How to Cook Dried Beans
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Beans are easy to cook and they store beautifully in the freezer. Home cooked beans can be used for any recipe that calls for canned beans (think soup, Turkey Chili, Taco Salad Dip, Annie’s Salsa, Chicken Cream Cheese Chili,…). You’ll just be avoiding the BPA that’s associated with canned foods. Making your own is also very inexpensive.
Pick a day that you’ll be home anyways while these simmer away on the stove. My white beans cooked in 1.5 hours while my black beans took nearly 3 hours.
Cook time can really vary depending on size, variety and age. Cook until they reach your desired doneness. I cook two large pots of beans at once and they last me through Fall and Winter.
Read these Important tips before you get started:
1. Don’t mix varieties in one pot as different ones have different cooking times.
2. Use a heavy-bottomed pot for even cooking and heat distribution
3. Don’t use beans that have been in your pantry for the past 10 years. Buy fresh ones.
4. Be patient – don’t rush things by increasing the heat or you’ll end up with mush.
5. Keep them in their liquid until ready to serve. I freeze them in freezer safe bags in their liquid and drain only after thawing. This keeps them from shriveling up.
6. Use filtered water when soaking and cooking if you want the best flavor (particularly if you have stinky water)
7. Don’t be a bean; Pre-soak ‘yer beans (see step 1 below).
8. Thanks to some fantastic tips from readers, I’ve learned that cooking them in a slow cooker is a no-go because they have a toxin called phytic acid that needs to boil out or it will cause a rumbly in the tumbly (bad upset stomach).
P.S. I learned to cook ‘ma beans from The Kitchn and BonAppetit.
Ingredients for Home-cooked Beans:
2 lbs beans (black, white, or black-eyed, etc)
2 garlic cloves, pierced
1 small onion, halved or quartered (or the firm green parts from a leek)
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 Tbsp salt (I used sea salt)
5 1/2 Qt heavy-bottomed pot (such as a dutch oven)
How to Cook Dried Beans on the Stove:
1. Presoak beans in cold water overnight (10-12 hours). Place in a large pot or bowl and add enough filtered water to cover 2 inches over the surface (they soak up water like crazy and expand). Drain and rinse before cooking.
2. Return to a large pot and add garlic, onion and bay leaves, then add enough water to have 1″ water over the surface of your beans. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender, adding more water as needed to keep them submerged. Skim off foam that rises to the top. For firmer results cook with the lid off, and for softer/mushier, cook partially covered.
3. Start checking for doneness after about an hour. Once they are nearly done (al dente), add 1 1/2 Tbsp salt or to taste and continue cooking until at desired doneness (DO NOT DRAIN). Remove and discard onion, garlic, and bay leaves.
Once they are at room temperature, transfer into freezer safe ziplock bags along with enough liquid to keep them wet. Remove any air from the bags seal well and stack them flat to save space in the freezer.
How to Cook Dried Beans
- 2 lbs beans, black, white, or black-eyed, etc
- Filtered water
- 2 garlic cloves, pierced
- 1 small onion, halved or quartered (or the firm green parts from a leek)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 1/2 Tbsp salt, I used sea salt
What you'll need:
- 5 1/2 Qt heavy-bottomed pot, such as a dutch oven
Presoak beans in cold water overnight (10-12 hours). Place in a large pot or bowl and add enough filtered water to cover 2 inches over the surface (they soak up water like crazy and expand). Drain and rinse before cooking.
Return beans to a large pot and add garlic, onion and bay leaves, then add enough water to have 1" water over the surface of your beans. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender, adding more water as needed to keep them submerged. Skim off foam that rises to the top. For firmer beans cook with the lid off, and for softer/mushier, cook partially covered.
Start checking for doneness after about an hour. Once they are nearly done (al dente), add 1 1/2 Tbsp salt or to taste and continue cooking until at desired doneness (DO NOT DRAIN).
Once beans are at room temp, transfer into freezer safe ziploc bags along with enough liquid to keep them wet. Remove any air from the bags seal well and stack them flat to save space in the freezer.
My white beans cooked in 1.5 hours while my black beans took nearly 3 hours. Cook time can really vary depending on size, variety and age. Cook until they reach your desired doneness.
If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen
Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review
I have never frozen my beans! I’m doing that from now on – I can cook up a big batch and save some time! Thank you.
