The Bolita Bean – A Locally Grown Favorite

Bolita Bean (similar to the Pinto), but creamier in texture and sweeter in flavor

Bolita (left) – Pinto (right)


The bolita bean is similar to a pinto bean. It is high in protein, but a little sweeter with a creamier texture, and, from what I’ve read, easier on the digestive system. If you’re not familiar with the bolita bean, it is a small pinkish bean similar in shape and size to the pinto (as you can see in the picture).  It’s locally grown here in New Mexico and can be found at many of the Growers’ Markets in the fall. It can also be purchased online from farms like Schwebach Farms and Sichler’s Farms.

The stories I’ve read say that bolita beans were first cultivated in Peru 10,000 years ago and brought north to New Mexico by Spanish settlers. They became an important crop of the American Indians of northern New Mexico who still grow them along with many other farmers in central and northern New Mexico.  Today, bolitas are grown throughout the Four Corners area and other parts of the southwest.  Apparently, it is a good crop for the southwest because its root system is deep, making it able to withstand dry spells and drier climates like ours.

I use the bolita beans in much the same way I use pinto beans.  The dried beans can be cooked using the same recipes as those for pintos, but do take longer to cook.  Like most of my dried beans, I pressure cook them after a 4 hour brine.  For the following recipe you can use either bolita or pinto beans; however, bolita beans require a 20 minute pressurized cook and pinto a 12 minute cook.  If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can always slow cook them on the stovetop (or possibly a slow cooker), like I do with small red beans.

BTW – If this post sounds familiar, it’s because you may have seen parts of it before.  Six years ago, I talked about the bolita bean within my Spicy Bean Salad Recipe, but because we love these beans and use them so much, it was time to give them their own space.


Bolita Bean Recipe

The Bolita Bean is similar to the pinto bean, but softer in texture, sweeter in taste, and high in protein. #bolita #drybeans @mjskitchen

Spicy Bolita Beans Recipe
4 hrs
1 hr
Total Time
5 hrs
The bolita bean is similar to the pinto, but cooked, it's a little sweeter and creamier. Use in the same manner as you would pinto beans.

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"*" See Kitchen Notes for more information or links to special ingredients.

Course: Dried Beans, Side Dish, Vegan, Vegetarian
Cuisine: New Mexico
Yields: 6 cups
Recipe Author: MJ of MJ's Kitchen
  • 2 cups dried bolita beans
  • 6 large cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. red chile powder
  • 3 dried chipotle peppers, stems removed or 1 Tbsp. red chile paste*
  1. Brine the beans in a large bowl for 4 hours in 1 Tbsp. salt and enough water to cover beans by at least an inch. After 4 hours, drain and rinse.

  2. Transfer beans to the pressure cooker. Add enough water to cover the beans and then 1-2 inches above.

  3. Add the remaining ingredients.
  4. Following the instructions for your pressure cooker, pressurize the cooker.  Cook for 20 minutes and turn off the heat. Let the cooker depressurize for 10 to 15 minutes to release the internal pressure.

  5. Once depressurized, open the lid and taste beans for doneness and seasoning. If they aren’t done, then continue to simmer until done. Keep an eye on the liquid. If it gets low, add about 1/2 cup water and continue to simmer.  If they need salt or additional seasoning, add it now.

  6. Once done, remove the chipotle peppers. If you want more heat, chop the chipotle peppers and return to the beans.
  7. Once cooked to your liking, serve and enjoy!

Kitchen Notes

To learn more about brining and pressure cooking beans, see More Information About Pressure Cooked Beans.


Red Chile Paste


Suggested uses (Links to recipes at the end of this post):

  • A hot bowl of beans with a few select toppings and a warm tortilla
  • Spicy bean burrito, taco or tostada
  • Spicy bean enchiladas
  • Spicy beans and rice
  • Topping on baked potato or sweet potato
  • Side for grilled meats
  • Ingredient in Spicy Bean Salad


Jar of bolita Beans |

Other recipes for bolita beans:

Slow-Cooked Red Beans (replace with bolitas)

Three Sisters with Tomatillo-Green Chile Salsa

Fajita Style Bean Burritos with Red Chile

Bean Tostada

Quick and Easy Green Chile Stew

Chicos and Bolita Beans from The Taos News

Bolita Beans with Red Wine, Smoked Paprika and Jalapeno from Cooking on the Ranch

Bolita Beans Recipe from Beneficial Farms, New Mexico


For a little information about many different varieties of beans, lentils and peas, visit Purcell Mountain Farms.  It’s a great resource for beans lovers.

