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Peppery pinto beans with sausage

Pinto beans and sausage | Homesick Texan

I love beans. Soupy beans, refried beans, beans in a dip, or beans in a salad—it doesn’t matter how you serve them, I will eat beans and be happy. Like most Texans, they’ve long been a staple on my family’s table and I make a pot at least once a week. Matter of fact, I love them so much that I once preferred a side dish of pinto beans over some world-famous barbecue.

It happened last year. I was at the annual Foodways Texas symposium and renowned pitmaster Aaron Franklin served us dinner one night. Yes, his brisket was indeed exceptional, but it was his peppery pinto beans that I wanted to brave the line for yet another round. I know this may sound strange but I couldn’t stop eating them! And actually, I wasn’t alone in this opinion as others agreed his beans were superb. For me, it was the beans that were worth the long wait.

Without access to a smoker or an outdoor space, I knew that I couldn’t even begin to replicate Aaron’s barbecue, but I figured his beans were probably more doable. So after dinner, I went up to Aaron and asked him how he made his addictive beans. He shrugged and said it wasn’t anything complicated—he just threw into a pot some pinto beans along with some chopped brisket and a few shakes of pinto bean spice and let it simmer for a long time.

Pinto beans and sausage | Homesick Texan

Well, I decided it was probably his smoked meat that took his beans over the top. Yet there was certainly no reason why I couldn’t at least try to make a similar pot, especially since most of his ingredients—save for the brisket—I always have on hand in my kitchen.

As I was beginning to make my pot of beans, I recalled my mom used to make pinto beans with smoky kielbasa sausage. It wasn’t sweet like beanie wienies but was instead more like a Texan take on that Cajun favorite, red beans and rice. The heartiness of the sausage coupled with the spicy, rich beans made for a mighty fine meal. It was then I realized that my mom’s beans were what Aaron’s beans had reminded me of, and explained why I loved his so much. It was time to bring this old family favorite back into my regular rotation.

Now, some people think that beans are complicated, but they’re not as long as you let them slowly do their thing. This pot was no different, and after stirring together pintos with sausage, jalapeños, aromatics, and a handful of spices, I then let them hang out on the stove for a few hours they until they gently came to life. When the beans were tender and the broth rich and savory, I then finished with a few dashes of smoked paprika for a final burst of smoke. It was a perfect pot of beans.

Pinto beans and sausage | Homesick Texan

A bowl of beans is Texas-style comfort food at its best, and these peppery beans with sausage are no different. You can present them as a side dish and they will be the hit of your barbecue, or you can ladle them into big bowls and serve with wedges of warm cornbread for a satisfying supper. And yes, you must be patient while beans slowly reveal their true nature. But it’s okay because like all good things, beans are well worth the wait.

Pinto beans and sausage | Homesick Texan
4.84 from 6 votes

Peppery pinto beans with sausage

Servings 8
Author Lisa Fain


  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or bacon grease
  • 1 pound smoked kielbasa, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 to 4 jalapeños,seeded and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • Sliced jalapeños, for serving


  1. Rinse and sort the beans. Place in a large pot or Dutch oven, cover with two inches of water, bring the pot to a boil then turn off the heat, cover the pot, and allow the beans to soak for an hour. After an hour when the beans have almost doubled in size, drain and rinse the beans and rinse the pot.

  2. Place the pot back on the stove and add the oil. Heat up the oil on medium-low heat. Add the sausage, and while occasionally stirring, cook until it just begins to crisp and some of the fat is rendered, about 3-5 minutes. Add to the pot the onion and jalapeños and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Pour in the water and deglaze the pot, scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate any stuck bits.

  3. Return the beans to the pot and add enough water to cover the beans by 1 inch, about 6 more cups. Stir in the cilantro, chili powder, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, black pepper, and salt, turn the heat up to high and bring the pot to a boil. Once it’s boiling, turn the heat down to low and then cook partially covered until tender, which can take anywhere from 2 hours to 3 1/2 hours, depending on the age of the beans.

  4. Keep an eye on the beans as they cook, making sure the liquid doesn’t get too low (if it does, add about 1/4 cup more water to the pot) and gently stir every half hour or so. I also like to taste the broth after 1 1/2 hours and see if the seasonings need any adjusting. You’ll know they’re done when the broth is rich and brown with most of the vegetables dissolved, and the beans, of course, are tender.

  5. When the beans are done to your satisfaction, taste again and adjust the seasonings—at this point I usually add a few more dashes of salt, black pepper, and smoked paprika. Serve the beans warm topped with sliced jalapeños, though if you have the time, let the beans rest overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat, as they only get better the next day.

Recipe Notes

While I haven’t tested the recipe in a slow cooker (there is no room for one in my small kitchen), I think this recipe would work well in one. To make it, I would cook the sausage, jalapeños, onions, and garlic in a skillet before adding them along with the soaked pinto beans and the rest of the ingredients.

  1. DessertForTwo

    Us Texans love our kielbasa! I think it's our Czech and German friends that settled in Texas 🙂

    I'm such a bean freak, too. I think I eat some form of a bean or lentil daily.

