The Scoop on Santa Maria Pinquito Beans

March 3, 2010 at 9:57 pm 9 comments

No traditional Santa Maria Style Barbecue meal is complete without pinquito beans. But what are pinquito beans, and where did they come from?

Pinquitos are small pink beans that are native to the Santa Maria Valley. No one is quite sure about the origins of the pinquito bean, but after all these years it remains a commercial crop exclusive to the Central Coast.

Pinquito beans have long been considered an essential component of the Santa Maria BBQ menu, making them one of several indigenous ingredients that are integral to this regional culinary tradition.

In his seminal book on Santa Maria Style Barbecue, R.H. Tesene writes about the community barbecues of the 1920s and 1930s, and remarks, “The only beans used were the pinquito, a miniature cousin of the pink bean that has a very distinctive flavor and is only grown in the Santa Maria Valley.”

Pinquito beans are prized for maintaining a firm, plump texture even when fully cooked. The beauty of pinquito beans is that they are relatively easy to prepare. Click here for a simple recipe for preparing a classic side dish of pinquito beans as part of the Santa Maria barbecue meal. Local purveyors such as Susie Q’s Brand and Cowboy Flavor offer pinquitos for sale.

To see the farming of local pinquito beans in action, click here and view the video at bottom produced by California Country Television. At the two-minute mark, John Porter of Alamo Farms shows how he cultivates this special crop.

Entry filed under: Santa Maria Style BBQ. Tags: .

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9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. R. Neal Sterling  |  May 10, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Where can I buy bulk Santa Maria Beans?

    Thank you, R. Neal

  • 2. santamariavalleybbq  |  May 10, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Hi, local purveyors such as Susie Q’s and Cowboy Flavor offer them. Click on the “BBQ It Yourself” link at the upper right for information and links. Enjoy!

  • 3. maxie  |  August 16, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    @r. neal sterling: I’m very late here, but most supermarkets in Atascadero, Paso Robles, SLO, Santa Maria will have them in the produce section.

  • 4. Santa Maria BBQ « FoundOnWeb  |  September 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    […] What makes a Santa Maria BBQ, in addition to the garlic-beef-over-oak is also the salsa and the beans (go buy the Sunset Magazine Cookbook for details). The beans are local to the Santa Maria Valley, […]

  • 5. Dion  |  June 12, 2012 at 2:14 am

    Grilled French bread , a simple salad, and fresh strawberries for dessert will round out the meal quite well.

  • 6. Dion  |  June 12, 2012 at 2:26 am

    Opps…I almost forgot about the salsa!

  • 7. Alice  |  July 1, 2013 at 12:52 am

    Where can I buy piquitos ?

  • 8. santamariavalleybbq  |  July 1, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    A couple of local sources are and

  • 9. Elizabeth  |  September 23, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    Just picked up some Pinquitos at New Leaf Market in Santa Cruz. Can’t wait to try ’em in my favorite bean recipes:

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