how to: kick the can (of beans)

I know many of you Budget Byters already cook your own beans but I wanted to make this post for all of the newbies out there. Beans are one of the most economical and nutritious foods available so I try to use them in recipes as often as possible. Canned beans are quick and convenient but with a little planning ahead, dry beans can be just as easy and HALF the cost of canned.

Many people (including myself) shy away from cooking dry beans because it seems like such a daunting chore with the overnight soaking and hours of cooking. What I’ve discovered is that cooking beans can be as easy as “setting it and forgetting it” and, thanks to Kalyn’s recent post, I now know that presoaking is not even necessary! If you cook a large batch, the beans can be divided up into two cup containers, frozen and then pulled out of the freezer as needed. Taking frozen beans out of the freezer is just as convenient as opening up a can!

Last night, I cooked up a batch of black beans for today’s soup. The final cost for one can equivalent of dry beans was $0.40 cents. Compare that to a store bought can which usually runs me about $0.79 and I’ve cut the cost in half. Plus, I’ve eliminated salt, preservatives and a lot of wasted packaging. Have I convinced you yet?

How To: Kick the Can (of beans)

cooked black beans

Here is how it’s done:

STEP 1: Pour one pound (or two for an extra large batch) of beans out onto a baking sheet and sort through to remove any stones or debris. Transfer the beans to a colander to rinse off any dust.

STEP 2: Place the cleaned and sorted beans in a slow cooker and add 6 cups of water for every pound of beans. Put the lid on, set the cooker to HIGH and let her go. Beans that have not been presoaked will take 4-6 hours to cook on HIGH.

STEP 3: Once the beans are tender, pour them into a colander and give them a quick rinse. Divide the beans into containers (re-sealable or zip top freezer bags), label, date and freeze until ready to use! Easy as that.

One pound of dry beans will yield about 6 cups of cooked beans, equal to about 3 cans.

cooked beans for freezing

The hands-on time to make these beans was only about 15 minutes. Once they were cleaned and sorted, they go straight into the pot and then I didn’t have to do ANYTHING until I checked them four hours later. Then it’s just a quick drain, rinse and pack into containers.

You can cook beans on the stove top if you don’t have a slow cooker although it takes more attention and care. Just place them in a large pot with a lid (same water/bean ratio), bring it up to a boil then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer until tender. Do not let the beans boil heavily or else the delicate skins will disintegrate and you’ll be left with nothing but bean fragments.

If you have any tips, tricks or notable experiences cooking dry beans, share them in the comments section below!

…the black bean soup recipe should be posted later tonight ;)


  1. Suji says:

    Can you make a recipe/tutorial entry on how to slow cook chickpeas?

    love your website!

  2. guy that cooks says:


    my kind only likes to eat pink beans (won’t eat any other) and i want to try this. can i do the same process as you did for black beans, or it has to be different for pink beans?

    • Hmm, I’ve never cooked pink beans. It should work the same, in theory, but if they are related to kidney beans, you may need to boil them for ten minutes to make sure the natural toxin breaks down and doesn’t cause you gastric distress. :(

  3. Megan says:

    I cook mine in veggie stock instead of water and throw in a few bay leaves! :)

  4. You can also try a hot soak. It still takes some time, but not as long as overnight. I’ve done a 4-hour soak and had good results making red beans and rice.

    From the U.S. Dry Beans Council (who knew there was such a thing?):

    1. Place beans in a pot and add 10 cups of water for every 2 cups of beans.
    2. Heat to boiling and boil for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
    3. Remove beans from heat, cover and let stand for 4 to 24 hours.
    4. Drain beans, discard soak water and rinse with fresh, cool water.

  5. Sarah says:

    Have you tried freezing them in freezable canning jars?

    • Nope! I’m always a little afraid to freeze in glass jars because of falling objects and delicate toes (crazy, I know). Hahaha.

  6. Rain says:

    A few nights ago I tried cooking black beans on the stove. I soaked them for 7 or 8 hours, then cooked them for about 3. I had to add a little more water halfway through to keep them all submerged, but after 2 hours they were al dente. I kept cooking with the lid off for the last half hour and they ended up with a wonderful gravy! Tasted so good, I dumped the whole thing in for the Chipotle Sweet Potato Quesadillas in your book. SO AWESOME. I had had trouble before with the canned beans rolling out of the tortillas because they weren’t sticking to anything, so the added gravy was perfect!

  7. Meredith says:

    We eat a lot of canned black beans…not anymore now that I found this recipe! Our family favorite is sauteed smoked turkey sausage with onions and garlic, 2 C black beans, 1 C corn, and 2 C brown rice. Add cilantro and/or diced avocado as a garnish. Super yum!

  8. Jessica says:

    Hey Beth! Does this apply to any dried beans? I have bag of garbanzos I wanted to do the same with..

