Drunken Beans | Gluten-free, low-sodium | Recipe Renovator
This recipe for drunken beans was directly inspired by a recipe in Cook’s Illustrated, which somehow I had never read before last month. I’m now completely hooked on their combination of kitchen science and insanely thorough recipe testing. Andrew Janjigian took the concept of Mexican drunken beans, frijoles borrachos, and figured out the science behind making them taste fantastic without being boozy. The key lies in when you add the alcohol, and how you cook it off. It’s fascinating, check out the original piece in the January/February issue (subscription required).

I followed his instructions for an overnight soak, then cooking the beans in the oven to prevent them from breaking. Adding the alcohol in two stages provided excellent flavor with no booziness.

I needed to make them low-sodium, so I omitted the 3 tablespoons(!) of salt in the soaking wter. And gluten-free, so I needed gluten-free beer. Luckily, I happened upon the Mission Brewing booth at the Gluten-Free and Allergy-Friendly Expo, and one of the gals was nice enough to load me up with two bottles so I could try this recipe. While Mission is made with barley, somehow they remove the gluten from the barley during the brewing process, leading to a gluten-free beer that can acceptably labeled gluten-free. (I would investigate further if you are celiac.) I used their IPA in this recipe.

I skipped both the poblano chiles and the tomato paste in the original recipe, as I am temporarily avoiding nightshades. If you wish, stir in one can (6 oz) unsalted tomato paste with the beer. Vegans and vegetarians can skip the bacon. Top with coconut bacon if desired.

Required FTC disclosure:

I received two bottles of beer from Mission Brewing Company; I was not paid to write this post.

Suitable for:

low-sodium, vegan/vegetarian diet (with change noted above), gluten-free, reduced-sugar diets

Not for:

migraine or low-tyramine diets
Drunken Beans | Gluten-free, low-sodium | Recipe Renovator
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Drunken beans by Cooks Illustrated
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Drunken Beans | Gluten-free, low-sodium | Recipe Renovator

Drunken beans {gluten-free, low-sodium}

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Total Time 1 d 2 hrs 20 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Latin America, Mexican
Servings 8 servings


  • 1 pound black beans dried, or pinto beans (2-1/2 cups dried beans)
  • 1 bunch cilantro 100 grams, about 30 stems (fresh coriander, Chinese parsley)
  • 4 slices bacon (reduced-sodium, uncured) (omit for vegan/vegetarian versions)
  • 1 onions white, yellow, brown
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup beer (gluten-free) IPA
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt


  • Pick over the beans, then rinse. Place in a large bowl and cover with plenty of filtered water. Soak overnight, adding additional water if necessary. Rinse and drain well.
  • Place oven rack in the lower-middle position. Preheat oven to 300F/135C/gas mark 1.5.
  • Pick the leaves from about 20 cilantro sprigs and set aside in the fridge. Tie up the rest of the cilantro plus all the bare stems with kitchen twine.
  • If using, cook bacon in a Dutch oven or heavy oven-safe pot until crispy. Remove to a paper-towel-lined plate.
  • Peel and finely chop the onion. Peel and finely mince the garlic.
  • Sauté the onion and garlic in the bacon fat or 2 tbsp coconut oil over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, stir in tequila. Return to medium heat (careful, it may flame up) and cook until most of the liquid is gone, about 10 minutes.
  • Increase heat to high, stir in 3-1/2 cups filtered water, bay leaves, salt (if using), beans, and cilantro bundle. Bring to a boil.
  • Cover with the lid (or heavy-duty foil with a tight seal) and place in the oven for 60 minutes, or until beans are tender.
  • Transfer pot from the oven to the stove on medium heat. Fish out bay leaves and cilantro bundle with tongs. Stir in beer. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a "vigorous simmer" for 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until beans are completely tender and liquid is thick. (This is where you would add the can of tomato paste if desired.)
  • Serve topped with reserved crumbled bacon (or coconut bacon), minced reserved cilantro, lime wedges, and Cotija cheese if you eat dairy.


Per serving:
  • 147 calories
  • 2 g fat
  • 1 g saturated fat
  • 0 g monounsaturated fat
  • 0 g polyunsaturated fat
  • 0 g trans fat
  • 1 g cholesterol
  • 120 mg sodium
  • 246 mg potassium
  • 17 g carbohydrate
  • 5 g fiber
  • 1 g sugars
  • 7 g protein
  • 3 Weight Watchers Points Plus
Totals calculated with Whole Foods 365 reduced-sodium uncured bacon. Other brands will be higher in sodium. I have tested this bacon for myself after four months on the migraine diet and it doesn't trigger a migraine attack.