Learn how to cook black beans like a pro! For tender and creamy legumes, just follow these easy cooking tips on how to soak and finish on the stovetop. Add perfectly cooked beans to salads, dips, soups, stews, chilis, and side dishes for a boost of protein and fiber.
Cooking black beans on the stove top is easy, affordable, and yields the best flavor. Of course, there’s no denying that pre-cooked canned beans are super convenient. It’s often my go-to option when I need a quick vegetarian protein, but unfortunately, they tend to be mushy and over-saturated with sodium.
The process is straightforward, soaking the beans in salt water softens the skins so that the outside is edible and the interiors are soft. For those short on time, I share a “quick soak” option or you can add a pinch of baking soda which will speed up the cooking time.
How to cook black beans
- Pick over broken dried beans and rinse with water.
- Soak in a large bowl with water and salt for 8 to 24 hours.
- Drain and rinse.
- Add soaked beans, 4 cups of water, and add salt to a pot.
- Bring to a boil, simmer, cover, and then reduce to low heat.
- Cook until beans are tender, 1 to 1 ½ hours.
- Drain and serve.
Soak the beans before cooking
Yes, soaking gives the tough fibrous, outer seed coat time to evenly absorb water and soften. The starchy centers will turn creamier as more water is able to move inside, heat, and gelatinize. A bonus is that soaking allows the beans to cook faster. By taking a few minutes the night before will save you time later.
What about using an Instant Pot?
When making Instant Pot black beans you can entirely skip the soaking process. Using a pressure cooker, they’ll be ready in about 1 hour.
Does soaking beans help reduce gas?
Yes, it can help to reduce some of the gas and discomfort that a person may experience. How? Beans contain oligosaccharides, small chain carbohydrates that are not easily digestible by humans, but gut-friendly bacteria love to feed on them and the result is gas.
Soaking, either overnight or quickly in hot water for 1-hour helps to remove some of those carbohydrates like stachyose. Make sure to drain and rinse the beans after soaking and cooking.
Speed up the cooking process
Try the “quick soak” method for dried black beans. Simply soak in high heat water for an hour and then cook on the stovetop until tender. This method should take about 2 to 2 ½ hours to prepare, instead of 9+ hours. This works great for any dried beans such as red kidney, navy, pinto, and garbanzo.
Alternatively, add a small amount of baking soda to the cooking water post soaking. This technique creates an alkaline environment that rapidly breaks down the pectin in the skins and can cook the beans in under 1 ½ hour. It also helps to keep the blackish purple anthocyanin pigments stay in the skin. About ⅛ teaspoon of baking soda to 1 cup of beans will do.
How long does it take to cook dried black beans?
- Standard Soaking: 8 to 24 hours in cold water and salt
- Quick Soak method: 1 hour covered in hot water
- Stovetop Cooking: Post soaking; 1 to 2 hours
As the beans are simmering, you can add more aromatics and flavor to the pot. Chopped onions sauteed in olive oil, garlic, bay leaves, or seasonings like cumin, coriander, and chili powder are great flavor boosters. Make sure to add any acidic ingredients like tomatoes, lemon juice, or vinegar towards the end of the cooking process. Acid makes the skins stay firm, so the beans will never cook through.
Black bean nutrition
Black beans are from the Phaseolus vulgaris family and they stand out for its fiber-rich qualities. They are also a source of vegetarian and vegan proteins and elevated levels of minerals and B vitamins. They also contain prebiotics that helps to grow and sustain the healthy bacteria in the digestive system.
More black bean recipes
- Black Bean Burger
- Corn Salsa
- Chicken Tortilla Soup
How to know if dried beans are stale
The only way to check for “bad” beans is at the end of the soaking process. Stale beans will have wrinkly skin. When beans are picked and processed, they can get holes in their seed coats from physical bumping, changes in storage temperature and moisture, or microorganism growth which allows water to be picked up. If the entire batch looks like this, toss them out! The texture will be gritty instead of creamy. (Source: Cook’s Illustrated)