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32 Responses to “The Bolita Bean – A Locally Grown Favorite”

  1. Sissi February 19, 2018 at 3:41 am #

    I was certain I have commented here…it was probably in my dreams 😉
    I am a big bean lover (though beans seem to hate me…) and this year I decided to eat beans and lentils more often because apparently one’s digestive system gets used after a while. I love experimenting with new varieties, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen this one. They look delicious with scrambled eggs (are these scrambled eggs???). Even if I don’t find them I’ll check your long list of bean serving ideas because I’m sure I can use other varieties instead! (Even now I’ve just cooked some big “giant” beans and I’m sure they will be happy to be served in a New Mexico way too!)

    • mj February 19, 2018 at 9:14 pm #

      Yes, I can speak from experience that your digestive system does get use to beans. 🙂 Because we eat so many beans, we’ve been able to cut back on our meat consumption. A pot of beans is SO MUCH cheaper than a couple of rib steaks.Yes, those are scrambled eggs. We served beans with just about everything and love them with huevos rancheros. 🙂 BTW – I was at my local co-op together and the didn’t have the giant beans. I’m going to have to check out some place else. Talk about a “meaty” bean. Thanks Sissi!

  2. Soni February 13, 2018 at 12:16 pm #

    Never tried these beans but I’m going to look for them now 🙂 Such an easy recipe and such delicious flavors from the chipotle!Thanks MJ.

    • mj February 14, 2018 at 12:43 pm #

      Thanks Soni! Oh yes, chipotle does add a nice flavor to dishes.

  3. April J Harris February 12, 2018 at 8:21 am #

    I had never heard of bolita beans before this, MJ. I’m so glad you shared this post! I will definitely be on the lookout for them. Your Spicy Bolita Beans recipe looks and sounds delicious! Thank you so much for being a part of the Hearth and Soul Link Party.

    • mj February 13, 2018 at 9:14 am #

      Thank you April and you are most welcome!

  4. Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) February 10, 2018 at 6:15 am #

    Silly me. I was just looking at the line up of recipes and see that you included my Bolita Beans with Red Wine. I’m fond of that recipe and make it often. Thanks so much for the inclusion.

    • mj February 11, 2018 at 9:18 pm #

      You are most welcome!

  5. Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) February 10, 2018 at 6:13 am #

    I have access to a great market Northeast of Denver that sells locally grown beans and Bolita beans are one of those. From the 4-corners area in Colorado. Thanks for the recipes you’ve posted to use them. Three Sisters will be one of the first I try. Thanks MJ.

    • mj February 11, 2018 at 9:18 pm #

      Thanks Lea Ann! I’ll be trying your bolitas with red wine next. It sounds so good!

  6. Tamara February 8, 2018 at 11:55 am #

    I just bought some of these MJ! I even commented to Mark how similar they look to pintos. I haven’t tried them yet. I believe they’re in Peru product packaging. I do cook with a lot of Peruvian ingredients.

    We love beans. I just did a recipe for adzuki beans which I’d only had in sweet Asian applications. They worked really well in a mushroom/miso broth. Now I’m gearing up to give my bolita beans a try. Thanks for posting!

    • mj February 11, 2018 at 9:17 pm #

      Thanks Tamara! So you didn’t try them when you lived in New Mexico? I guess they aren’t as popular in southern New Mexico. Well, apparently thy did originate in Peru, so it sounds like it’s still a crop there. It would be interesting to compare the two an see if they are different.

      I’ve never tried adzuki beans, but the year is still young. 🙂

  7. Abbe@This is How I Cook February 7, 2018 at 10:37 pm #

    These sound lovely! Always fun to try something new. I have a man that loves pintos so I have no doubt he would love these!

