How to Cook Dried Beans

 

Beans. Beans. The Magical Fruit.  Beans. Beans. They make you…

Alright, Alright.

I couldn’t help it.  I’m surrounded by little boys who think that saying the word “toot” is the FUNNIEST thing…EVER!

There really isn’t anything funnier than a little boy giggling after saying “toot.”  That word invokes a special giggle.

And I can’t help but laugh when I hear this “toot-y” giggle. Such is the life as a mom of boys!

No really, beans are good for your heart.  And they are magical.

They are loaded with good fiber and when paired with other foods that are incomplete proteins, they are an excellent source of complete protein.

I love them because they are so inexpensive…and nutritious!

If you’re intimidated by cooking dried beans, let me help…

black-beans

Place 1 lb. bag of beans into large bowl.

pinto-beans

Sift and sort through the beans and remove any pieces of dirt and broken beans.

soaking-black-beans

Fill bowls with HOT water to cover bowls at least 2 inches. Remove any beans that float to the top when soaking.

soaking-pinto-beans

Beans will at least double in size.  Soak in HOT water for at least 2 hours, but ideally, soak overnight.

rinsing-soaked-beans

After soaking, drain beans and rinse with cool water.

filling-the-pot

Place in large pot and cover with at least 2 inches of water.

cracked-lid

Place the lid on top with a slight crack. Bring water to a boil.  (I crack the lid at the start because I find that when I put the lid on all the way and move onto another task in the kitchen or around the house, the water will be boiling over and make a mess on the stove!  So I crack the lid to avoid the spillage.)

Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and then cover completely.  Let cook another 1 – 1.5 hours, or until beans are soft.

draining-black-beans

Drain beans.

draining-pinto-beans

Use in your favorite recipe or one of our favorites:

and, don’t forget to check out our Pinterest Board: Rice & Beans Budget to find even more recipes!

in-baggies

Or place into freezer baggies in 1, 2 or 3 cup portions to use in future meals.

I find that making up a big batch and freezing them helps reduce cooking time in future meals.

There you have it!

Cost Effectiveness

  • Cost of cans: at least $.79/can
  • Cost of dried beans: $.97 for 1 lb. bag; makes approximately 8 cups of beans; or 4 cans worth.  So less than $.25 “per can”!

Time in preparation: The total time to prepare dried beans is at least 4 hours, between soaking and cooking.  The actual hands on time is probably a total of 10-15 minutes for the sorting, rinsing and draining!

Of course, cans are more convenient!  But, be sure to read the label and look for no salt added cans and those with no additional preservatives!

I’m all for the healthiest and least expensive option!

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Comments

  1. Tammy says

    When I cook beans, I soak them overnight in lightly salted water, drain, and rinse. Then, I cook them in the slow cooker on low until they are done. I learned about soaking in salted water from Cook’s Illustrated, though I use less salt than they say. The new crock pots I’ve seen bring food to a boil. The older ones don’t.

    • kris says

      i just read elsewhere not to use salt when cooking, it results in a tough bean because the water cant get inside of it.

  2. says

    A crock-pot is a great time saver for cooking beans! You can either follow Erin’s steps and then put the beans in the crock-pot to cook, or you can cheat (NO! Not that!) and sort and rinse the beans and throw them in the crock-pot with water (rule of thumb – water should be at least twice as high in the crock pot as your beans). Turn your crock on, walk away for 6-8 hours, come back, let them cool, pack them up and freeze them! Here’s a 3 Bean Chili that I make with this method that is way yummy! http://bit.ly/2L87uI

  3. says

    Since husband has heart issues, I freeze beans like that for use in recipes. I had not been draining them, though. I will, from now on, because I have always poured off the liquid after thawing. This way I can put them right in the chili (or whatever) and let them thaw in there.

  4. Jenny says

    Thanks so much for these simple tutorials! My mom was not much of a cook, so I missed out on a lot of basics…like how to cook dried beans or cook butternut squash. Thanks for helping me out!

