Here’s how to cook black beans! It’s so easy to cook them from dried: they’re cheaper and taste so much better than canned.
Wondering how to cook black beans? You’ve come to the right place! We’re Alex and Sonja, cookbook authors and plant-obsessed recipe creators. Beans are part of our everyday cooking. Why? They’re cheap, good for you, easy to make, and add a good dose of plant-based protein to any meal. And if you’ve tried cooking dried beans before, you know. Dried beans are much more delicious than canned! They have a heightened flavor and firmer texture. When we can, Alex and I try to remember to make a pot of beans for our weekly meals. Here’s our method for how to cook black beans.
How to cook black beans (basic steps)
While it seems intimidating, cooking black beans is very easy to do. If you have a pressure cooker, this is a great one to let the pressure cooker do the work: it’s even faster! Go to Instant Pot Black Beans. If not, the method is still simple. Once you’ve done it once, memorize the method and make it on repeat!
- Soak your beans overnight. Soaking beans helps them cook faster and more evenly. But, you can also get away without soaking, especially if your beans are fresh. You’ll just need to cook a bit longer.
- If desired, add flavorings! Add lots of flavor to your beans in no time by throwing adders into the pot like onion and garlic. See below for more ideas!
- Simmer in water for about 1 hour. The timing will be different every time you make them, based on the age and brand of beans. Keep reading for more on that…
Exact timing is variable, so taste test!
How long to cook black beans? Well, the cook time is variable. It depends on the age and brand of the beans. Some brands of beans vary slightly. And a fresher bean cooks better than an older bean. Here are some notes on how to know when you’re beans are done:
- Taste test. Start taste testing at 45 minutes. If the bean still has a little raw bite in it, keep on cooking! Do this every 15 minutes or so. Because of this, make the black beans on a weekend or evening where you’re not trying to get a meal on the table.
- Add water if necessary. It’s possible that the water level in the pot might start to lower while you’re cooking. That’s ok! Just add a splash more to cover the beans if they’re not tender yet.
What if I don’t have time to soak?
Great question! You can actually cook these black beans without soaking them. Then why soak them at all?
- Soaking helps them to cook more evenly. It really is worth it, in our opinion, to get the most evenly cooked pot of beans.
- No time to soak? Cook them longer. You can still cook the black beans using the method below. You’ll need to cook them a bit longer than specified (timing will vary). Or you can use our Instant Pot method, which doesn’t require soaking.
Optional add-ins: flavorings!
Here’s the fun part: the flavorings! If you have them on hand, it’s nice to add a bit of pizzazz to your pot of beans by throwing in a few adders. This imparts a subtle flavor into the beans, but it makes a huge difference in overall flavor! Here are a few ideas:
- Onion, peeled and quartered – it can be any variety
- Garlic, peeled and smashed – we specified 4 cloves in the recipe, but if you love garlic add more
- Kombu – this is dried seaweed often used in Japanese recipes: but it adds mega flavor to vegetarian and vegan dishes! You can buy a package and store it in your freezer. If you’re not used to cooking with it it might sound odd, but we adore the flavor with kombu.
- Carrots or celery, roughly chopped
How to store cooked black beans
Once you’re done cooking the black beans, then what? You’ll end up with 6 cups of beans, which is an equivalent of 4 15-ounce cans. That’s a lot of beans! Here’s what we like to do:
- Store part of the beans refrigerated. These will last in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
- Freeze anything you won’t eat in the short term! Drain the cooking liquid and place the beans in sealed containers (we like to use mason jars). Then freeze for up to 8 months.
Tip: It’s helpful to freeze your black beans in 1 1/2 cup increments, which is the equivalent of 1 15-ounce can.
Alternate method: Instant Pot black beans!
If you have a pressure cooker, it’s perfect for cooking dried black beans! The nice part about this method is you don’t have to soak at all. Throw in the beans and water, and they’re done in less than 1 hour! It’s also nice to not have to babysit the stove. Head to Instant Pot Black Beans.
Black bean recipes
Here’s the fun part: black bean recipes! Black beans are a weekly staple at our house. Here are some recipes we’d recommend starting with:
- Cuban Black Beans: Bursting with flavor, better than restaurant-style!
- Refried Black Beans. Quick with astounding flavor. Use as a side or in these Refried Bean Tacos.
- Vegan Burrito The ultimate burrito! Stuffed with Mexican rice, seasoned black beans and peppers, and avocado.
- Crispy Roasted Black Beans Crispy and spiced with cumin and garlic, they’re hard to stop eating.
- Black Bean Salad: This tangy salad is a big crowd pleaser.
- Black Bean Salsa: Throw those beans into salsa and shovel them in with chips.
- Perfect Black Bean Burger: It’s true, this is the perfect black bean burger.
- Vegan Enchiladas: A fan favorite, this stars beans, peppers and onions, and a homemade red enchilada sauce.
This black beans recipe is…
Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free.Print
Here’s how to cook black beans! It’s so easy to cook them from dried: they’re cheaper and taste so much better than canned. Got a pressure cooker? Go to Instant Pot Black Beans.
- 1 pound dry black beans
- Kosher salt
- Optional add ins: 1 white onion, peeled and quartered, 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed, 1 strip kombu seaweed (adds big savory flavor), other herbs as desired
- Soak the beans overnight*: Place the beans in a large container with a cover with 2 inches of room temperature water and stir in 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Cover and allow to soak at room temperature.
- When ready to cook, drain the beans from the soaking liquid. Place them in a pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. If using, add onion, garlic, or herbs for additional flavor.
- Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours until the beans are tender (taste test as you cook; the exact timing will depend on the age and brand of beans). Add a bit of water if necessary to keep the beans covered with water while cooking. Drain the water.
- Storage: Store refrigerated for 3 to 5 days, or frozen for up to 8 months. To freeze the beans, place the drained beans into a sealable storage container: we like to use mason jars. It’s helpful to freeze them in 1 1/2 cup increments, which equals 1 15-ounce can of beans.
*If you don’t think ahead, you can skip the soaking step. You’ll simply have to cook the beans a little longer. Or use our Instant Pot Black Beans method: it doesn’t require soaking!
- Category: Essentials
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Beans
Keywords: How to cook black beans
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.