Bob Bullock’s Real Texas Beans

by Ramona Werst on January 27, 2010

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Out here in Real Texas, it ought not to be necessary to have a recipe for cooking a pot of pinto beans.  But there are always exceptions to the rules.  Bob Bullock came to that conclusion after the many times he had been served mushy pintos that don’t even deserve to be recycled on a nacho.  The now deceased Lt. Governor was an all around character and genuine legend of Texas politics who was mighty particular about his beans…..and opinionated too.

I have to admit, when I read this recipe, I had my doubts.  Have faith Ramona, after all, if Former Lt. Governor Bob Bullock made these beans famous, they have to work!  And I’m here to tell you they do!

Bob Bullock’s Real Texas Beans


3 cups dried Pinto Beans

2 thick slices of Bacon

1 tablespoon Oil

1 Onion, chopped

2 tablespoons Brown Sugar



According to Mr. Bullock, soaking beans overnight is the #1 killer of a good pot of beans.

Don’t do it!

This old soaking overnight mistake is a hangover from the days when beans were sold in bulk straight from the fields without washing.   Today’s packaged beans are mainly  free of dirt and rocks and need only a little rinsing.  I still check them and usually find a stone or two.

The second enemy of a good pot of pintos is cooking them too long in the name of making them just soft enough to eat.  How long they cook isn’t the answer – how they cook is.
Put your beans in a pot and cover them at least three times higher with water.  Bring to a rapid boil for 5 minutes covered.  After 5 minutes of boiling, turn out the fire and do not open the lid.  If you open the lid, forget it.  You’ve ruined it.

Let the covered pot set for 1 hour. Then turn the fire back on just a little higher than a simmer. When the pot starts boiling again and the lid starts jumping around and sputtering over on the stove, put in a tablespoon of oil. This will cut down the sputtering.

After a couple of hours – a little longer if you’re busy doing something else – you should need to add more water. Add only hot water. Never put cold water in a boiling food.

This is also a good time to add some onion, a slab of salt pork, ham hock or whatever else you like.  Mr. Bullock further explained, “The salt pork sold in most markets today is so sorry that you get about the same good out of a couple of strips of bacon.”


Now turn the fire down to a simmer, and thicken the juice.  A tablespoon or two of brown sugar works fine.  It doesn’t taste in the beans, but it will thicken the liquid.  Some folks like to use 2 or 3 tablespoons of masa flour worked into a paste.  You can taste this in the beans, but it is good.  (Incidentally, if you don’t keep masa flour around, you can get the same effect by pulverizing a handful of Fritos.)  Now the beans can simmer until they are exactly like you want them.  They will not get mushy.

At this point you can also decide if you want just plain beans or if you want to go another route.  If you like something off in the sweet direction, put in some more brown sugar or a little molasses.  If you want something with a little zing, put in whatever is your favorite bbq sauce, steak sauce, chili powder, jalapenos, or the like.

When all this is simmered in good, you’re ready to eat. If you’re planning ahead, you can now put the beans in the icebox and warm ‘em up when ready. Just warm them; don’t cook ‘em to death. They won’t get mushy, but the juice will get thick.

I’m Ramona with Real Texas Recipes

Always enjoyin’  a good pot of beans

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

WarthogNo Gravatar January 28, 2010 at 10:39 am

My wife and I had to go to the nearby large city late yesterday afternoon. While there, we decided to have some fast food for our evening meal. Had to drive around for some time before we could find a place that wasn’t so crowded that we would have to wait longer than we wanted to wait, and I’m talking about a city that has hundreds of eating places, with anything you could possibly want to eat. I know times are bad for a lot of people, but it can’t be as bad for some people as some would want us to believe. Could it just be a matter of priorities?

I was raised on a small country farm during the depression and post depression years. People think times now are bad. They don’t know ‘nutin’. Many was the time when the only thing we had to eat, for weeks at a time, (and sometimes months) was Pinto beans and cornbread from cornmeal that we ground ourselves, BUT I still love both of them and eat them often.

I don’t see anything special about Bullock’s recipe. I’ve been cooking them that way for half a century. (Maybe he got his recipe from me.)

I prefer to fry the bacon first, then add it and the grease from the skillet at the proper time. That serves two purposes and gives the beans a better flavor.

A lot of people who try this recipe will be very disappointed since it doesn’t call for any salt or salty seasonings. One of the best is fajita seasoning.

Other things readers might want to try is a dash of Worcestershire Sauce, or Liquid Smoke. In my opinion, Pinto beans aren’t Pinto beans without a TBSP or so of chili powder in them, and a small quantity of garlic. A chopped Jalapeno will add a nice flavor, also.

And, don’t forget the cornbread!

BTW, about 30 minutes before the beans are done, adding a cup of Coke or Diet Coke will conquer the flatulence problems that Pintos produce.

I’m Warthog here, and a RealTexas Pinto bean connoisseur.


Ramona WerstNo Gravatar January 28, 2010 at 11:30 am

Wow! Thanks for all the additions to the beans. As you can see by the rest of my recipes, I usually add Jalapenos to everything. I decided that since I have not been successful at making a ‘Pot of Beans’ to follow his recipe to the T. hahahaha I did notice that they were kinda blah…and we added salt, and some Tabasco sauce. We did eat with Honey Cornbread.

I will try the Coke next time…will Pepsi work? 🙂


WarthogNo Gravatar January 28, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Never tried Pepsi. Don’t know if it will work or not. Stick with Coke. It will.


KimNo Gravatar December 1, 2014 at 10:41 am

This is the best recipe for no-fail Pinto Beans. Don’t ruin the beans by adding a bunch of unnecessary ingredients.


Jerry BurlesonNo Gravatar January 11, 2018 at 11:00 am

I’ve used this recipe for years. It is the best one by far! Thank you so much.


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