  5. rachel says

    Very interesting! I had one problem with dried beans and was sort of turned off… even though I have a few bags in my pantry. I do eat a lot of beans. Didn’t realize that I could freeze them!! Thanks so much for this tutorial. It’s a HUGE help.

  6. says

    Thanks for the tips! When you say “Soak in HOT water for at least 2 hours, but ideally, soak overnight.”, do you keep the soaking water hot for those 2 hours? How? Or do you just leave the bowl on the countertop? Or in the fridge, if soaking overnight?

  7. Shannon says

    I saw on a cooking show that you could just throw the beans in your recipe without soaking. You just have to make sure that you sort and rinse them well before you do. I did this with my three beans and sausage recipe in the crockpot and I’ll never go back! I feel like the flavor was soooo much better than cooking them first and then putting them in the recipe. You also have to make sure you have plenty of liquid in there along with your recipe since they do absorb a lot, but this way they absorb all the flavor too, not just water!

  8. Lisa says

    I am using this techinique but find that my beans are mushy if I use them in a recipe that I prepare in the crockpot (like Red Beans and Rice). Do you cut back on the boiling time if you are going to be using them in recipes that are slow cooking?

      • Karen Rivera says

        My husband learned how to make beans from his mom who is from Mexico. He soaks pinto beans overnight, then rinses them and places them into the crock pot. He adds whatever ingredients he is adding to it (garlic salt, bacon fat, and a whole onion). He puts enough water to cover them by at least 1/2 inch (he checks on them periodically throughout the day and adds water as necessary). He cooks them in the slow cooker for at least 12 up to 24 hours. The longer the time, the softer the beans. There was an article in our local paper that describes the entire process he uses. http://www.timescall.com/lifestyles/food/ci_21365673/longmont-man-says-baby-sitting-pinto-beans-pays

  9. Tina says

    This was great. I tried to cook Kidney beans and over cooked them. Now when the beans go on sale I know how to freeze them. Now how about potatoes how do I make french fries and freeze them?

  10. cdmom says

    I rarely soak my beans overnight. I “look” them(that’s what my mom calls picking through them to find small pebbles and rejects), put them in the pot they are to be cooked in and bring them just to a boil and turn them off for a couple of hours. After the quick soak, rinse them and fill pot with fresh water and cook until tender.This step is important because beans are dirty and have to be rinsed! Never skip the the first step because although rare you will occasionally find a rock in the bag of beans. OUCH!

  11. saramariesue says

    Great – thanks for the post! I didn’t know that I could freeze the beans ahead of time. Now I have a project for this weekend!

  12. says

    I am so glad I found your blog. This is great information. Sometimes it seems ridiculous to pay so much for a can of beans. Now that I know how to make them myself I put them on my next freezer day plan!

  13. Vicky says

    You shouldn’t skip soaking overnight. This reduces the gas a lot, as it inactivates anti-enzymes that prevent the beans from sprouting, AND that keep you from properly digesting them.

  14. says

    Question about the beans. Can you use them in the crockpot for chili after they’ve already been cooked? I do crockpot chili so it’s ready to eat when we get home from work. I guess they would be ok since the beans in the cans are cooked. I bought black beans the other day for $2.18 for 2 lbs.Not as cheap if beans are on sale in cans but granted there’s no added salt. Does it actually save money doing it the dried bean way? Have a good day! Thanks!

  15. says

    Thank you so much for these directions! I am cooking chickpeas in my crock pot right now for the first time and have been anxiously awaiting to try them all day. I’m also glad to know that they will freeze well as I am cooking a large amount. When you freeze them, do you cover them with water or drain them first? Seems like draining them first would make them easier to thaw, but I don’t want the beans to dry out.

    Thanks again!! :)

  16. Laurie says

    I attempted to make Baked Beans yesterday and soaked them overnight before making the recipe. However, they NEVER got soft! I had that happen one other time, years ago, when making split pea soup. I cooked the soup for 36 hours and those hard little pebbles never softened. Is that due to old beans or…? Thanks!

      • Alicia says

        My mom says that if you had salt or any kind of seasoning too early while cooking, it will make the beans hard. I’m not sure if this is what you did but I hope it helps!

