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An Easy to Follow Guide for How to Cook Dried Beans

Once you learn how to cook dried beans from scratch, you’ll want to say ‘goodbye’ to the canned stuff!

plates of dried beans on white background


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There’s a lot to love about cooking with dry beans: they’re inexpensive, easy to store, and don’t take up a lot of space in the kitchen. There are so many dried bean recipes that they can take you all the way from spring to winter, and you’ll never make the same recipe twice.

If you’re just learning how to cook dried beans, the process can seem a little intimidating. After all, you’ve probably been buying the canned stuff for years! Don’t worry. The great news about learning how to cook dried beans is that there are a ton of methods and techniques for bringing this versatile kitchen ingredient to life.

Whether you’re cooking dried black beans or cooking dried pinto beans, the process and result remain the same: perfectly tender beans ready to be added to your next dish!

You’ll find varying advice when it comes to prepping beans for cooking. These include the overnight soak, the quick soak, and the cooking beans without soaking. Each has its benefits and cons, and you’ll need to figure out your preferred method.

For a quick guide on how to best cook dried beans, keep reading.

Size of beans and cook times

The size of the bean will affect how long you need to cook the beans.

SizeCook Time
Small beans (black beans, pinto beans, navy beans)60 – 90 minutes
Medium beans (Great northern)90-120 minutes
Large beans (Lima beans, Butter beans, red kidney beans)90- 160 minutes

Cook times will vary depending on whether the beans are soaked and how old the beans are.

Sort and rinse the beans

It’s not uncommon to find small pebbles within a bag of dried beans. Biting down on that can be pretty painful. No matter how you cook dried beans, always give them a good rinse first to remove any debris. Also, remove any old and shriveled beans.

hand holding red kidney beans

Soaking beans overnight

dried kidney beans beans soaking in water

Soaking dried beans overnight is a tried and true method. If you’re able to plan ahead, allowing the dried beans to soak overnight will give you beans that are plump, tender, and a little creamy. This method, known as rehydrating the beans, also ensures that the bean around the skin remains intact when cooking.

Why is it important to soak dried beans before cooking? Soaking dried beans overnight has the added benefit of helping them cook a little faster. And if you’ve ever looked up methods for cooking beans, the number one question home cooks have is: how to cook dried beans fast!

One of the most common reasons why people soak dried beans is because it helps remove some complex sugars that our body cannot digest. That’s what causes you to feel gassy or bloated after eating them.

There’s also an advantage of soaking when your beans are older. Older beans tend to take longer to cook, so soaking them overnight will help cut the cooking time significantly.

Soaking beans overnight is pretty easy. Simply fill a bowl with water, add your beans, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap, or an airtight lid, until you’re ready to use them the next day. Don’t worry about heating the water. Lukewarm filtered water works just fine.

Alternatively, you could start soaking the beans in the morning, if you plan on using them that night for dinner. How long to soak dried beans really depends on when you need to use them and the size of the bean, but plan on 6-8 hours.

When you’re ready to cook the beans, drain the water and cook them on the stovetop.

Quick soaking beans

Quick soaking dried beans requires a bit more prep time than overnight soaking dried beans, but the results are equally delicious.

The benefit to the quick soak method is that this gives you the flexibility to incorporate the beans into a recipe the very same day you plan to use them.

For the quick soak method, place the dried beans in a pot of water on the stovetop, and bring it to a boil. When the water is boiling, remove from the heat, cover the pot with a lid and let the beans soak for about an hour. Depending on what type of dried beans you’re using, this time may vary slightly.

Disadvantages of soaking beans

Soaking beans has a few disadvantages. First, beans soaked in water are known to have a tad bit less flavor, especially if the soaking water is drained and replaced with fresh water. In order to avoid this, cook the beans in the liquid they soaked in.

Beans soaked are also known to lose color pigment if soaked and the bean water is drained and replaced with fresh water.

Another disadvantage of soaking beans is that it can cause them to lose some of their nutritional value. This is because the soaking process can leach out some of the vitamins and minerals from the beans. And if you drain the soaking water and drain it, you’ll be flushing nutrients down the sink.

How to cook dried beans without soaking

The no soak method for cooking dried beans has pros and cons. If you’re in a jam, the no-soak method will still give you plump delicious beans, but prepare to add roughly one to two hours of additional cooking time.

