This post was originally published on September 28, 2011. It was updated on May 14, 2020.
Knowing how to cook dried beans can save you money. Dried beans cost about one third of the price of canned beans, and they have much less sodium. Here’s what you need to know to cook dried beans.
Beans are high in protein, iron, fiber, and antioxidants. They definitely deserve a place in our diet. Even though they are healthy and inexpensive, many people are reluctant to cook dried beans.
I used to think there was some great mystery to cooking dry beans or that it was too hard. I also thought it required too much planning in order to cook them.
After cooking with dried beans, I realized that it isn’t difficult. The method I use is very simple.
There is some debate about whether it is necessary to soak beans before cooking them. If you don’t want to soak your beans, you don’t have to.
However, I always soak beans before cooking them because it not only speeds up the cooking process, but I think it helps break down the phytic acid in beans, especially when you add vinegar or lemon juice while they soak.
I use my crockpot because it makes this process pretty hands off. I often cook beans overnight, drain them in the morning, and then freeze them in 1 1/2 to 2 cup increments for later use.
How to Cook Dried Beans
- Rinse beans.
- Place beans in a large pot or crock pot and cover with water.
- Add 1 Tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice per pound of beans.
- Soak beans at least 12 hours.
- Drain beans.
- Place beans in a crockpot and cover with water.
- Cook on high 3-4 hours or low 6-8 hours.
- Drain beans.
Step 5 is when you could use the beans to make bean soup or some other recipe that requires other ingredients to be cooked with the beans.
After step 8, you can use the beans to make recipes like baked beans or refried beans (see below). This black bean brownie recipe is a favorite of ours, and I have used it several times with black beans I have frozen.
If you don’t want to use a crockpot, you can cook the beans on the stove top until they are tender. Many people also like to cook beans in a pressure cooker. I prefer my crockpot because I don’t have to babysit the beans while they are cooking.
In step 3, I instructed you to add vinegar or lemon juice. This is so that the phytic acid in the beans can be broken down. This makes the beans easier to digest and helps release the nutrients that are locked inside the beans.
Once you have cooked your beans you can bag them up and stick them in the freezer for future meals. The bags above each have 2 cups of pinto beans in them. 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans are equal to one regular sized can of beans.
From one pound of dried beans, you can get approximately six to seven cans worth of beans.
Easy Refried Beans
Another way to use dry beans is to make your own refried beans. Amy from The Finer Things in Life has a great recipe for Brown Bag Burritos. Back in 2010, I asked her how she made her own refried beans. She said she didn’t really have a recipe, but gave me these instructions. (Amy, I hope you don’t mind me quoting you.)
Heat a big skillet, add some canola oil. Drop the beans in and smoosh them up with a potato masher, adding water as I go. Add garlic, onion powder, cumin, whatever seasonings you like. Keep smooshing and adding water until you get the consistency you want. Amy @ The Finer Things in Life
This was a very easy way to make refried beans and I am glad Amy shared her “recipe” with me.
Cooking beans from scratch allows me to control how they are cooked and what ingredients are added, unlike buying canned beans. Not only are beans cooked from scratch nutritionally superior, but the are also a money-saver.
Cooking dried beans and freezing them is also a great way to save time during meal prep. I also freeze cooked ground beef and vegetables like chopped onions and chopped celery to save time in the kitchen.
What is your favorite way to eat beans?