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No Secret Recipe

by | Jun 20, 2013

Wouldn’t it be great if you could go online and find a recipe for effective philanthropy that resulted in the perfect gift every time? It would be wonderful to do away with the anxiety of not knowing if your gift accomplished what you hoped for – or even worse – the disappointment of learning it did not.

Every cook knows that finding the perfect recipe takes a good bit of trial and error. Right now, I’m on a quest to figure out the pinto bean recipe of a local restaurant, Jucy’s Hamburgers. I have tried many versions of my best guess and have now started asking friends who cook to try the beans and tell me their best guess of the ingredients.

As soon as I learn someone is a frequent patron of the restaurant, I ask if they have tried the pinto beans. I’ve searched the internet for the recipe, and I’ve scoured recipe sites to try to find recipes that seemed close. No luck so far.

So often, giving seems exactly the same. If I become interested in a program that an organization provides or a particular audience they serve, I start trying to figure out how to make sure my gift gets used how I want it and with the desired outcome. What I really want is the “secret recipe” that will ensure my gift is not wasted.

Frank Shorter, an American distance runner and winner of the marathon racing event of the 1972 Summer Olympics, said it well, “You don’t run 26 miles at five minutes a mile on good looks and a secret recipe.”

So, there is no secret recipe – not for your giving, the Summer Olympics or my pinto beans. We almost always have to experiment, ask for input, and keep trying until we get it the way we want it.

Here’s my advice based on experience – if you are working with a nonprofit, ask the Executive Director how to get to the outcome you’d like to see from your giving. This probably won’t be a short conversation; hopefully it will be long enough that you become more informed about the subject. And when you make the gift, your expectations will be more clearly defined and more realistic.

The last time I went to Jucy’s Hamburgers, I asked the young woman who took my order if she knew how the beans were made, and she told me that the beans were made long before she arrived each day. My goal now is to get to the cook.

When your gift matters, take the time to explore and become more informed. You’ll feel like you found the “secret recipe.” I’ll probably still be tasting the beans.


  1. Tom King

    As with fund-raising, you may not want to know the recipe for Jucy’s beans. I’ve learned in my scattered experience in the nonprofit world that there are some things I’m good at and others that I’m not good at and sometimes “the secret” is that I just can’t do that.

    I think on of the secrets that Frank Shorter and others like him understood was that they had to go with their strengths. Shorter was built for long haul running. Emmit Smith was made for broken field running. Bob Hayes was made for speed.

    In school I played on the line when we played football. I’m 5’10-1/2 with 30 inch legs. I’m built low to the ground like a Weeble. I was slow, but devilishly hard to knock down. I couldn’t play in places that required high levels of coordination or speed, but put me somewhere that I needed to hold ground, get in someone’s way or break through a hole and give the quarterback a little exercise and I did okay.

    Sometimes the “secret recipe” is something you don’t want to do or are no good at doing in the first place. Of course, I guess it’s better to know that you probably aren’t going to be able to handle something than to struggle along in ignorance and keep failing.

    Teams are good for getting around that sort of thing. One member does the newsletters and correspondence, one handles the clerical, the other does the glad-handing and the ask. I worked on a team like that once and we were cranking in donations like crazy in short order.

    People either tend to be task leaders or relationship style leaders. Few of us are good at both. It happens sometimes with people like Jesus, Ghandi, Churchill, Washington and Lincoln, but not often.

    I think once you discover the secret, the next step is to send in the best man (or woman) for the job. Sometimes, that’s not you. I discovered that while trying to reproduce my wife’s pie crust recipe. That’s just one thing I’m no good at and for some reason do not seem able to master. She is the great chef. I am just a fair-to-middlin’ cook.

    I have discovered that I can live with that.


    • Dawn Franks

      What a great reminder Tom – some secrets are best not found – or at least just eaten and enjoyed. But I am betting that there are a few of us determined to figure this one out!

