Cooking Dried Beans – How to Soak and the Best Ways to Cook Them

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Beans are a frugal pantry staple. Learn how cooking dried beans can make this pantry staple even more frugal by soaking, cooking and preserving your beans for quick and easy meals.

Beans are a frugal pantry staple. Learn how cooking dried beans can make this pantry staple even more frugal by soaking, cooking and preserving your beans for quick and easy meals. #beans #soakbeans #cookedbeans #cookingbeans #driedbeans

Cooking Dried Beans

Many people shy away from having and cooking dried beans. I have found dried beans to be a staple pantry item in our house. They are versatile, cost-effective, and “good for you”.

When you are buying already canned beans from the store, you are getting a very high amount of sodium in each can, plus there may be added fat to them or other preservative type ingredients. By cooking dried beans, you are able to control what you add to them.

I always have had a wide assortment of dried beans on hand. At any given time I usually have: pinto beans, red beans or kidney beans, lima beans, great northern beans, garbanzo beans, and black beans. I actually use whatever I have on hand when I am putting something together, as we are not picky on a certain type.

How to Soak Dried Beans

There are a couple of different ways to prepare your beans, but I am going to only talk about pre-soaking overnight and then cooking dried beans. This is not the only method, but it is the one that I end up using most often. YES…it does take some pre-planning or thinking about what you will be having, but if you soak extra and freeze them, you won’t have to have as much thought put into it for the next meal or two.

You can soak as many beans as you would like. Here is the first picture of the pinto beans that I started with. Place them in an overly large bowl (to provide extra room for expanding). If you see any beans that are discolored, discard those.

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Next, cover your beans with water. They need to have several inches of water above the bean line, as they will expand, soaking up the liquid. I usually start soaking mine in the evening.

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This picture is the beans the next morning after they have soaked all night. See how the water is still covering all of them. Be sure to have added enough, so they all will still be covered in the morning.

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Next, you will want to rinse your beans that have been soaking very thoroughly. This is an important step. It will make your beans less “gassy”, so be sure not to miss this step. Rinse them with nice cool water making sure all of the old water has been discarded and all the beans have been rinsed.

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How to Cook Dried Beans in a Crockpot

After my soaked beans were rinsed, I measured out approximately 8 cups to place in the crock-pot. I saved back approximately 2 cups to put in a freezer bag for a later meal. They are ready to be cooked in any meal that uses beans.

–Learn how to Can Dried Soaked Beans.

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I am cooking the 8 cups to be used as beans in tacos and also to use in chili for two of my recipes from meal planning this week. I added in 6 cups of water with the 8 cups of soaked beans. I also added in a small amount of diced onion and some seasonings. At this point, you can cook them plain or add in any seasonings of your choosing. When I am going to use them for tacos, burritos, etc., I will use some taco seasonings like garlic, onion, cumin, chili powder, etc…. The amount and kind of seasonings you use is entirely up to you and your family’s tastes.


This picture was taken after cooking the beans in the crock-pot on high for 6 hours (the time may vary according to your crock-pot or you could also cook them on low –for several more hours). This is how they looked. They have enough liquid still on them, so none are hard or burned on. They are all very soft.


I used this utensil that I have to smash the beans to give them a smoother texture. Be creative with your kitchen utensils. You could also use a metal potato masher. We prefer them semi-smashed, but not completely, so I just keep using this tool until I have our desired texture. If you do like them smooth, you can let them cool slightly, and then place them in a blender or food processor.

I am using this amount of cooked beans this week for two of our meals. One meal was tacos/burritos with super nachos leftover for lunches. The other meal I used them for was crock-pot chili. I will save the smaller bag that I froze for another week when we may have one or the other of these meals again.

–These would be great for Freezer Beef N Bean Burritos.


I hope this helps to show you how to soak and cook dry beans. I also hope that you will give it a try!

Until next time, Julie

Looking for other articles to help you save money in the kitchen? Here are a few more you might enjoy:

Do you use dried beans? Did you know you can freeze dried beans?

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This post on Cooking Dried Beans was originally published in January 2012. It has been updated as of January 2020.

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  1. I’ve been using my pressure cooker to cook beans from dry to cooked in less than an hour. It works great for black beans, but pinto beans get a bitter taste. Would soaking the pinto beans first give a better result?

    1. Rivka, I have also used my pressure cooker to cook beans and it does make it easy and fast. We didn’t write about using the pressure cooker, as many people tend to shy away from using them or don’t have one. It makes it easy to get a good meal on the table in often under 30 minutes. I am not sure about soaking them first and then using the pressure cooker, but it would be worth a try. It may make a difference to soak them and then rinse that water before you pressure cook them. I bet you wouldn’t even have to soak them overnight. You probably could do it in the morning, rinse the beans before supper, and make them in the pressure cooker that eve. If you try it, write back a note and let me know how it turns out.

