Here's how to cook black beans with or without soaking. 

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If you're trying to get more plant-based protein in your diet, black beans are the way to go. These fiber-rich legumes have a mild flavor that adapts well to so many different seasonings and spices. Here we'll break down exactly how to cook black beans — whether dried or from a can — including on the stove, in the Instant Pot, and more. 

How to Cook Dried Black Beans on the Stove 

Dried beans are cheaper and more nutrient-dense than canned, so it's a good idea to keep a plentiful stock for easy meals. This method for cooking dried beans on the stove is time-consuming, but it yields great results every time. 

black beans in water with bay leaves, onions, and garlic in dutch oven
Credit: Meredith

1. Sort the beans. 

Don't skip this step: A bag of dried beans can have debris, stones, or shriveled or broken beans inside. To sort, arrange the beans in a single layer on a sheet pan or kitchen towel and remove any visible debris. 

2. Wash the beans.

Place the beans in a colander or strainer and rinse under cold running water to wash away any grit or dust. 

3. Soak the beans. 

You can cook black beans with or without soaking, but keep in mind that soaking beans ensures they'll cook faster and more evenly. It can also make them easier to digest by reducing some of the gas-producing indigestible carbohydrates, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you choose not to, you'll need to up your cooking time accordingly. The easiest and most traditional way to soak dried beans is by soaking them overnight. But if you forgot to soak your beans the night before, don't worry. You can still get similar results using a short soak method that takes upwards of an hour. Or don't soak at all — it's up to you! 

  • Overnight soak: Place beans in a pot and cover with water by about 2 inches. Add 2 tablespoons of kosher salt per pound of pounds, and allow them to soak for 4 to 12 hours, or overnight. Drain and rinse before cooking. 
  • Short soak: Place the beans in a pot on the stove and cover with water by about 2 inches. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil.  Turn off the heat and let the beans soak for an hour. Drain and rinse before cooking. 
  • No soak: When you cook the beans, up the cooking time by about 10 minutes. 

4. Cook the beans. 

Cooking dried black beans is the same as cooking any other type of dried bean, just with a different cooking time. Here's how: 

  1. Place your beans in a pot and cover with water or broth by about two inches. 
  2. Add any seasonings or aromatics — this could include salt, onion, garlic, bay leaves, a splash of olive oil, cumin, citrus zest, red pepper flakes, lime juice, etc. 
  3. Turn the heat to low and cover, stirring the beans occasionally. Don't let it reach a boil. 
  4. Cook soaked beans for about 45 to 60 minutes and unsoaked for about 50 to 65 minutes. Check the beans for doneness by mashing them against the side of the pot. 

How to Cook Dried Black Beans in the Instant Pot 

The fastest way to cook black beans is in your Instant Pot! You can cook black beans from dried in under an hour without soaking. This method is based on LauraF's Instant Pot Black Beans

instant pot with black bean in bowl cropped
Credit: LauraF

1. Sort the beans. 

A bag of dried beans can have debris, stones, or shriveled or broken beans inside. To sort, arrange the beans in a single layer on a sheet pan or kitchen towel and remove any visible debris. 

2. Wash the beans.

Place the beans in a colander or strainer and rinse under cold running water to wash away any grit or dust. 

3. Add to Instant Pot and cook. 

Add beans to the inner pot of a multi-functional pressure cooker (such as Instant Pot). Cover with a few inches of cool water or broth. Optional: Add seasonings and aromatics such as salt, garlic, onion, bay leaves, cumin, red pepper flakes, etc. Close and lock the lid. Set the valve to the sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 21 minutes

4. Release pressure and drain beans. 

Allow the pressure to naturally release according to manufacturer's instructions, about 10 to 40 minutes. Remove the lid and serve. 

More Instant Pot Black Bean Recipes:

How to Cook Canned Black Beans on the Stove

There's certainly something to be said for the convenience of canned beans. You can dress them up as much as you'd like with seasonings and aromatics, or enjoy them as is. Canned beans are technically already cooked, but you may choose to warm them up for hot dishes or just as a standalone side. 

1. Drain the beans. 

Drain the beans but don't rinse if you want a saucier texture, the liquid can add that to the beans. Here's why you should always save the liquid from canned beans

2. Heat oil in a saucepan.  

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Optional: Add aromatics such as onion, jalapeños, garlic, bell pepper, etc. Stir and sauté until fragrant. 

3. Add beans to saucepan and simmer. 

Add the drained beans and cook until warmed through, about two minutes. 

4. Season to taste. 

Stir in any desired seasonings such as cumin, red pepper flakes, salt, etc. 

5. Remove from heat. 

Remove from heat and serve. 

How to Cook Canned Black Beans in the Microwave

Last but not least, you can use your trusted microwave to instantly warm up canned black beans. 

1. Drain and rinse beans.

Drain the beans. If you want a saucier texture, do not rinse the excess liquid. 

2. Stir in seasonings. 

Add to a microwave-safe dish. Stir in any seasonings you prefer such as garlic, cumin, salt, etc. 

3. Microwave. 

Place in the microwave and cook for 30 seconds.  

4. Stir and repeat. 

Stir and and cook in 30 second bursts until you reach your desired temperature. Top with fresh cilantro or lime juice if desired. 

Black Bean Yield and Conversions

The ratio of dried to cooked black beans is about 1:3, meaning 1 cup of dried beans will yield 3 cups cooked. Here are some common conversions to refer to: 

  • ½ cup dried black beans = 1 ½ cups cooked beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans = 1 ½ cups cooked beans, drained 
  • ½ cup dried black beans = 1 (15 ounce) can black beans 
  • 1 pound dried black beans = 6 cups cooked black beans 
  • 6 cups cooked black beans = 4 (15 ounce) cans black beans 

How to Store Black Beans 

Cooked black beans will last 3 to 5 days in the fridge in an airtight container. If you choose to save your cooking liquid, you can store your beans in it in an airtight container. The liquid is very flavorful, so some prefer to store it this way. If you didn't save the liquid, you can just store it as is in an airtight container. 

To freeze cooked beans, pour the cooled beans into an airtight container or freezer-safe bag with a bit of the cooking liquid. Allow room for expansion. Freeze for up to six months. To use, thaw in the fridge overnight or add directly to recipes like chili. 

Favorite Black Bean Recipes

Black Bean Chili
Credit: Cristi

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