Side Notes: Cooking Dried Beans


Cooking dried beans is really tricky! If they aren’t soaked properly then you can cook them for hours and they will still be crunchy – and there’s nothing worse than crunchy beans. On the other hand, there is nothing better than a well-cooked dried bean. It has so much more flavor and texture than mushy canned beans. They are also cheaper than canned beans!


So there are two methods to soaking beans: a quick soak and an overnight soak. With both of these I have found that the most important thing is not to cheat on the time at all! If you have older beans it can be necessary to soak the beans a little bit longer than usual, no matter which method you use.

Quick Soak:

  1. Put the beans in a pot and cover with water, at least 2 inches above the beans
  2. Bring the water to a boil
  3. Boil for 1 minute
  4. Remove from heat and leave the beans soaking in water for at least an hour. Check on the beans regularly to make sure they do not run out of water.
  5. Drain beans and then cook according to package directions (or see instructions below)

Overnight Soak:

  1. Put the beans in a bowl or pot and cover with water, at least 2 inches above the beans
  2. Leave to soak for 8-12 hours
  3. Drain beans and then cook according to package directions (or see instructions below)

Cooking Pre-soaked Beans:

  1. For most dried beans: put beans in a pan and cover with water – you want to make sure to have lots of extra water in the pan (at least twice as much water as beans). Cover the pan with a lid
  2. Bring to a boil on high heat
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the beans are tender, anywhere from 30-90 minutes, depending on the type and age of the bean
  4. You can also cook for 5-8 hours on low in a slow cooker

Saving Time

Pre-soaking beans takes up a lot of time and require some planning ahead! For some people this might seem like way too much work. For me, I usually pre-soak and cook beans at the beginning of the month and then freeze them so I can just throw them into recipes whenever I need to.


So what do you do with all of those pre-soaked dried beans? Here are some recipes I like:

Turkey Chili
Serves 4

  • 1 pound of ground turkey
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 5-6 chopped jalapenos, seeds removed (optional)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 cups pre-soaked or cooked and frozen kidney beans
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (or 1 3/4 cups diced fresh tomatoes)
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 15-ounce can corn (or 2 cups frozen or fresh corn)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (chicken or beef broth is fine too)
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin

Brown the ground beef over medium heat. Add the onions and jalapenos and sauté for about 5 minutes, until onions are soft. Add garlic and cook for another minute or so. Combine all ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar and cook for another 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Black-eyed Pea Masala (adapted from this recipe)
Serves 4

  • 2 cups pre-soaked or cooked and frozen black-eyed peas
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-root, minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne or other red pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 15-ounce cans diced tomato (or 1 3/4 cups fresh diced tomatoes)
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Heat a large non-stick pot and add the onion. Cook, stirring the onion until softened. Add the cumin, ginger, and garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the peas and all remaining ingredients. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a low boil. Cover and simmer until flavorful and delicious (about 30 minutes). Check seasoning and add more salt and garam masala if necessary. Serve with rice or quinoa.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Stew
Serves 4

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cut green beans
  • 2 cups pre-soaked or cooked and frozen black beans
  • 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can vegetable broth (about 2 cups)
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons caribbean jerk seasoning (make your own)
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours or until vegetables are tender. Add more salt if necessary and serve.


3 thoughts on “Side Notes: Cooking Dried Beans

  1. Pingback: Day 4 | Real Food Real Budget

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