Cooking dried black beans from scratch in a slow cooker or on the stovetop is incredibly simple and produces black beans that are creamy and flavorful.
Simple, Slow Simmered Black Beans Are Easy, Delicious, and Nutritious
Cooking dried beans is a highly underrated endeavor. Canned beans are a fabulous convienence and I almost always have a few cans in the pantry.
BUT – cooking dried beans only takes about 5 minutes of prep work, costs fraction as much as canned, and taste markedly more delicious.
The best thing about cooking dried beans is that you have the opportunity to add herbs, spices, garlic and onions to them while they cook, infusing the beans with flavor.
Also, the texture of cooked dried beans is much, much better than anything that ever comes out of a can.
Do You Have to Soak Beans Before Cooking?
Most recipes, this one included, call for soaking the beans in water overnight. While there’s nothing difficult or time consuming about dumping some beans into a bowl and covering them with water, it does require enough planning to get them in the water the night before you want to cook them.
But, is soaking the beans necessary? And what do you do if you forget to soak them?
Soaking beans before cooking them does three things:
- It reduces the cooking time
- Creates a better texture for the cooked beans, with fewer split-open and burst beans
- It makes them a bit more digestible
If you don’t soak your beans ahead of time, they will still cook. But, you’ll need to extend the cooking time by about 2 hours. (Sometimes it can take even longer, especially if the beans are old.)
How To Make Black Beans From Scratch:
#1. Soak the beans.
The night before (or up to 2 days) you want to cook black beans, rinse them in a colander in the sink, then dump them into a bowl and cover with water.
Cover the bowl and let the beans soak until you're ready to cook them.
You can also give the beans a "quick soak": After rinsing the beans, put them in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot, turn off the heat, and let stand for 1 hour. Drain and proceed with the recipe.
#2. Add flavoring.
Add the beans to a large sauce pan, dutch oven, or slow cooker and cover with 8 cups of water or broth. Stir in garlic, spices, and a small amount of baking soda.
#3. Cook the beans.
If cooking black beans on the stove top, cover the pot and bring the liquid to a boil. Allow the beans to cook, covered, at a gentle simmer on the stove top , stirring from time to time, until tender - about 2 hours.
If cooking black beans in a slow cooker, put the lid on the pot, set the slow cooker to either low or high heat, depending on how long you want them to cook. Black beans will take about 4 hours to cook on high or 6-8 hours on low.
The beans are done when they are tender, but not completely falling apart.
Once cooked, they are ready to eat or ready to use in any recipe. You can also let them simmer on the stovetop for a while until the liquid becomes a thick sauce.
Add a few squeezes of fresh lime juice to taste, and sprinkle with cilantro and green onions if desired.
I almost always cook black beans in my slow cooker. It's so convenient to get them going in the morning and let them do their thing while I go about my day. This is particularly easy if you have a slow cooker with a shut-off timer.
What if You Want to Cook Black Beans in an Instant Pot?
I LOVE using my Instant Pot to cook black beans. If I only used my instant pot to cook dried beans, I would still consider the purchase 100% worth it.
Most of the time I use this super quick method to take beans from rock hard to soft and buttery in about an hour.
But, sometimes I use my Instant Pot's slow cooker setting to cook a pot of beans low and slow. It really just depends on the day's schedule.
Delicious Recipes that use Black Beans:
- Black Bean Tostadas with Corn Salsa and Enchilada Cream
- Veggie Black Bean Nachos
- Black Bean Tomato Soup
- Black Bean Enchiladas with Creamy Tomatillo Sauce
- Black Bean Soup with Pickled Onions and Cilantro Oil
- Vegetarian Stuffed Poblano Peppers
If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, or take a picture and tag it #alittleandalot on Instagram.
- 16 oz. (1 lb) dried black beans
- 8 cups (1892ml) water - or chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 2-3 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
- 2 tablespoon chopped green onions (optional)
To Soak the Black Beans:
It's a good idea to soak your beans before cooking them, which ensures a super creamy consistency. You can do this one of two ways:
- The night before (or up to 2 days) you want to make beans, rinse the beans in a colander in the sink. Dump them into a bowl and cover with water. Put them in the refrigerator to let them soak until you're ready to cook them. Drain before proceeding with the recipe.
- Quick soak method: Rinse the beans in a colander in the sink. Put the beans in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot, turn off the heat, and let stand for 1 hour. Drain and proceed with the recipe.
To Cook the Black Beans:
- Add the beans to a sauce pan with a heavy bottom, a dutch oven, or the bowl of a slow cooker, and cover with 8 cups of water or broth.
- Stir in the garlic, salt, pepper and other spices, and the baking soda.
- If cooking on the stove top: Cover and bring to a boil, if cooking on the stove top. Allow the beans to cook, covered, at a gentle simmer on the stove top , stirring from time to time, until tender - about 2 hours.
- If cooking in a slow cooker: Cover the pot with the lid and set the slow cooker to low or high heat, depending on how long you want them to cook. The beans will take about 4 hours if cooking on high and about 6-8 hours if cooking on low.
- To know when the beans are done cooking: Taste them. When done, the beans will be tender, but not completely falling apart.
- Once cooked, drain the beans and they are ready to use in any recipe. You can also let them simmer on the stovetop, uncovered, over medium heat until the liquid becomes a thick sauce - about 25-35 minutes. Stir them frequently while they cook. This is the best way to prepare them if serving them as a side dish.
- Add a few squeezes of fresh lime juice to taste, and sprinkle with cilantro and green onions if desired.
How long will beans keep after they've been cooked?
Black beans will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 3 months. I like to freeze them in 1 cup portions so that they are easy to use in any recipe that calls for a can of black beans.
Serving Size:½ cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 137Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 611mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 6gSugar: 1gProtein: 8g