Slow Cooker Pinto Beans: Low Sodium

I Love Beans

If you’ve been on this blog before, you may have seen my article on beans. Beans for Heart Health: The Nutritional Benefits and Latest Research I love beans.  They are delicious and filling.  They are sooo nutritious–with protein, carbs, fiber, potassium, iron, and antioxidants.

Pinto beans are especially creamy and good!

What You’ll Need to Make Slow Cooker Pinto Beans

There is nothing fancy in this recipe.  You may have most of it in the house. 

You do need a slow cooker, of course. You need the onions, hot and mild peppers, garlic, spices, cilantro, and toppings.  

You will also need unsalted vegetable broth or stock.  Watch out and read the labels.  Reduced sodium broths are still super high in sodium.  I recommend Kitchen Basics Unsalted Vegetable Stock or Bonafide Provisions No Salt Added.  If you can’t find low sodium broth, just use water. 

You need a good knife, measuring spoons, and a cutting board.  A garlic press is great too. The only ingredients you may not have are Liquid Smoke and smoked paprika.  

Don’t skip these!!! Don’t do it!!!

They give the beans a smoky savory flavor. In addition to the smoky spices, this dish gets its flavor from onions, garlic, and peppers.

All About Pintos

Let me tell you a little bit about one of my favorite beans! 

Pinto beans are a legume that is commonly used in Mexican and Southwestern cuisine. They are actually native to Mexico and are now grown all over the world, including the United States, Brazil, and India.

Pintos are oval-shaped and have a beige or light brown color with speckles or streaks. They have a creamy texture when cooked and a mild, nutty flavor. Pintos are used in a variety of dishes, including soups, stews, chili, refried beans, tacos, burritos, and salads. 

I happen to think they taste great all by themselves!

Using Dry Beans

A lot of people don’t use dry beans because they seem like too much work.  And while they require a little advanced planning, they are really no work at all.  You literally dump them in a bowl of water.

And there are a lot of benefits to dry beans.  They are naturally low (nearly zero) sodium.  They are very inexpensive, and they have a long shelf life.

Quick Soak 

Place beans in a strainer.  Rinse well with cold water and place on stove top in a large saucepan (6 or 8 quarts). Add cold water to cover the beans and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let your beans soak in the hot water for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Pour out the remaining water.  Rinse again and cook.

The Overnight Soak 

Place beans in strainer. Rinse with cold water and place in a large bowl. Add enough water to fill the bowl 2-3 inches above the top of the beans. Leave beans on a countertop to soak for a minimum of 6 hours.

How To Cook Your Pinto Beans

In a slow cooker, combine the soaked pinto beans, chopped onion, garlic, liquid smoke, and spices.

Pour in the unsalted vegetable broth and water, making sure that the beans are fully submerged. (If you can’t find unsalted broth, just use water!) Cover and cook on low for 2 hours on the high setting.  

Turn your slow cooker down to low and add the hot and regular peppers  Cook for another six hours or until the beans are tender and fully cooked, adding more liquid if necessary.  Once the beans are cooked, give it a taste and add seasoning as needed.  I always end up adding more smoked paprika!

Storing and Reheating Cooked Beans

Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for 5-6 days.  I portion into glass containers to bring to work.  Reheating is quick and easy in the microwave.  If you prefer stovetop, you may need to add a small amount of water, depending on how “saucy” you like it.

What to Serve With Pinto Beans

Serve with chopped fresh cilantro, diced tomatoes, sliced avocado, lime, and/or hot sauce.

And the very best part!  Make your very own low sodium, low fat tortilla “chips”. These are easy peasy.

Take some corn tortillas and sprinkle with smoked paprika, chili powder, pepper, garlic powder, or hot pepper.  Place them on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 400 F for 5-8 minutes or until lightly toasted.  I make these without any added fat, although you could use a little cooking spray like “Pam” to help the spices stick.


I answered it here, since I know this question would come up.  Can you use canned beans?????

Sure!  Make sure they are “NO SALT”. 

I will say that I prefer the texture and creaminess of the dry bean version, but you can definitely use this recipe and use canned beans.  Decrease cooking time to 2-3 hours.


This pinto bean recipe serves about 8-10 people, depending on serving size. I like big servings because I eat these as a meal. 

Here are the approximate nutrition facts for a 1/2 cup serving (not including any additional toppings):

Calories: 120 Total Fat: 0.5g Saturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium:

50mg Total Carbohydrates: 21g Dietary Fiber: 6g Protein: 8g

I hope you enjoyed this recipe. Be sure to check our my articles on nutrition and heart failure. And be sure to check out my other recipes like this Low Sodium Superfood Tomato Sauce!

A bowl of pinto beans sits on a marble table. Next to it is a plate of corn tortilla, and a cup of lemon water.

Slow Cooker Pinto Beans: Low Sodium

Print Recipe
Savory slow cooker pinto beans with a delicious spicy and smoky flavor. You won't miss the salt.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword Slow Cooker Pinto Beans: Low Sodium
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Servings 8
Calories 120
Author Lori Stevens


  • 1 Slow Cooker
  • 1 Chopping knife
  • 1 Cutting Board
  • 1 Garlic Press optional but makes life easier


  • 1 pound dry pinto beans (soaked and rinsed) use bean soaking method of choice
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 4-6 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1-2 whoe "hot" peppers optional-I used a green and red chili from my garden
  • 1 whole green pepper chopped
  • 1 whole red pepper chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin may increase to taste
  • 1-2 tsp smoked paprika be sure to buy smoked–increase to taste
  • 1 tsp "Liquid Smoke" don't skip this step!
  • 1 bunch cilantro yes–use the whole bunch!
  • 4 cups unsalted vegetable broth read label-don't use reduced sodium, use no salt added or unsalted broths
  • 2 cups water may add more water while cooking to achieve desired "sauciness"
  • ½ tsp black pepper increase to taste


  • In a slow cooker, combine the rinsed pinto beans, chopped onion, minced garlic, ground cumin, liquid smoke, and smoked paprika.
  • Pour in the low-sodium broth and water, making sure that the beans are fully submerged.
  • Cook on high setting for two hours.
  • Decrease the setting to low heat. Add the peppers, cilantro, and hot peppers.
  • Cook an additional 6-8 hours on low.
  • Add water for a thinner sauce. Add more spices if desired. Make it your own!
  • Serve with avocado slices, extra fresh cilantro, and low sodium tortilla chips. This recipe is a meal in itself, but can be used a side dish as well.


This pinto bean recipe serves about 8-10 people, depending on serving size. Here are the approximate nutrition facts for a 1/2 cup serving of cooked pinto beans (not including any additional toppings):
Calories: 120 Total Fat: 0.5g Saturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 50mg Total Carbohydrates: 21g Dietary Fiber: 6g Total Sugars: 1g Protein: 8g


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