Meet Alex Caspero
Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.
While I’ve never shy away from the convenience of canned black beans, the taste, and texture, of dried beans really can’t be beat. The other good news? Making beans from scratch isn’t as hard as you think! With my method for both the Instant Pot and Slow Cooker, you can have a batch of fragrant, creamy beans ready in minutes, or hours, depending on how you want to prepare them.
Use dry beans anytime you’d use canned. The black beans are delicious in salsa, tacos, burgers, tamale skillet pie and chili. Make a big batch, then freeze extra beans for later. Trust me, once you see how easy it is to make dried beans from scratch– you’ll be doing making these over and over again!
Cooking dried black beans is easier than you think! First, you’ll want to pick them over for any visible stones. I place them in a colander, then do a quick pick through and remove and debris. Sometimes you’ll find this and sometimes you won’t! Rinse your beans, then decide if you want to cook them on the stove, in the Instant Pot or in a Slow Cooker.
There are so many opinions on whether or not you need to soak your black beans first. I usually opt for doing so, unless I’m using my Instant Pot. Soaking the beans before hand makes them easier to digest and helps them keep their shape. (Although, if you really don’t want to soak your beans at all, there’s this argument that unsoaked black beans are better!) Bottom line? I usually soak mine, but it’s OK if you don’t! Different cooks have different preferences.
Place beans in a large bowl and add enough water to cover them by 3 inches. Discard any beans that float. Leave the beans to soak for 6-8 hours, or overnight. When I soak beans to make in my slow cooker, I typically soak them in the fridge overnight then place them in the slow cooker in the morning. Ta-da! Homemade beans ready for dinner with only minutes of prep work.
Once your beans are soaked (or, if using unsoaked beans) drain and rinse. You don’t want to use the same water you used for soaking, so make sure to rinse and place them back into a large pot. Cover with fresh water by 2 inches. If you’re using unsoaked beans, then you’ll prepare them the same way. Rinse, then place into a large pot and cover with 2-3 inches of water.
For soaked beans, bring to a boil, reduce to medium-low and simmer for 45-60 minutes, until tender. Unsoaked beans will take about 30-45 minutes longer. There’s such a variance in cooking time because older beans take longer to cook; I recommend checking them after 30-45 minutes. Overcooked beans are OK in some recipes, but if you want to keep their texture and shape, make sure not to cook them until they are mush.
You’ll sometimes see advice that you shouldn’t salt your beans while cooking– but that isn’t true. If you’re a culinary nerd like me, then you’ll enjoy Serious Eat’s deep dive into salted vs. unsalted bean cooking.
The best part about cooking black beans from scratch? Imparting ALL the flavor while you cook them. That’s what makes it for me; some onion, garlic, maybe a pepper or two– it all adds up to insanely delicious beans!
Some aromatics to try:
Add 1 pound unsoaked beans, salt, 3 cups of water and aromatics of your choosing. Cover and set the lid to the sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 35 minutes, then allow to naturally release pressure for 20 minutes.
Place 1 pound unsoaked beans, salt and 8 cups of water in the base of a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 7-8 hours, or until beans are done. Taste and adjust for salt, as desired.
How to Cook Black Beans! A complete primer for how to cook black beans from scratch.