How to Cook Dry Beans (And 10 Ways to Use Them)

Cooking dried beans from scratch is EASY, and takes about 30 seconds of active time. It’s so much cheaper to buy bulk dried beans than canned beans, and they taste so much yummier! Keep scrolling for my best tips for how to cook and use dry beans.

Start a Weekly Bean Cooking Habit

I recommend choosing one or two days per week to build a bean batching habit. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to soak them before going to bed, and then pop them onto the stove the next morning for lovely legumes all week long.

To Soak or Not to Soak

Different types of beans will need different amounts of cooking time. Soaking larger beans the night before will cut down on cook time. For some people, soaking the beans also helps with digestion.

Larger beans such as chickpeas, large white beans, butter beans, and kidney beans are best when soaked. Otherwise they split and crack, take a really long time to cook, and can be more difficult to digest. Some smaller beans like small white beans and black beans don’t need to be soaked before cooking. You can cook them straight from dry, and will take somewhere between 1 to 3 hours to cook, depending on the size and freshness. However, soaking them overnight before cooking does reduce the cook time, and reduces the possibility of the outer skins cracking. The only beans that shouldn’t be soaked before cooking are lentils, as they have a relatively short cook time and disintegrate too much if soaked.

Be sure to discard the soaking water and rinse the beans in a strainer before cooking.

How to Cook Dry Beans

Step 1: Soak Beans Overnight

  1. Place the beans in a large pot or bowl. Fill with water so that there’s about 1 inch of water above the level of the beans.
  2. Cover with a lid or towel.
  3. Let the beans sit, covered, on the countertop overnight or for 6-8 hours. It won’t hurt to soak them for longer, up to a couple of days, but you’ll want to rinse them and change the water every 8 hours or so to prevent it from getting funky.
  4. Drain beans and rinse them in a strainer. Now you have soaked beans.

Step 2: Rinse & Cook Your Soaked Beans

  1. First, look over the beans and discard any dark or shriveled beans.
  2. Drain and rinse your beans after soaking and before cooking. Add them to a large soup pot.
  3. Next, add enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Cover with a lid and cook on a medium simmer for somewhere between 1 and 3 hours. Different sized beans will take different amounts of time. Check them by tasting them or poking them with a fork for softness.
  4. Make sure you check the level of the water once in a while, and add some boiling water if the water runs out.

How to Cook Dry Beans in an Instant Pot (and Skip the Soaking)

One of the amazing and magical things about the Instant Pot is that it can do things in minutes that usually take hours. Consult your Instant Pot directions for the appropriate cook time for each type of beans.

In a pinch, you can also skip the soaking with the Instant Pot. To “quick soak” your beans in it, put the beans in the pot and add water to about 1 inch above the level of the beans. Close the pot lid to Sealing. Set it to Manual (high pressure) for 5 minutes. Use Natural Release (about 12 minutes). There! Your beans just “soaked!” Rinse, drain, and proceed as if you were using pre-soaked beans.

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How to Cook Dry Beans in a Slow Cooker or Crockpot

Batch cooking my weekly pot of beans is one of my favorite uses for my crockpot. The night before, I dump my dry beans into the crockpot, fill it with water, and leave it to soak overnight. In the morning, I drain and rinse them, refill the crockpot with water, and turn it on high to cook for 4-6 hours. This is a great, hands-off way to cook up a pot of beans. I find that they come out extra soft, yummy, and tender using this method.

How to Cook Dry Beans on a Wood Stove

If you have a wood burning stove, try placing them on top of it for a few hours while going about your cozy evening. If you already use wood power to heat your home in the winter, this is a lovely and resourceful way to cook beans!

How to Store Your Freshly Cooked Beans

Store the beans in their cooking liquid in the refrigerator. This will help them stay fresh longer. If the cooking liquid is very thick and starchy, pour some of it out and dilute it with some fresh water. If you aren’t going to use them within a few days, you can also freeze them in their cooking liquid and defrost them to quickly throw into soups or chilis.

10 Ways to Use Your Pot of Beans

1. Use Them in Buddha Bowls

My number one reason for making a pot of beans is to have delicious buddha bowls all week long.

2. Make Hummus or Bean Dip

I love making my own hummus! It’s so easy and tasty. This recipe is my favorite because it comes together in minutes in a blender, it’s super creamy, and it is naturally oil free.

3. Make a Hearty Vegetable Soup

At the end of the week when the groceries are running out, I usually toss the rest of the week’s beans into a pot with some veggie odds and ends, broth, and a can of tomatoes. It makes a delicious and hearty soup. Check out my template for making bean soup without a recipe.

4. Make Chili

Ahhh, spicy, hearty, cozy chili. One of the best ways to use up cooked beans, and random veggie scraps too. I have several recipes for chili on my blog, but I recommend this post on how to make vegan chili from scratch without a recipe.

5. Add Them to a Savory Breakfast Skillet

Throw together some beans, salsa, a grain, and an egg and it’s brunch time! I love eating black beans with pan fried polenta spices, some greens, and a spoonful of salsa. Yum!

6. Make Burrito Bowls

Burrito bowls are one of my go-to weeknight meals. They come together so quickly and they are so fun and satisfying. Find the recipe here.

7. Add them to Salads

I often throw chickpeas, black beans, and white beans into quick salads with avocado, beets, and greens. Here’s my go-to recipe.

8. Enjoy Them Plain w/ Garlic & Fresh Herbs

Fresh cooked beans are so yummy on their own, that I often opt for just eating them plain. I often warm them up in a skillet with a splash of olive oil, a pinch of minced garlic, salt, and a sprinkle of fresh herbs. That’s all they need.

9. Make Chickpea Salad

This chickpea salad is reminiscent of tuna salad and delicious on bread, veggies, or apple slices. Here’s the basic recipe, or the curried version if that’s more your style.

10. Make Quick & Easy Veggie Burgers

Veggie burgers are a perfect way to use up grains and beans. You don’t even need a food processor, just mash them up with a potato masher or a fork and add some leftover veggies, onions, and spices. They freeze well too. Here’s my go-to veggie burger formula and method.

If you found this post helpful, let me know! Leave a comment below or tag me in your meal pics on Instagram @katiesconsciouskitchen. Or, join my free private facebook group to share your creations and inspire others!

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  1. Wilma Brock

    Thanks, Katie. This is definitely an area I need to learn more about.

  2. Pingback: 5-Minute Garlic Beans & Greens | Katie's Conscious Kitchen

  3. Thank you Katie! This week’s email with the the recipe for garlicky beans and greens led me to this page. It was exactly what I needed to right now! I’ll be making a pot of beans today and eating many of the recipes above this week.

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