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drunken pinto beans

Drunken Pinto Beans over Creamy Polenta

  • Author: Kate Kasbee
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegan


Our Drunken Pinto Beans over Creamy Polenta makes a terrific weeknight dinner. Garnish with extra cilantro, green onion, and a squeeze of lime!



For the drunken beans:

  • 2 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup onion, small diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 15.5-oz can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14.5-oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1 12-oz. can or bottle of Mexican beer (or 1½ cups of low-sodium vegetable broth)
  • 1 5.5-oz. package of vegan bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used Sweet Earth Hickory & Sage Benevolent Bacon)
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of ½ lime

For the polenta:

  • 1½ cups of water
  • 1 cup of plain, unsweetened almond milk
  • ¾ cup of polenta corn grits (I used Bob's Red Mill)
  • 2 Tbsp. of vegan butter
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

For serving:

  • Chopped cilantro, green onion, and lime wedges


  1. Warm a teaspoon of olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and jalapeño and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
  2. Add the pinto beans, diced tomatoes, maple syrup, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, and salt to the skillet; stir to combine. Pour in the beer or vegetable broth and turn to medium heat. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened and most of the liquid has cooked off. When done it should be the consistency of chili.
  3. Meanwhile, in a smaller skillet, heat the other teaspoon of olive oil. Add the vegan bacon and cook until browned and slightly crispy, about 10 minutes. Transfer the cooked vegan bacon and any leftover oil to the skillet with the pinto beans. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice and adjust flavors to taste.
  4. To cook the polenta, combine the water and almond milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Slowly stir in the polenta. Return to a simmer and cook until the polenta is thick and creamy, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Stir in the vegan butter and season with salt.
  5. To serve, divide the polenta between four bowls and top with a generous scoop of drunken beans (you'll have leftovers). Garnish with extra cilantro, green onion, and a lime wedge.


Omit or halve the jalapeño if you're sensitive to heat.

Tip: Eat leftover drunken beans for breakfast in our recipe for Vegan Chilaquiles!


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 359
  • Sugar: 6.7 g
  • Sodium: 837.6 mg
  • Fat: 12.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 43.9 g
  • Protein: 16.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg