21 In How To/ Recipes/ Tips

How to Cook Dried Beans in a Dutch Oven

How to Cook Dried Beans (Dutch Oven Method) | A Couple CooksHow to Cook Dried Beans (Dutch Oven Method) | A Couple Cooks

This post is the type where I’d see the title, think “bo-ring”, and not read it. I’d rather see beautiful, creative recipe photos than a decidedly un-sexy “how-to” post. But let me try to convince you not to stop reading, if you already haven’t. At the risk of sounding over-dramatic, this dried bean cooking method has revolutionized our lives.

But first, why cook dried beans in the first place?

Why cook dried beans? 

To be honest, we’ve used canned beans frequently, since they’re quick and easy. But lately, we’ve been working on moving to dried beans, mainly because they taste better and are much cheaper. Beans cooked from dry taste deliciously al dente, much less mushy than canned beans. We can always tell in a recipe when we’ve used cooked beans versus canned (especially chickpeas!). Also, dried beans are about 1/4 the price of canned beans!

What’s a Dutch oven? 

Do you have a Dutch oven? (I didn’t know what it was before we started cooking 6 years ago!) It’s a large, cast iron pot with a lid that’s perfect for soups and is oven-safe so it can be used for baking. We use ours all the time: for soup, risotto, bread,  and so forth. If you don’t have a Dutch oven and want to start cooking dried beans, this might be a good place to start. They are an investment, but we found ours at a discount store for much cheaper than regular price (see below).

If you don’t have a Dutch oven and are not looking to buy one at this time, never fear: you can still cook dried beans! Use the stove top method in this dried beans recipe from our friend Annie.

How to Cook Dried Beans (Dutch Oven Method) | A Couple CooksWhy use the Dutch oven method? 

We’ve tried the stove top method many times, but when we found the Dutch oven method, it stuck. Why? It’s quick and easy: you can set it and forget it. Many of the stove top methods take about 3 to 4 hours total (including soaking the beans) with a little more active time; some recipes even call for soaking the beans overnight.

In contrast, the Dutch oven method takes about 1 1/2 hours, and it’s easy enough for me to remember how to do it without a recipe, which I love. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Preheat to 350°F.
  2. Put beans in a pot and cover with 1 inch of water.
  3. Cook for 1 1/2 hours; then check and cook a little more if they are not yet done.

Is it really that easy? 

Yes. Typically we cook beans on the weekend while we’re doing other things around the house, like cleaning or writing blogs. Just don’t get too far away so you don’t hear your timer; I’ve done that before accidentally! I try to set a timer on my phone since it’s generally closer to me at any given moment than our oven.

Does this method work for all types of beans? 

Yes, at least all types that we’ve tried! Black beans and garbanzo beans (chickpeas) are our go-to options in the bulk section, but we’ve cooked kidney beans, white beans, mixed beans, and they’ve all worked with this method. The key is to be extra vigilant the first time you try a new bean type and make sure to cook just the right amount of extra time (see below).

How do I store the beans? 

Cooked beans will only last a few days in the refrigerator, so usually we save out the equivalent of one can of beans for immediate use and then freeze the rest. The frozen beans will stay good indefinitely. We freeze them drained (without the cooking liquid). The magical formula for cooked versus canned beans:

1 1/2 cups cooked beans = 15-ounce can of beans

You can use this formula anytime you are substituting cooked beans for canned beans in a recipe.

Where can I get a Dutch oven? 

This post is not a secret advertisement for a Dutch oven. We wrote it because we wanted to share this method, and we find our Dutch oven to be an essential kitchen tool for the home cook. (You’re welcome, Dutch oven companies of the world.)

Our Dutch oven: Cuisinart Cast Iron 5-Quart Dutch Oven (but we got ours from TJ Maxx for a much better deal!)

If you’re feeling really fancy, Le Creuset is a very-well known brand for Dutch ovens; if we had our pick, we’d use this one:  Le Creuset Cast Iron 5 1/2 Quart Dutch Oven. That Caribbean color would look so fun in our kitchen!

Any questions? 

Please let us know if you have any questions on this method! We’ve been using it for about a year with great results.

How to Cook Dried Beans (Dutch Oven Method)
 
by:
What You Need
  • Dried beans of any type and quantity (we usually cook 1 pound at a time, but you can cook more if desired)
  • Water
  • Dutch oven
What To Do
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Rinse the dried beans and pick out any debris (sometimes we skip this when we are feeling lazy).
  3. Place the beans in the dutch oven, and cover with enough water so there is one inch above the top of the beans.
  4. Cover the dutch oven, place in the oven and let the beans cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  5. Taste a bean and determine whether the bean is tender and cooked through. If not, continue to cook and check every 10 to 15 minutes until the beans are to your liking. Drain the beans and rinse with cold water; let sit for a few minutes to cool.
  6. Store beans in a sealed container in the refrigerator for several days; or, freeze them for use indefinitely.