  9. Pitou says:


    What is the weight of drained can of beans? I’ve recently come to Chicago for my masters, so I don’t know much about here. Only grocery stores I know are Target, Jewel and Trader Joe’s. The cheapest raw beans (1 lb) I found was something like $1.5 and the cheapest canned beans (15 oz which makes something like 1 lb) I found was like $0.75. So raw beans’ price is like twice expensive. So if two dried can of beans weight 1 lb, then I either don’t know where to buy cheap stuff or Chicago has weird pricing system.

    By the way, I’ve recently found your site and it’s helping me so much. Thank you for helping strangers like me :)

    • Don’t forget, the cooked beans contain a LOT more water, so that’s why they’re heavier. You can’t just compare the drained weight to the weight of the dry beans because the cooked bean has absorbed water. :) One pound of raw/uncooked beans will equal about three cans of the cooked beans.

    • Heidi says:

      The measurement on canned foods is not a weight measurement it is a volume measurement.

  10. angel s. says:

    Why do you toss the liquid before you freeze the beans? Can they be frozen together?

    • I’ve since started freezing them in the liquid. It does help keep them from drying out in the freezer. :)

      • Sarah says:

        When you use them, do you thaw off and drain the liquid or do you cook the liquid in your recipe?

        • I usually dump the whole frozen block into a colander and run cool water over them until they thaw (it’s very quick) and that rinses them in the process. You CAN use the liquid if you like, though. It can help make soups and stews thicker because it’s full of soluble fiber.

  11. Ariel says:

    Wow! It’s like I’m not cooking but I am! I’m so excited Beth that I can actually prepare a dinner for once in my life!! Please keep the step by step pictures too. This is what makes you different from every other person sharing recipes. Thank you! =D

  12. Sarah says:

    How long do they last in the freezer? I’m looking to do a big stock-up but don’t want the beans to go bad before I could use them!

    • There’s no specific time limit, they just begin to diminish in quality after time (they dry out and get freezer burn). I try to use up freezer items within three months or so.

  13. Andrea says:

    I haven’t cooked black beans in my slow cooker, but I came to this recipe to see if I could freeze cooked black beans (yay! I can!).

    I like to add some bay leaves to the pot as I’m cooking my black beans. It gives them a nice, subtle flavor. I suspect that throwing a bay leaf or two in the crockpot would have the same result!

  14. Another bonus to cooking your own beans: the cooking water (not soaking water) can be kept and used as a tasty stock! I know this works for black beans, not sure for other kinds (will have to experiment with that!)

  15. Michael Gregory says:

    Probably a silly question… but will this process work for any bean or do different beans have different water/bean ratios? My local WF store sells garbanzo beans in bulk, which I would prefer over canned. I just want to make sure I prep them correctly.

    • It should be about the same bean/water ratio for all beans. The only bean I know of that you don’t want to use this method with is kidney beans. They need to be boiled heavily for at least 10 minutes to break down a naturally occurring chemical that can cause extreme gastric distress. The slow cooker doesn’t boil strong enough to accomplish that.

  16. Camille says:

    I love this recipe! I sauteed onions and garlic in vegetable oil and mixed it in the beans as they were cooking for more of a cuban styled meal ;)

  17. Cassie says:

    I’ve heard there are health benefits to soaking foods(like beans) before cooking. How long should I cook the black beans in the crockpot if I pre-soak overnight? Do i still use the high heat setting? Of course this is assuming I actually plan far enough ahead- knowing I can just pour them in the morning of is awesome.

    • Well, I haven’t cooked them in the slow cooker with a presoak, so I can’t speak from experience. Here is the link to the site where I learned about cooking beans in the slow cooker. She did an experiment with soaking vs. not soaking. I’d assume you’ll need less liquid when you finally cook them, though, since they’ve already absorbed some.

  18. Sheri says:

    If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can use a dutch oven (enameled cast iron is best) in the oven set at 200F. If your pot seals well, the timing should be the same as a slow cooker on High.

  19. Antonia says:

    Thank you for this! I always used to cook my own beans but I started getting lazy and opting for canned. Organic canned beans with non-BPA liners are $2 plus tax at my grocery store (and that’s ON SALE) so this way is much cheaper. I find it really hard to plan ahead and with this method, I don’t have to :) Thanks again, you rock!

  20. Erika C says:

    Thanks for all the tips! I’m just starting to get into eating beans and want to try out alot of your recipes, but I’m trying to stay away from canned foods. Also, I need to keep alot of pre-cooked pinto beans on hand for my pinto bean pie, which my pop frequently requests. This will keep me from having to do it the “long way”.

  21. Julia says:

    This is the sixth recipe that I’ve made from this Just like all the others—it turned out marvelous! I hope to never buy a can of black beans again. Thanks a bunch for your awesome website.

