Giant Chipotle Baked Beans

A riff on Laurence Jossel's famous NOPA beans - plump, creamy beans baked in a bright, chunky chipotle tomato sauce, topped with crunchy breadcrumbs, plenty of oozy queso fresco, and an emerald drizzle of cilantro pesto.

Giant Chipotle Baked Beans

Food & Wine magazine's Emily Kaiser wrote an article in November of 2008 that highlighted two of my favorite things: Steve Sando's Rancho Gordo heirloom beans, and a bean recipe from NOPA - a restaurant that was just a short walk from my front door for many years. I've enjoyed Laurence Jossel's beans countless times, both at the restaurant and by making them in my own kitchen. I even brought them to Thanksgiving one year. Imagine plump, creamy beans baked in a bright, chunky tomato sauce, topped with crunchy breadcrumbs, plenty of tangy crumbled feta, and an emerald drizzle of oregano-parsley pesto. I love his original recipe, but the last time I made them I decided to add a few of my own twists. I did a subtly smoky chipotle-version of the tomato sauce, a cilantro drizzle, kale, whole grain bread crumbs, and queso fresco cheese. I'm including the recipe down below.
Chipotle Baked Beans

Make Ahead Magic

One of the great things about this recipe is that you can do many of the components ahead of time. You can boil the dried beans, make the pesto, make the tomato sauce, and toast the breadcrumbs. None of which are exceedingly difficult. You can then assemble the components in a flash, and into the oven it goes. Perfect for when you have friends over.
Chipotle Baked Beans

Can I Use Canned Beans?

I'm sure someone is going to ask, so I'll answer ahead of time - how about substituting canned beans? Ok - here's the deal - in my experience canned beans lack the structure that beans cooked from scratch have. The canned guys tend to break and go to mush far more quickly. In this recipe they will likely work, but won't hold up as well. The flavor will be fine, but the texture will be a different beast. If you go this route, don't skimp on the bread crumbs.
Chipotle Baked Beans
Give these beans a try (either version!), they are outrageously good. The shot above is the recipe in progress, before baking. And the photo below is the beans prior to soaking. They're huge. You're looking for beans the size of your thumb prior to soaking for this recipe. I make some suggestion for different types in the recipe below.
Chipotle Baked Beans

Also! There are no shortage of bean recipes on this site. The ones I make most often are these homemade refried beans, and if you've never cooked beans from dried, no problem! This post will show you how to cook beans that are simple and amazing. And if you like the flavor profile here, you might also like these Chipotle Cinnamon Slow-Cooked Coconut Beans.

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Giant Chipotle Baked Beans

4.75 from 8 votes

In the lead photo you can see I used queso fresco cheese, it is creamy, and oozy melty. It lends totally different results vs. feta, which stays relatively structured and is quite a bit more salty. You can use either or a combination of the two

  • 1 pound of large, dried white beans (corona, giant limas, gigantes, or any giant white beans you can find), rinsed, picked over and soaked overnight - or up to 24 hours.
Chipotle-tomato sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 big pinches of red pepper flakes
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 14- ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers
Cilantro Pesto:
  • 1 medium clove of garlic
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • big pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup kale or chard, washed, de-stemmed, and very finely chopped
  • 1 cup queso fresco or feta cheese (see head notes)
  • 1 1/2 cup whole-grain breadcrumbs, toasted in a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil
Prepare the beans:
  1. Drain and rinse the beans after their overnight soak. Then place them in a large saucepan and cover with an inch or two of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the beans are cooked through and just tender. This can take anywhere from an hour to two hours (potentially more) depending on your beans, but do your best to avoid overcooking. Remove from heat, salt the beans (still in bean broth) with about a tablespoon of salt - enough that the bean liquid is tasty but on the salty side. Let the beans sit like this for ten minutes or so before draining and setting the beans aside.

Make the tomato sauce:
  1. In the meantime, place the 2 tablespoons olive oil, red pepper flakes, couple pinches of salt, and chopped garlic into a cold medium saucepan. Stir while you heat the saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute just 45 seconds or so until everything is fragrant - you don't want the garlic to brown. Stir in the tomatoes and the fresh oregano and heat to a gentle simmer, this takes just a couple minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the adobo sauce - carefully take a taste (you don't want to burn your tongue)...If the sauce needs more salt add it now, more chipotle flavor? Go for it. Set aside.

Make the cilantro pesto:
  1. Make the cilantro pesto by combining the clove of garlic and cilantro in a food processor. Pulse while you drizzle in the olive oil - alternately, you could do this by hand. Season with a bit of salt and set aside.
Let's bake!
  1. Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. In a 9x13 baking pan (or large oven-proof casserole/dutch oven) toss the beans with the tomato sauce and the kale. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake in the top-third of the oven for roughly twenty-five (if you're using queso fresco) to forty minutes, I look for the cheese to start browning and any visible beans to get a bit crusty. Remove from oven and let sit for about ten minutes. Top the beans with the breadcrumbs and just before serving drizzle with the cilantro pesto.

