Smokey Pinto Bean Chili

SMOKEY pinto bean chili.  What a difference a couple of ham hocks can make to a pot of chili.  I had cooked up a pot of pinto beans and ham hocks to make refried beans, but then I opened the refrigerator and spied a few things that needed to get used.  Namely I had some crushed tomatoes and most of a large can of enchilada sauce.  Without a whole lot of thought I started dumping things into the crockpot and pretty soon the most marvelous thing happened: smokey pinto bean chili.  Oh yeah, baby.

I know that I already have a chili recipe on this site, but seriously, this is my new favorite chili.  You just can’t go wrong when you go with smokey flavors.  Of course, that is just my personal private biased opinion.

As always, if you plan on using dry pinto beans, remember to let them soak over-night before cooking.  Cook according to instructions in #2 below.  Do not add salt or tomatoes to beans until they are cooked.  Very important.  The beans will stay hard if salt or tomatoes are added to them before they have finished cooking.

Smokey Pinto Bean Chili
Recipe by Terri @ that’s some good cookin’
Printable Recipe

  • 1 pound dry pinto beans or 6 cups prepared pinto beans or 3 (15 ounce) cans pinto beans
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 (28 ounce) can tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (10-ounce) cans red enchilada sauce
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1-2 pork hocks
  • 1 tablespoon regular chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (in the spice isle at the grocery store–I used McCormick)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste


  1. If using dry pinto beans, wash and pick-over beans.   Soak over-night in a large container with enough water to cover the beans by at least 2-inches.
  2. Next day: pour off soaking water and rinse beans.  Place beans in large pot with enough water to cover the beans by 2-inches.  Bring beans to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer beans until tender, about 2 hours (longer if beans are old).  Pour off cooking water.  Set beans aside.
  3. In a large frying pan, cook crumbled hamburger, onions, and garlic until hamburger is cooked through and onions are translucent.  Sprinkle with a little salt while cooking.
  4. Add cooked hamburger, onions, garlic, tomato puree or crushed tomatoes, enchilada sauce, pork hocks, chili powders, salt and black pepper to taste.
  5. Simmer over low heat on stove for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Or, cook in a slow cooker on low for 5-6 hours.  Cooking times are approximate…it’s chili, it’s flexible, it’s ready when you say it’s ready.
  6. Remove ham hocks from chili; cool, remove meat, and chop into small pieces to add back to chili if desired.

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    1. says

      Hey Girlfriend, so Sunday night Steve invites a recently widowed friend over for dinner on Monday. That’s so fine because I was already taking dinner into a sick friend’s family and would just double everything. But wait, the widowed friend has a young man staying at his home for a while and can he come too…no problem…Oh yeah, by the way he’s vegan! Instant panic. And now I have to make 2 separate dinners! I’ve never cooked vegan. I researched online and decided I’d make a vegan chili and then I got thinking…I could make your recipe and just adapt it with vegan crumbles instead of the meat, use liquid smoke, and garnish with vegan cheese and sour cream (we had the real stuff). I threw in some extra beans just in case the crumbles weren’t so tasty. Steve walked in the door before dinner and said, “So what are you serving the carnivores?” I said, “The same thing our vegan guest is eating, and you’ll like it!” He was reluctant but he liked it. Funny note, our vegan guest was a no-show, I think he was job hunting and got delayed! Oh well, I sent some dinner with all the vegan cheese(which was not yummy)home for him. And my sick friend’s family got your chicken & rice. Love you Terri!

    2. says

      Good heavens, you were busy in the kitchen AND inventive. I can do vegetarian, but vegan is harder. When I was in nursing school we had a nutrition class in which we had to focus on one food group or type of eating for 24 hours. There were two days that I absolutely hated: one was the extreme low fat day (we had to keep it to 15% of our total calories) and vegan day. My body screamed for cheese and yogurt on both of those days. Nope, I just couldn’t be a vegan…or an extreme low, low, low fat eater.

      Annie Bananie, you are amazing. By the way, what are vegan crumbles? Are they made of soy? Vegetables? What do they taste like? Just curious.

    3. says

      Vegan crumble are soy made to look like ground beef. I actually liked it in the chili & may try it again and just not tell said carnivore :o)
      I don’t eat much meat–although I am forcing myself to eat more–but I could not go vegan. And it’s expensive! And the cheese was gaggy!

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