    • Amy says

      @Laurie,
      If your baked beans had any tomato product in them then that prevented the beans from getting soft. The acid in tomoatoes prevents beans from cooking thoroughly so you need to use fully cooked beans in any recipe calling for tomatoes.

      • Vikki says

        @Amy,
        Also if your beans are old, they will never get soft. You could cook them a darn week and they would still be hard.
        Salt can also stop them from getting soft. It’s a chemical reaction just like the acid in tomato products it simply stops them from breaking down so they will cook.

  17. LisaE says

    Like others have said, thanks for this post! I have wanted to use dry beans but didn’t kow how to prepare them….I am not soaking some navy beans to add to chicken n dumplings soup (to bulk up fiber)…..we are not huge “bean” eaters but I want to sneak some into foods we already eat. Thanks again!

  18. Claire says

    I am going back to my old ways of cooking from scratch and your site is helping alot. I used to cook beans and have not in years. Now with a family of 8 I find the need to start again. I will be doing this in the crock pot to see how it goes. Thank you for the help!

  19. Tanya says

    During the last 30 min. to hour of cooking time I throw in chunks of onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Then I use the cooking water as vegatable stock when I make other recipes. This works great if you don’t care about the color of your cooking liquid!

    • MKS says

      You use the drained liquid to cook vegetables? My question was going to be: I hate to pour out flavored juice, are there any other uses for it?

  20. Amgela says

    Adding a little baking soda to your beans while cooking, will also help eliminate the gas problem! I had a friend that lost 50 pounds by eating dried beans as her main meal every day. They are PACKED with fiber and protien. Another tasty hint, add a little liquid smoke for a boost of flavor!

  21. SWETA says

    Use a pressure cooker to cook any kinds of beans. We Indians have always used pressure cookers to cook lentils and beans, and a host of other dishes. After pre-soaking overnight or in hot water for 3-4 hours, just add beans and adequate water and salt to taste to the pressure cooker and cook on high till the first whistle (5-10 minutes depending on the quantity) and then just lower the heat and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Switch off the stove and then let the pressure cooker cool – or let off its steam naturally. This will take another 10 minutes. Any kind of beans, hard or soft, large or small, will cook nicely, soft and mushy within half an hour. Best pressure cookers are the stainless steel ones (Fagor for example) although aluminium and anodized ones are good too. They can be used to cook just about anything that takes a while to cook.

  22. says

    I love cooking my beans in a crock pot. I’ve added garlic and a bay leaf to add extra flavor to beans, but I always rinse them afterwards. I’ve heard that cooking them with a potato will take up extra gas as well, you just don’t eat the potato.
    I’ve also bought black beans at Costco, so the savings are huge for me, I just have a very large container with beans in my pantry.

  23. says

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I end up with dozens of bags of beans (free with the WIC program) because I dislike things that take so long to cook. I usually donate them to a local food pantry. =) I have a huge pot of black beans cooking right now…hoping to try the freezer method of storing them for future meals.

    BTW, I have boys too…”toot” does not bother me as much as “fart” ..my boys learned it from someone and now they use it waaaay too much….along with the “sound effects” for added laughs.

  24. Rachel says

    Thanks for this wonderful info! How do you unfreeze the frozen beans? Do you microwave them or let them defrost in the sink?

    Thanks!

    • says

      Hey Rachel,

      I usually run the plastic bag or container under a stream of warm water, or place them in a bowl of warm water, then heat in the skillet or pot that I’m cooking with. I have reheated them in the microwave, after they’ve thawed in the warm water.

  25. says

    Hi, just wanted to say that I just love your recipes and ideas to make life a little simpler, with ingredients that I can find at any store. I am new to your site, and living on a fixed income, so the meals you show are very convenient for me. Keep up the good work!

  26. says

    Oh my goodness. You are my favourite person of the day. I just googled beans and dinner because I have never had “rice and beans” as a meal, and want to drastically cut our grocery budget to save for the holidays coming up. I want to try everything!

