How To Cook Dried Beans

Feb. 15, 2022, noon

Dried beans are not used often enough! They are cheap, store for long periods of time, are nutritious, and are very easy to cook. There are hundreds of ways to use them and you can freeze them.
The key to cooking a successful pot of beans depends on two things: the age of your beans and knowing when to salt them. We will talk more about this later.
This simple stovetop method can be used for small, medium, or large beans such as the following:
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
Navy beans
Black-eyed peas
Black beans
Pinto beans
Great Northern beans
Lima beans
Red beans
Cannellini beans
This method will not work for lentils or split peas, which are not really beans, but are still in the legume family. Lentils cook much quicker than beans and don’t require pre-soaking.
Help! I've cooked these beans forever and they won't get soft!
The culprit probably isn’t the recipe or your cooking technique, but rather the bean itself. Check the best-by date on the package. Old beans never get soft. You just have to throw them out. If you have a bag of uncooked beans that are past their best-by date, save them for pie weights and replace them with something fresher.

There are three schools of methods of cooking beans.

Method 1: Soak beans overnight

Soaking reduces cooking time.
Creates a plumper bean that cooks evenly.
Reduces the beans’ negative impact on your digestive system (you know, the more you eat, the more you.......).
How to do this.....
Put the beans in a bowl. Cover by about 3 inches with water. (You can add some baking soda here if you want to. Some say it helps with the gas issue.) Leave overnight on the countertop. Drain, rinse, and cook.

Method 2: Quick-soak the beans

Like the overnight soaking method, this reduces the cooking time.
How to do this.....
Put beans in a pot. Cover by about 3 inches with water. Bring them to a boil. Cover. Remove from heat and let rest in the warm water for an hour depending upon the bean. Proceed with recipe.

Method 3: Don't soak

This is for those times you decide at the last minute to cook beans as soaking requires planning ahead.
If you want creamy beans, this is the method for you. When you soak beans, they release starch in the soaking water, which can reduce the creaminess of the beans in your final dish.
Also, soaking leaches out some of the color of the beans, so if this matters to you, then don't soak.

How to do this.....

Put beans in a pot. Cover generously with water and cook.

How Long to Cook Dried Beans

Since cooking time depends on the age of your beans and whether your soaked them, there’s just no way of providing specific cook times when it comes to beans, but in general:

Small beans (black beans, black-eyed peas and navy beans): 45 to 90 minutes
Medium beans (Great Northern, kidney, pinto, garbanzo beans): 60 to 120 minutes
Large beans (large Lima, Cannellini beans, butter beans): 80 to 180 minutes

When to Salt Your Beans

This is highly debated. However, my mother and my Aunt Bibby did not salt their beans until they were tender enough to taste so that is the way I do it. So, wait until they are almost soft enough and then add salt to taste.

How to Cook a Pot of Beans

Here's the run-down of how to make a basic pot of beans.

Sort the beans.  Toss out any stones and wrinkled beans. Give them a quick rinse under running water.
Soak or don’t; it’s up to you.
Add beans to a pot and cover with three inches of water. Do not add salt.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Don’t let the beans boil aggressively or they will break apart and turn to mush. A slow and gentle simmer is the best way to cook a bean.
Add salt when the beans are edible but still firm.
Test the beans every 15 minutes toward the end of the cooking time to determine when they are perfect for you.

A few extra notes:
For soups and salads, pull the beans off the heat when they are cooked through, and tender, but not creamy. This assumes they will continue to cook in the soup, and you want them to hold together in your salad.
For beans you plan to use on their own or in a dip, let them cook until soft and tender, but still intact.

How to Season a Pot of Beans

The way I really love to flavor a pot of beans is to cook them with a hambone or a ham hock or two. This is very is very Southern.
I also like to use Joe's Stuff which is the same seasoning mixture I use in my gumbo.

You can also add a bay leaf, garlic, onion, peppercorns, chilis, or a handful of parsley or rosemary, stems tied with twine, so they can be easily removed from the pot.

How Long Can You Keep Cooked Beans?
Once cooked, beans will keep in the fridge for up to four days and can be frozen for months. Whether you store the beans in their cooking liquid or drain them first is depends on how you intend to use them.

1 pound dried beans, rinsed, sorted
8 cups water
Place beans and water in the inner pot of a pressure cooker.
Place lid on Instant Pot and close valve to "seal."
Cook on high pressure for following times:
Black Beans--30 minutes on high pressure
Chickpeas--40 minutes on high pressure
Kidney Beans--35 minutes on high pressure
Pinto Beans--25 minutes on high pressure
Navy Beans--25 minutes on high pressure
Butter Beans--40 minutes on high pressure
Great Northern Beans-- on 35 minutes high pressure
Allow to naturally release until pressure subsides, or at least 20 minutes before doing a quick release.
Once beans have finished cooking, stir in salt and any other seasonings.
For pre-soaked beans, decrease cook time by 10 minutes.