My pleasure Rosie! I’m glad you find this recipe so helpful!
I find cooking beans in a slowcooker
To be safe, nutritious and convenient. To each their own as the saying goes.
See – https://traditionalcookingschool.com/food-preparation/recipes/cooking-dry-beans/ regarding safety.
That for sharing this great resource! 🙂
I make a four bean chili in my crock pot. Northerns, pintos, kidneys, and black beans all at the same time. (How horrible!) I do not pre-soak either, I just cook overnight. I will change the water out and the bay leaves in there are vital. They contain a chemical that is released that neutralizes the chemical in beans that “gasses us up”. This with changing the water (and i exchange for tomato sauce to make chili) will leave your beans gasless for any dish. Hey, it works for me.
Great tips Thomas! Thanks for sharing with other readers!
Tessa, When I do my beans I put everything in the water except the salt when soaking as well. I rinse very well then press my garlic, fine chop my onion, bay leaves and other seasonings except salt or something that has salt in it. Put my beans and water and put a lid on and let it soak until morning. Always checking to make sure you do not need to add more water. All beans obviously must be under the water line. When cooking to al dente then add salt or seasonings with salt, (cured pork) or other meats cooked drained and flavorful. Many say this is not a safe way but I have never gotten sick or gotten anyone else sick. My friends love my beans say they have more flavor than any others. I like them too. The information you have with all of your recipes are excellent. Thank you for all of your recipes and tips.
Thank you so much for sharing your method!
I can’t wait to try this. I would like to make this for my son’s graduation party. We are doing a taco bar. This might be a silly question, do you remove the garlic and onions before serving? Also. I’d like to make these two days ahead, can you help me with reheating suggestions. We will have the beans in large disposable aluminum foil pans that can be warmed in the oven and kept warm with the small heat cans. Thanks for your help.
Hi Tessa, it will be easier to serve if you remove the garlic, onions and bay leaf and I clarified that in the recipe :). Congratulations to your son! That is so exciting 🙂
I am sorry I missed that! I was looking at the recipe, not the pictures. Have you ever made this with pinto beans?
Hi Tessa, no worries 🙂 I haven’t tried pinto beans so you might do a quick google search to see if the cook time is different.
Thanks for sharing this tutorial! I’ve made them and they truly are way better than canned beans!
I’m so happy to hear that! I love them too and feel so much better about putting home cooked beans in soups and other recipes for my kids
Have u tried to do in instant pot? Do u know the direction?
I haven’t tried beans in the instant pot.
Question. So if I’m going to use the beans for a chili or soup in the crockpot and plan to leave that on for several hours, do I have to cook the beans before I use them for the chili? OR can I just do presoak part and then toss them in with the other stuff for my recipie?
I like to pre-cook them because they absorb a lot of water while cooking. I would suggest looking for a recipe that uses dried beans in chili and follow that method. Also, keep in mind that the lid should be partially (not full) covered and allow the beans to be boiled sufficiently to get rid of Phytic Acid. I learned from one of my readers that the Phytic Acid can cause bad digestive distress if the beans aren’t boiled (pre-soaking helps get rid of alot of the phytic acid as well)
Have you tried using the Pressure cooker for this?
I haven’t but from what I’ve read, some beans need to be boiled sufficiently to get rid of Phytic Acid, so I’m not sure if a pressure cooker would be good for beans. You might do some google searching to see if anyone else has tried it.
I always cook my beans in a pressure cooker (now an Instant Pot) without anyone in the family having any GI issues. I do not pre-soak but I do rinse well prior to cooking.
Used your method to cook and freeze small red beans today. I cooked my own beans previously but never thought of freezing them. Thanks for the idea and method 🙂
That’s awesome!! Thanks Katya 🙂
I have always been nervous to try cooking my own beans and now I feel foolish! That looks super-easy!
It really is super easy. enjoy! 🙂
Thank you for posting this Natasha! I have never tried to cook dried beans, feels so intimidating lol, plus we don’t really eat beans much.. But! I know they are healthy and good source of protein! And your recipe looks yummy, can’t wait to try now that I know how to do it!! God bless you.
You’re so welcome 🙂 we use them mostly for soups and salsa. God bless you too!