  27. Maria says

    Making taco soup and loved your quick cook, easy to follow directions so we can eat it tonight! My husband brought home two big bags of dry beans and I haven’t been using them because of time and “so much work”. I am making taco soup and so glad I found your quick cook, easy to follow directions so we can eat it tonight!

    Do you put water in the bag when you freeze the beans or freeze them dry?

  28. says

    First thank you for all your great recipes! I would like to know how to cook beans at an altitude of over 6500 feet? Every way I have tried to make them they will not soften. I tried cooking for days even. :-)

    • csue says

      I grew up at 7,100 feet in elevation and ate a LOT of beans. My mom always used a pressure cooker. Just make sure to pre-soak the beans. I also moved back home in 2007 and cooked beans in a pressure cooker myself so I know it works. While a little bit of and investment, a pressure cooker makes wonderful beans, stews, soups, roasts etc. in a fraction of the time. All of the juices and ingredients are pressure cooked together and are wonderfully flavored. It can be used in place of a Crock Pot that would have to cook the meal all day. The pressure cooker meal would be done in less than and hour.

  29. Daron says

    I had to log in here to say this was super helpful and so were the lovely comments here.:-) the comment about the school report made my day. I’m a young man who loves cooking and is also into nutrition and fitness and very soon i am choosing to no longer eat meat. Protein is vital, multiple beans are going to be a big part of this adjustment. You just helped me move forward.Thanks for this! Much Love all, Daron

  30. dawn says

    I want to know where you get a bag of beans for .97 cents. I usually shop at walmart and I the 15 beans soup bag is almost 3 dollars. That is expensive. Where do you get yours?!

  31. z says

    I just bought a bag of dried black beans..I HATE the liquid in the canned ones. I haven’t made them yet b/c I knew we couldn’t eat a whole bag before it went bad. I wasn’t sure if it’s was possible to freeze them without them becoming mushy. Thanks for this post, it answered all my questions.

  32. suzanne says

    Love that you can prepare beans with no additives or salt. I do add jalapenos or green chilis or chopped onions and garlic and use low sodium chicken broth in place of some of the water. Overnite soaking and crockpot cooking make it a breeze. I do portion out the beans in sandwich baggies and freeze on a cookie sheet and then transfer to freezer bags. Single servings thaw quickly. I have heard that you shouldn’t reheat in the microwave as they get mushy.

  33. Cindy says

    I would encourage people to look into using a pressure cooker to cook the beans–it is so much faster, which saves a lot on electricity (especially if you need them and forgot to put them into the crockpot in the morning.) But if you don’t have a hambone with fat in there, you need to put a tablespoon of oil in to keep the beans from foaming up and blocking the vent, AND never fill the cooker more than half full. Follow the directions that come with your cooker. Once they get up to pressure, they only take about 5 minutes, then you remove from heat and let the pressure drop on its own. If you don’t count the soaking time, you can have a pot of beans done in half an hour.

  34. Chrissy says

    We use beef broth to cook the beans in, plus freshly ground garlic, garlic salt and pepper, bacon cut up ( the butcher kind), onion, tomato, and a bay leaf. It turns out so yummy! Towards the end of the process…we take out some of the beans and fry them up in a little bit of olive oil and garlic…then mash them and add it to the crock pot to give some great flavor. For the rice we rinse, brown it in a pan with olive oil and minced garlic…cook in rice cooker but use beef broth instead of plain water. Once you do this with your rice you wont want to try it any other way..sometimes we sneak veggies in like some cut up carrots, and peas we add into the rice.

  35. Cathy says

    Does anyone know how to cook beans in high altitude? I have tried the slow cooker. I have tried cooking them on top of the stove with and without soaking overnight and the short term soaking. I think you get my drift.. lol I don’t have a pressure cooker to try. I still get tuff beans.
    Thanks!

    • Susan says

      Cathy, I live at 7000 ft elevation and have no problem cooking dried beans in my crock pot. I don’t even pre soak them. I add a lb bag in the bottom of the crock pot and add 6 cups of HOT water with some garlic, onion a D seasonings. Cook on HIGH 5 hours or LOW for 9-10 hours

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