Learn How to Cook Dried Beans at home so you’ll always have some on hand. Use this easy stovetop method for a variety of beans and add them to salads, soups, stews, and more!
Table of Contents
- Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- What Dried Beans Can I Cook?
- Do Dried Beans Have to Be Soaked Before Cooking?
- How to Make Dried Beans after Soaking
- How Long Do Beans Take to Cook?
- Tips for Best Results
- Seasoning the Beans
- How to Store Cooked Beans
- Save and Use Bean Broth in These Recipes
- Recipes to Use Cooked Beans In
- How to Cook Dried Beans Recipe
Here is everything you need to know about how to cook dried beans! It is super easy. I can guarantee you have all tools on hand already.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Saves money: If you are paying $3-4 for a can of organic BPA free beans, I have a solution for you – buy dried beans, cook them and freeze them for later. It is 3 times cheaper! A 3 pound bag of organic dried beans costs $14, which yields about 14 cans of beans x $3 = $42.
- Avoid BPA: Majority of cans are lined with BPA, which leaches into food and is harmful for humans. That’s why there are now BPA free baby bottles, food containers and cans.
- Healthier: Can be organic, lower in sodium or no salt at all.
- Delicious beans: Freshly cooked beans are more fresh, tasty and buttery than canned beans. Once you taste them, you will know what I mean.
- Perfect for meal prep: If you cook a few kinds of beans at a time, you will be set for a few months. I usually cook 3 pounds of each kind of beans: chickpeas, black beans and kidney beans. They last me about 6 months.
What Dried Beans Can I Cook?
Small, medium, or large, my simple method for how to cook dry beans works for all sizes.
- Chickpeas aka garbanzo beans
- Black beans
- Black eyed-peas
- Pinto beans
- Kidney beans
- Navy beans
- Great Northern beans
- Cannellini beans
- Lima beans
- Cranberry beans
Lentils and peas are legumes but they cook faster and don’t require pre-soaking. Therefore, this recipe for how to make beans does not work for lentils and peas.
Do Dried Beans Have to Be Soaked Before Cooking?
There is a lot of debate whether dried beans need to be soaked or not.
The answer is no, dried beans do not have to be soaked before cooking. It really boils down to personal preference and how much time you have.
In all my tests, I found that soaked beans cook more even and better on the stove, which is important if you are making recipes like white bean salad or black bean quinoa casserole. No one likes mushy beans there!
And I did not see any difference with digesting the beans whether they have been soaked or not.
However, I prefer to soak the beans overnight for stovetop method and cook from dried in my Instant Pot because it saves time and is convenient.
If you would like to cook dried beans without soaking, please see more info a few paragraphs down.
How to Make Dried Beans after Soaking
You’ll need a couple of hours but cooking dried beans is easy!
Here’s a quick overview of how to make beans after soaking, there is a full recipe card below.
- Sort through beans: There may be small stones or debris mixed in with the beans, remove those along with any damaged beans.
- Soak the beans: Place the beans in a large bowl and cover with 2 or 3 inches of cold water. Let them soak for 8 hours or overnight.
- Rinse: Drain and rinse the soaked beans under cold water. Transfer them to a large pot, add cold water up to 3 inches above the beans and cover with a lid.
- Cook the beans: Bring to a boil on high heat, reduce to low and simmer at a gentle boil. Use a mesh strainer to remove any foam that rises.
- Add salt and continue cooking: The total cooking time depends on the beans’ size and age, please refer to my chart below. After 40-60 minutes of cooking, add salt to the pot. Continue cooking until the beans are soft inside but still hold their shape. I recommend tasting every 20 minutes.
- Remove cooked beans: Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to a bowl. Alternatively, you can drain the beans through a mesh strainer. I like to save the broth for soups and stews, yum!
- Cool: Let them cool and use right away or store for later.
To cook beans without soaking, add them to a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil and cook, tasting occasionally. It may take 4-5 hours, depending on the size and age of your dried beans.
How Long Do Beans Take to Cook?
The total time needed for cooking dried beans depends on a couple of factors. For example, the size and whether or not you soaked them.
The most important thing to remember is that cooking time mostly depends on how old your beans are!
There’s no way to pin point the exact cook time, but here’s a guideline for pre-soaked beans to help you.
|Size of beans||Cooking time|
|Small (black, black-eyed peas and navy beans)||45-90 minutes|
|Medium (kidney, Great Northern, pinto and garbanzo beans)||60-120 minutes|
|Large (lima and cannellini beans)||80-180 minutes|
Tips for Best Results
Here are my top tips on how to cook dried beans with better taste and texture than canned beans.
