Pinto beans are the most popular beans in America and for good reason! They’re delicious, versatile, and packed with protein.
While this humble little bean is most often used in Mexican cuisine, it’s also earned itself a spot on the table of Southern comfort food favorites.
Whether you want to serve pinto beans on the side or are thinking of how to incorporate them into a dish, I have 12 tasty ideas to make your meal unforgettable!
If you want a delicious and filling meal, this southern classic is the way to go.
My ideal cornbread is perfectly moist, a little sweet, and with some real corn kernel bits! Serve your pinto beans on the side.
I even like to sprinkle a little bit of cheese on top. Who says cornbread is basic? It definitely isn’t in my book!
When I serve brown beans with ham, I like to go all in by making it in a crock pot. This might be a heavy and hearty meal, but it’s surprisingly simple to make.
Just add all your ingredients in the crockpot: shredded ham, pinto beans (no need to soak first!), a bay leaf, garlic, onions, and some thyme.
You’ll need a little patience because it takes about 8 hours for your ham and beans to be ready, but trust me, it’s so worth the wait!
I absolutely love meatloaf, especially when it’s made properly… the southern way! Serve it with some pinto beans, and it’s sure to be a favorite on your dinner table.
Most recipes only need ketchup, but I like to add in some Worcestershire sauce for extra flavor.
When the meatloaf is fresh from the oven, slice it up, and top it off with pinto beans. Simply delicious!
4. Fried Chicken
Fried chicken is a classic dish, and it’s also a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Just ask the kids!
Tender and juicy on the inside with the perfect crunch on the outside served with a side of pinto beans? Yes, please!
5. Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes and pinto beans are pretty simple dishes, and they definitely pair well together if you make them the right way!
For this combo, I like to cook my pinto beans on a stove so they maintain their shape and don’t get too soft.
I go extra with the mashed potatoes by adding in cheese and corn and topping them off with a generous amount of bread crumbs.
6. Mac and Cheese
Mac and Cheese? Yes, please! I love mine extra cheesy and extra gooey with sharp cheddar, gruyere, mozzarella, and parmesan.
Most recipes will call for a layer of breadcrumbs on top, but I also love to add in some bacon bits. You can’t go wrong with this comforting dish!
7. Fried Okra
Any food is better when fried, it’s a fact of life! Okra might not be most people’s favorite veggie, but it’s certainly not exempt from this rule.
Cut the okra up into bite-sized chunks, coat with a batter, and fry.
They’ll be so delicious and crunchy, you’ll need a few extra pieces, especially if you add in a dip!
8. Fried Apples
I don’t know about you, but I’m always up for a sweet and savory combo.
Fried apples may not be the first thing that comes to mind when serving pinto beans, but trust me, they’re worth a try!
If you’ve never made fried apples before, it’s super easy! Just slice them up and toss them in a pan with some butter, sugar, and cinnamon.
You’ll have an excellent meal in just 15 minutes!
9. Turnip Greens
Turnip greens are super rich in potassium and Vitamin C, so they’re healthy and delicious! Southern turnip greens take about 30 minutes to cook.
You’ll need some chicken broth, olive oil, salt, pepper, and of course, turnip greens. I like to add in a small amount of sugar just to give it a hint of southern sweetness!
If you’re not feeling turnip greens, you can also substitute with collard greens.
10. Sweet Tea
What better way to wash down a classic southern dish than with a classic southern drink?
There are many brands of sweet tea you can get at the store, but I prefer to make mine at home.
The traditional version of this refreshing beverage is actually made with black tea with some sugar and mint.
Add in lots of ice, and you’ll have a cool, sweet drink to go with your beans!
If you want to make a Mexican dish with your pinto beans, then quesadillas are the way to go!
They’re usually made with cheese, beef, chicken, or even shrimp, but why not make a vegan version with some brown beans?
Don’t forget the salsa and the sour cream! If you don’t want to go the vegan route, just add in the other ingredients, too.
12. What’s for Dessert?
For this delicious comfort food, you’ll need dessert! With any southern dish, I always like to end the meal with some peach cobbler.
I love mine homemade, especially in the summer when peaches are in season. This sweet and tangy dessert is sure to wrap up your meal perfectly.
And if the beans weren’t filling enough, you can also try buttermilk pie, banana pudding, or even something extra sinful and delectable, like mud cake!