Recipe/ Side Dish/ Vegetable

Santa Maria Beans

May 25, 2020 (Last Updated: June 10, 2020)

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Santa Maria Beans are a rich chili style bean dish with a seasoned tomato sauce and  pinquito beans. These small pink beans are slowly cooked in a rich tomato sauce with bacon, ham and Anaheim peppers. 

A blue pot filled with Santa Maria Beans.

Santa Maria style beans are a traditional bean served in the central California coastal region. These beans make a regular appearance at barbecues along with tri-tip steak cooked over oak wood, crusty garlic bread and salad.

Pinquito Beans

Pinquito beans are a small bean specifically grown in the central California coastal area. They are similar to pink beans, but are unique in their size and taste. Pinquitos are about the size of a small pea and they remain firm and meaty even when cooked for a long time. They don’t loose their shape which makes them perfect for stewing. 

Soak the Beans

Pinquito beans benefit from a good overnight soaking in cold water. This gives the beans a head start for cooking. Plan ahead when making these beans so you can get a long soak. The beans absorb the water and start to expand. 

Two small bowls filled with pinquito beans.

To Cook the Beans

  1. Drain soaking liquid from beans
  2. Add beans to a large pot and add cold water. Cover beans with at least 3 inches of water
    Pinquito beans in a pot filled with water.
  3. Bring beans to a simmer uncovered over medium heat and cook until tender (1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours) Add additional hot water if needed.
  4. Strain beans, reserving 2 cups of cooking liquid

To Make the Sauce

The beans and the sauce are cooked separately and then combined and simmered together.

  1. Dice bacon and cook in a large pot until crispy
  2. Remove bacon and pour bacon grease into a container.
  3. Add two tablespoons of bacon grease back into pot
  4. Saute onions until softened, about 5 minutes
  5. Add finely minced garlic and stir for 30 seconds
  6. Stir in seasonings. Stir for 30 seconds allowing seasonings to become warm and fragrant. Do not over cook or the seasonings may become bitter.
  7. Add cooked bacon, finely diced ham and chopped Anaheim peppers
    Crispy bacon cooking in a large pot.1
    Dry seasonings added to a pot of onions.6
    Onions and garlic cooking in a pot.5
    A large pot with bacon, ham and green chilies.7
  8. Pour in crushed tomatoes, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and water and stir together
  9. Reduce to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally
    Reduced tomato sauce in a black pot.

Finish the Beans

  1. Place drained, cooked beans into the tomato sauce
  2. Stir gently to combine
  3. Add a cup of reserved bean cooking liquid
  4. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add additional reserved bean liquid if beans become too thick
  5. Top with freshly chopped parsley and serve
Pinquinto beans added to a pot with tomato sauce.
Santa Maria style beans cooked in a large black pot.

How long do dried pinquito beans take to cook?

Plan  1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours for the beans to become completely cooked. Cooking time varies depending on how long you soaked your beans and the temperature at which you are cooking your beans. These beans are best when cooked over medium low heat and gently simmered. 

How do I know when my beans are done?

The best way to test beans is by tasting them. Take one bean and put it in your mouth. Take a bite and smash it with your tongue. If it’s smooth all the way through, your beans are done. 

Save the cooking liquid

When draining your beans, save the cooking liquid. I always pour off about two cups of the liquid into a glass measuring cup and then continue draining my beans in a colander. That liquid has a lot of flavor and slightly starchy.

A plate full of cooked pinquito beans with a hoagie roll behind the beans.

What to serve with pinquito beans?

The traditional dish served with Santa Maria beans is barbecued tri-tip, but these beans are just as delicious with grilled flank steak or barbecued chicken. A good Caesar salad and some crusty french bread makes a complete meal. For dessert serve up a batch of brownies or maybe some homemade peach ice cream

Substitutions

  • If you can’t find pinquito beans, you can use pink beans or even a small white bean.
  • Diced canned tomatoes can be used in place of the crushed tomatoes. Place diced tomatoes in a food processor or blender to make a smooth consistency
  • I roast my Anaheim peppers, but you could also buy canned roasted peppers.
  • Sweet paprika can be used in place of smoked paprika

Pinquito beans in a white bowl.

