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.
Why 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:
- Preheat to 350°F.
- Put beans in a pot and cover with 1 inch of water.
- 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!
Please let us know if you have any questions on this method! We’ve been using it for about a year with great results.
- Dried beans of any type and quantity (we usually cook 1 pound at a time, but you can cook more if desired)
- Dutch oven
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Rinse the dried beans and pick out any debris (sometimes we skip this when we are feeling lazy).
- Place the beans in the dutch oven, and cover with enough water so there is one inch above the top of the beans.
- Cover the dutch oven, place in the oven and let the beans cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- 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.
- Store beans in a sealed container in the refrigerator for several days; or, freeze them for use indefinitely.