How to Cook Black Beans
Learn how to cook black beans from dry beans in just a few simple steps, no soaking required. Below you’ll also find delicious black bean recipes to use up those black beans.
I’ll admit, I often rely on canned beans from the grocery store for convenience when making meals for my family. But when I want black beans that are superior in taste and texture, I use this black beans recipe to cook black beans from scratch. These black beans are just tender enough without being mushy, so they have the perfect bite. Depending on how you want to use them, you can cook them more or less. Cook the beans a bit longer for burritos, enchiladas and soups; cook them less for salads.
Black beans are packed with nutrition, including fiber, protein and iron. They’re one of my staple ingredients for healthy meals, and an easy way to add plant based protein to soups, salads and casseroles.
When cooking dry black beans, I alternate between this recipe for cooking beans on the stove, and our easy Instant Pot Black Beans recipe. By cooking beans yourself, you can adjust the amount of salt and seasonings and the firmness of the beans to your tastes. Now, let’s talk about how to cook black beans!
Ingredients You’ll Need
This recipe makes seasoned black beans, but the seasonings are subtle so that you can use the beans in a variety of recipes. If you prefer, you can omit some or all of the seasonings for plainer tasting beans. For this recipe, you’ll need:
- Dry Black Beans: One pound of dry black beans will make about 6 cups of cooked beans. For reference, one 15 ounce can of black beans contains about 1.5 cups of beans.
- Water: Use filtered water if possible.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic adds flavor.
- Seasonings: Salt, ground cumin, chili powder, dried oregano and black pepper enhance the flavor of the beans.
How to Cook Black Beans
To soak or not to soak? You do not need to soak black beans before cooking them. I prefer not to soak the dry beans because it saves time (and I don’t have to plan quite so far in advance!). Unsoaked beans may even have more flavor than soaked beans. However, some find that soaking the beans aids in digestion. If you choose to soak your beans, they will cook about 20-30 minutes faster.
Rinse and pick over the beans. When cooking beans from scratch, the first step is to pick over the beans to check for and remove any small pebbles or other debris. Then put the beans in a fine mesh strainer and give them a good rinse under cold running water.
Combine the ingredients. In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot, combine the rinsed beans, water and seasonings.
Simmer the beans. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Simmer the beans, uncovered, until they reach your desired tenderness. I usually start checking on them after one hour, and then every 15 minutes or so, until they are done. In my experience, they usually take about 1 1/2 hours to cook.
Finally, if there is more liquid than you’d like left in the pot, you can drain some of it off. If desired, you can add a squeeze of fresh lime juice or some chopped fresh cilantro to the beans before serving.
Black Beans Recipe Tips
- Salt from the start. You can add salt to the pot to flavor the beans as they cook. It won’t prevent the beans from softening. Adjust the amount to your tastes. One reason why I love cooking beans from scratch is that I can control the amount of salt.
- Adjust the cook time to your tastes. We like to cook the beans longer so they’ll be softer if we’re using them in soups, quesadillas, etc. If we plan to add the beans to salads, like this Quinoa Salad, we cook them less so that they will be firmer.
- Fresh vs. old beans. The cook time for dry black beans can vary depending on the age of your beans. Older beans will take longer to cook, and if the beans are very old, they may never become tender.
- Use filtered water. Using tap water may increase the cook time needed to soften the beans.
Storage and Freezer Instructions
Cooked black beans can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months. They freeze remarkably well; I like to thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before using. I recommend freezing them in portion sizes that you will use in a single meal or recipe.
How to Cook Black Beans
- 1 pound dry black beans
- 9 cups water, filtered is best, plus more as needed
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Pick over the beans to check for any small rocks or other debris. Place dry beans in a strainer and rinse well under cold water. Place rinsed beans in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot.
- Add the water, garlic, salt, cumin, chili powder, dried oregano and pepper. Stir.
- Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Simmer the beans, uncovered, until tender, stirring occasionally. This usually takes about 1 ½ hours, but can range from 1-2 hours depending on the beans. Start checking on them after 1 hour, doing a taste test to see if they are cooked to your liking. If not, continue cooking, checking on them every 15 minutes or so. Add up to 1 cup more water as needed if the liquid is almost gone and the beans are not yet done.
- Once the beans are done, if there is more liquid than you'd like left in the pot, you can drain some of it off.
- Cooked black beans can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months.