  22. Julia says:

    Fantastic! I just made these last night. They only needed about 3.5 hours in my crock pot on high, but I think I’ll do them on low next time. I don’t have a scale, but I used 2 cups of dry beans and got 6 cups of cooked beans. Will definitely try again with chickpeas!

    I bought a ~4 lb bag for about $4.50, which should give me the equivalent of 12 cans at $0.38/can. I buy the no-salt PC brand (I’m in Canada) which is $1.30/can or $1 on sale, so I’m cutting the cost to about a third! Woo!

  23. I sort my beans and then leave them over night to soak in the Crockpot itself turned off. Then drain the water refill and cook.

    I find these are the best! You can do so much with them. Add sausage to half and then puree the other for re-fried beans.

  24. Meghan says:

    So I made these last weekend and got so busy that I totally forgot they were in the crock pot until about 9 hours later when I was over at my mom’s for dinner. (Uhh…oops?) Well, by the time I got home, it had been about 12 hours all together…in the crock pot…on high. But they were fine! A few on top looked a little dry and there wasn’t much water left but they were soft and cooked through lol! I just bagged them up with a little extra water to cover them and tossed them in the freezer. I’m still going to set a timer next time, though! Good to know they are literally fool proof. :)

  25. Jordan says:

    Hi, i was just wondering if this was the same for chickpeas? we love making hummus in our house but can’t seem to remember to soak the beans, so we wind up buying the cans.

  26. Gloria says:

    Thanks for the great idea. I am so new to cooking with beans I had been using canned beans. But I just bought some dry beans and now I know how to keep them even handier than canned beans.

  27. Numbersguy says:

    A lot of people have asked about the price of water and electricity, but a quick google search can answer this:

    Unless I’m mistaken, water costs something like $0.004/gallon unless you are buying overpriced bottled water and not filtering/using tap. This recipe calls for a lot less than a gallon, but lets just use that number. The local filter machine costs $0.54/gallon, and that’s also obscenely overpriced so $0.004 for tap isn’t unimaginable.

    As for the electrical costs, a crock pot on low runs on something like 110w, which over 8 hours can be safely rounded up to 1KWH. US average for 1KWH is about 12 cents.

    So, we’re talking a hidden cost of less than 12.4 cents. Definitely not the extra $0.40/can that’s being saved.

    • Hey NumbersGuy,
      I was thinking the same thing myself (plus the cost of labor), so thanks for doing the research and answering the question for us. However, I might further clarify that since the 12.4 cents is being spread over what Beth says is the equivalent of 3 cans of beans, we ought to divide the 12.4 by 3 = 4.13 cents. This brings the final cost (not counting time/labor) to 40+4.13=44.13 cents per can.
      I like to soak the beans, which usually reduces cook time to under 2 hours, so this would seem to bring electricity costs down to 3 cents, which when spread over the production of 3 cans of beans yields an added cost of about 1 cent per can. Rounding up might give us a cost of 42 cents per can if we soak the beans first.

  28. Karla says:

    I put a strip of kombu in the pressure cooker with mine (to cut down on gas). I spread them on a cookie sheet after cooked and put in freezer. Then you can use a wooden spoon to scrape them off and freeze them in bags–they’re not in a chunk that has to be completely thawed. Easy to grab a handful of chickpeas for a salad…

  29. Iesika says:

    Two things to be aware of with dry beans:

    1. Some beans, like kidney, cannelloni and fava, have dangerous levels of a poisonous chemical related to the blood thinner Coumadin. Boiling them for just a few minutes makes them safe, but simmering all day will not. Chose your beans wisely for slow-cooking.

    2. Soaking beans starts the breakdown of carbohydrates humans have trouble digesting – soaking overnight and discarding the water will make less-gassy beans!

  30. Michelle says:

    Wanted to give you a HUUGGGGEEE thanks for posting. I found your site via Ziplist, & I love your recipes/tips. I have my first crockpot full of black beans going now….. :)

  31. Melissa says:

    So here’s an odd question. I went through this recipe with a one-pound bag of black beans I got from Kroger. We don’t have bulk bins at my Kroger, or I would’ve gotten them from there. By the time it was done, the beans were brown, and nowhere near as big as black beans in a can. They almost looked like pinto beans! The water was thick and dark purple/black. Do you think I somehow got a bad batch? Do people put food dyes on pinto beans and pass them off as black beans? I did pre-soak, so perhaps I just overcooked them. This is the first time I’ve done dried beans that weren’t in a stew or something similar– help!

    • It sounds like they may just be over cooked or it could be the particular variety that has a lighter color. I’ve noticed that some brands that I buy in a can are definitely more brown than black. I’ve found the best way to cook black beans in a slow cooker is to do 8 hours on low with no pre-soaking. The beans stay whole (don’t break apart and turn to mush) and keep a nice color. I hope that helps!