  2. james stroope

    I too have been on a quest to dupicate Juicy’s pintos. I buy a quart then taste and experiment with a batch. I haven’t even come close. If you have even come close I would be eternally greatfull for your recipe and will gladly share mine if I ever get there.
    Last time I was in for my purchase the cashire told me they get a sack from their franchise suppiers that has all the seasoning and use the same pintos we use. I begged and tried bribery to no avail.
    Still trying

  3. Jin Stroope

    Have a prety good clone to Jucy’s Pintoes but not there yet. Try this;
    Fry two slices thick bacon in a Dutch Oven.Add
    1/4 cup molasses,3 tablespoons Brown sugar and same of Mild chili Powder (Calif), one teaspoon Mexican ground oregano and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne,
    Anyone’s ideas appreciated

    • Your Philanthropy

      Sounds good. Are you using a small or large bag of dry pintoes?

  4. Robin

    I worked there as a teenager and though I do not know the recipe I am pretty certain that he used to put Jalapenos in. diced and they cook down to nothing. I am going to try the advice above as well.

  5. B.W. Gentry

    Well, my wife and I always wondered also what the recipe is. One visit my wife said, “I’m just going to go up there (counter) and ask them. The lady gladly told her all the ingredients. She said the cooks get there and start the beans at 5:00am every morning to have them ready by 11:00. She didn’t give us the measurements because they make them in mass quantity.
    1. Pinto Beans
    2. Bacon Ends
    3. Ground Beef
    4. Onion
    5. Jalapeno
    6. Cajun Seasoning
    7. Brown Sugar
    She said the dry ingredients didn’t go in until the beans were nearly done. Not sure whether to cook the bacon ends and ground beef prior to adding to the beans. We tried it, just guessomating the amounts of ingredients and WOW, it was so good, we’re very satisfied with the result. We’re going to do another batch this week and I’ll write down my measurements per one pound of dried beans. This time I’ll cook the meat prior to adding to beans.

    • Your Philanthropy

      Mr. Gentry,
      I will certainly be interested to hear as you work on the recipe what measurements seem right for the various ingredients. Feel free to add your research right here.

      Dawn Franks

    • Larry Davidson

      I had some of these ingredients I used Every thing except I used bacon grease.and thought of honey or brown sugar but used regular sugar. Yours sounds good. Thanks

  6. B.W. Gentry

    My wife and I say every time we go to Jucy’s (both Tyler locations), “We wish we had that pinto bean recipe”. The last time we were there, my wife says, “I’m just going to go up there and ask them for the recipe”. The Lady behind the counter told her the cooks get there at 5:00am to start the beans so they’ll be ready by 11:00 for lunch. She willingly started telling the wife what the ingredients are. She didn’t give the measurements as they make them in mass quantity. We came home and the next morning I put on the beans in a crock pot. I must say, it was exactly the same taste & flavor and satisfied that these are the correct ingredients.
    1. One pound of dried pinto beans
    2. Bacon Ends
    3. Ground Beef
    4. Jalapeno
    5. Onion
    6. Chili Powder
    7. Brown Sugar
    8. Cajun Seasoning
    I didn’t write down the quantity/measurements of ingredients but on my next batch, I will. I’m not sure if the meat needed to be cooked prior to adding to the beans. Next time I will. The Lady also mentioned that the “dry” ingredients are not put into the beans until the beans are practically done. If anyone is interested in them, let me know and I’ll post it here.

    • cindy fugler

      Please let us know the measurements

  7. Kevin

    Any updates on measurements? I am dying for a pot of beams!


    1. One pound of dried pinto beans
    2. 1/4 lb. Bacon Ends
    3. 1/3 lb. Ground Beef (to your liking)
    4. 2 Jalapeno’s cut in long strips or slices
    5. 1/2 Large Onion
    6. 2 tblspn Chili Powder
    7. 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
    8. 3 to 4 tblspn Cajun Seasoning
    I’m putting the bacon in when I start the beans. I cook the Ground Meat separately then add to the beans along with the chili powder, jalapeno’s, onion when the beans are about half or little more done. The “dry” ingredients ( brown sugar, Cajun seasoning ) are not put into the beans until the beans are practically done.
    This is getting pretty close. Every time I serve this, I get lots of compliments.

    • Your Philanthropy

      Thank you so much for continuing to test the recipe! Looks good!

