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Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans

July 8, 2016

By Kath Dedon


Wow! These beans! Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans are a fabulous side dish with anything grilled. I found, though, that they are so delicious, they could take center stage as Rick Bayless suggests in Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen. He says that one of his favorite suppers is a bowl of Frijoles de la Olla (“Pot Beans”) served with tortillas, salsa, and a salad.

I used both Mexican Kitchen and Bayless’s Mexican Everyday for reference. In Mexican Everyday he gives instructions for cooking the beans in a slow cooker.

I learned from both Rick Bayless and J. Kenji Lopez-Alt that there is no need to soak the beans before cooking. Bayless observes that he has never seen cooks in Mexico soak their beans. And Kenji did all of the scientific testing to prove that soaking is not only unnecessary, but it makes inferior, less flavorful beans. In the case of black beans, they lose their rich black color when they are soaked and the soaking water is discarded.

In his epic book, The Food Lab, Kenji proves that it’s best to add salt in the beginning, contrary to popular belief. Most recipes, including the two Rick Bayless recipes for Frijoles de la Olla, give instructions to only add salt after the beans are tender. Kenji’s photos clearly show that the beans that were salted in the beginning were superior. Salt prevented the burst skins and blow-outs that the unsalted beans experienced.

I recently made plain black beans in the slow cooker to use for a dip. It was super easy. If you want to cook beans to use instead of canned beans, I would recommend that simple recipe.

If you want a beautiful bowl of flavorful Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans, I highly recommend this one. The beans were cooked perfectly and had a wonderful creamy texture. I loved the rich, porky flavor that the bacon grease gave the beans. I served the beans as Bayless does, in a bowl with some of the bean broth. Leftovers were also delicious drained and reheated. We just finished the last few beans last night tossed in an impromptu pasta dish. I’m already thinking of making Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans again. They are that good!


Slow cooker Mexican black beans - Copy


Slow-Cooker Mexican Black Beans

(Adapted from recipes in Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen and Mexican Everyday, and from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s The Food Lab)


(print the recipe)


I don’t really know if the epazote made a difference. I have some growing in a pot outside. Bayless recommends it for black beans. If you can’t find it, I think the beans will still be great if you omit it.

Make it vegetarian by using oil instead of the bacon grease. If you use oil, Bayless recommends cooking the onion in the oil until it is golden brown, about 10 minutes, before adding the onion and oil to the slow cooker. He says cooking the onion will give it a “roasty flavor reminiscent of what you’d find from pork fat”. There’s no need to cook the onions if you’re using bacon grease or lard.

Makes 7 – 8 cups


1 pound (about 2½ cups) dry black beans

3 tablespoons bacon grease (can substitute lard or oil)

1 medium white onion, diced (about 1 cup of diced onion)

1 large sprig epazote (optional)

2 quarts water

1½ teaspoons salt


1. Check the beans for rocks and rinse thoroughly. Add them to the slow cooker.

2. Add the bacon grease, onion, and epazote, if using, to the slow cooker.


Measuring bacon grease from saved bacon drippings

bacon grease


Beans, onion, bacon grease and epazote in the slow cooker

black beans, onion, bacon grease, epazote.jpg


3. Pour in the 2 quarts of water and stir in the salt.

4. Cook on low for 8 – 10 hours.

5. Serve in a bowl with some of the broth.



Slow cooker Mexican black beans



5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 10, 2016 4:57 am

    I’ve been exploring easy and new ways to get more protein into me becuase of cancer treatment — this has my name on it!

    • July 16, 2016 4:17 pm

      Hi Rosemary,
      Beans are a great source of protein. I hope you enjoy this version and I hope you are able to complete your treatment soon and have a long and healthy life!

  2. July 12, 2016 4:57 am

    Good to know you don’t really need to soak beans. I always forget to plan ahead!

    • July 16, 2016 4:19 pm

      Yes, not soaking beans is a new concept for me, too, Frank. I love it! I’m not sure it’s advisable for all beans, but it sure works for black beans. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂


  1. Instant Pot Refried Beans | In the kitchen with Kath

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