  32. Angela says:

    Everyone keeps talking about the kidney beans toxicity, but I read somewhere that fava beans contain the same toxins and must be boiled for 10 minutes before use as well.

  33. Katie says:

    Beth, I’ve made dried beans before, but not often. Do you really sort your beans every time you make them? I find myself sorting for a really long time and not finding any stones so I just don’t really sort anymore. Do you think thats a bad idea? Am I over sorting and making it take longer than necessary? Maybe I just need to be quicker about it! The sorting through is just kind of a pain.

    • I just do a really quick sort-through. I either spread them out onto a rimmed baking sheet so that I can see everything clearly and just scan really quickly for stones, or just kind of sort through them as they’re in the colander being rinsed. You don’t have to be super picky about each bean :) I’ve also noticed that if I get a better brand, they’re better sorted to begin with. When I bought beans in bulk from the produce market they had tons of stones and were very dusty, but the Camilla brand from the grocery store are usually stone-free and very clean.

  34. Barbara says:

    I’m going to try the crockpot, I’ve always done them on the stove. As moisture boils down, I add coffee, not water. They taste great – also I add a small can of chopped green chile.

  35. Dennize says:

    I get the best results by pre soaking overnight – discarding the water. pre boiling ( to remove toxins), and then adding to slow cooker overnight usually. I also often add in chili and whatever else I want – and freeze them in the sauce – so they are all ready to go. Such a great cheap way to add extra protein and flavour to a meal. I LOVE my slow cooker. We eat alot of beans and the freeezer is full of them.

  36. Katie says:

    I would recommend keeping your bean liquid. We put ours in old spaghetti sauce jars with the lid on tight while still hot and it actually cans itself as it cools down. Then we have jars of bean ‘broth’ that we can use instead of water for any recipe to give it more flavor and depth. We’ll make rice or soups or really anything that calls for veggie broth, with bean ‘broth’ instead. You can also store all your veggie trimmings in the freezer and once every 2 weeks or so make some really amazing veggie broths, to use for the same things. Making a pot of beans with only homemade veggie broth, then saving that leftover bean broth, makes for an amazing tasting base to any dish:)

  37. Rachel F. says:

    Beth –
    Have you by any chance measured out a 15 oz can of beans to know if the 15 oz is with the liquid, or if it is 15 oz of beans with the liquid discarded? I want to be able to freeze these in approx. equivalents to a can so I can easily use in a recipe that calls for a can of beans. I may have to buy a can and measure it for future reference. Thought I would ask in case you had done that.

    • Well, the 15 oz. is a weight measurement and I *think* it’s the liquid and beans. I’ve measured the volume of the beans only from a can before and it’s usually around 2 cups. I usually freeze my beans in 2 cup portions.

  38. Hey Beth and fellow budgetbyters,

    I’ve been using this method for cooking beans since I discovered it on here website last year. I primarily cook black and white beans (not at the same time) using this method.

    I just wanted to say that when I do my white beans I really spice up the water with garlic powder, onion powder, chicken bouillon, and Italian seasonings (no measuring for me, I just toss it in–I know, I know, not budget conscious, but that’s how I do it).

    The main reason I bring this up is because after I finish cooking the beans I save the broth, strain it, and freeze it. It makes the best base ever for minestrone.

    Thought this might be worth noting. Great site Beth.

  39. Becky says:

    I just wanted to say that I took the plunge yesterday and used my crock pot to prepare a 2 lb bag of white beans that my daughter’s home health nurse had given me. Now, I have four 2-cup baggies in my freezer and the rest of it I used in a casserole with cheese and rice for dinner. I don’t think I’ll be buying canned beans again any time soon!

  40. Julie says:

    This is so easy. Thanks for sharing. When I did this though, the black beans left stains in my white crockpot. Any idea on how to get the crockpot clean again?

    • Hmmm, good question! My crockpot is a black glazed ceramic, so it hasn’t stained. I’m assuming yours is ceramic, too. You might try something like CLR to remove hard water type deposits because I think sometimes beans leave a hard deposit (not sure if it’s calcium or what). Or just try a bleach cleaner like Clorox Cleanup.

    • Angel says:

      I know you posted this ages ago, but making a paste with baking soda and water and scrubbing with your fingertips will take the marks right off.

  41. Donna C says:

    My husband and I have been using dry beans for many years now. This year we decided to take it one step farther. He added 5 of our favorites to his garden to see how we do at growing our own! We’re both so excited to see how it turns out!

  42. Allyson Kelly says:

    I am going to try this as soon as I use up the cans of beans I have in my pantry.

    My husband asked me, “”Did she include the price of electricity (for the Crock pot)?””

    Gee whiz! I am not sure if he is a” spoil-sport smarty-pants”, or if really “gets the essence of your blog”! At any rate, I LOVE your blog!

