Smoky Beans & Bulgar Stew with Chimichurri

smoky beans and bulgar stew with chimichurri

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WOWOWOWOOWWWWW guys, this recipe is SO GOOD. Very impressed with myself on this one. Extra impressed because I just thought of it and threw it together and on the very first try, it was amazing. I LOVE when that happens!! We’ve got tender, fresh pinto beans! Salty smoked ham! Smoky chipotles! Hearty bulgar! And intensely flavorful chimichurri to finish it off. I created this Smoky Beans & Bulgar recipe in my Instant Pot, but I’ll write down directions to make it in a slow cooker and on the stove too. Also… I warned you guys about the chimichurri in my Goat Cheese Dip with Chimichurri & Roasted Tomatoes post. I am obsessed with it now. You could definitely make this recipe without the chimichurri but omgggg it makes it a zillion times better.

Smoky Beans & Bulgar Stew Recipe Deets

Let me tell you more about the recipe. My sister said it gave her NOLA vibes. I’ve never been there so I don’t know… I was thinking it was more Mexican-y. Regardless, it is delicious. So, we throw dried pinto beans, onion, garlic, bell pepper, chipotles, smoked ham, and some spices into the Instant Pot for 40 minutes. While that’s cooking, we make our chimichurri in a food processor or by hand. When the time is up, we quick release the IP and add in uncooked bulgar. Close the lid and let it sit for 20 more minutes. (I got that trick from Pinch of Yum’s amazing Instant Pot Minestrone recipe.) Dish up and swirl each bowl with chimichurri and a sprinkle of cotija and EAT! If you don’t have an Instant Pot, that is A-OKAY and you can easily make this recipe using a slow cooker or the stovetop, it will just take much longer because of the dried beans.

smoky beans and bulgar stew with chimichurri

Cool beans

Lemme say some more about beans beans the magical fruit. One thing you MUST make sure of is that you have fresh beans, otherwise they might take forever to cook/never get soft and are like crumbly and gross. Also—to soak or not to soak? Some people say that soaking helps with gassiness?? I say let em rip. The IP is UHHMAZING for dried beans because you DO NOT have to soak them. Nor do you have to soak if you’re using a slow cooker. If you are using the stovetop method, you will need to soak those beany boys. You can either cover them with water and leave them in the fridge overnight, OR, about 30 minutes before making this recipe, cover beans with water in a pot and bring to a boil, and then cover the pot, turn off the heat, and let them sit for at least a half an hour in the hot water, drain them, and go from there.

Confession time

I have to tell you something. Usually I would say to sauté the onions and garlic and peppers before putting it in the IP or slow cooker. But this time… I legit forgot. I was listening to a Dateline murder podcast and I just threw all of the ingredients in. By the time I remembered that I should have sautéed, it was too late. AND IT STILL TURNED OUT AMAZING! So, if you want to be lazy/forgetful like me, you don’t need to sauté. I’m not even going to write it in the instructions to sauté. If you want to be extra and take the time to sauté, the Smoky Beans & Bulgar Stew will probably be EVEN MORE delicious!

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Smoky Beans & Bulgar Stew with Chimichurri

  • Author: Megan B-L
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 70 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Soup


Tender, creamy pinto beans! Salty smoked ham! Smoky chipotles! Hearty bulgar! And intensely flavorful chimichurri to finish it off. This recipe is DELISH! 



Smoky Bean & Bulgar Stew

  • 2 cups (1 lb) dry pinto beans, rinsed & picked through for rocks
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 1 lb smoked ham, cubed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3 chipotles in adobo, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup uncooked bulgar


  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small shallot or ¼ of a small red onion, very roughly chopped
  • ½ cup parsley
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ¼–½ cup olive oil


  • cojita for topping (optional)


  1. Add all stew ingredients to Instant Pot besides bulgar. (Slow cooker & stovetop instructions in the Notes!) Set on high pressure for 40 minutes. 
  2. Meanwhile, make the chimichurri. You can absolutely do this the authentic way by mincing all ingredients with a knife and mixing in a bowl, but I choose to use my mini food processor. (You could also use a blender, regular food processor, or even an immersion blender.) So, first add the garlic & shallot/red onion. Give that a few pulses until they are pretty much minced. Then add the rest of the chimichurri ingredients (start with ¼ cup oil) and blend just enough until the parsley and cilantro are chopped into small chunks. Not a paste! If you like an oilier chimi, add the rest of the oil after transferring the mixture to a bowl. Set aside for now. 
  3. When IP is done, quick release pressure and add bulgar. Put the cover back on and leave it on the “Keep Warm” setting (vent open) for 20 minutes. 
  4. Done! Dish it up with a swirl of chimichurri and a sprinkle of cojita on each serving. Enjoy!


  • Slow cooker instructions: Put all ingredients besides bulgur in a slow cooker and cook for 8–10 hours on low. Add bulgur, replace lid, and keep on Warm setting for 30 more minutes. 
  • Stovetop instructions: Soak dried beans overnight in the fridge or “quick soak” by boiling beans in a few inches of water on the stove, then turn heat off, cover, and let beans sit in hot water for 30 minutes before the next steps. Drain beans. Add all stew ingredients besides salt and bulgar to a pot on the stove and bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Simmer stew for an hour, covered but with the lid ajar, before checking if the beans are done. You may need to add more broth/water. If beans are not soft and creamy, keep simmering. You might have to simmer for 3 hours or more… we never know with dried beans! When beans are soft to your liking, add salt and bulgar, and simmer with the lid on for 30 more minutes. 
  • If you don’t like smoked ham, I’d recommend using andouille sausage or a smoked turkey leg. 
  • You could also use different types of beans if you’re not a fan of pinto. I think any type would work fine!
  • Could you use canned beans for this recipe? Hmm. I wouldn’t recommend it, unless you are making the stovetop version. For the stovetop version, I guess you could just throw all ingredients (subbing dried beans with 2 drained cans of beans) into the pot and simmer for 30–40 minutes. I have not tested this but that’s what I’d do if I was going to make it this way. 

Keywords: stew, soup, smoky, chipotle, dried beans, pinto beans, bulgar, healthy

goat cheese dip with chimichurri and roasted tomatoes

This is the Goat Cheese Dip with Chimichurri & Roasted Tomatoes recipe that I was talking about earlier. Isn’t she beautiful???

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