Abuelita’s Homemade Frijoles or Stewed Pinto Beans

Vivi frijoles stewed beans pinto

These frijoles or homemade pinto beans are soaked overnight and stewed to creamy delicioso-ness the next day. They are the very definition of feel-good abuela cooking for  Vivi Abeja, one of our favorite Mexican cocineras. ”I have only made this meal when I’m feeling under the weather or feeling down because this is my comfort food,” says Vivi, who hosts a Mexican cooking Live series on her Instagram channel Vivis_Table.

“After making this recently, I’ve come to realize I should be making it more often because I felt my grandmother as I crumbled the queso fresco and took my first bite of the frijoles. These are the moments I appreciate the most because, as sad as I am when I miss my grandmother, I feel her the most through the comida she taught me to make. I feel her through the process of cooking, and I hear her while I’m eating telling me to take my time and not eat so fast like my abuelito,” she says, tristemente.

Watch Vivi Abeja make her grandmother’s family-famous frijoles: so creamy and delicioso!

Vivi’s grandmother was her kitchen role model and inspired her to take up feeding people as her personal and professional mission. Elisa Abeja, 92, died earlier this year, and Vivi is deeply grieving her loss. Vivi tells Familia Kitchen that she grew up admiring how her abuelita took pride in using the smallest amount of ingredients (beans, corn, cheese) into a memorable meal that would stretch to feed her large family of eight children and even more grandkids at their home in Little Village, a Chicago neighborhood known for its Mexican heritage.

“This dish reminds me of my grandmother and our roots. This is what we had every day when I was taking care of her, and every day when I visited her hometown, Nocupétaro, Michoacán with her last year. Every time we walked into a family member’s house in Mexico, they had a pot of frijoles ready for us and served it with queso fresco and homemade corn tortillas.”

Vivi frijoles stewed beans pinto
Step 1: Sort through the beans to any that are cracked, wrinkled, ugly looking, or have holes from insects. This is so that all the beans cook evenly.

Her grandmother taught her to sort through the dry beans carefully before cooking. “My favorite part of this dish is the time you take to take out the bad beans because in that time you can have a conversation with whoever is in the kitchen with you or you can have intimate time with yourself. Both are very therapeutic, and I love meals that feel therapeutic,” says Vivi, whose Instagram channel hosts a series called “Feeding the Soul.

Vivi frijoles stewed beans pinto
The frijoles are ready to serve with crumbled queso fresco and fresh corn tortillas.

In this simple frjioles dish with just four ingredients, don’t skimp on the onion and garlic, advises Vivi. “I love, love, love onion and garlic, so I usually always add both to all my meals in any way I can.” It makes all the difference.

Check out Vivi’s family recipes for more delicioso Mexican dishes.

Abuelita’s Homemade Pinto Beans or Frijoles

Recipe by Vivi Abeja
5.0 from 1 vote
Cuisine: Mexican


Prep time


Cooking time








  • 1 cup dried pinto beans

  • 6 to 7 cups water

  • 1 to 2 tsp salt

  • 1 onion, 1/2 for marinating and 1/2 for cooking

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled


  • Remove the bad beans from the batch. Toss any that are cracked, wrinkled, ugly looking, or have holes from insects. This is so that all the beans cook evenly and come out delicious.
  • Rinse your beans after you’ve sorted them, to remove any dirt or residue.
  • Chop your onion into large chunks.
  • Place your beans in a bowl or container. Add the water and half the onion. Cover and let sit overnight. This will speed up the cooking process.
  • After soaking your beans overnight, you will see that they have at least doubled in size. Rinse the beans with fresh water before cooking.
  • Add the beans to a pot. Fill with enough water to cover the beans by at least 4 inches.
  • Bring the beans and water to a simmer, and cover the pot for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, add 2 garlic cloves and the remaining onion, chopped into chunks. Simmer for another 45 minutes or until beans have fully cooked through.
  • Keep an eye on the pot and add more water as needed, if it dips below the top of the beans.
  • Season with salt, to your taste.
  • Serve in a bowl with crumbled queso fresco and enjoy with homemade tortillas!


  • Serve with homemade corn tortillas for next-level delicioso-ness.

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