  43. Michelle says:

    I have tried this method and it worked well with black beans, although I found my cooking time was less than 4 hours, no presoak either. I think my crock pot runs a little hotter than others, because I know on high it definitely gets to a good boil. I just finished a batch of red kidney beans, which apparently have toxins in them if not boiled for 10 minutes or longer. I wasn’t standing over the crockpot but I am fairly sure it was at a decent boil for at least 20 minutes. So I think I should be ok, but even letting it go for about 4 hours, they beans have split a bit and are kind of mushy. Anyone have any hints? I’m sure I will just have to play around with the timing on mine, it is a small crock pot so maybe it just heats up faster or gets hotter than others.

    • I’ve found that the more the liquid boils, the more the beans break apart. Recently I started cooking them on low for 8-10 hours and they come out perfectly! Except you can’t do that with the kidney beans, of course.

  44. Sarah – I’ve cooked unsoaked black beans on low for 8 hours, and it worked great! I hope yours turns out okay!

  45. Sarah says:

    I think I’ve made a “boo-boo”. I didn’t pre-soak my pinto beans (1 lb.), but I washed and sorted through them. I added them to the crock-pot this morning with enough water and set them to “low”, intending them to cook for at least 10 hours while I’m away at work. Is this enough time? Will I have tough, uncooked beans at the end of my Monday?

  46. Anonymous says:

    I precook my bean for a hour or so,, drain off the water,, and add nw hot water to the crock pot,, takes about 1/2 the time to finish them,,

  47. Anonymous says:

    I put Baking Soda in my beans to eliminate the GAS and it helps that way you do not have to pre-boil your beans!

  48. I like to cook beans in my Stanley thermos. I soak beans in salty water overnight (contrary to kitchen folklore, salt actually helps soften beans, not make them tough), then boil in fresh water for 10 minutes the next morning. I then pop them into my trusty Stanley thermos for the day, and when it’s time to make supper, the beans are perfectly cooked! Details:

  49. Anonymous says:

    I agree that dry beans are better than canned if the canned have preservatives or sodium. But not sure they are cheaper or greener. You probably spent the 40 cents you saved on water and electricity for the crockpot. And you have to wash the baking sheet, the colander and the crockpot with hot water. Do more energy andcwsterbussge there.
    Trader Joes has canned beans with low sodium and no preservative for around .89 cents. It’s probably a wash environmentally and cost-wise.

  50. Anonymous says:

    Somebody asked if you can can beans. You can. It is easy with a pressure canner, but has a very long canning cycle. I think an hour or more at high temps…like canning meat. I normally just freeze mine, though I do can a bunch maybe once a year for emergencies…like I realize I have run out of frozen beans.

  51. We’re looking forward to our first batch. I particularly want to appreciate your method for sorting/picking before rinsing. I’ve never thought to use a tray before and it made a huge difference- found the pebble with my eyes instead of my teeth! Also, we’ve enjoyed 3 or 4 recipes since finding you and all have been ‘keepers’. Thank you.

  52. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the quick reply Beth. The batch I made today turned out great, so I don’t see any reason to pre-soak if it doesn’t reduce the time. -Brandon

  53. I’ve cooked them both soaked and not soaked, but used the same cooking time for both… so, I don’t know if you can reduce it, but I do know that it won’t make them overly mushy :)

  54. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone know if the slow-cooker time is reduced if I were to take the time to soak the beans beforehand? Thanks for this article! Testing out my first slow-cooker batch right now :)

  55. If this can be cooked on a slow cooker, I guess it can be too on a rice cooker.. Hmm gonna give it a try. Thanks for this secret recipe.

  56. Thanks for this great recipe! I made it, freezed it in separate containers and defrosted some of the shrimp, rice, and black bean recipe. Yum!

  57. Anonymous says:

    My mom cooks a lot of her food in the oven overnight! She cooks down tomato sauce, salsa, apples for apple sauce, etc. The food can be cooked in big roasters, it doesn’t burn, similar to a crock pot in that you really don’t need to check on it very often. However you can make greater quantities at one time if needed.

  58. Kerah – Some people swear by soaking beans to reduce gas, but I’ve never found it to make a lick of difference (whether cooked on the stove top or in the slow cooker), so I don’t bother doing it. My body doesn’t seem to notice the difference :) So, it’s up to you!

  59. I love your blog and everything I’ve tried has been so good! Question on the beans… Should you soak black beans before cooking in the crockpot to neutralize the gas, or is that more necessary for kidney/red beans?

  60. Jem – I usually just empty the container into a colander and then run cool water over them until they thaw. It only takes a few minutes. Or, if your beans didn’t stay whole while they cooked (if they broke apart or got mushy), you can just reheat them in a small sauce pan over low heat. You may need to add a bit of water to keep them from drying up.

