How to Cook Dried Beans


Basic staples are not only cost effective, but they serve as the very base of every meal in a from scratch cooks kitchen. Today I am sharing how to cook dried beans.

cook dried beans

If you read my last post on how to cook from scratch, you know that I suggested starting with the basics. These basics make up the foods every from scratch cook makes and can be utilized in the most basic recipe to the most complex recipe (not that anything I cook personally is “complex”). These staples include rice, beans, vegetables, grains, locally sourced meats and dairy products. Today I wanted to share how to cook dried beans, making it simple for new cooks to learn how to cook basic foods that may be more intimidating.

When I first started learning to cook from scratch, a lot of the basics were the most intimidating. But they were so necessary to branching out and trying to make new meals because every meal uses things like beans and rice or other basic ingredients.

My rice and beans specifically never turned out, no matter how hard I tried. The rice was always crunchy even after boiling in double the liquid and I cannot count on my hands how many pots of beans I burnt.

I have now gotten these basics down with no issues, but learning to cook something so simple was still very intimidating and took time to figure out. Here is how you can learn to cook dried beans from scratch- simple!

Do You Have to Soak Beans Before Cooking Them?

You do not HAVE to but I think that everyone knows why beans SHOULD be soaked. While I am not a dietitian or nutritionist, I did have a major interest in this and went to school for dietetics before switching my major later on. Point being, I love to learn about why we eat the food we eat and how it effects our bodies. The Weston A. Price Foundation has some great information on their website about traditional eating and how to prepare food that I enjoy reading. The below information was sourced from the Weston A. Price Foundation’s research and they go into greater detail in the article linked here.

Beans contain things like phytic acid and oligosaccharides. Phytic acid is not always bad, however, it can cause issues with mineral absorption. This is one reason beans are soaked- it helps to neutralize the phytic acid and allow the nutrients in the beans we consume to be absorbed better. Beans also contain oligosaccharides. Oligosaccharides are just a type of complex sugar but they can cause major digestion issues which is why so many people have issues when eating beans. By soaking your beans, it neutralizes these sugars and eliminates or at least decreases the digestion issues when consuming harder beans like kidney beans and black beans.

If for no other reason, you should soak your beans to make them easier to cook, especially if you plan to cook in the slow cooker or on the stove. It will just make cooking these beans so much faster and easier!

How Long Do You Soak Dried Beans Before Cooking?

Soaking your beans for 12-24 hours is best. This allows them to get soft and have more than enough time to neutralize any phytic acid or oligosaccharides.

How Do You Soak Beans Traditionally?

There are a few ways to do this. I usually choose the most simple way but if you want the full benefits of soaking your beans, you can take some extra time to do a few more steps.

To fully soak your beans in a traditional way, you will rinse and sort your beans to be sure they are clean. In a large bowl, add your beans and four times the amount of water heated to around 120 degrees. Add a splash or two of something acidic like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and leave on counter for 1-4 hours. Once the first soak is completed, rinse and repeat every few hours. The water does not need to be heated at this point. This is a two step process that does serve two purposes so rinsing and starting again is important to get the full benefits.

Now if you are like me, there are just days where I cannot stand around waiting on my beans. I usually soak beans overnight and cook them the next morning. So while I still soak them for the benefits, I simplify it a bit. Maybe I do not get the full benefits but some is better than none and we are all just doing the best we can. So when I soak beans, I will usually add my beans and four times as much water to a bowl and then mix in apple cider vinegar. I usually leave this overnight. If I start these early enough or I am awake while they soak ( which I usually am because they soak so long), I will rinse and change out the water every few hours. Once they have gone 12-24 hours, I rinse and cook.

Materials and Ingredients You May Need

Dried Beans
ACV or another acidic ingredient
Stock Pot, Instant Pot or Slow Cooker

How to Cook Dried Beans-3 Ways

Usually when cooking, I change how I cook something based on the time I have. If I am really prepped well, I like to cook things slower. This is especially true with beans because the low and slow method of cooking just helps neutralize the beans even more. But sometimes I just do not have the time and my family is hungry. This is when I utilize the pressure cooker function on my Instant Pot (I use my Instant Pot as a slow cooker and pressure cooker- one appliance, so many functions). I am sharing below the three methods for cooking beans.

How to Cook Dried Beans in Instant Pot

This is the fastest way to cook dried beans and most beans (possibly all) can be cooked in under 10 minutes! This is not my preferred method for health benefits, but it is a great way to get a meal on the table. You can do this with non-soaked beans too but you will have to adjust the cook time. The below instructions are for soaked beans.

Soak your beans as discussed previously, 12-24 hours.

Drain and rinse your beans, then add to your Instant Pot. Cover with four times the amount of water, again. Just be sure not to go over the max amount line on your pot. I like to be sure I am well under this and usually do not go above halfway of the max fill area because of the amount of liquid and how the beans react when cooked.

The Instant Pot comes with a guideline manual on how long to cook certain foods. I go by this. Here is a link if needed. This is great because it gives the time to cook both soaked and dry beans and is broken down by type of bean.

Cook your beans based on the Instant Pot guidelines. Allow to naturally release or go ahead and quick release depending on the recommendations. I usually allow to naturally release to avoid bean water spray everywhere. I have actually stained shelving and cabinetry when quick releasing so be careful.

How to Cook Dried Beans in Slow Cooker

Soak your beans as discussed previously, 12-24 hours.

Drain and rinse your beans, then add to your slow cooker. I use my Instant Pot still but on the slow cooker function. Cover with double the amount of water. This is less than soaking and pressure cooking but if you notice the beans running out of water, be sure to add more. It really depends on your slow cooker. If in doubt, just add more water.

Cook on high for one hour then turn to low for 8+ hours until soft. Usually 8-10 is sufficient but you may need to cook longer or shorter depending on the type of bean. Some beans will only need a few hours.

Drain and rinse beans.

How to Cook Dried Beans on the Stove

Soak your beans as discussed previously, 12-24 hours.

Drain and rinse your beans, then add to your stock pot. Cover with double the amount of water. This is less than soaking and pressure cooking but if you notice the beans running out of water, be sure to add more. It really depends on your slow cooker. If in doubt, just add more water.

Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 1-3 hours or until soft. Some beans may take longer so check regularly.

Drain and rinse beans.

Uses for Beans

  • Beans and cornbread
  • Chili- Deer, beef, white chicken
  • Toss into any soup
  • Tacos and Mexican themed meals/soup
  • Bean Dip

I like to make a batch up at the beginning of the week and not season them, besides adding salt. I do this with several basic ingredients then let that dictate what I cook that week. Keeping a fridge and pantry stocked with ready to go ingredients makes cooking from scratch much easier (read more about that here). Then when I go to use my beans, I will season based on the meal. This works well because it is completing a step-cooking the beans- before I have to cook for the day so that I fall back on healthy options. Using canned beans is fine and I do from time to time, but when I have these ready to go I am saving money and providing something more nutritious for my family.

Beans are very simple to make but they do take some pre-planning and care when cooking. Getting them soft but not mushy means keeping an eye out and learning your kitchen tools to see how they react with the beans. Anyone can cook beans from scratch and I recommend starting with beans when first learning.

Creating Your From Scratch Kitchen?

Join the ES Community and get access to my free resource library! Within the library is the download for my Simple Kitchen Journal. I use this in my own kitchen to keep a written record of my recipes. This was a big step I took when learning to cook from scratch and helped keep me organized!

Pin For Later:

cook dried beans