Chef John's Santa Maria-Style Beans


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.

Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
2 hrs 15 mins
Additional Time:
8 hrs
Total Time:
10 hrs 35 mins
6 servings


  • 1 pound dry pink beans (such as pinquito)

  • cold water to cover

  • 2 slices peppered bacon, diced

  • ½ cup diced smoked ham

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes

  • ½ cup water

  • ¼ cup ketchup

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder (Optional)

  • 1 pinch dried oregano


  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.

    close up view of Santa Maria-Style Beans served with sliced meat on a white plate
    Chef John

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

344 Calories
5g Fat
56g Carbs
20g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Calories 344
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 10mg 3%
Sodium 839mg 36%
Total Carbohydrate 56g 21%
Dietary Fiber 11g 38%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 20g
Vitamin C 12mg 58%
Calcium 133mg 10%
Iron 7mg 39%
Potassium 1307mg 28%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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