How to Cook Dried Beans Like a Pro

Dried beans are a pantry staple you should definitely stock up on. Learn how to cook dried beans, plus two soaking methods, with these tips from Taste of Home's Test Kitchen.

If you’re looking for a way to save a few bucks on your next grocery bill, dried beans are just the ticket. Economical, great for long-term storage and good for you, dried beans are a wonderful alternative to canned beans. But before you toss some dried beans into your next pot of hearty chili or rice and beans, you’ll likely have to soak them first. Here, we’ll show you two easy methods, quick-soaking and overnight soaking, plus how to cook dried beans.

Psst: Check out how to degas beans the right way!

Before You Start: Expert Tips from the Test Kitchen

Various legumes: beans, chickpeas, buckwheat, lentils in glass jars on a white background. Healthy vegetarian food, vegetable protein, plant based diet concept.vaaseenaa/Getty Images

  • You can skip the soak and just rinse and cook, but we don’t recommend it. Soaking softens and rehydrates the beans, and eliminates some of the sugar molecules that make beans difficult to digest or even make you sick. Plus, cooking unsoaked dried beans will take significantly longer. Here’s more on why you should soak dried beans.
  • Rinse ’em off: Before soaking, rinse the beans with cold water and sort through them to remove pebbles, grit or debris.
  • Instead of using a colander, rinse beans in a plastic pitcher with a plunger/mixer within. Completely submerge the beans in water and mix them around to get them good and clean. Pour the water out using the strainer opening on the lid.
  • Soak and cook different types of beans separately. Different beans require different soaking and cooking times, and dark beans can discolor lighter ones.
  • Be prepared: Old beans, hard water and high altitude may require increased soaking and cooking times.
  • Use a large pot and plenty of water when soaking beans. Rehydrated beans can double or triple in volume.
  • Slice to see if the beans are softened by cutting one in half. Continue soaking if the center is opaque.
  • Dry beans will swell when cooked. 1 pound uncooked dried beans = 2 cups dried or 6 cups cooked.

Ever hear of mayocoba beans? If not, here’s your guide to this ultra-nutritious bean, including how to cook them.

Brown beans soaking in water before to be cooked in a pot for the preparation of a tasty soup.Maxal Tamor/shutterstock

How to Quick-Soak Beans

If you’re in a pinch for time, there’s no need to fret! With this quick-soak method, your beans will be ready to cook in about an hour. The method works for any dried bean, from pintos to kidneys, cannellini to garbanzos.

What you’ll need

Ingredients:

  • Water
  • 1 pound dried beans

Equipment:

  • Dutch oven or stockpot

Step 1: Clean the Beans

Before you get soaking, lay your beans out on a baking sheet or your counter and pick out any debris or broken pieces. Then, give them a good rinse.

Step 2: Cover and Boil

Place rinsed and sorted beans in a Dutch oven or other large pot and add enough water so the beans are covered by at least 2 inches. Bring the pot to a boil, and allow it to boil for about 2 minutes.

Step 3: Let the Beans Soak

After 2 minutes, remove the pot from heat. Use a lid to cover the pot and let the beans stand for at least 1 hour (or up to 4 hours, depending on the bean).

Step 3: Drain

Once your beans have soaked, drain and rinse ’em. Ta-da! You now have beans ready to use in soups, stews and other bean recipes. Need some inspiration? Here are our favorite ways to eat every type of bean.

Chickpea soaked in water in a glass bowl. Ingredients for cookingvkuslandia/Getty Images

How to Soak Beans Overnight

If time isn’t an issue, here’s a traditional method for soaking beans, the overnight soak.

What you’ll need

Ingredients:

  • Water
  • 1 pound dried beans

Equipment:

  • Dutch oven or stockpot

Step 1: Clean the Beans

Like the previous method, start by sorting out any debris or broken pieces from your dried beans. Then, rinse them in water.

Step 2: Cover and Soak

Add your beans to a pot. For every cup of beans, add 3 cups of cold water to the pot. Then, cover the pot and soak the beans at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.

Step 3: Drain

Once your beans have soaked, drain and rinse beans. You’re done! The beans will then be ready to use in whichever recipe you choose. If you’re cooking kidney beans, we suggest any of these amazing kidney bean recipes.

Saucepan and wooden spoon with split pea. Boiling broth with steam. Making soup.AnnaElizabethPhotography/Getty Images

How to Cook Dried Beans

Once your beans have soaked, it’s time to get cooking. Here’s just one way you can cook dried beans.

What you’ll need

Ingredients:

  • Dried beans
  • 1 Tbsp. oil or butter
  • Salt, optional
  • Tomatoes, lemon juice, mustard, molasses, wine or vinegar, optional
  • Garlic and herbs, optional

Equipment:

  • Dutch oven or other large pot

Step 1: Add Water

In a Dutch oven or large pot, add the correct amount of water to beans per recipe or package directions. A good rule of thumb is that beans should be submerged but not swimming in too much water. If desired, add 1 tablespoon of oil or butter to the pan to help reduce foaming.

Step 2: Season the Beans

Add salt or acidic ingredients (tomatoes, lemon juice, mustard, molasses, wine or vinegar) to the beans after they are tender. Salt and acidic ingredients prevents the beans from absorbing liquid and softening, so you’ll want to do this in the last 30 minutes or so of cooking.

Step 3: Test for Doneness

When you think your beans are about done, remove a bean and either bite into it or mash it with the back of a spoon. If the bean is easy to mash and soft in the center, it is done.

Try These Other Dried Beans Recipes
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How to Store Beans

Dried: Store uncooked dried beans tightly covered in a cool, dry place. It’s best to use within 12 months as older beans take longer to soften. Check out these other pantry staples that (almost) last forever.

Cooked: Store cooked beans, covered, in the refrigerator up to 5 days or freeze for up to 6 months. By the way, here’s how to freeze just about anything.

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