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How to Cook Black Beans: Cooking Dried Beans from Scratch

Dried beans are the ultimate staple in any vegan pantry - they're an inexpensive, rich plant-based protein source that lasts virtually forever on the shelf. Learn how to make black beans from scratch with a few simple preparation methods for all your favorite black bean recipes. 

Canned beans are an incredibly convenient plant-based protein source in any vegan diet. Just open the can of beans, and they're ready to go!

While we're not here to knock canned beans, we'd like to draw your attention to its underrated counterpart: dried beans. 

We find that dried black beans prepared "fresh" tend to taste better than canned beans, which sit in their liquid for months at a time. 

Cooking dried black beans from scratch isn't all that difficult either - give them a quick soak, then use one of the cooking methods below to prepare a fresh batch for all of your favorite recipes with black beans. 

How to Prepare Black Beans: Soaking Black Beans

Why soak beans?

Some people choose to soak their beans before cooking, and some don't. There are two specific reasons to pre-soak beans before they cook:

  1. Soaking slightly reduces the cooking time.
  2. Soaking reduces phytic acid, an anti-nutrient that makes beans harder to digest. 

So, soaking the beans saves a tiny bit of time and makes the beans more digestible. 

Do you have to soak beans?

Soaking is a helpful step, but by no means necessary. 

If you find your stomach struggles to digest beans, it may be worthwhile for you to soak your beans beforehand.

Otherwise, you might consider skipping the step altogether and heading straight to the cooking process. 

How long to soak beans?

If you're using the typical soaking method, you'll leave the beans to soak overnight, but if you're short on time, the quick soak method outlined below takes about 1.5 hours altogether. 

How to Season Black Beans

We added a couple of optional seasonings into our black bean recipe, but one seasoning is non-negotiable - salt. 

Salt helps to tenderize the beans as they cook and makes them taste better, too! Add the salt right at the beginning of the cooking process for the best results. 

Cooking Times: Cooking Dry Black Beans

The cooking times for black beans vary significantly from method to method.

The Dutch oven stovetop method is the quickest at 45-60 mins for soaked beans but requires a more watchful eye, as the bean water evaporates quickly and may need to be topped up. 

The Slow cooker method, on the other hand, takes as few as two but as many as eight hours to thoroughly cook, but requires practically no babysitting - you can set it to cook on the counter in the morning and come home after work to a pot of freshly cooked black beans. 

How to Cook Dried Beans From Scratch: Quick + Easy Black Beans Recipe

This recipe yields approximately 2 ½ c. of cooked black beans in broth. You can easily double the recipe if you'd like to make a bigger batch. 

We're sharing a few preparation methods so you can choose the most convenient for yourself.

Try making your beans in the slow cooker, stovetop, or oven. You can also try cooking black beans in Instant Pot, but you don't need fancy kitchen gadgets to make a great batch of beans. 

Ingredients

  • 1 c. dried black beans, rinsed and sorted
  • 4 c. filtered water
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 dried bay leaf

Instructions

Soak And Prepare The Beans

  1. Place the dried black beans in a large mixing bowl and cover with ~ 4" of filtered water. Leave the beans to soak overnight, then drain and rinse the beans. 
  2. Then, use one of the bean cooking methods below for your soaked black beans.

Quick Soak Method

If you don't have the time to soak black beans overnight, you can use this quick soak method instead. 

  1. Rinse your dried beans in cool water and place in a sauce-pot, covered in 2" of filtered water. 
  2. Over high heat, bring the black beans and water to a boil and cook, uncovered, for 5 mins.
  3. Remove the bean pot from the heat, cover, and leave the beans to soak for 1 hour. 
  4. Drain, rinse, and use a cooking method below. 

* No matter which cooking method you choose, you will want to check on your black beans regularly to make sure they still have enough water. If the water's surface falls below the beans, they won't cook evenly. Add some more water as needed to keep the beans fully hydrated. If using a Dutch oven or the slow cooker, this isn't generally a problem, but it's always a good measure to check.

** I use salt sparingly in recipes, so feel free to add 1 tsp of sea salt if you enjoy a saltier taste. You can also make the recipe with the listed salt measurement and then add more to your taste preferences.

In the Slow Cooker

  1. Depending on the type of crockpot used and the black beans' age, these times may likely vary. Check the manufacturer's manual for more guidance on cooking times. 
  2. Place the dried black beans, filtered water, garlic, and sea salt in the slow cooker. Place the lid on the pot and choose one of the cooking options below:
  3. For soaked beans, cook on the high setting for 2 - 3 hrs;
  4. For soaked beans, cook on the low setting for 4 - 5 hrs;
  5. For unsoaked beans, cook on the high setting for 3 - 4 hrs;
  6. For unsoaked beans, cook on the low setting for 6 - 8 hrs.

On the Stove Top

  1. Place the dried beans, filtered water, sea salt, and bay leaf in a cast-iron Dutch oven over high heat. Bring the Dutch oven to a boil, then turn the heat down to low. Place the lid on the Dutch oven and simmer, covered. 
  2. For soaked beans, simmer in the Dutch oven for 45 - 60 mins
  3. For unsoaked beans, simmer in the Dutch oven for 50 - 65 mins

In the Oven

  1. Preheat your oven to 325°F, then place the dried beans, filtered water, sea salt, and bay leaf in a ceramic-coated Dutch oven. Cover the Dutch oven with a lid and put it into the oven. 
  2. For soaked beans, bake the covered Dutch oven for 75 - 90 mins.
  3. For unsoaked beans, bake the covered Dutch oven for 85 - 95 mins.

Dried Black Bean Recipe - Nutrition Information

Calories: 133 kcal; Carbohydrates: 24 g; Protein: 8 g; Fat: 1 g; Sodium: 361 mg; Fiber: 6 g; Sugar: 1 g.

Freezing Cooked Black Beans

Your cooked beans will last up to 2 days in the fridge.

However, you can easily freeze cooked black beans for convenient, later use.

Once the beans cool completely, place the black beans in their cooking liquid in Mason jars, leaving ½" headspace at the top of the jar. 

Place the jars in the freezer for up to 3 months

When you're ready to use your black beans, take the jar out of the freezer and allow the beans to thaw in the fridge overnight. Then, your beans will be ready to use as desired.

How to Cook Canned Black Beans

Technically, canned black beans are already cooked, and you can use them right out of the can. 

Cooking canned black beans will make them taste even better. Here's how to cook beans from a can:

  1. Heat a small-sized saucepan on the stovetop over medium-high heat.
  2. Add in the can of black beans, including the can's liquid.
  3. Simmer and cook black beans for 5 minutes, remove from the heat and squeeze in some fresh lime juice. 

Canned vs. Dried Bean Measurements

Some bean recipes call for a certain number of cans of black beans, while others measure in cups. 

1.15-oz can of black beans = 1 and ¾ cups of cooked black beans. 

Our recipe makes about 2 and ½ cups of black beans in broth.

Final Notes: How to Cook Black Beans

Cooking black beans can be as simple or complicated as you make it. 

  • You can choose to soak your beans first or not.
  • You can use a low-maintenance slow-cooking method, or you can choose the faster but higher-maintenance stovetop or oven route.
  • Alternatively, in a pinch, you can pop open a can of pre-cooked black beans and go!

Whatever method you choose, we hope that making all your favourite black beans recipes is more comfortable with these tips.

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