      1. I also used my pressure cooker for the first time to cook pinto beans and they were bitter as well. Does it have to do with pressure cooking them? Have you pressure cooked pinto beans without getting a bitter flavor?

  2. LOVE that you spelled this out. I had a major FAIL a while back and have been scared ever since. you have made me want to try again!

  3. I am just started to try beans and thought you had to cook them before putting them in the freezer.
    I like the crockpot idea.
    I have bean doing great northern and seasoning for baked beans.
    Julie thank you so much for sharing with us your wisdom

  4. I’m assuming this would work for lentils too? I have a bag of dried lentils for a recipe. I want to try the recipe but am not familiar working with dried beans.

  5. I for the first time cooked a bag of mixed dry beans. I froze them in sandwich bag portions after they were cooked. I just take a bag out and pop them in the microwave or thaw a bit in cold water then throw them in whatever Im using them in.

  6. Perhaps a silly question, but I often save the “grey water” from rinsing veggies and things to water my plants and garden. Do you think this soaking water and the water used to rinse the beans is okay for that purpose?! I hate to waste water, but if the “off-put” from soaking the beans is bad, then I will just toss it out!

  7. Ok…excuse my stupid question. Still trying to figure out the bean cooking method. 🙂 so there is no need to cook the beans after you soak them and before you freeze them? I saw another blog that they soaked beans then canned them uncooked. Will the soften more as they are stored? Not totally understanding. Would love clarification! 😉

    1. If you just want to freeze the beans for a future meal you can do that after soaking, however when you want to eat them later you will still have to cook them, you just get to save the soaking step. Yes, you can them uncooked, we’ve got a great post about it here: Canning Dried Beans.

  8. I use my electric pressure ccoker. Easy peasy. I also bottle my beans in pints using my big pressure cooker. Either way you can’t beat the price of beans and how healthy they are. Enjoy your website.

  9. I just was wondering how much beans you soaked? You didn’t specify. You just said “soak as many beans as you like”. Love your website and all your recipes and ideas by the way!

    1. I soak a different amount of beans each time, just depends on what I’m going to use them for! I don’t think I’ve ever soaked less than 4 cups.

  10. And lastly, soaking helps further break down those pesky oligosaccharides, the indigestible sugars that cause gas in beans, as well as removing tannins, phytic acid and tryspin inhibitors.

  11. You should ALWAYS “look” your beans ( That’s what the “old timers” call it ) before rinsing and soaking them. This means spreading them out on a cutting board and looking for the tiny pebbles that are quite often found in the bag.
    You sure don’t won’t to bite down on a small rock and break a tooth.
    I have been cooking beans for years and wouldn’t think of soaking them before doing this. 🙂

  12. My problem with cooking beans from dried, is my hard water. They never seem to achieve “soft”.(And Hubby hates that!) Does anyone have any advice? I haven’t used my crockpot to cook them.

      1. Are you adding salt when you cook your beans? This is a major NO NO..Don’t feel bad…I didn’t get the memo, either, that you are NOT supposed to add salt until they are already cooked, or they will NEVER soften up!

  13. Thank you for the post about cooking and freezing beans. I was just getting to the point of trying this. Now I know how to proceed.

  14. Thanks for this! Ditto to the prior posters’ “fail” stories. Any idea how much of dried beans = say, 1 cup of cooked beans or do you think it varies from bean to bean? I had trouble knowing last time, plus the bag didn’t say it.. :/

  15. I cook mine on the stove in a large pot. I put 3 beef bouillon cubes, onion, and salt and pepper in it. You talk about good! The bouillon gives it a richer, heartier flavor. My family loves this with fried potatoes and greens! 🙂

  16. I make these with some chicken broth, water, onion, jalapeno, garlic, and other spices. I make a big batch on taco or nacho night, then I use the left overs to make bean and cheese burritos to freeze. These are a great quick lunch for my husband or son when they are home and I’m not!

  17. Great, thorough post! Have you ever considered adding apple cider vinegar to your soak? It makes the beans easier to digest, makes it easier for our bodies to absorb the nutrients, and also eliminates the gassy effect.

  18. Its not my first time to go to see this web page, i am browsing this web page dailly and get nice information from here everyday.

  19. Hola. I don’t even know if this site still is in operation. If yes, here goes.
    I try to vary the brands of pintos I buy and try to get the lightest color beans there. I always sort them, rinse several times and soak overnight, at least 10 hrs. Drain and rinse 3-4 times before starting cooking. I add nothing during cooking except occasionally a jalapeño. Add salt at the end. Half the time, the beans have a bitter after-taste. How do you cure that once your whole pot is done cooking?!?!?
    Just now I added a pinch of sugar! Felt like an idiot. I’ll see if it helped later tonight.
    I want just plain frijoles without all the other stuff in them. I rarely get the flavor I’m looking for.