    • Heath

      What’s the liquid the beans are simmering in? Water, broth??

  9. Debby

    What brand of Cajun Seasoning and Chili Powder?

    • B.W. GENTRY

      I’m using either “Louisiana” or “Ragin’Cajun” brands of Cajun Seasoning. I’m using “Adams” brand of Chili Powder.

  10. B.W. GENTRY

    I just put on another pot of beans this morning and as far as I’m concerned, this is my FINAL Recipe and Adjustments. I believe this is as close as I’ll ever get to the “Jucy’s Recipe”. I and others are completely satisfied with these results.

    Jucy’s Pinto Bean Recipe
    (Per 1 Pound of Beans)

    1. One pound of dried pinto beans
    2. 1/4 lb. Bacon Ends (chopped to small pieces) fried. Add along with drippings.
    3. 1 lg. Jalapeno cut in long strips or slices (can add 1 more if you “Like it HOT”)
    4. 1/2 Large Onion
    5. 1 tspn Garlic Powder
    6. 3 tblspn Chili Powder
    7. 2 tblspn Fiesta Pinto Bean Seasoning
    8. 1 tspn Coarse Black Pepper
    9. 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
    10. 4 tblspn Cajun Seasoning

    Start by adding water to about 1 to 2 inches above the beans. Add more water if needed during the cooking process (not excessive).

    I’m putting the bacon & drippings in when I start the beans. Bring beans to hard boil, then reduce heat. Then add chili powder, pinto bean seasoning, black pepper, garlic powder, jalapeno’s, and onion. When the beans are about half or little more done, add the remaining “dry” ingredients ( brown sugar, Cajun seasoning.

    OPTIONAL: 1/3 lb. Ground Beef (to your liking) For those that would like to add ground meat to their beans.

  11. Scott hurd

    Thank you for your recipe I am going to try it. But I just have to say aren’t Judy’s beans the best. I used to have one near me in mesquite and I loved all their food but have to say miss the beans the most.

  12. Scott hurd

    Sorry was suppose to say Jucys beans

  13. Bob Thibelder

    Back when the Mesquite store was open they sold a bag of spice mix they claimed was used in their beans. Used per the instructions on the bag they were pretty close but always lacked something, maybe the bacon. I don’t have the spice bag but a friend does. It was made by a company somewhere out east i think. I’ll try to get the name of them and post it here. Meanwhile i’m gonna try the recipe here.

  14. Dale

    I made these today with the beef added and while it was a little spicy it was very tasty. Maybe next time I’ll leave out the jalapeno.

  15. Charles Gentry

    While still finessing the Jucy’s Beans Recipe, I have a bean recipe I think most of you’d enjoy. I’ve served these multiple places (home, family reunions, trail-ride barbecues, etc.) and everyone wants this recipe. Some have commented, they like it better than Jucy’s beans. I call it “B.W.’s Three Bean Dish”. Try it and let me know what you think of it. I still like Jucy’s Beans and will keep perfecting the recipe.
    Images for 3 Bean Dish:

    B.W.’s 3 Bean Dish


    2 – 15oz. cans Van Camp’s Pork & Beans
    2 – 15oz. cans Ranch Style Pinto Beans
    2 – 15oz. cans Ranch Style Beans
    1 lb. Reg. or Hot Pork Sausage
    1 lb. Ground Chuck
    1/3 (4oz.) – 12oz. Jar Molasses
    1/3 lb. Reg. Box Brown Sugar
    1/2 Lg. Bottle Ketchup
    1 Sm. Onion
    1 Bell Pepper


    Chop Onions and Bell Pepper into small pieces. Crumble Ground Chuck and Sausage into skillet and start browning. Once it starts to brown add onions and bell pepper into skillet and sauté until soft.

    In a large pot, put all cans of beans (DO NOT DRAIN) in along with Molasses, Brown Sugar, and Ketchup. Blend it together gently and slowly warm on the stove. Once the meat mixture is done stir gently into Bean Pot and season to taste.

    Served with saltine crackers as a main dish or can be served as a side dish without crackers and serves 6 people.

    This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled to accommodate a number of people.


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