Achiote Beans Recado
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5 from 1 vote

Achiote Beans Recado

If you can’t find annatto seeds, substitute regular or smoked paprika; the taste will be different, but good. You’ll use only about half of the seasoning mix in this recipe, so save the rest for future experimentation.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 40 mins
Total Time1 hr 55 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican, Vegan
Servings: 6
Calories: 219kcal
Author: Susan Voisin


  • 2 tablespoons annatto seeds see note above
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 3 cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced
  • 2 serrano or other small, medium-hot peppers, de-seeded and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 15-ounce cans pinto beans or mixed beans rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon agave nectar or other sweetener
  • 1/2 tablespoon molasses or other sweetener
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano or 1 1/2 tsp. regular oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 pinch cayenne or to taste
  • fresh lime juice


  • Put the annatto seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, and cloves into a coffee grinder or spice mill and grind to a powder. Add the allspice, mix well, and set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, sauté the onion the onion until it is beginning to brown. Add the two types of peppers and garlic and stir for another minute. Measure out 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of the seasoning and add it to the pot. Cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds and then stir in all remaining ingredients except lime juice.
  • Cover, turn the heat to its lowest setting, and cook for about an hour and a half. Check and stir periodically (every 15 minutes or so), making sure that the beans are not sticking and that there is enough liquid in the pot; if not, add a little water. By the end of cooking, the beans should be moist but still thick enough to sit on a tortilla without running off.
  • Remove from the heat, and just before serving add a squeeze of fresh lime juice and extra salt or red pepper to taste.


This should cook well in a slow cooker on low for 4-6 hours.
Sodium count below assumes the use of canned, salted beans and 1 teaspoon of salt. You can reduce it by 387mg just by omitting the salt.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 219kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 2g | Sodium: 1316mg | Fiber: 10g