Monday, April 20, 2009

Pressure Cooker (or Stovetop) Recipe for Kalyn's Version of Rubio's Pinto Beans

Rubio's Pinto BeansFor a long time I was mildly infatuated with the pinto beans from Rubios, a popular Fresh-Mex fast food restaurant. Rubios is famous for fish tacos, but when I go there I'm either getting a salad or these wonderful beans. The menu declares the pinto beans are "not refried" and the creamy, slightly chunky beans are served plain, with no cheese or toppings. To me Rubios beans have the absolute perfect creaminess and flavor that makes pinto beans so delicious.

On many trips to Rubios I puzzled over just what it was that made these beans so special. There was something that tasted familiar, but I couldn't quite identify it. Then one day when I was eating at Rubios, I noticed an employee sitting down to eat, so I struck up a conversation, telling him how much I loved the beans. Maybe it was because this was a college kid who also had braces so he understood the appeal of soft and creamy beans, but he went back to ask the cooks just what they put in them. He reported back that the beans were seasoned with just three things: garlic, salt, and black pepper. As soon as he said black pepper I knew that was the ingredient I'd been tasting. Keep reading to see how I made Rubio's beans at home, and if you don't have a pressure cooker, after the recipe I'll tell you how I'd make them in a regular pan.

Start by putting 2 cups pinto beans, garlic, salt, and black pepper in the pressure cooker with water to cover by 2 inches. (Add a bit of olive oil if your pressure cooker recommends it.)

Quite honestly I had no idea how long it would take to get that falling-apart creaminess that makes Rubios beans so amazing, so I checked after 30 minutes at high pressure and the beans looked like this.

I put the lid back on and cooked them another 15 minutes at high pressure, and now the beans were starting to fall apart like I wanted.

I used my favorite blue potato masher to vigorously mash most of the beans, while leaving some of the chunks I love so much in the Rubios beans.

Rubios beans are definitely on the runny side, so I stirred in some water, added a bit more salt, pepper, and 1 T olive oil, and simmered them for about 10 minutes. (Be sure to stir often if you're doing this in the pressure cooker or the beans will stick!)

Pressure Cooker (or Stovetop) Recipe for Rubio's Pinto Beans
(Makes about 6 side servings of beans, recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration from Rubios pinto beans.)

(I used my 3.7 quart Kuhn Rikon Pressure Cooker for this recipe. If you have a bigger size, you might want to double the recipe.)

2 cups dried pinto beans
1 tsp. +1 T olive oil (Oil is probably optional, but I like to add oil to prevent beans from foaming in the pressure cooker, and the T of olive oil added at the end gave the beans a bit of extra creaminess.)
water, enough to cover beans by 1 inches + plus 1 cup water for simmering
2 T minced garlic
1/2 tsp. salt (I added 1/4 tsp. more after tasting)
1/2 tsp. coarse "table grind" black pepper (I added 1/4 tsp. more after tasting)

If needed, rinse beans and place in pressure cooker. Add garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper and 1 tsp. olive oil. Lock lid on presure cooker and bring to high pressure, then set time r and cook for 30 minutes at high pressure. Release pressure using quick-release method recommended for your pressure cooker and check beans to see how done they are. (Dried beans can vary greatly in how quickly they cook depending on how old the beans are, so I recommend cooking in two stages and not just leaving for 45 minutes.)

If beans are not soft enough that they're starting to fall apart, put lid back on pressure cooker, lock, bring to high pressure and continue to cook (I cooked them for 15 minutes more, but judge by how soft the beans are after 30 minutes.) Release pressure using quick release method.

Use a potato masher to vigorously mash the beans until they're about 75% mashed, but still have some noticeable chunks. (This is a personal preference, but I like them rather chunky.) Taste beans for seasoning and add more salt and pepper to taste (I added 1/4 tsp. more of each.) Stir in 1 cup water, 1 T olive oil if desired, and put beans back on stove and simmer about 10 minutes, stirring often, until beans are creamy and slightly thickened. Serve hot. (You can garnish with sliced green onions if you're taking photos for your food blog, but Rubio's serves the beans plain.)

When I reheat the beans after they've been in the refrigerator I like adding a bit of water to thin them down.

Stovetop Cooking Without a Pressure Cooker:
Soak beans overnight in cold water to cover by several inches. The next day, drain beans, fill pan with fresh water, add garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and 1 tsp. olive oil if desired (the oil is optional, especially for regular pan.) Bring beans to a low boil and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, adding a bit of water if needed.

After an hour, start checking for doneness, and when beans are starting to fall apart slightly turn off heat. Use potato masher to vigorously mash most of the beans, leaving a few chunks. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper and a bit of olive oil if desired. Stir in 1 cup more water (or less, depending on how much water is left in the beans) and simmer a few minutes more until beans are creamy and slightly thickened. Serve hot.

(If anyone makes these on the stove without a pressure cooker, I'd love to hear just how long you cooked them.)

Printer Friendly Recipe
South Beach Suggestions:
Dried beans are a wonderfully low-glycemic food, and this is a great dish for any phase of the South Beach Diet. These beans would be a great side dish for Turkey Lettuce Wrap Tacos.

Guess Who Else Made Rubio's Beans?
Rubio's "No Fried" Pinto Beans from RecipeGirl (If I had found this sooner I wouldn't have had to ask what the seasonings were!)

More Tasty Pinto Beans:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Pressure Cooker Refried Beans with Onions, Garlic, and Green Chiles
Pressure Cooker Recipe for Pinto Bean and Ground Beef Stew with Cumin and Cilantro
Pinto Bean Salad with Avocado, Tomato, Red Onion, and Cilantro
Pinto Beans Three Ways from Homesick Texan
Semi-Homemade Refried Beans from Pinch My Salt
(Want even more pinto bean recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)
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More to Chew On:


  1. Wow, you did such a great job of creating them on your own!! It wouldn't have been any fun if you already had the recipe, right? :)

    The recipe was published not too long ago in one of our local magazines when they did a write up on Ralph Rubio. The secret is out!

  2. How fun! I love those beans, and the other things I love there is the Fiesta Chicken Salad. It's even South Beach Diet friendly, which is rare for fast food!

  3. That sounds absolutely delicious! I love all kinds on bean stews! I swear, one day I am going to get over my fear of the pressure cooker!

  4. I'm gonna try this in the next week on the stovetop. Will comment again on how they worked w/o pressure cooker. Thanks for the recipe!

  5. Chicajo, the new cookers (with pressure valve built into lid) are completely safe! Love the pressure cooker!

  6. I have never been to Rubio's, but am now determined to go there for lunch this week. I don't have a pressure cooker, so thank you for the stovetop recipe.

  7. Stuff Cooks Want, we were writing our comments at the same time I guess because yours wasn't there when I answered ChicaJo. Thanks for offering to test the stovetop method! I was only guessing when I said simmer an hour, so keep an eye on them.

  8. CC - I think Rubios is really pretty healthful (for fast food) and quite tasty. And thanks for saying that because now they won't be mad at me for posting the recipe! (Just kidding because I heard from RecipeGirl that Ralph Rubio gave the recipe to the local newspaper, I just didn't find her recipe before I tried it!)

  9. Gotta agree - these beans at Rubio's are great.

    I tend to cook beans in my slow cooker and will try adding these seasonings and see how it goes. FYI for all of us who live in hard-water land - if you are pre-soaking beans, it helps to add 1/4 t baking soda for every quart of water. My soaked beans used to take forever to get softened, and the baking soda really helps that.

  10. Christy, thanks for that soaking tip. I think these beans would be awesome in the slow cooker, will have to try that myself.

  11. I was just at Rubio's yesterday! I still love those darn fish tacos.

    That's pretty great that you did it on your own, without even knowing the recipe was recently released. And truly, they do look a LOT like the ones at Rubio's. Impressive!

  12. That's funny that you like the black pepper - it's why I DON"T get the beans at Rubio's. : ) I grew up on pinto beans and cornbread as a meal, and the beans were/are seasoned only with a slab of salt pork.

  13. i have a pressure cooker which i use to make sweet potato and congee, but i've never thought of making pinto beans in it before! how cool, thank you!

  14. Melissa, the fish tacos are pretty good, but I try to save them for a treat, not too often. I don't know if I would have ever guessed about the pepper if they hadn't told me. If I had tried googling I would have found the recipe!

    Cyndi, that's funny! I love the peppery flavor.

    Tanna, these beans are awesome. Have you had them at Rubios?

    Pearl, such a perfect thing to make in the PC!

