nights. These will work there, of course, but these are everyday beans. These are beans that would be best friends with grilled flank steak and chipotle sauce at a summer barbecue. These are beans that Hameed and I like to eat when we get home from work late. Crack open a negra modelo and all is right. 

The spices and herbs used here - cumin, smoked paprika, chipotle, red chile powder, and Mexican oregano - will work with any kind of bean and they also work wonderfully with lentils. I use Rancho Gordo's vallarta beans here. They're super creamy and rich. Black beans or pinto beans would also be delicious. 

The chipotle powder that I get is definitely on the hot side, and I like this heat to show up. If I want the beans to be extra hot, I'll throw a dried habañero chile into the pot during cooking.

Racho Gordo's number one fan right here...

Racho Gordo's number one fan right here...



  • 1 lb. dried beans (Vallarta, pinto, black beans, etc.)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. red chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tsp. sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • to serve (optional): cooked rice, sliced avocado, cilantro, and lime wedges


I like to soak my beans for a few hours to reduce the cooking time - just cover the beans by a couple inches of water in the morning and they'll be ready to cook that night. If you don't soak your beans, no worries - they'll just take a bit longer to cook. Give the beans a good rinse before soaking/cooking.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, spices, and herbs and cook a couple minutes more. Add the beans and the soaking liquid to the pot, along with the bay leaves. Add enough water to cover the beans by couple inches, and bring to a boil. Let the beans boil for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat down to a simmer and cook until beans are done (this could take anywhere from 30 minutes to a little over an hour). You may need to add a bit more water during cooking to keep all of the beans covered - keep a kettle of hot water at the ready just in case. A few minutes before the beans are done, add the salt. 

Serve the beans as a side or spooned over rice, topped with avocado, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.