Cooking dry black beans from scratch is so simple and worth the effort. Whether you’re cooking black beans in a crock pot, stove top or in the oven, soaked or unsoaked, I’ve got you covered. Use your beans in Mexican food favorites such as my tasty Mexican Black Beans, or One Pan Mexican Quinoa. The possibilities are endless! This recipe is vegetarian, vegan and gluten free.
This post is comprehensive, so if you’re simply looking for my favorite method of cooking black beans, jump to the recipe, look for the Slow Cooker Method, grab your beans and get your crock pot out!
A Back Pocket Method
Knowing how to cook black beans is one of those methods to have in your back pocket. But there are things to look for and keep in mind when preparing them and it’s a little different for each method shared here.
Three Ways to Cook Dried Black Beans
Cooking dry black beans is so simple and there’re many ways to get the job done. Freezer friendly, economical, less packaging waste and major flavor are just a few benefits of cooking dry black beans at home.
In this dry black beans recipe, I’m sharing three ways to cook black beans:
- In a slow cooker
- On the stove top
- In the oven
Now comes the question of the day…
To Soak or Not to Soak Dry Beans
There seems to be such a debate on whether or not we have to soak black beans before cooking them. I’ve learned it’s really about the end goal. The reason why beans are soaked is two fold: A. to reduce cook time and B. to neutralize phytic acid (an anti-nutrient) and to break down difficult to digest complex sugars.
As far as reducing cook time, it’s pretty marginal, so soaking to save time is a moot point. If soaking dry beans to optimize nutritional value, soaking for at least eight hours reduces phytic acid and boosts other nutrients (Sources: Dr. Axe and Nourishing Traditions)
I like to soak my beans to optimize their nutritional value, but it doesn’t always work out that way. I either forget or just don’t plan ahead.
How to Season Black Beans
It was Samin Nosrat, the author of Salt Fat Acid Heat, who taught me that salt doesn’t toughen dry beans. Undercooking results in tough, dry beans. Salt actually tenderizes them! The solution for tough beans? Make sure they’re salted and keep cookin em’! Seasoning at the start of cooking allows time for those flavors to infuse the beans, for the most flavorful beans.
My favorite seasoning base for black beans is simple: salt, garlic and a bay leaf.
How to Make Black Beans
With these things in mind, cooking black beans is simple. You just have to find what method works best for you. Here’s how to do it:
- First, rinse and sort the dry black beans. Remove any debris such as stones.
- If soaking, cover black beans in water by about 4″ and soak for 8-24 hours. They’ll soak up quite a bit of liquid. Drain and rise the beans.
- Next, add the beans to a cooking vessel and cover in water. To the beans add salt, garlic and a bay leaf. These aromatics produce the best black bean flavor!
- Last, cook the beans according to recipe.
How to Make Crockpot Black Beans
By far, this is my favorite method. Soaked, this method produces the creamiest, most beautiful, beans of all. But unsoaked leaves a rich and flavorful broth. Here’s how to do it:
Place the beans, water, salt and bayleaf in the slow cooker. Lid and…
- Soaked, Cook on High: cook for, 2 -3 hours
- Soaked, Cooked on Low: cook for, 4 -5 hours
- Unsoaked, Cook on High: cook for 3-4 hours
- Unsoaked, Cook on Low: cook for 6-7 hours (this method has taken up to 8 hours before, but can take even longer).
Keep in mind, these cook times are a reflection of my particular slow cooker. Depending on the crock pot used and age of bean, these times will probably vary. Be sure to check the manufactures owners guide for guidance on cook times.
How to Cook Black Beans on the Stove
If I need a batch of black beans, but forgot to get em’ going in the crock pot, this is my next go-to method. It’s quicker than cooking black beans in the oven or the crock pot and the results are lovely. Using a Dutch oven helps retain moisture because the lid is tight fitting. If using a lidded oven proof sauce pot, be sure to check the water level in the pot throughout the cooking process as to not allow the beans to dry out.
Place the beans, water, salt and bayleaf in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low, lid and simmer covered checking occassionally to make sure the beans are still covered in water.
- Soaked, Cook the Beans for 45-60 Minutes
- Unsoaked, Cook the Beans for 50-65 Minutes
These times can vary depending on age of bean.
How to Cook Black Beans in the Oven
Cooking in the oven was my least favorite method because it seems most inefficient. Not only did it tie up the oven for 90 minutes, but it heats up the kitchen. Not a problem during winter, but in summer, there are better ways. Soaked beans produced the creamiest result when compared to the no soak method. Using a Dutch oven helps retain moisture.
Place the beans, water, salt and bayleaf in a Dutch oven . Lid and…
- Soaked, Bake the Beans for 75-90 Minutes
- Unsoaked, Bake the Beans for 85-95 Minutes
These times can vary depending on age of bean.
How to Cook Black Beans Fast
Well, you’ll need a pressure cooker – of which I don’t have. But Denise at Sweet Peas and Saffron has a tutorial on how to do it! Find Denise’s Perfect Black Beans on her blog.
How Long to Cook Black Beans
Cook time depends on several factors:
- How fresh or old the beans are:
- The older the beans, the longer the cook. Try to cook dry beans within a year of purchase for best flavor and texture.