  61. Anonymous says:

    Friend told me to add a little baking soda, no gassy effect, completely neutralizes…..

  62. Great website & article, I can’t wait to try this. What advice do you have for thawing the beans, preferably without the microwave! Has anyone tried cooking beans in their rice cooker?

  63. Anonymous says:

    Just found this blog about soaking beans. Can’t wait to try your black bean salad recipe with the ham & pineapple quesadillas, but I’m definitely soaking the beans first.

  64. I love cooking my own beans. Once you get into the habit, it’s not a big deal. Watch the cooking and soaking times on different types of beans. I didn’t realize they varied so much. I cooked black-eyed peas recently – soaking over night then cooking for an hour or so like I do with all the others I’ve tried so far. Way too long! Turns out they don’t need that long – short soak and cook for 30 mins!

  65. Maggie – You can do other types of beans. I’ve only tried a few so far (garbanzo’s are on my list to try!). The only one you want to stay away from is kidney beans, because they really need to be boiled to reduce a natural toxin that they carry.

  66. Do you know if I can do this same process with any kind of beans? I just bought a bag of dry garbanzo beans.

  67. Anonymous says:

    I cook alot of dried pinto beans. I soak them overnight and pour out the water they soaked in. Put them in a crock pot with fresh water and oil or salt pork. The juice is lighter in color and they taste wonderful. Season after they finish cooking.

  68. Anonymous says:

    If you put the cleaned beans in a pot, bring it to a boil, cover, remove from heat and let sit for an hour, then drain off the water before cooking futher, you will not have any gas at all.

    Although you can add many things before they cook, tomatoes will make it so they do not soften, too.

  69. Georgi says:

    I love the crock pot bean method! I use it all the time. Black beans, navy beans, red beans, garbanzo beans, they all come out great. I cook mine on high for 3:30 to 4 hours and then check them, sometimes going for longer can make them split and get a little mushy. Just my experience in a newer crock pot.

  70. Now to find some recipes to use all these dry beans I have! :) TY FOR THIS!

  71. I’m so glad I’ve been led to your blog! This is a great idea. I’ve recently learned the fact that just about all cans out there are lined with BPA, so I’m trying to avoid them wherever I can. I never really knew how to use dried beans (other than putting them in a tube to make a shaker!) Thanks a bunch!

  72. Grace – I can’t say for sure about the bug larvae. I do rinse the beans well before cooking and I don’t even bother soaking them first. The heat will be enough to kill anything there, although if just the *idea* of larvae gets to you, go ahead and do the soak/new water routine :) I haven’t had any issues yet.

  73. In Kayln’s article that you linked in your blog, it says to make sure and throw out the water used to soak the beans because of bug larvae and other yucky stuff on the outside of the bean. Is this true? If so, when cooked in the slow cooker, the beans remain in all of that dirty water.

  74. I looked a little further into the kidney bean issue and it seems that heating them without reaching a boil (which can happen if you cook on low in the slow cooker) can actually increase the amount of the offending chemical. But, as long as it is at boiling temp for at least ten minutes, the chemical is deactivated. So, I think it’s just best to be extra careful with kidneys!

  75. Anonymous says:

    @ Anonymous While what you say is technically true, , no one intentionally eats raw, dried beans. Your post reeks of fear mongering.

  76. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been told that beans need to be boiled first to eliminate toxicity, then can be put in the slow cooker for the rest of the cooking. Please do check this as it could make you very sick.

  77. To Anonymous and Beth – Concerning cooking beans with salt, this is how it was described to me. The salt molecules are larger than the water molecules. When the beans are cooking, the larger salt molecules clog the pores of the bean membrane, and the water can’t be absorbed. As soon as it was explained to me this way, I knew I’d always remember NOT to salt the beans during the cooking process. And GREAT blog Beth! Frugal but healthy cooking is the way to go!

  78. Anonymous says:

    We cook one-two slow cooker pots of beans each week. (Latino family!) The great thing about cooking beans is that you can also add a lot of flavor with very few ingredients. For good pinto beans, we typically add one onion halved(remove later), 1 chopped/seeded jalapeño, 1 Tbsp cumin, and a pinch of black pepper. We mash these later as well and they taste and look like refried beans.

    For black beans, we use almost the same ingredients, except we add cilantro and lime juice when it’s done cooking and mash as well. Delicious!

  79. Anon – Yes, salt does make beans very tough. You always want to add salt at the END of cooking beans. You can add other seasonings before you begin cooking them (onions, garlic, spices), but never salt. Very hard water can sometimes have the same effect.

  80. Anonymous says:

    I just learned a time-saving tip from my MIL. The night before, bring beans to a boil for 5 min. Turn off heat and leave on stove top over night with lid. The next day you only need to cook them for about 40-60 min. (depending on type of beans). I’ve only used it on pinto beans so far and it works great!