These beans are perfect to make the same day or make a day ahead of time and reheat when needed. 

Don’t forget to PIN for later! A blue tin pot filled with pinquito beans.

If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below and snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @beyondthechickencoop

Check out all my delicious side dish recipes!

A blue pot filled with Santa Maria Beans.

Santa Maria Beans

Kathy
Rich stewed pinquito beans in a seasoned tomato sauce.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Soaking Time 8 hrs
Total Time 11 hrs 50 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6 people
Calories 401 kcal

Ingredients
  

Beans

  • 1 pound pinquito beans
  • 8 cups water

Sauce

  • 6 slices bacon (diced)
  • 1 onion (finely diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 Anaheim peppers (roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped)
  • 1/2 cup ham (finely diced)
  • 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley (chopped, optional)

Instructions
 

Beans

  • Place beans in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Let beans soak for 8 hours or overnight.
  • Drain beans and place in a large pot. Cover with water by at least 3 inches over beans
  • Simmer over medium heat until beans are cooked all the way through (1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hours)
  • Drain beans, reserving 2 cups of cooking liquid

Sauce

  • Cook bacon in a large pot until crispy, Remove bacon from pan and pour bacon grease into a container.
  • Add two tablespoons of bacon grease back into pot
  • Saute onions until softened, about 5 minutes
  • Add finely minced garlic. Stir for 30 seconds
  • Stir in seasonings. Stir for 30 seconds allowing seasonings to become warm and fragrant. Do not over cook or the seasonings may become bitter.
  • Add cooked bacon, finely diced ham and chopped Anaheim pepper
  • Pour in tomatoes, water, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. Stir to combine
  • Simmer covered over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Add drained, cooked beans into the tomato sauce Stir gently to combine
  • Stir in one cup of reserved bean liquid.
  • Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add additional water if beans become too thick
  • Serve with fresh chopped parsley (if desired)

Notes

These beans are perfect to make the same day or make a day ahead of time and reheat when needed. 

Save the cooking liquid

When draining your beans, save the cooking liquid. I always pour off about two cups of the liquid into a glass measuring cup and then continue draining my beans in a colander.

Substitutions

  • If you can't find pinquito beans, you can use pink beans or even a small white bean.
  • Diced canned tomatoes can be used in place of the crushed tomatoes. Place diced tomatoes in a food processor or blender to make a smooth consistency
  • I roast my Anaheim peppers, but you could also buy canned roasted peppers.
  • Sweet paprika can be used in place of smoked paprika

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 401kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 23gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 1048mgPotassium: 1535mgFiber: 13gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 237IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 206mgIron: 9mg
Keyword Pink Beans, Pinquito Beans, Santa Maria Beans
Tried this recipe?Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine.

 

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    David @ Spiced
    May 26, 2020 at 5:30 am

    5 stars
    Now this is my kind of summer side dish! I must admit that I’ve never heard of Santa Maria style beans before, but after looking at the recipe I know it’s right up my alley. The smoky flavors in these beans are perfect for alongside a good grilled steak. Hope you guys had a great long weekend, Kathy!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      May 26, 2020 at 8:55 pm

      They originate from the other side of the country from you – California. They are perfect with a good grilled steak! 🙂

  • Reply
    Dawn - Girl Heart Food
    May 26, 2020 at 3:34 am

    5 stars
    I love homemade beans and these look jam packed with flavour! Just had some for supper last night, actually! II could eat ’em any day of the week! These look delicious, Kathhy 🙂

    • Reply
      Kathy
      May 26, 2020 at 8:56 pm

      Me too! I had some leftovers in my lunch today!

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