- Don’t let beans boil vigorously: As soon as the water boils reduce the heat, make sure they still simmer gently. Too low heat will not boil them, be careful and watch.
- Cover the pot: Cook with the lid on. Otherwise your kitchen and house will be full of steam, unless you don’t mind. It also makes beans cook faster!
- Don’t overcook the beans: When beans have simmered for too long, they become very soft and mushy. This also happens if they are left in the hot broth after cooking. It’s best to taste test beans periodically and drain as soon as they are cooked to your liking.
- Cooking time depends on the age of your beans: As beans age their moisture content evaporates causing them to have a harder skin, which takes longer to soften.
- Don’t salt the beans at the start: Adding salt at the beginning will slow down the cooking and cause your beans to have a firmer texture. For evenly cooked, fully seasoned, perfectly creamy beans, add the salt in the middle of the cooking process.
Seasoning the Beans
Honestly, I usually cook beans for soups, stew and chili and do not season beans unless I’m making Instant Pot baked beans or refried beans in Instant Pot. But here are a few ideas to season a pot of beans:
- Aromatics: Add chopped onion or shallots and smashed garlic cloves to the pot.
- Herbs: Toss in bay leaves or a sprig of parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage, or cilantro.
- Spices: Add warming or spicy flavors with cumin, chili powder, paprika, black pepper, dried chilies, or peppercorns.
- Vegetables: Create a rich broth and make the beans more flavorful by adding carrots, celery, leeks, or ginger at the start of cooking.
- Liquids: Add a splash of fresh lime juice or lemon juice after beans have been cooked and drained. Or drizzle them with red wine vinegar or some olive oil.
How to Store Cooked Beans
Store: Beans will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can store them drained or in the cooking liquid in an airtight container.
Freeze: Transfer drained beans or beans in their cooking liquid to a freezer-safe Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 6 months.
I like to freeze beans in can portions, which is 1 3/4 cups of drained beans. I also reuse my Ziploc bags. Simply wash them, dry and reuse.
It’s better to cook beans covered, so beans cook faster and to keep your kitchen from filling with the steam.
To avoid mushy beans don’t overcook them! Remember that the cooking time varies depending on the size and age of the bean. Use the table above as a starting point and do taste tests.
Quick soak is a sped up version of soaking overnight. To do this, add beans to a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover, and remove from heat. Let them rest in the warm water for about an hour, depending on the bean, then follow the recipe.
Yes you can cook beans in a crock pot, but you have to remove the toxic level of lectin in the beans first. Since most slow cookers do not reach boiling point, the FDA recommends soaking them overnight then boiling them for 30 minutes. Once you’ve done that you can add them to your crock pot and continue cooking.
Cook unsoaked dried beans for 4-5 hours on low.
Save and Use Bean Broth in These Recipes
Recipes to Use Cooked Beans In
- Instant Pot chili
- Instant Pot turkey chili
- Healthy turkey chili
- Mango black bean salad
- Instant Pot white chicken chili
- Healthy white chicken chili
- Turkey taco soup
- Mexican bean salad
How to Cook Dried Beans
- 1 pound dried beans cannellini beans, chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, navy beans or kidney beans
- Cold water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Sort through beans to remove any damaged beans and debris. Place dried beans in a large bowl and cover with 2-3 inches of cold water. Soak for 8 hours or overnight.
- Drain and rinse the beans. Place them in a large pot, fill with cold water 3 inches above and cover the pot.
- Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce heat to low so beans are boiling just gently, and simmer. Just before and as beans start boiling, you will see a lot of foam. Remove it with a mesh strainer.
- Cooking time depends on beans' size and age. General rule of thumb is to cook small beans (black, black-eyed peas and navy beans) for 45-90 minutes, medium beans (kidney, Great Northern, pinto and garbanzo beans) for 60-120 minutes, and large beans (lima and cannellini beans) for 80-180 minutes.
- When beans are still firm but a bit tender, about 40-60 minutes into cooking process, add salt to the pot. Keep cooking the beans until the beans are soft inside but still intact on the outside. Best way is to taste test the bean every 20 minutes or so!
- When beans are cooked to your liking, remove them into a bowl with a slotted spoon and save the broth for making soups and stews, or drain the beans through a mesh strainer. Leaving beans in the hot liquid will keep cooking them, which is fine only for soups.
- Let beans cool and use them as per recipe, store in the fridge or freezer.
- Store: Store drained beans or in the cooking liquid in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the fridge.
- Freeze: I like to pack drained beans about 1 3/4 cups into each resealable Ziploc bag, which is equivalent to one 14-15 ounces can of drained beans. You can also freeze beans in their cooking liquid. Freeze for up to 6 months.