    Also, a friend recently told me that adding salt will stop the cooking process and the beans will never get soft. Does anyone know if this is true?

  81. If you want to make them even more tastey add a quarter of an onion, a few garlic cloves and some salt. Pull them out when they are done cooking.

  82. Anon – I’m really not sure… I’ve never heard of or used a thermal cooker. If you try it out, please let us know if it works! :)

  83. Anonymous says:

    Beth, would it work with my thermal cooker? Thermal cookers have to have it boiling for 10 minutes and then set in the thermal for simmering. would 10 minutes be too much? thanks

  84. I have always made my beans in a crockpot. It’s so easy! But I always throw in a quartered onion and 2-3 cloves garlic along with the beans when I start them. It flavors the beans as well as the broth. Then I save the bean broth along with the beans. I use it to ‘re-fry’ beans without using oil, among other uses.

  85. Anonymous says:

    Veronica–yes, you can “can” (meaning bottle) your own beans. I do it a lot and it is SO easy! The only trick is that you need a pressure cooker large enough to fit the jars, with a canning rack in the bottom. I love the slow cooker recipe here–a nice, easy method for cooking and storing beans if you don’t have a pressure cooker.

  86. Anonymous says:

    If you want to remove the “gassy” effects throw a few sprigs of epazote into your beans. Note: This will also slightly change the beans flavor. Most Mexican beans are cooked this way.

    I also add some garlic and onion…

  87. Thank you!!

  88. Best thing to add when cooking dried beans is Kombu!
    The amino acids soften the beans and make them much more digestible. Voila! No gas and bloating!
    I use a 6 inch strip.

  89. cpamomma – I think you need to get fresh water to get rid of the gas stuff… but in all of my years of bean making and doing the soak then add fresh water method, it has *never* lessened the gas for me :P

  90. cpamomma says:

    Curious about Anonomous’s comment about setting a timer to start the cooker after they’ve soaked during the night. Interesting…so, you don’t have to discard the water they soaked in and add fresh before cooking them? I always thought you did. Can you soak them, then cook them in the same water, and still get rid of the gas causing stuff?

  91. I’m going to second the pressure cooker method; it’s awesome! Not only does it cook the beans up in a fraction of the time, but you’ll infuse them with WAY more flavor.

  92. Thanks for your prompt help, Beth! I’ve got one crock pot of black beans going, and one crock pot of kidney beans going :)

  93. Veronica – I would say about 4-6 months. You just have to make sure to keep some of the liquid in there so they don’t dry out. Even air-tight containers let a little evaporation happen. :)

  94. Oh okay :) How long do they last in the freezer?

  95. Veronica – I’m really not sure! I’m not experienced with canning at all, which is why I go the lazy route and just freeze them :P

  96. Is it possible to can beans? I’ve never done canning before, but was wondering if it’s an option with beans :)

    • Mary says:

      I know this is old….It is possible to can beans. I did a big batch of beans for refried beans. The only thing is that they are not mashed up, because with the density all the air might not be gotten out, and then bacteria can grow. When I wanted to use them, I just opened up a jar, mashed them with a potato masher, or threw them in the food processor, warmed them up and I had refried beans! Here is the link I used:

  97. Anonymous says:

    If you want to cook the beans a little faster try the pressure cooker! I did 4 pounds tonight of a mixture of red, pink and black beans. They were done in about 40 minutes.

  98. Gawbyn, I just froze them in the containers that are pictured above. I found that it works best if you include some of the liquid in the container and then just drain it off after thawing. I try to use the frozen beans within 3-4 months. Give it a try, it’s easy! :D

  99. Maybe I missed it, but how would I go about storing and freezing for future use? Do I have to use them in a certain amount of time?

  100. Hooray! I’ve been meaning to do this, and now I’m completely inspired!

  101. Thank you so much for posting this! I had wanted to kick the can for awhile but this finally inspired me to do it. Now I will never go back! :)

  102. Anonymous says:

    Soaking the beans is better for your digestion b/c it will neutralize the anti-nutrients in it. Even though it takes longer, it’s better for your health. If u have a timer on the slow cooker, u can set it start in the morning after it’s soaked.

  103. Anonymous says:

    Two of the best kitchen investments I’ve ever made are as follows: a small upright chest freezer and a 3-in-1 pressure/rice/slow cooker. These two purchases have more than paid for themselves. Not only can you save money by cooking and freezing your own beans, you can same time with a pressure cooker. I used to be terrified of using the stove-top pressure cooker, but Fagor makes and excellent electric pressure cooker that also can be used to make perfect rice, risotto (in six minutes), yogurt, and anything else that requires a slow cooker. We use this device almost every night! The freezer has also been fantastic. No more cramming everything into the refrigerator’s freezer. Can double and triple recipes and freeze for quick meals on busy nights. Yes, kick the can!

