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How to Cook Black Beans

If you grew up eating cooked black beans from a can, you may never have considered cooking dried black beans instead. They’re a great choice, though.

Dried beans are inexpensive and don’t come with all the salt that’s added to canned beans. Either way, black beans are high in fiber, contain no fat and are a great source of protein.

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You can add them to soups, salads, stews, chili or burritos. You can even make black bean brownies!

If you’re up for a few steps beyond opening a can, we’ll tell you how to cook black beans.

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To Soak or Not to Soak?

Most recipes call for soaking black beans (or any dried beans) before you cook them. Soaking beans softens them, allowing them to cook faster. Plus, it removes some of the sugars that are hard to digest and cause gas.

But you don’t have to soak the beans first if you don’t have time, or just plain forgot. In fact, some people prefer the texture, flavor and color of beans cooked without any soaking.

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How to Soak Black Beans

Rinse the black beans in a colander or fine-mesh strainer, looking for any small stones to remove.

You can use a long-soaking method or a quick soak.

For the long-soaking method, add the black beans to a pot with three cups of water for every cup of beans. Soak them for 8-12 hours, covered, at room temperature, then drain and rinse them in a colander.

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For the quick-soaking method, use five cups of water for each cup of beans. Add the water and beans to a pot, place over high heat on the stove and bring to a boil.

When the water is boiling, cover the pot, turn off the heat and remove the pot from the stove. Soak the beans for one hour, then drain and rinse them in a colander.

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How to Cook Black Beans

Once your black beans are soaked or simply rinsed, you have a few options for cooking them. You can make them on the stove, in a slow cooker or in a pressure cooker.

  • Stove: Place soaked beans in a pot and cover them with water so it reaches two inches above the beans. Heat on high until the pot comes to a boil.

Lower a bit and simmer the beans for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally and checking to make sure there is enough water in the pot. Drain the beans when they’re cooked.

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  • Slow Cooker: For slow cooker black beans, add your beans, spices, garlic and/or onions to the Crock-Pot, along with water or stock. You’ll need 3 ½-to-4 cups of liquid for a pound of beans. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 7-8 hours, until the beans are as soft as you like them.
  • Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot): Use ¾ cup of water for every cup of dried beans you started with, even if you soaked them. If using soaked black beans, you can pressure cook them for just 4-6 minutes, then do a natural release.

If using unsoaked, dried beans, you’ll need to pressure cook them for 25 minutes before using a natural release. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions for your pressure cooker.

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How to Store Cooked Black Beans

Store cooked black beans in the refrigerator for up to five days. To freeze, portion out some cooled black beans in freezer-safe containers with enough cooking liquid to cover them. Freeze for up to three months.

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