Chef John's Santa Maria-Style Beans Recipe -
Chef John's Santa Maria-Style Beans  Recipe
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Chef John’s Santa Maria-Style Beans
This spicy California bean dish is a classic partner for grilled steak. See more
  • READY IN 10+ hrs

Chef John's Santa Maria-Style Beans

Recipe by  

"Classic Santa Maria-style beans are made with a special variety of pink beans called pinquitos. These 'little pink' beans are prepared in a spicy, smoky, tomato/chili sauce that's spiked with not one, but two kinds of pork. Santa Maria beans have come into my life relatively late, so I plan on making up for lost time this barbecue season."

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Ingredients Edit and Save

Original recipe makes 6 servings Change Servings
  • PREP

    20 mins
  • COOK

    2 hrs 15 mins

    10 hrs 35 mins


  1. Place pink beans into a large container and cover with several inches of cool water; let stand 8 hours to overnight. Drain.
  2. Place drained beans in a stockpot with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook until almost completely tender, about 1 hour 45 minutes.
  3. While beans are simmering, cook and stir bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat until cooked through but not crispy, 5 to 7 minutes. Add ham; cook and stir until ham is heated through, about 1 minute. Stir garlic into ham mixture and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add tomatoes, 1/2 cup water, ketchup, sugar, dry mustard, paprika, chili powder, salt, chipotle chile powder, and oregano. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cook until flavors blend, about 30 minutes.
  4. Drain beans, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Combine beans, reserved liquid, and tomato mixture in the beans stockpot; bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender and mixture has thickened, about 30 minutes.
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Reviews More Reviews

Jun 12, 2014

If I wasn't married I would be standing up holding a poster board that said Chef John Marry Me!! These were fantastic beans. Not baked beans, not pinto beans, not any kind of beans I've had before ...different yummy beans. YAY! go Chef John go...right now I'm your biggest fan.

May 15, 2014

.Very good starter. We just like more spice. We found it was just a nice tomato flavour. After sampling the way it was intended I tweaked it. I added 1 tblsp of liquid smoke and a tblsp of ancho chili peppers. Next time I will probably double both of these. I will make it again. Thank you

Jun 11, 2014

My previous attempts at cooking beans have been less than spectacular. I have made this recipe several times with amazing results. I recommend this recipe for any summer social gathering. Sometimes I cook thie recipe on a Sunday to enjoy the rest of the week.

Mar 30, 2014

The flavor of these beans was great! I did make a couple changes - I used two cans of pinto beans, drained and rinsed, instead of the dried beans. I also skipped the mustard, but added a little tomato paste at the end to thicken the sauce a bit. The chipotle powder adds a nice heat to these!

Mar 23, 2014

These beans are fantastic! I doubled the recipe for a barbeque picnic and used half black beans and half pink beans. I prepared the dry beans and sauce as recipe directs, and then used a crock pot on low for 4 hours for the last step (this made it easy to serve them hot for a group). They were perfect with smoked brisket and a salad with cilantro-lime sauce.

Mar 31, 2015

Spectacular bean recipe! Finally, something a little different for the outdoor grilling season! Three cheers, Chef John!

Jun 22, 2015

We made this recipe for 24 servings... Luckily, we made it a day early figuring they're always better the second day. It worked! We split it into 2 crock pots, and added jalapeños to one batch. The second day I added an extra (6 servings) cup of the sauce, and both pots came out to rave reviews.

Apr 14, 2015

This is a keepa! Thanks for a fabulous, EASY, bean recipe. I did use tomato paste as opposed to ketchup...salt issue in family and this was still great.


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  • Calories
  • 344 kcal
  • 17%
  • Carbohydrates
  • 56.4 g
  • 18%
  • Cholesterol
  • 10 mg
  • 3%
  • Fat
  • 4.7 g
  • 7%
  • Fiber
  • 10.6 g
  • 42%
  • Protein
  • 20.2 g
  • 40%
  • Sodium
  • 839 mg
  • 34%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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