How to Cook Beans

How to Soak and Cook Dried Beans

Dried Beans are a handy item to have in the pantry. They’re available all year long, are relatively cheap and are full of nutrition. A package of unopened dried beans can last for a few years when stored in a cool, dark and very dry place.

Here’s the scoop on how to soak and then subsequently cook these little dried up gems of fiber and protein.

how to cook beans

How to Cook Beans

How to Soak Beans and How to Cook Dried Beans

When cooking beans, begin with cold water and use it throughout the entire process of both soaking and cooking beans.
Dried beans must be soaked before they are cooked.

First Soak

  1. Place the dried beans into a colander and rinse them thoroughly with cold water.
    Run your hands through them and make sure that there is no debris mixed in with the beans – I’ve found little pebbles a few times in the past!

  2. Place the beans into a large pot and cover them completely with cold water.
    Keep adding water until there is a few inches of plain water on top of the beans.

  3. Soak the beans at room temperature overnight (or at least 8 hours).

  4. Discard the water by pouring the beans back into the colander.
    Rinse them again with cold running water.

  5. Here’s a quicker alternative to soaking if needed. This replaces all the above steps for a speedy bean soak.
    Place the beans in a saucepan with a ratio of 3 cups water to 1 cup beans. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover the pan and let it sit for at least an hour. Discard the water and rinse the beans as above.

    Then Cook

    Now that the beans are thoroughly soaked, it’s time to cook the beans:

  6. Place the soaked beans in a large pan and cover with cold water that is at least 2 inches of plain water above the beans.

  7. Boil them uncovered over a medium-low heat for an hour, until they are tender.
    Make sure to keep the water at a gentle simmer at all times and do not let them reach a hard boil.
    A full boil on beans will split the skins on the beans wide open and leave a mushy mess behind.
  8. A few Precautions

    All beans must be cooked before being eaten, as most of them will cause some sort of gastrointestinal distress if undercooked.
    Kidney beans are especially dangerous if eaten after soaking and before cooking. Undercooked kidney beans contain a compound that will cause some serious diarrhea and vomiting, so be sure to always cook beans properly.

    Make sure beans are always fully covered with water.
    Add cold water, only if necessary, during cooking to ensure that the water level is constantly higher than the beans.

    Don’t ever add baking soda to the beans.
    This would destroy the B vitamins and adversely affect the resulting flavor.

    Don’t add tomatoes too early to the pot (say, if soup is being made).
    This slows cooking time, so only add them after the beans are already fully tender.

    Once a package of dried beans is opened, store the dried beans in a clean and dry glass canning jar with a tightly fitted lid for optimum shelf life. Once they are cooked, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

How to Cook Beans

Additional Information

To check the shelf life of beans, see our bean page.

Are canned beans healthy?

To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

SEARCH Eat By Date