How to Cook Dry Beans

(Spoiler: It's Worth It!)

If your current knowledge of cooking with beans involves a can opener, then buckle your seatbelt! You’re about to become educated on all of the ways you can cook dried beans. Why? It’s healthier, tastier, and often cheaper than buying canned beans! And most importantly: it’s very easy, no matter what method you select.

Step one: SOAK

The Best Method (Time needed: 8-24 hours)

Rinse beans and soak them in a lovely bath of warm water. Who doesn’t like a soak? Make sure that you fill the water at least 2″ above the beans–they’ll absorb way more than you’d expect. It’s easiest to soak them in the evening, the day before you want to eat them for dinner. Yes, it requires foresight. But meal planning is all the rage right now, and we’re sure you’re on top of things! You can do it! Two tips: soaking too long can toughen the skins, so once you soak your beans, you’re committed to the next day’s recipe. Also, add a pinch of baking soda if you have hard water.

The Fast Method (Time needed: 1.5 hours)

A quick soak is also an option if you’re more a “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” type of cook or if you haven’t mastered meal planning yet (*raises hand*). Simply bring water (gotta have that two inch coverage) and beans to a boil. Turn off your stove, cover, and let everything sit for an hour.

We pride ourselves on growing these gorgeous heirloom varieties of beans using certified organic methods. Learn more about what we do by checking out the "about us" section!

Step two: COOK

Once again, some choices lay before you. Planning on spending time in the kitchen anyway? Try the traditional (and tried-and-true) method.

The Traditional Method:

After soaking, drain the beans and add fresh water to the pot. Use a heavy duty pot for this – heavy stainless steel or cast iron is best. Bring the beans to a boil, then lower the heat and let them simmer for 20-60 minutes (that’s right, folks! These beans are fresh. Not like those dusty old beans from the grocery store that take hours to cook…) Check if the beans are your desired tenderness with a fork – they should mash easily.

tip: wait to add any salts, acids (like tomatoes) or sugars to the beans until they are almost finished cooking, as these may prevent the beans from ever softening.

Jacob's Cattle Bean Soup

The Slow-cooker Method:

If you’re more the “fix it and forget it” type, the slow-cooker method might be right for you:

Again, drain the beans and start with fresh water after soaking. Cook the beans on the high setting for an hour, then set it to low and let them cook for 2-4 hours longer. If you know you will be out of the house all day, set the slow cooker on low… and hope for the best (this is how I approach all my cooking endeavors, if we’re being honest). All slow cookers cook a little bit differently, and the type of bean and length of time in storage can influence cooking times, so this method might take some experimentation to get those beans just right.

The Instant Pot Method:

Okay, so you’re an instant pot junkie? Throw those pre-soaked beans (again, with fresh water!) into that baby, choose the “bean” setting (glory!) and cook for about 8-12 minutes… wait, that’s quite the range there, isn’t it? Again, this method will take some tweaks depending on your pot and the type of beans. Take notes, make adjustments, and if you accidentally overcook some beans, don’t despair! Those falling-apart-beans make the perfect hummus or creamy soup.

Step three: ENJOY

Okay, so you’ve picked your methods, soaked and cooked those beans – now the magic (heh, it is the magical fruit) happens. Add those beans to your favorite soup, salad, or side (or try something new, like our Three Bean Pepper Salad). The best part? Cooked beans freeze beautifully. So cook up a big batch, and stash them away for next time!

Heirloom Organic Hutterite Soup beans, grown at Shady Side Farm in Holland, Michigan