Clay-Pot Red Chile Beans


The alkaline nature of a micaceous clay pot, essential for this recipe, balances the acid in the spicy, earthy red chile sauce and makes for a sweeter pot of beans. Any leftover red chile sauce is delicious as a marinade for pork or beef or spooned over fried eggs.

Clay Pot Red Chile Beans Recipe
Photo: Victor Protasio
Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 25 mins
6 to 8


  • 1 pounds dried pinto beans (such as Rancho Gordo), soaked overnight

  • 6 cups filtered water

  • 4 ounces dried Hatch or Anaheim chiles (about 18 chiles)

  • 1/2 ounce guajillo chiles (about 5 chiles)

  • 1/8 ounce chiles de árbol (about 5 chiles)

  • 4 cups boiling water

  • 5 medium garlic cloves, unpeeled

  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano leaves

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste


  1. Drain beans, and combine with 6 cups filtered water in a 4-quart micaceous bean pot. Cover and cook over low, gently scraping bottom of pot with a wooden spoon occasionally, until beans are tender and creamy, 2 hours and 15 minutes to 3 hours.

  2. Meanwhile, stem, seed, and tear Hatch chiles, guajillo chiles, and chiles de árbol into 2-inch pieces. Cook chiles in a large, dry cast-iron skillet over medium, stirring often, until fragrant and slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer chiles to a medium-size heatproof bowl; add 4 cups boiling water. Weight chiles with a plate to keep them submerged; let stand 30 minutes. Return skillet to heat over medium, and add garlic cloves. Cook, turning occasionally, until blackened in spots and slightly softened, about 10 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes; peel.

  3. Drain chiles, reserving 1 cup soaking liquid. Combine soaked chiles, garlic, vinegar, cumin, sugar, oregano, reserved 1 cup soaking liquid, and 1 tablespoon salt in a blender. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour mixture through a medium mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing solids with back of a spoon to extract liquid; discard solids.

  4. Stir remaining 1 tablespoon salt into beans. Let beans settle in cooking liquid. (There should be enough cooking liquid to cover beans by 1/2 inch. If not, stir in up to 1 1/2 cups very hot water, 1/2 cup at a time.) Stir 1 cup of the red chile sauce into beans. (Reserve any remaining chile sauce for another use). Cover and cook over low, scraping bottom of pot occasionally, until flavors meld, about 30 minutes. Season with salt to taste, and serve.

Make Ahead

Red chile sauce can be kept in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Beans can be cooked up to 5 days in advance.

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