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How to Cook Black Beans from Scratch (2022)

You will love learning how to cook black beans from scratch. Tasty, cheap, and easy to cook or freeze. Always be ready to throw a handful of black beans in any recipe.

Black beans, also known as turtle beans, are mild and creamy. Their ability to absorb the flavors of food while they simmer is one of their best features.

Why buy a can of black beans at the grocery store when you can make your own beans easily? It is cheaper, tastier, and more satisfying to start from scratch.

I recommend cooking more beans than you will need for your recipe. When you have a lot of black beans leftover, freeze them. The great thing about freezing beans is that you always have them when your recipe calls for them.

Use them in a variety of dishes and you will see how versatile black beans are.

If you are interested in cooking other staples, see the posts on how to cook Instant Pot chickpeas, how to cook quinoa, and how to cook brown rice.

Why You Will Love Cooking Black Beans from Scratch

  • Save money: Dry beans are always less expensive than canned beans. Even when they are prepackaged.
  • Better tasting: Home-cooked black beans always taste better than canned beans. They are fresher and have a better texture.
  • Chemical-free: Never worry about BPA or other chemicals often found in tin cans when you cook beans from scratch.

How to Cook Black Beans in 6 Steps

  1. SORT and RINSE beans.

  2. SOAK beans with the overnight method.

  3. DISCARD soak water.

  4. RINSE beans thoroughly with cold water.

  5. CHOOSE your cooking method and cook.

  6. DRAIN and discard cooking liquid.

  7. GARNISH and SERVE. Or use them in another recipe.

Step 1: Sort and Rinse Beans

Measure and sort the dried beans. Discard any small pebbles or other foreign objects.

If you pour the dry beans on a cookie sheet, it is easy to see if anything needs to be picked out.

After sorting, rinse the beans in a colander under running water.

Step 2: Soak the Beans Overnight

There are two reasons for an overnight soak.

First, hydrating the beans reduces the cooking time by about 30%. Pre-soaked beans cook up soft and creamy.

Second, soaking the beans can help reduce gastrointestinal symptoms often associated with eating beans. Like bloating and flatulence.

Black beans have complex sugars known as oligosaccharides. Unfortunately, our digestive enzymes cannot break down oligosaccharides. As a result, the bacteria in the intestines ferment these complex sugars, causing gas and bloating.

Luckily, oligosaccharides are water-soluble. This means if you soak the beans, discard the soak water, and then rinse the beans really well, you can wash away a lot of these complex sugars.

To soak the black beans: Place 2 cups of beans (1 pound) in a large bowl and add 2 quarts (8 cups) of water and 1½ tablespoons of salt. Beans will soak up a lot of water, so give them enough. Soak at least 8 hours, but preferably 10-12 hours.

Why You Should Always Add Salt to the Soak Water

In my garbanzo bean cooking experiment, I learned that bean skins have pectin molecules with strong calcium and magnesium ions. 

When beans soak in salt water, sodium ions (salt) exchange places with some of the calcium and magnesium ions. This weakens the pectin in the skin so the bean can absorb more water. You get a bean with a softer texture.

In addition, the sodium ions allow the bean skins to be more flexible. The flexibility helps the bean skin expand as it absorbs water. During cooking, the bean skins stretch and stay intact rather than bursting.

Step 3: Discard the Soak Water

You should never cook the beans in the soak water if you are trying to avoid gas. The soak water holds all the complex sugars you are trying to get rid of. So, toss that bean water out.

Step 4: Rinse the Beans Thoroughly

After the soak water is gone, completely rinse the black beans in a colander.  The more you rinse, the less likely you will toot when you eat those beans.

Step 5: Choose Your Cooking Method & Cook the Beans

After the soak water is gone, carefully rinse the black beans in a colander. The more you rinse, the less likely you will toot when eating the beans.

You can cook beans with several cooking methods. Learn how to cook black beans with each technique and then decide which one you like best.

Cook the beans in a pressure cooker (my favorite method), in a large pot on the stove, or in a slow cooker (crockpot).

Each cooking approach is effective and will produce a delicious creamy bean. However, the cooking time is different for each method. In addition, each procedure requires varying amounts of hands-on time.

Cooking MethodCook TimeEvaluation
Electric pressure cooker15-18 minutesquick, easy, hands-free
Stovetop pressure cooker10-12 minuteshigh maintenance
Slow cooker2-3 hour (on high) OR
10-12 hours (on low)
slow but easy,
check progress easily
Pan on stovetop1½ to 2 hourslong, have to keep an eye on it
All cook times are based on the time it takes to cook after the beans reach pressure or start boiling.

How to Cook Black Beans with an Electric Pressure Cooker

My favorite cooking process is an electric pressure cooker, like the Instant Pot. An electric pressure cooker cooks all types of beans faster than the stove or crockpot.

The highest-rated pressure cooker is the Fagor Lux™ Multi-Cooker. It is like the Instant Pot, but it performed better in tests. For more information, read my comprehensive Fagor pressure cooker review.

  1. Add the pre-soaked and rinsed beans to an electric pressure cooker.

  2. Pour in enough water to cover the beans about 2 inches.

  3. Add 1 teaspoon of table salt.

  4. Bring the water and beans to pressure and cook on high pressure for 15 to 18 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for creamier beans.

    However, if you are short on time, you can do a quick release. You may not be able to tell the difference when using the cooked beans in another recipe.

How to Cook Black Beans with a Stovetop Pressure Cooker

It takes less time to cook beans with a stovetop pressure cooker. However, it is more hands-on. You must keep watch on the pot and adjust the heat when it reaches pressure.

  1. Add the pre-soaked and rinsed beans to a stovetop pressure cooker.

  2. Add 2 cups of fresh water. The water level should be one inch above the beans.

  3. Measure in 1 teaspoon of table salt.

  4. Cook on medium heat on the stove until pressure is reached.

  5. Turn the heat to low and cook for 10 to 12 minutes.

How to Cook Black Beans with a Slow Cooker

  1. Add the pre-soaked and rinsed black beans to a slow cooker.

  2. Add 2 to 3 cups of water. The water level should be one inch above the beans.

  3. Measure in 1 teaspoon of table salt.

  4. Cook on high 2 to 3 hours or on low 10 to 12 hours.

How to Cook Black Beans on a Stovetop

  1. Add the pre-soaked and rinsed beans to a heavy pot.

  2. Pour 2 to 3 cups of water into the pot of beans. The water level should be one inch above the beans.

  3. Add 1 teaspoon of table salt.

  4. Bring the black beans to a boil over high heat.

  5. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1½ to 2 hours.

Step 6: Drain and Discard the Cooking Liquid

When the beans are finished cooking, the water will be a dark purplish-black color. For best results, discard the liquid.

Your colander is getting a lot of work today. Use it for the last time to rinse the bean water off the beans.

How to Quick Soak Black Beans

If you forgot to soak your beans overnight, the good news is that you can do a quick soak instead.

What is the quick-soak method? The quick soak process is a speedy way to soften beans before cooking. Boil the beans for 3 minutes and then soak them in the hot water for an hour.

Does quick soaking beans work? Quick soaking beans is very effective in softening the beans, speeding up the cooking time, and reducing gastrointestinal discomfort when eating beans.

  1. Sort and rinse the 2 cups of beans (1 pound).

  2. Pour the beans, eight cups of water, and 1½ tablespoons of salt into a large pan.

  3. Heat on the stovetop until the water boils.

  4. Boil for 3 minutes.

  5. Remove the whole pot from the heat. Place the lid on the pan and let the beans rest in the hot water for at least an hour.

  6. When you are ready to cook the beans, drain the water and rinse the beans. Then cook them using whichever cooking method you prefer.

How to Season Black Beans

Salt is the best seasoning to use with black beans. However, if you want to take the taste to the next level, cook the beans with a halved onion, two smashed garlic cloves, and a bay leaf. These cooked black beans are excellent in a burrito bowl.

More seasonings to flavor the black beans are chili powder, garlic powder, ground cumin, ginger, cilantro, bay leaves, and savory. Finish with a splash of lime juice or lemon juice.

You can also cook the beans in chicken broth instead of water for chicken chili recipes.

Best Black Bean Toppings

If you are cooking a hearty bowl of beans as a side dish, you will want to try a few of these toppings.

  • Pat of butter or teaspoon of olive oil
  • A squeeze of lime or lemon juice
  • Queso fresco, Monterey Jack, or cheddar cheese
  • Roasted red peppers or raw chopped green pepper
  • Caramelized onion, red onion, green onion, or yellow onion
  • Corn
  • Roasted sweet potato
  • Cilantro
  • Avocado slices or guacamole
  • Crushed tortilla chips

How to Store Cooked Black Beans

Make a lot of black beans and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They can last up to a week. For more extended storage, freeze the beans.

How to Freeze Black Beans

Now that you know how to cook black beans, make an extra-large batch to freeze. Then you will always have some on hand for your favorite recipes.