- Method of cooking and vessel used.
- Whether or not the beans are soaked or not.
Because of these variables, it’s important to keep an eye on the beans to make sure they’re covered in cooking liquid at all times. If they start to dry out, add a bit of hot water to make sure they’re covered.
When are the Beans are Done?
The beans are done cooking when they’re tender, but firm, have a creamy interior and are not mushy or falling apart. Some skin peel is normal.
Results of All This Testing
For this dry black beans recipe, I tested soaked and unsoaked beans using three cooking methods. I did not test the quick soak method where dry beans are brought to a simmer, removed from heat, and lidded for an hour before cooking.
If going on taste alone, I prefer not soaking simply because it produces a little bit more flavorful bean. Too, unsoaked cooked beans leave behind a richer broth.
However, as far as texture goes, I found soaking produces the most in-tact, unsplit and creamiest interior when cooking on stovetop and slow cooker.
My Favorite Dry Black Bean Cooking Method?
The unsoaked, slow cooker method is my favorite method for cooking dry black beans. The beans are in tact, with little splitting, tender, moist, creamy and the broth is so flavorful. Slow cooked dry beans take a bit more planning because of the long cook time, but working them into a weekend meal prep sesh always saves time and my sanity during the work week.
A Review of How to Cook Dry Black Beans
With so many variables and ways to cook dried black beans, it’s difficult to give a straight forward ‘recipe‘. Use this recipe as a guide to cooking the most flavorful, creamy and delicious cooked black beans from scratch ever, keeping these things in mind as you discover what method produces the best results for you.
- Freezer Friendly? Cooked, black beans freeze with ease. Cool the beans completely before freezing then, freeze beans and cooking liquid in Mason jars leaving 1/2″ head space at the top for expansion. Thaw in the fridge overnight, then use as desired.
- EQUIVALENTS: 1, 15 oz (425g) can of black beans yields about 1 3/4 C beans. This recipe yields about 2 1/2 C (690g) black beans in broth (with a bit drained off). Double the recipe for 5 C cooked black beans (about three cans).
- If not cooking dry black beans in a cock pot, I recommend using a Dutch oven if possible, because they have a tight fitting lid, to retain maximum moisture. They are a highly versatile piece of kitchen cookery. I love my 5.5 quart Dutch oven (Cocotte) and use it for SO many things, like baking bread, braising, cooking soup, stews and curry.
- If cooking stove top or in the oven, check the pot periodically to make sure the beans aren’t drying out. If they’re getting dry or low in water, add a bit of hot water to cover them back up.
- Find the freshest black beans you can get your hands on. Buying in bulk is economical, and stock is usually refreshed often. Sometimes you can find them at your local farmers market.
- Use a soak or no soak method for this dry black beans recipe depending on your goals, time, and planning.
- SALT: at the beginning of cooking for best flavor!
Recipes to Enjoy Your Home Cooked Black Beans With
Use cooked black beans in the main dish:
- Veggie Burger:
Use your homemade black beans as a side or appetizer:
Share your black beans with other favorites:
Did you make this recipe? If so, please leave a comment and rating below as it helps others considering making this recipe. If you’re on Instagram, be sure to take a picture and tag me @VanillaAndBean so I can see and share in my stories!
How To Cook Black Beans Recipe
- 1 C (195g) Dry Black Beans rinsed and sorted, remove any stones/debris
- 4 C (950g) Water
- 3/4 tsp Fine Sea Salt* see notes
- 1 Fat Clove of Garlic Smashed
- 1 Bay Leaf
- Squeeze of Fresh Lime optional
- If Soaking: Place the dry beans in a large bowl and cover with about 4" of water. Allow to soak overnight. Drain and rinse the beans.
A. For the Slow Cooker:
- Depending on the crock pot used and age of beans, these times will probably vary. Be sure to check the manufactures owners manual for guidance on cook times. Place the beans, water, garlic and salt in the slow cooker. Lid and Soaked, Cook on High 2 -3 hours Soaked, Cook on Low 4 -5 hoursUnsoaked, Cook on High 3-4 hoursUnsoaked, Cook on Low for 6-7 hours (I've had this method take up to 8 hours before)
B. On the Stove Top:
- Place the beans, water, salt and bayleaf in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low, lid and simmer covered.Soaked, Cook the Beans for 45-60 MinutesUnsoaked, Cook the Beans for 50-65 Minutes (I had this method take up to 2.5 hours recently)
C. In the Oven:
- Preheat the oven to 325F (165C). Place the beans, water, salt and bayleaf in a Dutch oven . Lid and...Soaked, Bake the Beans for 75-90 MinutesUnsoaked, Bake the Beans for 85-95 Minutes
- While the beans are cooking, check on them periodically to make sure they have enough water. If the surface of the water falls below the beans, that's too far. Add more water when needed to keep the beans hydrated. If using a Dutch oven or the slow cooker, this isn't generally a problem.
- At the end of cooking, taste for salt adjustment and add a squeeze of lime if desired.
- Store cooked black beans in their cooking liquid in a lidded container for up to two days in the refrigerator or up to a month in the freezer.