    • mj February 8, 2018 at 10:52 am #

      Thanks Abbe! If he loves pinto, yes, he’ll love these. 🙂

  8. Evelyne CulturEatz February 7, 2018 at 6:36 pm #

    I have never heard of bolitas beans before but love the sound of them. And a pressure cooker for beans, such a great idea. Thanks for a very informative post MJ.

    • mj February 8, 2018 at 10:51 am #

      Thanks Evelyne! For me, pressure cooking dried beans is the only way to go. Sometimes when I just want to hang in the kitchen all day, I’ll do a stove top slow-cook, but mostly pressure-cooked. Love the texture I get from that method.

  9. Vishal February 7, 2018 at 11:14 am #

    Sweeter and creamier

    • mj February 8, 2018 at 10:50 am #

      Thanks Vishal!

  10. Healthy World Cuisine February 7, 2018 at 5:27 am #

    Will have to keep our eyes peeled for the bolita bean. I don’t believe we have tried these before. Happy to hear they are a little easier on the digestive system. Pinned!

    • mj February 8, 2018 at 10:50 am #

      Thanks Bobbi and thanks for pinning!

  11. IFortuna February 7, 2018 at 12:49 am #

    Btw, pinto beans have fat and not as much protein as the bolita or pink beans. They about the same carbs but a little more protein, not much. Just FYI.

    • mj February 8, 2018 at 10:49 am #

      I never think of a pintos or any other dried beans has having a fat content, but then I guess they do, but just not much. Thanks for the information!

  12. IFortuna February 7, 2018 at 12:40 am #

    These are otherwise known as Pink Beans. Pink Beans are high in protein and fiber and low in fat. My other favorite is kidney beans. I love most beans. Hubby hates them unless they are refried. Imagine, a Mexican who hates whole beans. At least he like them smushed. LOL This is a good recipe but we don’t use garlic so I guess this recipe will be for me. NM cuisine is different than our traditional Mexican cuisine. I love the food in NM though, I use to live there. I could eat enchiladas montada all day long!

    • mj February 8, 2018 at 10:47 am #

      Thanks lFortuna! Yes, I have seen them called pink beans which makes total sense. Like you I love all beans and so does my husband – thank goodness. No, I can’t imagine a Mexican who doesn’t like beans. 🙂 I’ve always found it interesting the differences as well as the similarities between New Mexican and Mexican cuisine. I love them both! In fact I love all Latina cuisines and am trying to familiarize myself with other Central and South American cuisines.

  13. Angie@Angie's Recipes February 6, 2018 at 10:25 pm #

    Sweeter and creamier…that sounds even better though pinto looks prettier. Thanks for sharing, MJ.

    • mj February 8, 2018 at 10:43 am #

      Thanks Angie! That’s funny that you think pintos are prettier. When cooked, I like the looks of the bolita better. Of course to eat, both are delicious in their way.

  14. 2pots2cook February 6, 2018 at 10:23 pm #

    Since I live on the other side of the world, it’s good to know that these could be purchased online. I am so into your ways and will do my best to get some and introduce in my kitchen. Thank you so much !

    • mj February 8, 2018 at 10:42 am #

      Thank YOU and thank goodness for online shopping. 🙂

  15. John / Kitchen Riffs February 6, 2018 at 5:32 pm #

    What a great bean! I rarely use them because I have to make a trip to a specialty grocery store to get them (most supermarkets here don’t carry them), but I should really stock up — they do have nice flavor. Great post! Thanks so much. 🙂

    • mj February 6, 2018 at 7:54 pm #

      Thanks John! I’m actually surprised you can get them where you are but glad you can. Gotta love those specialty stores. 🙂

  16. Wendy M. February 6, 2018 at 5:05 pm #

    I received Bolitas a year ago in a seed trade. I grew about 3-1/2 lbs in total in my garden. They quickly became a family favourite. I’ll be dedicating more garden space to them this year!

    I will thrilled to see the Title of this email tonight. Thanks for the recipes for Bolitas, can’t wait to give them a try.

    • mj February 6, 2018 at 7:53 pm #

      Growing your own bolita beans!! Well how fun is that? I probably would if they weren’t so accessible here. In the fall, I stock up on the current year’s beans so I can have them year. Much easier. 🙂 So very glad that this post was a hit with you. Hope you do try some of the recipes listed. Let me know if you do.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment!

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