Learn how to cook dried black beans by soaking and simmering for a more flavorful bean dish with better texture and many versatile uses.
Are canned beans not cutting it for you anymore? It’s time to try dried black beans then – the real thing! when you take a bit of extra time to turn dried beans into soft, cooked beans, you’ll be rewarded with better flavor and texture. You can eat these tasty cooked black beans as-is, or you can turn them into a wide variety of different delicacies, from refried beans to burrito bowls to veggie burgers! Get this simple strategy to cook black beans from dried down pat, and you’ll always have a go-to healthy and inexpensive protein option at your fingertips.
How do you cook black beans? Soak them in water for six hours, then drain and transfer the beans to a pot of water. Bring it to a boil along with garlic and onions, and cook for two hours while you stir every 20 minutes. Finally, drain the beans and add salt and pepper to taste before serving.
You won’t believe how much of a difference there is between the two!
Why Dried Black Beans Instead of Canned Beans?
Canned beans have the convenience factor going for them. They are pre-cooked, so all you have to do is take them out of the can and warm them up on the stove or in the microwave! And while that ease makes canned beans mighty tempting in our time-crunched world, when it comes to flavor and texture, dried black beans win in just about every category.
In addition, canned beans are more expensive than dried beans for largely the same nutrition. You can feed many more hungry bellies with dried beans than canned beans for the same price.
In the end, it’s all about what you’re looking for. Do you want to save yourself more time in the kitchen? In that case, opt for canned, and enjoy the quick and simple process of draining and heating your dinner. If you’re more in the camp of looking for the best-tasting and most versitle option, then you may want to spend the extra time and minimal extra effort to prepare black beans from dried.
Or, if you’re somewhere in the middle, just knowing how to cook black beans from dried is an important skill that may come in handy in the future, you neve know! Let’s dive into how it’s done and what you need to make a delicious pot of simmered black beans.
How to Cook black beans from dried
- 1 pound dry black beans
- 4 crushed cloves of garlic
- 1 onion, cut into quarters
- Salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
Prepping the Black Beans
Before you start cooking the black beans, you’ll need to do a few steps to prep them. At this point, you do not need the garlic, onion, salt, or pepper.
Step 1: Wash the beans
Dried beans tend to have debris, stones, and other things you don’t want to eat mixed in with them. It’s a good idea to take all that out! Rinse them well in a colander in the sink. Also, take a good close look at the beans. Sort through them and discard anything that’s not, well, a dried black bean, in the mix.
Step 2: Soak the beans
Next, you’ll start the first phase of softening the beans. Place them in a large pot or bowl and cover them by at least two inches with cold water from the sink. The beans will need to soak in this water for at least six hours and up to overnight. As they soak, the beans will absorb water. If you notice that there is less than two inches of water above the beans at any point, add more water to maintain plenty in the bowl. You do not want to soak the beans for longer than 10 hours, as they can start to ferment on the counter. If you see a lot of bubbles on the surface, the beans have been sitting for too long and can’t be used any longer.
After soaking, the beans will not be soft and chewy, but they will have expanded in size.
Step 3: Dry the beans
Once the soaking time is up, drain the water and give the beans a good rinse before the next step.
Step 4: Back to the pot
If you soaked the beans in a pot, clean the pot (or grab one if you soaked the beans in a bowl), and place the beans inside. Add enough water to cover the beans by 4 inches.
Step 5: Add flavor
Now is the time to bring all that good stuff that will make your black beans delicious. Herbs, spices, aromatics, or whatever it is you think is going to improve your beans. Don’t add salt yet, that comes later!
For this recipe, garlic and onion will be enough. Chop the onion and mince the garlic before adding it to the pot. The beans will slowly absorb the delicious allium flavors as they cook. You can also use broth, such as chicken stock or vegetable broth instead of water to cook the black beans. They will become even more flavorful this way.
Cooking the Black Beans
Now you’re ready to cook those beans! While it doesn’t take nearly as long to cook them as it does to soak them, it still takes up to 2 hours, so remember to plan accordingly.
Step 1: Heat things up
Bring the pot of black beans and water to a boil over high heat. Maintain a high simmer for 10 minutes with the pot uncovered.
Step 2: Simmer things down
After 10 minutes, bring the heat down to a simmer and cover the pot. Simmer the beans for two hours.
Step 3: Check periodically
Every 10 to 20 minutes, check on the beans. Stir the pot and make sure there is enough water to cover the beans by at least two inches at all times. If you check on them and they are tender, and soft, you can drain the beans and season them to taste with salt and pepper. It’s time to eat!
Time is the biggest factor when it comes to cooking dried black beans since it takes so long for them to soften; however, cooking them is quite easy and takes very few ingredients. Just rinse them, soak them for 6 hours or overnight, place them in a pot of water with garlic and onion, cook for up to 2 hours, drain, add salt and pepper, and then dig in!
What Happens if I Don’t Soak My Beans Before Cooking?
Soaking the beans is a necessary step before cooking them from dry. Otherwise, your black beans will not properly absorb the liquid during cooking and you may find yourself cooking the beans for hours wondering if they will ever soften up. If you’re in a time crunch, you can do a “quick soak”. To do this, cover the beans in a large pot by two inches of water. Bring this to a boil for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the beans soak for one hour. Then, drain the beans and continue with the recipe to cook them as if you had just soaked them overnight.
Why Are my Beans Still Hard After Cooking?
Old black beans tend to be harder than newer beans. Your best bet against hardness is soaking the black beans properly. however, sometimes soaking alone won’t cut it. If the black beans are still rock-hard after soaking them overnight, double the time they spend in the water.
Did they still not soften? Try using ¼ teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate per pound of black beans.
If that doesn’t work, you may have to buy new beans!
What is the Shelf Life for Dried Black Beans?
According to the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA), it’s best to use dried beans within 1-2 years of purchasing them. This is mostly for quality purposes, though. The beans will probably last in your pantry for quite a while longer as long as they are stored in a cool, dry place and in a sealed container. However, if you want better flavor and don’t want to worry as much about your beans not softening when you go to cook them, it’s best to use them within the 1-2 year timeframe.
If you’re worried your black beans have gone bad, check if they have a strange odor, signs of mold, or if insects managed to get into the bag or container if it wasn’t sealed properly. In most cases, though, dried black beans are a great choice for food storage.
Cooking Black Beans from Dried
- Large pot
- Wooden spoon
- 1 pound dry black beans
- 4 crushed cloves of garlic
- 1 onion cut into quarters
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- Rinse and sort the beans to remove any debris.
- Place the beans in a large pot or bowl and cover them by at least two inches with cold water from the sink. The beans will need to soak in this water for at least six hours and up to overnight. Add water as necessary to maintain at least two inches above the beans at all times.
- Once the soaking time is up, drain the water and give the beans a good rinse.
- Return the beans to the pot. Add enough water to cover the beans by 4 inches.
- Add the onion and garlic and bring to a boil on the stove. Maintain a high simmer for 10 minutes, then cover the pot and simmer over low heat for 2 hours. Stir every 20 minutes, until the beans are soft.
- Drain the beans and season to taste with salt and pepper.