Stocking up on dried beans? Here's how to cook them.

By Melanie Fincher
Advertisement
skhoward/Getty Images

Canned beans are THE pantry staple to stock up on because they're cheap, nutritious, versatile, and shelf-stable. While canned beans are convenient, they can lose quality in the canning process and don't have the flavor and texture of dried beans you cook from scratch.

You can use cooked dried beans in a variety of dishes, from chili to bean salad to soup. Plus, dried beans have a shelf life of up to two years, so you're not likely to run out anytime soon.

Learn how to cook dried beans four ways: on the stove, in a slow cooker, in the Instant Pot, and in a stovetop pressure cooker.

How to Cook Dried Beans on the Stove

Undoubtedly the most popular method, cooking dried beans on the stove doesn't require any fancy gadgets or appliances. On the downside, it requires some planning, as you'll have to soak dried beans before cooking them for best results. Here's how you do it, step-by-step:

1. Sort the Beans

Bags of dried beans often have debris, shriveled, or broken beans mixed in with the rest. That's why it's important to first sort your beans. While quickly running your fingers through the beans might sound like a shortcut, trust us, it's not worth the risk of having a twig in your beans.

To sort your beans, start by arranging dried beans on a sheet pan or clean kitchen towel. Remove and discard any shriveled or broken beans, and any debris.

2. Wash the Beans

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

3. Soak the Beans

Now here's the part that everyone hates to hear: You need to soak the beans before cooking them on the stove. (Let's just take a moment and collectively sigh about it.) But soaking your beans helps them cook faster and more evenly. And the good news is, you can get a similar effect with quick soaking methods. Here's how to soak your beans two ways: overnight soak or short soak.

  • Overnight Soak for Beans: Soaking your beans overnight is the most traditional method, and it yields the best results. It allows you to cook beans on the stove quickly without sacrificing flavor or texture. To soak beans overnight, put the beans in a pot and cover with water by about two inches. Add 2 tablespoons kosher salt per pound of beans and allow them to soak for 4 to 12 hours, or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans before cooking.
  • Short Soak for Beans: If you didn't plan ahead to soak your beans overnight, don't fret. You can still get similar results using this quick soak method. To start, put the beans in a pot on the stove and cover with water by two inches. Add salt and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let the beans soak for an hour. Drain and rinse the beans before cooking.

4. Cook the Beans

Now we're finally getting to the good part: how to cook your beans on the stove top. Start by placing your beans in a pot. Cover them with at least two inches of water. Now is the time to add any salt or aromatics to the water. Turn the heat to low and cover, stirring the beans occasionally. Never let your beans reach a roiling boil. Cooking time depends on the type of bean: Most pre-soaked beans will take between 45 minutes and 2 hours to cook. Periodically taste the beans or mash them against the side of the pot to test for doneness.

How to Cook Dried Beans in a Slow Cooker

Soaking the beans is not required when using a slow cooker, but it can help to reduce the cooking time in a slow cooker. If you can remember it, go ahead and soak your beans the night before. But if you forgot, no big deal! That's the beauty of a slow cooker. Here's how to cook your beans in a slow cooker, step-by-step:

1. Sort and Wash the Beans

Refer to instructions for the stovetop cooking method for more details.

2. Soak the Beans or Don't

If you do choose to soak your beans, refer to the instructions for the stovetop cooking method for more details.

3. Cook the Beans

Toss your beans into the slow cooker and cover with two inches of water or broth. Add any seasonings or aromatics (including salt). Set your slow cooker to the low setting, and cook until beans are done. This is going to vary based on the type of bean, and whether or not they are pre-soaked. Cook pre-soaked beans for 3 to 4 hours, and un-soaked beans for 5 to 6 hours. Test for doneness periodically by either tasting or mashing against the side of the pot.

How to Cook Dried Beans in the Instant Pot

When it comes to cooking beans in an Instant Pot or any other electric pressure cooker, soaking goes out the window! So if you've got one, there's no quicker way to cook dried beans. Skip the soaking step, and follow the remainder of these steps for Instant Pot beans:

1. Sort and Wash the Beans

Refer to instructions for the stovetop cooking method for more details.

2. Cook the Beans

Add the beans to the Instant Pot inner pot. Add 8 cups water per pound of beans, and any aromatics you would like. Lock the lid and set the pressure valve to the sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 20 to 40 minutes depending on the type of bean. Here are the cooking times for common types of beans:

20-25 minutes: Black beans, black-eyed peas

25-30 minutes: Great Northern beans, navy beans, pinto beans

35-40 minutes: Cannellini beans, chickpeas/garbanzo beans

Allow the pressure to release naturally for about 30 minutes before releasing the remaining pressure. Drain and rinse the beans.

How to Cook Dried Bean in a Stovetop Pressure Cooker

Not an Instant Pot fan? That's okay. A stovetop pressure cooker is an affordable option that also allows you to cook dried beans without soaking beforehand — although soaking won't hurt, and could even help the beans to remain intact better during the cooking process. Here's how you do it:

1. Sort and Wash the Beans

Refer to instructions for the stovetop cooking method for more details.

2. Soak the Beans or Don't

If you do choose to soak your beans, refer to the instructions for the stovetop cooking method for more details.

3. Cook the Beans

Add 8 cups of water per pound of beans to the pressure cooker. Add any aromatics. Be sure to add oil! This prevents the steam vent from clogging. Secure the lid and turn the heat to high. Once it reaches high pressure, allow your beans to cook for 10 to 30  minutes (consult your manual for exact cooking times). When the time is up, allow the pressure to naturally release. Test for doneness periodically by either tasting or mashing against the side of the pot.

How Long Do Cooked Beans Last

Cooked beans are best stored in their cooking liquid and chilled in the fridge for up to 5 days. If you've already drained all the beans prior to storing, toss them with a little oil, salt, and pepper, before storing.

How to Freeze and Reheat Cooked Beans

  1. Once the beans are cooked, allow them to cool and drain them completely.
  2. Transfer the beans to a freezer safe container or freezer bag. Add the date and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months.
  3. When ready to use, remove the beans from the freezer and thaw. Use them any way you would use canned beans.

Related: Browse our entire collection of Bean Recipes.