There are many ways to cook beans, including soaking them overnight before cooking or making them in a pressure cooker. Another option is to boil them for a few minutes and allow them to rest covered for an hour before simmering them until cooked and tender. Save the cooking liquid as it’s handy in other recipes and to thicken soups and stews. Start with Julia Platt Leonard’s master pinto bean recipe and branch out from there!

Master Pinto Bean Recipe

Makes approximately 5 cups


1 medium white onion, peeled
2 whole cloves
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme
2 cups dried pinto beans, rinsed and sorted


  1. Stud the onion with the cloves and place it in a large pot along with the garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and beans.
  2. Cover by at least 4 inches of water, bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat, cover, and allow to rest for one hour.
  4. Place back on the heat, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until the beans are tender but firm, about 1 ½ hours.
  5. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid.

Recipes by Julia Platt Leonard / Food Photography by Dave Bryce / Styling by Merrie O’Donnell

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