  15. Last week I decided to try and duplicate Rubio's beans. Mine turned out good, but definitely not Rubio's. Can't wait to give yours a try. The beans are soaking right now!!

  16. Anonymous, I think the secret is the pepper. Hope you like them.

  17. Hello Kalyn,
    I recently visited a friend from South Africa who served us an amazing soup using S. African beans & sadly I can't buy them here anymore, so I substituted pinto beans, the result was ...the same taste! She used her pressure cooker, I soaked overnight...I'm still scared of it though! lol
    lovely post.

  18. Sadly there are no Rubio's this side of the Mississippi River. *sigh* At least now I can try their beans.

    So... to do beans in the pressure cooker no pre-soak is needed? This might just change my life!

  19. Lesley, thanks. And fun to hear about pressure cookers being used in South Africa. Don't be scared!

    Mrs. W. I've made several types of beans without pre-soaking, great results. You also can pre-soak for even shorter cooking time in the PC.

  20. I'm so glad you posted this. I have 36 #10 cans of dried pinto beans sitting in my store room!

  21. Inadobo, lucky you! This is such a delicious recipe, simple but perfectly seasoned (at least to me!)

  22. Creamy bean dishes are really good.

  23. A fun herb to try in beans is epazote. I have a second home in Mexico and it is always added to the beans. You can find it in a Mexican markets or it is easy to grow in pots.

    I love my pressure cooker too. I have one at both houses.

  24. Kevin, I loved these beans!

    Tuki, not quite sure what you mean by that, but thanks for stopping by!

    Sharon, I have used epazote in bean dishes. I do like it, it adds a subtle but good flavor to the beans, in my opinion.

  25. How funny - I really like Rubio's beans too. But I stopped going there a couple of years ago when the quality of the food went downhill (at least at my local one). BUT, I had always noticed that the beans had LOTS of pepper in them. You could see it dotting the little cup. Am so glad you culled the secret from them!

  26. Wow - well done you for reverse engineering till you got to your own version of the beans! I love the look of these, and I am a sucker for legumes so I might have to give your non-pressure cooker version a try soon...

  27. I made this pinto beans for dinner last night, and it was so good! Even my meat-loving husband liked it. I'm trying to do several meatless meals a week both for our health and our budget, so I really appreciate easy, veggie packed meals. Great blog!

  28. Rumela, so glad you liked them.

  29. I was just visiting family in San Diego and I ran across this recipe in a magazine they had. I took it home and tried it but it tastes way to salty for me. It's the same one RecipeGirl posted (verbatim). It also doesn't seem like you can get these beans cooked enough with just 20 minutes of boiling and an hour of sitting (even with overnight soaking).

    I've perfected the fish tacos, including the white sauce, and the hot sauce (listed at my site linked to from my name above) but the beans have always been a struggle for me.

    I'll get it right and post it to my site.

  30. Chef Pablo, Recipe Girl acknowledges in a comment here that she got the recipe from a magazine, so no harm in that. I couldn't say how the recipe works for her version, but I can tell you that my recipe tastes just like Rubios beans. I've tried it on quite a few people and they all have loved these beans.

  31. I didn't see any follow up to this on how long to cook the beans on the stovetop. I just made this and soaked them for about 20 hours, cooked at a low simmer for an hour and then at a moderate boil for another hour and they were still not really soft and falling apart. I went ahead and mashed them because it was dinner time but there were too many unpleasant undercooked pieces. I am hoping to salvage them as a soup base later this week. Has anyone else made these on the stovetop and how long did you cook them for?

  32. Laura, the cooking time for dried beans is largely determined by how old the beans are. Beans that are old and more dried old, and they will take much, much longer to get soft. If you soaked them that long and then cooked for 2 hours, it sounds like your beans might be old. With fresh beans that have been soaked overnight, I'd guess they would be very soft in two hours, or even less.

  33. I made these today. I found your recipe on Pinterest and it was exactly what I was looking for. We don't have a Rubio's in NC (never heard of it) but we do have places that serve chunky, creamy 'refried' beans. I have tried slow cooker versions and, similar to someone else who posted the stove-top version, they come out a little 'al dente'.

    I bought myself a pressure cooker *just* to make these and, MAN OH MAN, these are WONDERFUL. THANK YOU!!

  34. Cindy, so glad you're enjoying them!


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