You posted about beans and it reminded me of sauerkraut and bean soup. Here is a simple version of the recipe, I bet you can tweak it a bit and post it. It is totally a fall/winter soup, very comforting and homey. I didn’t know to freeze beans prior, so I’ll make up a batch for near future use…
Soak White beans overnight, then cook for 1.5-2 hours
In separate pot, simmer 1-2 cups sauerkraut with water, drain, but reserve the broth in case you will need to add more water later
In a separate pot, make broth (chicken, beef…)
Once beans are almost cooked and the broth ready, you can start to make the soup.
Add the potatoes and yellow millet (about 1-2 handfuls) to the chicken broth, we also like celery but that is totally optional.
While that is simmering away, make a zazharka (saute onion and finely grated carrots), add that and the sauerkraut to the soup. Add the cooked and drained beans. Add the salt/pepper/mrs. dash seasoning.
I know the recipe sounds intimidating, but it’s because of cooking 3 pots on the stove at the same time. But I really like you idea Natasha of freezing beans, because this soup I always have to preplan the night before so i don’t forget to soak the beans.
By the way, I will also be making sauerkraut using your recipe (my mom always let me have some of hers that she made by the buckets)
I’ll be printing your recipe to try it. Thank you so much for thinking of me and sharing that! I can’t wait!! My husband is excited about your soup too 🙂
I’m glad you’ll give it a try. I’m sorry I couldn’t give you exact measurements but that’s how I learned from my mom, bits and pieces of things and you’ve got your soup :-). I forgot to mention, you keep the reserved water from the sauerkraut in case you need to make the soup a bit more sour to taste just right. And the yellow millet adds extra texture, so the soup isn’t totally see-through and more filling, but you don’t want to add too much, because it’s not like kasha. I bet you can try quinoa instead if you like. I’ve added that to various soups (even borscht) and it was great. Good luck on trying it. I’m sure you’ll create an awesome recipe. And if you can please post more recipes with beans. I just learned how great they are and want to start incorporating them in my family meals. Thanks
Thank you so much for sharing your tips! 🙂 I use quinoa in borscht too – it’s so good!
I love cooking my own beans, lately I have been lazy and keep buying cans at the store at the last minute. I need to do this one afternoon, I see a lot of chili in the future in the fall/winter 🙂 Thanks for all of your tips!
You are welcome Katy, I’m set for fall and winter :).
Great idea to freeze them! Thank you for the all the tips! We eat a lot of beans and it would be handy to have them available in the freezer
It’s so convenient! I just store them in about 1.5 cup portions (the same as a can) 🙂
I had no idea they could be frozen. And I have the same red Dutch Oven as you!! Anyhow, I wish I had done this the same day as I did my red tomato sauce as I was just sitting home all day, but still, this is going on the to-do list!!!!
I love cooking dried beans to have on hand. I usually do them in the slow cooker though.
Hi Mona! I haven’t tried it in a slow cooker. Could you share the temp and time settings you use and what quantity of beans for those settings? Thank you!
I generally use pinto beans, Peruvian beans and black beans. Most recipes I’ve tried say you don’t have to pre soak beans but I prefer to do so. I usually do 4 cups dried beans to about 10-12 cups of water and add my spices and diced veggies then cook on low for 8 hours or high For 5-6.
You are correct about some types of beans needing to be boiled; they are kidney beans and cannelini beans. You can read a little about this in this recipe for one of my favorite slowcooker bean soup recipes. She explains it better than I could: http://www.budgetbytes.com/2013/09/slow-cooker-white-bean-soup/
Hope this helps! As always, I really enjoy your site Natasha. I love all the recipes I’ve tried (many!!!!). I also appreciate the feedback you give. So blessed to have your site!
Oooh now I want to try that bean soup! Thanks so much Mona! 🙂
So here’s what I’ve learned from my readers; cooking in a slow cooker is not ideal because it doesn’t allow the beans to be boiled sufficiently to get rid of Phytic Acid. I guess the Phytic Acid can cause bad digestive distress if the beans aren’t boiled (pre-soaking helps get rid of alot of the phytic acid as well).
Thank you! Would it be okay to cook them in a slow cooker?
As I mentioned in another comment, here’s what I’ve learned from my readers; cooking in a slow cooker is not idea because it doesn’t allow the beans to be boiled sufficiently to get rid of Phytic Acid. I guess the Phytic Acid can cause bad digestive distress if the beans aren’t boiled (pre-soaking helps get rid of alot of the phytic acid as well).