Tutorial: How To Soak And Cook Dried Beans

Tutorial: How To Soak And Cook Dried Beans

I had a jar of dried beans on hand for a Multi-Bean Soup, so I decided to soak some of the beans and cook them up. I will use some of them to make Chili and freeze the rest for soup.

In most cases, cooking Dried Beans is a two-step process. First you soak the beans and then cook them. You can cook beans without soaking, but it takes longer and many people think beans have a nicer texture and taste better after soaking.


Preparing the beans:

  • Place dried beans in a colander. Pick through them and discard discoloured, broken, shrivelled beans and any stones, stems or other debris you may find.
  • Rinse well.

Soaking the beans:

Lentils, split peas and black-eyed peas do not need to soak before cooking. They only take about 30 minutes to cook without soaking.

  • Traditional Slow Soak: soak beans in three times their volume of cold water. As a general rule, the larger the bean, the longer they need to soak: and the longer you soak beans, the faster they cook but don’t soak them too long, or they may ferment. Cover tightly and refrigerate 6-8 hours or overnight.
  • Hot Soak, also known as the Gas-Free Soak: put the beans in three times their volume of cold water, bring them to a gentle boil, remove saucepan from the heat, cover and allow to sit covered at room temperature for about 1-2 hours. Refrigerate cooled beans in soaking water for 6-8 hours or overnight.

The good news, after soaking for 6-8 hours, 75 to 90 percent of the indigestible sugars (gas-producing starches) will have dissolved into the soaking water. Drain and rinse soaked beans thoroughly before cooking. Rinsing beans after soaking and draining any water after cooking will help to reduce the gas-producing starches. Always discard the water in which beans have soaked.


Cooking the beans:

  • After soaking, draining and rinsing beans, cover with fresh water in a heavy metal cooking pot or saucepan.
  • NOTE: Do not add salt or acidic ingredients, like vinegar, tomatoes or tomato juice, as it slows the cooking process. Instead, add these ingredients after the beans have cooked.
  • Bring beans to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer for 45 to 90 minutes, or until the beans are tender. Cooking times will depend on the type of bean. Start checking after 45 minutes. If the level of the water gets low, add more.
  • NOTE: When cooking beans, always simmer. A rolling boil can cause a messy boil over, as well as cause the beans to break apart and skins to separate.
  • Beans are cooked when they are easily mashed between two fingers or with a fork. Do not over cook, or beans will become mushy and separate from skins.

Beans taste best when cooked a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate drained beans after cooking, or freeze in 1 to 2 cup portions.


Dried Bean Guide:

Use this guide to decide how many dried beans you need. As a general rule, dried beans will increase their volume by three times.

  • 1/3 cup dry beans = 1 cup cooked beans
  • 1 cup dry beans = 3 cups cooked beans
  • 2 cups (1 pound) dry beans = 6 cups cooked beans

Cooking Times:

Cooking times vary depending on the type of bean. Start checking after 30 minutes for smaller beans, and 45 minutes for larger beans. Beans are cooked when they are easily mashed between two fingers or with a fork.

  • Lima Beans, Large – soaked = 45 to 60 minutes
  • Black Beans – soaked = 60 to 90 minutes
  • Garbanzo Beans (Chick Peas) – soaked = 60 to 90 minutes
  • Navy Beans or Small Whites – soaked = 60 to 90 minutes
  • Pinto Beans – soaked = 60 to 90 minutes
  • Red Kidney Beans – soaked = 60 to 90 minutes
  • Black-Eyed Peas – NOT soaked = 60 to 90 minutes
  • Lentils – NOT soaked = 30 to 45 minutes
  • Split Peas, Green – NOT soaked = 30 to 45 minutes

There you have it. Soaking and cooking dried beans does take some planning ahead, but it is not something that’s labour intensive. More or less set it and forget it. I’m sure you’ll be happy with the end results.
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Laureen Fox
Laureen is an enthusiastic amateur cook and Canadian Food Blogger from Vancouver BC. She loves spending her days creating good wholesome food in this Fox Kitchen. Evenings will find her blogging about the best that living without gluten has to offer.
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  1. Such helpful information! Living at altitude it seemed to take beans a long time to cook to really soften. The solution we found is to add 1 tsp of baking soda to the soaking water, it helps break down the outer skin just enough to help the beans soften as they do at lower altitudes. Thanks for sharing on Hearth & Soul Hop. :)

  2. I try to add some acid while I cook beans as recommended by Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions, but I do have trouble since the beans always take a long time to cook. I wonder if I add the acid during the soaking phase instead that would give my pots of beans more consistent cooking times.

  3. Laureen Fox says:

    I’m loving the tips being shared here in the comments section and on Facebook. One of my Facebook Friends says when she used to make baked beans, she would freeze them overnight in the water they were soaking in. She found freezing them cut down on the cooking time.

  4. Great tips! When I cook my beans I do the long-soak method, then when they’re boiling (in the first few minutes) I scoop off the foam that rises, that, apparently, also helps with digestion. Towards the end I add a tablespoon or so of apple cider vinegar for it’s health benefits. I’ve also heard that bay leaves and cumin during the boiling process can aid in digestion.

    Thanks so much for sharing this on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, I’ve pinned it :)

  5. When I was macrobiotic I made beans in a pressure cooker. I did soak them over night, but the cooking time was about 1/2 an hour. I used to put a piece of kombu seaweed in the bottom to add nutrients and salt the beans. Thanks for sharing this tutorial on foodie friday.

    • Laureen Fox says:

      Hi Diane, I’ve never used a pressure cooker. Amazing that it can cook so fast. Great idea about putting seaweed in with the beans. I never would have thought about doing that.
      BTW, your comment marks a sort of milestone on my site. Comment number 1000! Wish I had a prize for you :-)

  6. Miz Helen says:

    Great tutorial post, we love dried beans and have them often. Thank you very much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and have a great week!
    Come Back Soon,
    Miz Helen

  7. I’m sorry it has taken me so long to visit your post, Laureen! It’s been a busy week. This is an excellent tutorial on how to cook dried beans, and I am the perfect audience as I have never cooked dried beans before! You’ve explained it really well. This post is a great resource!

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