Recipe review: pinto bean fudge

Last week on the internet, I came across an interesting use for my extra stores of pinto beans: pinto bean fudge. At first, I was a bit grossed out. Fudge with beans? But then I slowly grew intrigued. Beans by themselves are rather bland and starchy, so maybe the earthy flavor of pinto beans could pair well with chocolate. And I’m all for clever ways to use up dry goods, especially if I can fool my oldest son into eating pinto beans.

The few recipes I found to try out were all pretty much the same: pinto beans, loads of sugar, loads of cocoa, a bit of butter or margarine, maybe some salt, and maybe some nuts. I settled on a recipe from Just a Pinch, which seemed as good as any. Here’s what you’ll need if you want to give it a try:

  • 1 cup of cooked pinto beans, unseasoned
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 pounds powdered sugar (to taste)
  • 1 pinch salt (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or other nuts (optional)

You can find recipes that use black beans as well.

The end result was a hit with my family, but it was a little tricky to execute. I’ll talk through my experience below, but here’s what you need to know if you try pinto bean fudge for yourself:

  • Cook the beans! Don’t use them dry.
  • You can probably use way less sugar than the recipe calls for. I used about half and my kids didn’t complain.
  • The recipe will be thick. I mean, really thick. Use a stand mixer if you have one.
  • Don’t be afraid to really work on the fudge to get it smooth in the baking dish.
  • No need to tell anyone you cleaned out your food stores to make this “healthy” fudge! They won’t know the difference.

I’ll definitely make this fudge for my family again when I cook beans or when I need to rotate my food stores. I was shocked at how well it turned out.

Cooking the beans

To start, I cooked a pot of pinto beans. I weighed out one pound, rinsed them, sorted them, covered them in an inch of water, and briefly brought them to a boil. I let them sit in the water for an hour for a “quick soak,” which improves the texture of the beans and supposedly reduces the enzymes that make you gassy.

Usually, when I cook a pot of beans I throw in a slice of country ham, but since I intended to use some of these beans for fudge, I added no seasoning. I drained the beans, covered them with an inch of fresh water, and cooked them in my Instant Pot for 90 minutes on high pressure. This is just how I cook beans. Feel free to cook them as you see fit.

You could also use canned beans, but I would rinse and drain them well. Also, with canned beans, I’d probably refrain from adding any salt.

Mashed beans

Mixing the fudge

Once the beans were done, I drained them well and threw one cup into a bowl to mash them. Meanwhile, I melted a stick of butter. The recipe calls for a ½ cup of melted butter, which is equal to a stick.

This is where I first started having trouble. The beans didn’t mash nearly as well as I would have hoped. I gave up on the potato masher I was trying to use and turned to a dough blender instead. Once that seemed close enough, I added in the butter, cocoa, and vanilla.

I thought I was having problems before, but after adding all of this, the mixture became extremely thick. Still, I managed to stir the dough up enough to start getting something that resembled fudge, albeit very bitter from the cocoa powder.

Beans mixed with chocolate

When it was time to mix in the confectioner’s sugar, I realized I had a couple of problems:

  1. The recipe calls for a whopping two pounds of sugar, and my bag, which wasn’t entirely full, was two pounds itself. I added about half of that, and I think the final product is plenty sweet.
  2. This stuff just isn’t stirrable by human hands. In the end, my best bet was to throw it in our stand mixer.

Even our mighty KitchenAid seemed to struggle with the utter viscosity of this bean fudge. But the machine dutifully did its job, and before long I wound up with something that appeared to be fudge.

The recipe called for chopped pecans, which I had ready, but I decided against them because the mixture was too thick already. I might add some if I make another batch.

I had to use a large metal spoon to smash the stuff down and smooth it into a baking dish. It took some elbow grease, but I finally got it in place.

Fudge in the pan

Finally, I covered the baking dish in plastic wrap (you could use Bee’s Wrap or another reusable wrap if you have some) and put it in the fridge to set overnight.

The results

The next morning, I cut a square out and gave some to my wife, oldest son, and the baby to try. The kids loved it, and my wife said that it tastes just like regular fudge. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a rave review. As long as I have a dump truck of sugar and my stand mixer works, I’ll whip up a batch whenever I cook beans. If you or your family loves chocolate and you have extra beans (and sugar) around, this recipe is definitely worth a try!

Finished fudge


  • 4 Comments

    • Cia

      Kelly Brozyna (Spunky Coconu) has an autistic daughter who’s gluten and casein intolerant and she’s written many cookbooks with recipes appropriate to her.one of them had two recipes for birthday cakes made with white beans. I made one of them for my daughter’s birthday and it was great! It also had a lot of sugar, and Natural Balance margarine sticks are a good replacement for butter. And any kind of non-dairy milk: coconut or rice are what we use the most. The cake rose well and looked like a typical cake, it didn’t have quite the same texture or flavor, but it tasted good, sliced well, and was very close!

      Thank you for offering recipes like this!

      7 |
    • Vaylon

      Great idea for using beans! You’ll find recipes all over the Internet for black bean brownies, too. And the use of beans in desserts is not so uncommon in Asian cuisine — take red bean paste, for instance, which can be found as a filling or topping in many desserts.

      7 |
      • Kelsey DonkContributor Vaylon

        Oh that’s a really good point! Thank you for that reminder!

        5 |
      • Josh CentersContributor Vaylon

        It’s been so long since I’d been to a Japanese restaurant that I had forgotten how good red bean ice cream is!

        4 |