    Thanks for another great recipe 🙂

  2. Lisa Fain

    DesserForTwo–Hurray for our Czech and German friends! And hurray for beans!

  3. Bill Giles

    If you frequent eBay, you should look for an old West Bend Bean Crock. They can be had for $20 to $30 complete with heater, cord and lid. These have a ceramic pot and lid that sits on a heater base. It's probably a 3 quart pot, so it's not very big. The heater has only one setting, but I have had success using a tabletop lamp dimmer to control the heat. The heating element is only 95 watts. I have several and use them for beans, Quinoa, Oatmeal and Velveeta-Rotel dip. Do a search for "west bend bean" on eBay and you will find a number of them. You might have to reduce the size of the recipe, but they work very well and, of course, aren't made anymore.

  4. Lisa Fain

    Bill–Thanks for the tip! I've never heard of that bean pot before.

  5. Another bean lover here – I make a pot of something every week and LOVE Rancho Gordo heirlooms – many varieties. I "refried" cranberry beans just this morning so I better head back West and make some of these pepper sausage beans 🙂 !

    Kielbasa was a family favorite in Ohio, where I grew up – also a "German-slav" area. I am now motivated to look for it here in Montana, but my Cajun step-Daddy sends me some spectacular sausage so that will no doubt work also.

    Thanks for the recipe, Lisa!

  6. Lisa Fain

    Liz–Rancho Gordo has fantastic beans! I love them and often give them as gifts. I haven't tried making refried cranberry beans before, but I love that idea. And absolutely, any Cajun sausage would work well in this recipe, too.

  7. Hello,
    I'm avidly going through your book and loving every single page of it. Just as I was reading your post on beans, I realized that what made your book so magnetic is the stories you tell with food. Keep on the good work, can't wait till your new book comes out. Till then, I'll definitely try this recipe, though I was going for refried beans today.. 🙂
    Such a pity we can't find most of your ingredients here in France..

  8. Lisa Fain

    Jo–Thank you for the kind words about the book! As for the ingredients I feel for you! Though has some things, as do and (Ro-Tel!) and they will ship to France.

  9. maninas

    Looks delicious! I love spicy beans with sausage, so am bookmarking these to try soon.

  10. Anonymous

    I'm picking up some goat chorizo at the Austin Downtown farmers market tomorrow, so I'll fix these beans tomorrow (forecast high 80 degrees) and eat them on Sunday, after the cold front blows in (Sunday night's low 35 degrees.)

  11. Lisa Fain

    Anon–That sounds like an excellent plan to stay warm. And I have to try that goat chorizo!

  12. Lisa Fain

    Maninas–Nothing better than beans with sausage!

  13. Matthew

    This sounds nice. I read so much about beans. Soak them. Don't soak them. Now people are talking about sort of "brining" beans. In the end I don't cook beans because I get confused. This sounds really good so I think I'll try these. Thanks.

  14. Lisa Fain

    Matthew–You're right, there are a ton of different opinions on the best way to cook beans. Even I change it up depending on my mood! That said, whether you soak or not (I usually quick soak and then rinse because that washes out the sugars that cause discomfort and helps the beans to cook more evenly) I've found the most important thing is to cook them at a low temperature and be patient. Don't worry–they're not difficult!

  15. Matthew

    Thanks for the advice. I'm gonna do it! 🙂

  16. TXgirl14

    This looks great! My local store usually carries pre-packaged, already smoked turkey legs, which I throw into my beans, but I will have to try adding some smoked sausage the next time I cook beans. Thanks for sharing another great recipe.

  17. dracosgirl007

    I am an Alabama native that loves kielbasa! I can thank my Czech Grandmother, who happens to be from West, Texas for that.
    Oh, and by the way West has the absolute best kolache in Texas. Your recipe is the closest one I have ever found that brings back those wonderful memories from my childhood.
    Thanks for all of your recipes and wonderful stories about my second home!

  18. Lisa – your method is almost exactly what Steve Sando (RG) outlines: rinse, quick soak.

    AND, while you can make a huge pot of beans and they freeze very well, I tend to make smaller quantities since I enjoy many varieties. Lots of options!

  19. I THOUGHT I had some kielbasa in the freezer, but I couldn't find it, so I used a pound or so of my husband's smoked pork shoulder. We are fortunate enough get our dried beans right from the farmer – used a combo of pinto and cranberry beans. I made this today, for dinner later in the week, and, after sampling, I can't wait. Delicious – thanks, Lisa!

  20. Beans are a regular on our TX table. Everyone hear loves 'em. I love your use of smoked paprika for that added smoky punch. I need to give that a try on the next batch (probably later this week).

    We regularly add smoked sausage of some kind. For an added kick try smoked Andouille. A couple of other sources of smoked meats that are widely available and make good additions to beans are smoked pork chops and smoked ham hocks. You get more smoke with the hocks, but less meat to throw back in the pot with the beans after picking them over.

  21. Jessica Holmes

    Oh these beans look amazing. I'm from Australia and am having a hard time tracking down kiebasa sausage, any alternative suggestions?

  22. Sandra

    Love me some spicy beans. I've never cooked beans before but you inspired me to buy some and try this out. What brand of sausage do you like? I never can seem to find one that I really like.

  23. Lisa Fain

    TXgirl14–Oh! I'll have to keep an eye out for pre-smoked turkey legs. They'd be terrific in this as well as in collard greens.

    Liz–What a great video. Thank you for sharing!

    dracosgirl007–Thank you for the kind words. That's high praise my kolache recipe reminds you of West!

  24. Lisa Fain

    Kris–I love that substitution. And how wonderful to have such a fresh source for beans!

    Eric–Andouille and smoked hocks are a great addition, too!

    Jessica–Any smoked sausage or meat that you can find in Australia should work.

    Sandra–I'm a fan of any Texas brand that doesn't use MSG. We can't get any Texas brands here in NYC, sadly, so I use Wellshire Farms.

  25. Alison

    These babies are fan-freaking-tastic. And they make a LOT, which means we'll get to enjoy them another night and they'll taste even better!

  26. Wendy Claughton

    I've just made these for the weekend/weekday lunches, and they're amazing!

    Jessica – I'm in Aus too, and I've made these and other pots of beans with a hot continental sausage, as well as with smoky chorizo. Depending on your palate you could use cacciatore (spelling?) or even, in a super pinch, kabana (we were all students once!). All of these are available in most local supermarkets.

  27. Samba00

    Hi Lisa,

    This is amazingly similar to my "whatever is in the pantry" bean recipe that I cook at least once a month, though I frequently throw in a rehydrated, pureed ancho or two.

    Off topic, but Ninfa's on Navigation was fantastic! I'm so glad that I knew to go there from reading your blog these many years. Sadly, because of long work hours I haven't had a chance to check out your other recommendations.

    Ah well. But tonight…the Rodeo!

  28. Mer C.

    I made this recipe this week and it was delicious. It was even better the next day, which was almost too good to believe. Thanks so much!

  29. Shelley

    I admire the Women of Iron Stomach on this blog.

    I can't do all the spice!

  30. Phillip Daulton

    Oh Lisa! This is fabulous! I didn't have any smoked paprika, so I kicked in a bit of liquid smoke. This recipe is a keeper!

  31. Jennifer Klodzinski Durnell

    I made these yesterday and they were absolutely amazing. Thank you for continually providing us with such wonderful recipes!

  32. Stina Kolling

    Made this tonight for dinner with the following changes do to what I had in the cupboards: no cilantro, regular paprika instead of smoked, 2 cans of black beans & 1 can of pinto beans, sodium-reduced kielbasa, and 2 habaneros (with seeds) instead of jalapenos. INCREDIBLY GOOD. Lovelovelove! This recipe is a keeper!

  33. Anonymous

    Sounds like home. Great piece and really inspiring as Thanksgiving draws near. Beans and smoked smoked sausage with cornbread will be part of the meal, for sure. Thanks!

  34. Melissa

    Made this last night. We LOVED it. Thanks for a great new recipe for my archive, Lisa!

  35. Tracee

    Beans were on rotation in our house growing up. However, we used a smoked beef sausage. It holds up better to longer cooking. Having lived north of the Mason-Dixon Line for 20 years…I have grown accustomed to placing orders from Blacks for their sausage!

    Just FYI, I have gifted over 14 of your Queso book to friends and our local library. Everyone loves it! I’m ordering another for myself because I gave mine away again!

    • Lisa Fain

      Tracee–It’s not easy to find smoked beef sausage in NYC, so thank you for the tip about Black’s. I’d like to try making the beans your way. Also, I’m so grateful for your sharing Queso with friends and your local library. This has made my day! Thank you!

  36. I made these beans today and they are to die for! I used beef broth in lieu of water and added more spice than what is called for. I also used jalapeno sausage…I made sure to get a good sear on the sausage prior to adding all the other ingredients.

    They are amazing! I am a native Texan and this is my go to recipe now. THANK YOU for sharing!!

    • Lisa Fain

      Ann–Love your modifications to the recipe! I’ll definitely have to try it with beef broth and jalapeño sausage!

  37. Thanks for the great beans! Had some double-smoked kielbasa to use and after reading your intro I decided to throw in a cup of leftover pulled pork (no sauce). Amazing and we can’t for the leftovers!

  38. Do these freeze well?

    • Lisa Fain

      Kurt–I’ve never frozen them, to my recollection, but I would think that they would.

  39. Michael Hicks

    Thank you again for a wonderful recipe, I can’t wait to try it…Tomorrow! I’m a Texan who has been living in Australia for past 30 years. I have been following your blogs for several years and have tried some of your recipes. (Might have to make me some of your brisket enchiladas to go with the beans). Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    • Lisa Fain

      Michael–You’re welcome! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! And brisket enchiladas would be a fine accompaniment.

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