  104. An update on my two day bean-cooking quandary. I found another article that suggested an 1/8 of a teaspoon of baking soda if the water is heavily calcified. I tried that and it worked perfectly.

  105. Hello!

    I’ve been lurking around on and off for a while. I love your blog’s concept :)

    I’ll be soon moving out of my parents’ house for the first time and am having an increased awareness of how much food costs! I’ve always been a cook, but not necessarily money conscious. So, this helps! Thanks for the great ideas and tips

  106. All I would add is, “Don’t throw out that pot likker!” I was skeptical but finally started saving the water I cooked beans in and used it to make soup later. Amazing how much flavor it added. The only problem I have with cooking beans in my crockpot is I often cook them overnight and wake up with a rumbling stomach from the yummy smells!

  107. Cooking my own beans is one of the last frontiers of diy home cooking for me…but for some reason I’ve had a hard time getting on to it and have only done it a couple of times. Reading this entry reminded me that I really need to get on to this. Good suggestion on the freezing! After the holidays I’m definitely going to make a big batch.

  108. My boyfriend and I are vegetarians on a budget, and dried beans are one of our go-to foods. We usually cook up a pound or two of beans each week. We’ll measure out what we’ll be using for recipes that week and put them in the fridge, and freeze the rest in their cooking liquid in two cup containers to use later. By changing up the type of beans we cook each week, we eventually end up with a pretty well stocked freezer so we can easily make things like three-bean loaf and different chilies.

    Another of the many great things about beans is that different types can often be interchanged in recipes based on what you have on hand. You obviously wouldn’t want to make black bean soup with kidney beans or hummus with pintos (because then it’s just bean dip!), but there are a lot of cases where swapping out one bean for another will not hurt your recipe at all. Flexibility is one of the keys to keeping it cooking costs down and waste to a minimum, after all.

  109. Thanks so much for this. I have been too lazy to cook my own beans, even though I love black beans so I buy a bunch of the canned ones – but love that I can make them in the slow cooker and control the sodium!

  110. Thanks for this. I really didn’t know that you could pre-cook your beans and then freeze them. I love this idea. I thinks it’s healthier too….I keep reading about health risks from eating food from cans that are lined with a plastic liner…and I noticed this liner in some of my cans of beans. So not only is it cheaper but it might be better for you too.

  111. Just one more reason to love (LOVE!) my slow cooker!

  112. Isn’t it great how easy it is to cook dried beans in the crockpot. They pretty much cook themselves.

    Bethany is right about the red kidney beans. They should be soaked and then parboiled for 10 minutes (although the sources I read said there hasn’t been as much of an issue with this in the United States as in other countries.) I edited my post to add that information after a reader alerted me about it.

  113. Anonymous says:

    Soaking beans usually eliminates the gassy after effects…

  114. Be careful if you use kidney/red beans. Those require parboiling to kill toxins in them as part of the long soak. Otherwise you’ll have serious digestive upset and certain people can get quite ill.

  115. Thanks for the tips, Beth. Now I can’t wait for the black bean soup recipe. One question I had was what do I do when a recipe calls for the canned beans + liquid? That’s always been my hesitation about cooking my own beans

  116. ellbeecee says:

    I use dried beans almost exclusively – the turning point for me was the 90 minute no-soak recipe (I use this ) Over the course of a day – once every 6-8 weeks, I’ll make 3-4 kinds of beans over the weekend (if I had more than 2 good heavy pots this would be even faster), turn them into individual servings and freeze. They’re ready for soup, main dishes, whatever.

    One thing I had always been told was to freeze beans with enough of the cooking liquid to cover them so they don’t dry out. Since I use mine pretty quickly, I don’t know that it makes a big difference though.

  117. Wow! Excellent advice, thanks! I can’t imagine cooking for TWO DAYS…. whew.

  118. The only thing I want to be sure people are aware of is that if you have water with a lot of calcium in it (like in the Chicago suburbs), you may want to filter your water first or buy bottled water for cooking beans.

    I recently moved to the midwest and as I was broke after the move, the first thing I cooked was a pot of beans. I put in the crockpot as I always do and never got them as soft as I wanted them even after cooking them for two days. I found from an article on NPR that calcium inhibits the beans from getting soft. The article can be found here:

    I am going to try filtered water on the next pot so hopefully the beans will soften up like I like them. I just can’t bring myself to spend the money on canned beans.

    • Sherry says:

      wow….I wonder if this was my problem..twice…I thought maybe the beans were old…but it happened again. I never have the trouble cooking them on stove top though.

      • Sherry says:

        WOW..I wonder if this is my problem. I have tried twice in the crockpot. I don’t have trouble on the stove though…

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