Southwestern Pinto and Rice Balls

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Southwestern Pinto and Rice Balls recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

These simple meatballs (I can’t seem to stop calling them meatballs, whether there is meat in them or not!) made a great meal for the kids and I earlier this week. Simple pinto beans, rice and a handful of spices combined to create a surprisingly delicious lunch.

I have seen numerous recipes for bean and rice burgers and I just couldn’t imagine what that would taste like. I was fairly suspicious of the combination, so I figured I would have my kids test them out before I made a full dinner around them.

Lighter than regular meatballs and absolutely delicious with the Chipotle Dipping Sauce; these were a huge hit with both the kids and me. My older boys were very disappointed that there weren’t more of them. I’m planning to double the recipe and make them again for dinner one night next month.

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The Chipotle Sauce turned out so well, I decided it was worthy of it’s own post. I have made it twice already and we’ve served it with veggies and with chips too.

Southwestern Pinto and Rice Balls recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen


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Southwestern Pinto and Rice Balls

5 from 1 vote
Servings: 30 1" meatballs


  • 1 can pinto beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup cooked white rice I used Jasmine rice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • pinch of cayenne more to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Smoky Chipotle Dipping Sauce


  • Place the rinsed beans in a large mixing bowl. Mash with a potato masher until they form a paste. Add the rice, cumin and cayenne. Stir to combine and taste (just to determine if spicy enough). Add the egg and work with your hands or a large spoon to combine well.
  • Use a small scoop or a spoon to form the balls and then gently round them with your fingertips. Form all of the balls and place them on a large plate or cutting board. In a large skillet over medium high heat, warm about a tablespoon of oil. Cook the balls in the skillet, until they are lightly browned on each side. This took a couple minutes on each side, turning them 2-3 times each.
  • If you aren't familiar with cooking things in batches, here is a tip.
  • Start placing your rice balls in the pan, at the outer edge, next to the
  • handle. Go clockwise around the pan and then fill in the middle. It is
  • easy to remember which ones have cooked the longest that way and by the
  • time you fill in the middle, it is time to start flipping them over and
  • continue around the circle again.
  • After the balls are browned, remove them from the pan and place them on a clean plate. Tent loosely with foil to keep warm. Cook the remaining half of the balls and then serve warm. Enjoy!
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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. EcoCatLady says

    These are on my list to try pronto! I've still got a pile of stuff in the "use it or lose it" pile after my pantry clean out, and at the top of the list are ridiculous amounts of pinto beans and rice. I think I know what I'm making for dinner tonight!

    BTW – don't know if I mentioned this or not, but I tried that balsamic vinaigrette recipe that you posted a while back and I've become an addict! That stuff is delicious!

  2. Mickle in NZ says

    Ooo, these look delicious. Pintos are my favourite dried bean to cook with and eat. They are not common here in New Zealand but luckily I have a good stash. I think I will "cheat" with my first lot of these meatless meatballs and use some homemade refried pinto beans that are in my freezer and have just the right spices.

    Thanks for sharing such a simple yet scrummy recipe,

    Michelle, down-under in Wellington, New Zealand

  3. April Boitano says

    We really like these for a protein-packed snack. I add a can of garbanzo beans to the mix and use an air fryer instead of pan-frying them, and they are great!5 stars