Serves about 6.

Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 50 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

Post Your Comment

Recipe Rating


Thank you so much for focusing on NOPA. I love that restaurant -- it is a short walk from my home, too! And I love their giant beans; I never thought I'd get to make them! I'm very excited about this.


I wonder how this would be without the cheese. I can't eat cheese due to my stupid high cholesterol, so I might give it a try! HS: Hi Cathy, see my response way down below.


This recipe just sounds perfect to me - I love a tangy tomato sauce and dishes with lots of textures to them. And this one ticks so many boxes in terms of nutrition (legumes, vegetables, dairy, carbohydrate, protein). I've generally used canned beans in the past but I thought I'd get back into cooking them again in my new slow cooker. If any of Heidi's lovely readers have tips for how best to cook beans in the slow cooker they'd be much appreciated!


I have made the Food & Wine version several times to great success too. The last time I served it with your garlicky greens and it was heaven. Perfect for a rainy winter night here in the NW! I'm excited to try your version. Thank you!

Mary B

Instead of Chipotle, how about Harissa? I love Rancho Gordo beans. Not only do I order boxes for myself, their beans make great gifts for foodie friends. As for cooking their beans, my favorite trick is to use my rice cooker. I cook most beans on my brown rice setting (or for a real low, slow cook use the "Gaba Brown" setting on my Japanese fuzzy logic cooker). I soak the beans the night before and get them settled in the morning on cook while I work. Rice cooker switches to warm setting and they're perfect by the time I get home. Great technique for an overworked foodie!

Lisa in San Diego

    Love the harissa idea!

    Heidi Swanson

Could you use regular-sized dried beans, like a great northern bean? That is all I have on hand at the moment, and I would love to try this recipe! Thanks!


i'm also interested in a substitute for chipotle and the adobo sauce as it's difficult to find in europe. someone above mentioned paprika and molasses... anyone with a north african or mediterranean alternative?


If your site has taught me anything, it's how to prepare beans and greens in new and interesting ways. (You've also cured me of my fear of baking; imagine that!) This looks totally delicious. I was all set to make a quiche tonight (my first!) but this looks even better.


This sounds delicious! Love the cilantro pesto idea.

Eliza from Eliza Domestica

This sounds really good! I've never actually cooked with these beans so maybe I'll try it :)


sounds delicious!! we have a thing for rancho gordo beans as well - exploring all the different varieties i've never heard of and looking thru their awesome cookbook. saw the article in food & wine but will definitely be trying your version of this recipe soon. thanks!

the purcells

There is nothing not to love here. Parmesan, cruncy bread crumbs, pesto, a bit of kick. Oh yeah and those gorgeous beans (I happen to have a soft spot for heirloom beans... .) It would be perfect with my current favorite green, Giant Fordhook chard. Yum!

Becky and the Beanstock

does anyone know if adobe sauce/chipotle chillis are available in the uk? if not would smoked paprika/harrisa be a good flavour substitute? This looks really nice, and I might even be able to persuade my veg-hating husband to eat it, with a little chorizo added!


Wow, this dish looks absolutely delicious and warming. Perfect for a winter dinner. I'm a big fan of feta, so I think I'd go with that. Or maybe goat cheese!

ashley (sweet & natural)

Anything involving white beans (my current fave) as a casserole I can throw in the oven - heaven. Can't wait to try this bad boy with a bit of a northeastern spin - I'm thinking molasses and paprika in place of the adobo. And I actually just planted some cilantro for the purpose of winter pesto - how fortuitous!

Jess @ lavidaveggie

ha - you're right, I would have asked about the canned beans! looks like another great recipe!

tabitha (From Single to Married)

I can't wait to play with this recipe! I have a number of wonderful chiles and chile powders from the Santa Cruz Chile and Spice company here in AZ, and I've been wanting to see how some of the smoky ones will sauce up as a substitute for canned chipotles in adobo. Plus, cilantro has finally taken off in my garden, so all is good there. By the way, I love that you love chipotle. ;) It makes my life ever-so-much-more delicious.

Laurel from Simple Spoonful

Was thinking of ordering some Rancho Gordo beans today. Have never ordered before, but it's on my list of things to try. This sounds like a perfect way to use up what's left of the 8 lb wheel of queso fresco in my freezer that my friend brought back from Mexico.



Eliza Mason

I absolutely love your site. It's my first time posting after having learned about 101cookbooks over the last month or so (and purchasing your new-ish book.) So far, I've been thrilled with the recipes. This one looks great. I enthusiastically agree about 'fresh' dried beans and Rancho Gordo beans rock my world! Thanks for your exciting approach to fresh and healthy cooking and eating!


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