  1. After cooking, drain the beans thoroughly.

  2. Pat them dry with a clean towel or paper towel. The beans freeze best if they are dry.

  3. Place the beans in a zip-top freezer bag in a single layer. Lay the bag flat in the freezer.

  4. Freeze for one hour. Then remove the bag. Shake and gently break apart any beans that are freezing together.

  5. Return to the freezer and freeze completely.

  6. Store the frozen beans for up to 6 months. Don’t forget to label your bag.

How to Cook Frozen Black Beans

To use the frozen black beans, pull out the amount you need and return the rest to the freezer.

Do not thaw first if you are using the beans in a cooked dish (like a soup or casserole). Simply mix the beans in. Depending on the amount of frozen beans you added, you may need to increase the cooking time by 5 or 10 minutes.

If you are using the beans in a raw dish (like hummus or salad), thaw the beans in the refrigerator before using them in the recipe.

FAQ

Is it necessary to soak beans?

You can cook beans without soaking them. However, most varieties of beans will take longer to cook, no matter which cooking method you use.

Older beans significantly benefit from a soak. Old beans are tougher and take longer to cook than fresh beans. Soaking helps.

In addition, the complex sugars known as oligosaccharides can cause gas and intestinal discomfort. Soaking and then replacing the soak water with fresh water before cooking has been shown to reduce this discomfort.

More Tasty Bean Recipes

  • Black bean soup. Mouthwatering vegan black bean soup made with roasted poblanos and tomatillos, corn, red onions, carrots, celery, and cilantro.
  • Southwest Chipotle Kale Quinoa Bowl. Make this delicious recipe with black beans, quinoa, and kale. It is a quick one skillet dinner, easy to make in 30 minutes or less. This is a one of our family’s favorite black beans recipes.
  • Hummus. Smooth, creamy, healthy dip, combining the bitter and tart flavors of tahini and lemon juice with olive oil and spices to make a complex and interesting snack. Roasted red pepper hummus is another great recipe.

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Yield: 4½ cups

How to Cook Black Beans

bowl of instant pot black beans

Learn how to cook black beans that are soft, creamy, and full of flavor. Discover the correct technique for soaking and cooking the beans to get the best flavor and texture (without the beans bursting).  

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of dry black beans
  • 2 quarts of water (8 cups) - to soak
  • 1½ tablespoons of table salt - for soak water
  • 3 cups of water - to cook
  • 1 teaspoon of table salt - to cook
  • ½ onion, quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon of fresh lime juice (optional)
  • Optional garnishes: cilantro, sliced green onions, crumbled Cotija cheese

Instructions

Soak the Beans

  1. SORT the black beans. Remove any debris.
  2. SOAK 2 cups of beans in a bowl with 2 quarts (8 cups) of water and 1½ tablespoons of salt. Soak at least 8 hours, but preferably 10-12 hours.
  3. DRAIN the beans in a colander.
  4. RINSE the beans for 15 seconds under running water.

Pressure Cooker Instructions

  1. ADD beans to the pressure cooker. Pour in 2 to 3 cups of fresh water to cover the beans by 1 inch. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, the halved onion, and garlic cloves.
  2. COOK on high pressure for 15 minutes.
  3. NATURALLY RELEASE PRESSURE when the pressure cooker has finished.
  4. SKIM the foam off the top. DRAIN the beans.
  5. RINSE the beans. Add the lime juice (optional). Use the cooked beans in any recipe or garnish and serve as a side dish.

Slow Cooker Instructions

  1. ADD pre-soaked beans to the slow cooker container. Add 3 cups of fresh water to cover beans 1 inch. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, the halved onion, and garlic cloves.
  2. COOK on high for 2 to 3 hours or on low for 8 to 12 hours.
  3. SKIM the foam off the top. DRAIN the beans.
  4. RINSE beans and use beans in any recipe. Add the lime juice (optional). Use the cooked beans in any recipe or garnish and serve as a side dish.

Stovetop Instructions

  1. ADD pre-soaked beans to a large pot. Add 3 cups of fresh water to cover beans 1 inch. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, the halved onion, and garlic cloves.
  2. COVER with the lid and bring the water to a rolling boil.
  3. REDUCE the heat to low when the beans begin to boil. Keep the lid on the pan. The water should simmer, but not boil over.
  4. SIMMER the beans for 1½ to 2 hours.
  5. SKIM the foam off the top. DRAIN the beans.
  6. RINSE beans and use beans in any recipe. Add the lime juice (optional). Use the cooked beans in any recipe or garnish and serve as a side dish.

Notes

Cook time varies based on the cooking method used.

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