 

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21 Comments

  • Reply
    Adriane
    October 13, 2014 at 8:05 am

    I love this post! I use dried beans all the time-it’s so much cheaper! And much easier than you’d think! But I’ve never tried the dutch oven method so I’m excited to try it!

  • Reply
    Sini | My Blue&White Kitchen
    October 13, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Whaat, there’s not even a need to soak the beans overnight? This truly is a genius method to cook dried beans. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Reply
    Amy - Parsley In My Teeth
    October 13, 2014 at 10:18 am

    I thought it was always a given that you had to soak the beans. What a relief to see it’s not necessary! Giving this a try immediately!

  • Reply
    Katie @ Whole Nourishment
    October 13, 2014 at 10:24 am

    I actually love this post too, I had no idea about the oven method! This will make it so much easier. I use a pressure cooker but I know it’s not the most popular kitchen equipment, so I’m happy to have another method to recommend to people. I still soak beans overnight though because I personally find that it makes them easier to digest (helps reduce the phytic acid content).

  • Reply
    Terry Covington
    October 13, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Thank you for this post. I have never had success with dried beans without soaking them overnight, partly due to hard water in our area. Do you know if that makes any difference? I have also never had a Dutch oven (I am in my 50s now), and am seriously considering investing in one, as I have also seen great bread recipes using those. But mostly, I appreciate the reminder about how easy and nourishing it is to use dried beans (and inexpensive), especially now that some of the plastics lining the insides of cans are being linked with health hazards. I think it’s going to be a good winter with lots of beans! :-)

    • Reply
      Sonja
      October 14, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      Interesting! I am not sure if hard water has anything to do with cooking beans :) I’d highly recommend a Dutch oven – we use it quite often and love how evenly it heats! We’ve cooked bread in it with good results too!

  • Reply
    Janaya
    October 13, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    I am excited to try this method out too. Even a basic recipe gets me excited to be in the kitchen. On another note, keep your eyes peeled at T.J. Maxx, I found a 3 1/2 quart Le Creuset for less than half the price. A dutch oven that is definitely worth the splurge.

    • Reply
      Sonja
      October 14, 2014 at 1:08 pm

      Yep, that’s where we got our good deal too :)

  • Reply
    Susan
    October 14, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    It’s pretty amazing to me that this works without soaking the beans. I just cooked some black beans the other day, and I did it stove top after soaking for 24 hours (change the water, using hot water, after 12 hours). I soaked them that long following a method I learned for making lentils more digestible. For me, soaking the black beans that long made them more digestible also. For that reason it’s worth taking the time to soak them that long. It also took only about 1.5 hours to cook perfectly on the stovetop after the long soak. Thanks for doing this post – it was not at all boring!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      October 14, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      Haha, thanks so much! Yes, it sounds like many people like the soaking method for the digestion factor. We’ll have to try that too! I think that this method would be even quicker with a soak.

  • Reply
    Shelley
    October 14, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    I was seriously just going to soak some beans overnight when I read your post. So I waited until morning and this method worked great! Simple and quick. I’ll be using this from now on. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Katie @ Produce On Parade
    October 14, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    I can’t wait to try this out! I have a bunch of dried beans but I confess I have never tried to cook them…mostly due to poor planning…this sounds like the solution!

  • Reply
    kristie {birch and wild}
    October 16, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    This is a super informative post. Thank you! And that first photo is insanely good.

    • Reply
      Alex
      October 21, 2014 at 2:17 pm

      Thanks! Let us know if you try this method :)

  • Reply
    Dena Griffin
    February 27, 2015 at 10:22 am

    GREAT post! I didn’t know you could freeze cooked beans – never even thought about it! I have a lot of dried beans but don’t think far enough ahead to cook them, I’ll be cooking a pot or two this weekend and freezing in single serving containers for quick additions to dinners! Genius

  • Reply
    Gary
    June 10, 2015 at 8:21 am

    I’ve used your method for about a year now with good results. My beans usually are not quite done though after about 2 hours, but I’m making quite a lot, 1/2 gallon dried beans to start with.

    The extra thing I do is put them into Ball jars, screw on the lid loosely and then put them in the oven again at about 220 degrees, just barely boiling temperature for about an hour.

    Then they come out sealed and sanitary with a good vacuum. I tighten the lids and they will keep in the fridge for a year if you want.

    Gary

    • Reply
      Alex
      June 10, 2015 at 8:44 am

      Love that idea! Thanks for the comment and the tip.

  • Reply
    Gary
    September 18, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    I bookmarked this page and have to look at it every time I cook a batch of beans. I hope your site never goes down because then I would have to learn how to cook them all over again. :)

    Gary
    share-a-like dot com

    • Reply
      Alex
      September 19, 2015 at 9:48 am

      This is awesome! We’ll do our best to keep 99.9999% uptime :)

  • Reply
    The musical fruit
    January 31, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    Thanks. This worked awesome and the beans tasted and had the texture like they came out of a can or better!!!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      January 31, 2016 at 8:32 pm

      So glad it worked out! It’s our favorite method.

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