The downside to this method is that it can cause the bean skin to break. However, if your goal is super creamy beans, this method might be for you. Adding a few aromatics will create a rich bean broth that’s great for bean soup recipes.

To cook dried beans from scratch without soaking, place your beans in a large pot and cover with a few inches of water. Bring the water to a simmer, and stir the pot about every thirty minutes. When the beans have cooked for between two to three hours, check for tenderness.

Remove the beans from the stove and let sit for another thirty minutes. Feel free to add any additional salt or seasonings to the beans at this time.

How to cook dried beans in Instant pot or pressure cooker

Cooking dried beans in an Instant Pot is one of the quickest ways to cook dried beans, it’s also one of the easiest. No soaking, no simmering necessary.

Cooking beans in a pressure cooker or instant pot allows you to cook up to a pound of dried beans at a time.

Using a ratio of one cup of beans to four cups of water, simply place the beans and water in the instant pot, and cook on the high-pressure setting. The amount of time needed will vary by bean size and type.

Release the steam naturally to help keep the skin of the bean intact.

pinto beans in white bowl

How to cook beans in a Slow Cooker

Cooking beans in a slow cooker is a simple, convenient method that allows flavors to infuse over a long period. When used properly, this method yields deliciously tender beans without needing to monitor it closely – combine your beans with desired seasonings in your slow cooker, set it to the appropriate temperature setting, and let the machine do its work for you!

Using a ratio of one cup of beans to three cups of water, simply place the beans and water in the slow cooker, and cook on low or high. The amount of time needed will vary by bean size and type.

Typically, I cook beans on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

Tips for cooking dried beans

  • Toss your old beans
  • The age of the bean matters when it comes to cooking times and bean quality. Beans older than 2 years old will maintain their hard exterior, even with a good soak. For beans this old, it’s best to throw them out.
  • Salt beans halfway through cooking.

What to cook beans in?

I use water. And use the bean water for flavor. You can also use chicken broth. 

Recipes using Dried Beans

plates of dried beans on white background
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5 from 1 vote

How to Cook Dried Beans from Scratch

Once you learn how to cook dried beans from scratch, you’ll want to say ‘goodbye’ to the canned stuff!
Course Main Course
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 127kcal
Author Tanya


  • 1 lb dried beans about 2 1/3 cups
  • 6 cups water or broth
  • Seasonings (salt, fresh herbs, etc)


  • Prepare the Beans. Rinse and sort through the beans. Then decide if you will soak, quick soak, or not soak.

Quick Soak

  • Place rinsed beans in a large pot. Cover with 6-8 cups of water. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cover with lid and let stand for 1 hour.

Overnight Soak

  • Place rinsed beans in a large pot. Cover the beans with 6-8 cups of cold water. Let stand overnight or for about 6-8 hours.

Cooking the Beans

  • Add aremoatics lik fresh herbs. Bring beans and water to a simmer over medium heat. Cook beans until tender, for about 1-2 hours, depending on the size of the beans. Add salt haflway through cooking.


  • The size of the bean will affect how long you need to cook the beans.
Size Cook Time
Small beans (black beans, pinto beans, navy beans) 60 – 90 minutes
Medium beans (Great northern, 90-120 minutes
Large beans (Lima beans, Butter beans, red kidney beans) 90- 160 minutes
  • Cooking the beans in the soaking water will result in flavorful beans. You may discard the soaking water and cook the beans in fresh water. 


Calories: 127kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 0.4g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Sodium: 10mg | Potassium: 514mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 3mg
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Although attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Under no circumstances will be responsible for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information.
5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)
Recipe Rating

Barry Davies

Monday 19th of February 2024

Can you please give us a "guesstimate" for cooking time of beans in IP? Would steaming in IP work? Thanks.


Tuesday 20th of February 2024

Hi Barry, it depends on the bean, but yes, you can cook beans in the Instant Pot for sure. The Instant Pot site actually has a list of cooking times. I'm going to test these and add them to the site. I find a lot of people asking for it. Thanks so much.

Sílvia Carranza

Friday 1st of July 2022

I have always cooked my beans in a crockpot after soaking overnight. It gives the beans that “back home “ flavor. However, somewhere in here you must caution NEVER to cook red beans in a crock pot. They have to be boiled on high heat to remove the toxins in the red beans.