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Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Pot of Beans {How to Cook Dried Beans}

Over the years I have been lucky enough to have several close friends who are Mexican and they have all introduced me to various wonderful foods. Those friends are all also really good at cooking beans. And, for whatever reason, no matter how many times they have told me how to cook beans and assured me that it’s easy, I had a mental block. Every time I would go to cook a bag of dried beans, I would freeze. Seriously, total mental block. I just could never remember exactly how to do it and felt dumb always asking “one more time” how to cook beans!

how to cook dried beans from @janemaynard (it's easy peasy!)

Well, I have finally broken down my bean barriers. One of my neighbors is Mexican and I finally just sucked up my pride and asked her (multiple times) how to cook dried beans. And then I actually did it. I cooked beans! And, surprise surprise, they were easy to make and mighty delicious!

how to cook dried beans from @janemaynard (it's easy peasy!)

For real, it’s easy. You’ll need to be home for a few hours to check on them occasionally while they cook, but that is seriously the hardest part of the recipe. I like to cook a big pot of beans at one time and then freeze the leftovers into 2-cup containers. The beans are easy to defrost and I love having them on hand. And they really do taste better than canned beans.

How to Cook Dried Beans
  • Bag of dried beans (Black, pinto, peruan, whatever variety you like! Peruan is the variety you see in these photos.)
  • Water
  • Big pot
  • ¼ of an onion
  • Salt
  1. Ari (my neighbor) will sometimes soak the beans overnight, but it's not necessary. If you forget, no worries!
  2. Place the beans in a big pot (I use my french oven). Add water to cover the beans (if you soaked the beans prior, drain that water and add new water to the pot). Place ¼ of an onion (large pieces is fine) in the pot along with some salt (maybe about a teaspoon or so). Bring to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat, then cook over medium-low to medium heat for 2-3 hours (longer if you didn't soak the beans before hand). Stir the beans occasionally throughout the entire cooking process. You may need to add more water at some point if the water is running low but the beans are still not cooked through. The beans are done when they are soft and yummy!
  3. Remove the onion and add more salt if needed. If you want them to be more like refried beans, just mash them up a bit!


  1. 1

    after we moved to the east coast i learned how to make beans too. i also like to add some garlic and cumin while it cooks, and then salt at the end. also, i find that my onion usually disintegrates enough with the beans that i can just mash it all together. i can’t eat beans from a can now…yuck.

  2. I love dried beans of all kinds. Besides being just so tasty, they’re good for you and very, very budget-friendly!

  3. 3
    Norma Velez

    I’m Mexican and try to cook a pot of beans (all varieties)just about every weekend including lentils or split peas. For split peas I always add finely chopped celery (including the leaves), carrots, onion and garlic. Same for lentils plus tomato. Herbs are also a good idea to add. Before cooking beans it’s best to sort through them to discard any stones or debris. Then I always rinse them a few times to get rid of dust. If I need to add more water I always use boiling water so there’s no interruption of the cooking. I salt only at the end of the cooking time. I’ve heard that adding salt any sooner than that and it will slow down the cooking time. Sometimes I’ll put in a ham bone, ham hocks or the leftover bone from a pork roast. If there’s a substantial amount of meat remove it when the beans are cooked. Cut or shred into bits to stir throughout the beans.

  4. Love a pot of home cooked beans! You’ll never go back to canned now.

  5. 5

    This is great, Jane…I rely on canned beans way too much and I know dried beans would be better and more economical. I eat a lot of lentils and I don’t think they require soaking, but I know all the other beans too. Thanks for posting this!

  6. I always (and I do mean always) forget the soaking overnight part. I’m happy to know it’s not mandatory! I will need to try your recommendation for cooking dried beans. I get a little shy with them, but I will gain confidence with this. Thank you!

    • Jane Maynard

      I was glad that I finally just jumped in and tried it even though I forgot to soak. it worked just fined. in fact, a few websites I read advised against the overnight soaking, so go crazy! 😉

  7. This is fabulous, glad you conquered your fear. They look wonderful

    I only soak for ibs reasons. I find if I do I have less flare ups, and that way I can have my beans and eat them too. *ha, couldn’t help myself*

  8. I have historically struggled with dried beans too! My issue was breakage. I find I have much better luck when I don’t do the overnight soak. Good beans are a thing of beauty. 🙂

    • Jane Maynard

      I think forgetting to soak them was a happy mistake – and several sources said it was better not to soak them, so they don’t fall apart like you said. one less step makes me happy! 🙂

  9. 9

    We make these in the crockpot once every couple of weeks. So far we have done the overnight soak. I use chicken broth, onions, cumin and a bay leaf, put it in the crockpot all day.

    When I get home from work, I make rice. Then we throw the beans over rice and everyone can top with their choice of avocado, monterey jack cheese, cilantro, and srichacha or salsa for those who want it.

    This is one of my kids favorite meals, and healthy, too…

  10. My mom’s method is just like this one and her bean-dishes are beyond delicious! She also soaks them overnight. 🙂

  11. 11

    Soaking cuts down on the cooking time but if you forget it helps to pour boiling water over dry beans and let them sit an hour. I then cook them in a pressure cooker for 10 min or so, check for doneness when the pressure goes down, cook more if needed. I’ve never spent hours cooking beans because they are just as good and so fast to do in a pressure cooker!

    • Jane Maynard

      so cool, cindy! you know, I don’t even have a pressure cooker – my mom used it all the time when I was growing up, I need to get on the bandwagon!!

  12. 12
    Erin R.

    I second Kristin’s crockpot suggestion. You can do them on high for a couple of hours or on low for several hours (or all day)(or overnight!). The clincher for me is that you can leave them alone and not have to babysit a boiling pot all afternoon. I make them this way all the time, too. High five on overcoming the salt-ridden canned beans!

  13. 13
    Julia Hvasta

    I was so happy to read your recipe for cooking dried beans. It’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only one out there who feels this way! We love Mexican dinner night in our home, and while the canned black beans are good, I am going to make the dried black beans next in my slow cooker…and then the pinto beans as my 2 sons love the mix of those 2 beans in their burritos. Thanks for all the great advice!

  14. 14

    I always a pound of beans in the crockpot with 8-10 cups water and put it on high for the day. Come out perfect with no work!

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