How To Cook Dried Beans

How To Cook Dried Beans
Heather Nicholds, C.H.N.

Knowing how to cook dried beans properly will significantly reduce their gas-producing potential, and can save you a huge amount of money over canned beans.

Dried beans also avoid any added salt, preservatives and potential chemicals of canned beans. Once you know these easy tricks, you’ll be able to cook dried beans perfectly.

Knowing how to cook dried beans properly is the first step in reducing their propensity to create gas in your digestive system. There are a few easy things you can do when cooking beans (or buying canned) to make them as easily digested as possible.

1: Soaking

The first step is to soak the beans, so that the complex mix of nutrients starts to break down. Some beans need to be soaked for at least a few hours, while some don’t need to be soaked. It never hurts to soak, though.

Long-cooking beans are chickpeas, soy beans and fava beans. They must be soaked overnight (8-12 hours) with lots of water. There’s also a quick-soak method – put the beans in a pot with plenty of water, boil for 30 minutes, then remove from the heat and let them soak with the lid on for 30 minutes or more.

Medium-cooking beans are aduki, lima, black-eyed peas, anasazi, black turtle, great northern, kidney, navy, pinto and red beans. They can be soaked for 4 hours or overnight to make them more easily digestible, but it isn’t necessary. Soaking will reduce their cooking time by about half an hour. You can also use the quick-soak method for these beans.

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Short-cooking beans include lentils, mung beans and split peas. They don’t need to be soaked before cooking, but if you like to it doesn’t hurt to soak them for an hour. This won’t significantly reduce their cooking time, but it does help to start breaking them down.

Be sure to drain off the soaking water since it contains some of the gas-producing power of the beans.

You can also do a quick-soak method if you left this too late. Just get the beans to a boil for about 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave the lid on for about 30 minutes. Then continue on to cook them fully. Don’t ask me how this works, but it does.

2: Sprouting

You can take soaking one step further by draining the beans and then allowing them to sprout. Keep them in a cold place so that they don’t go bad, and rinse them at least twice a day. Make sure they have enough drainage and air flow, and eat them quickly after they sprout tiny tails.

Sprouted beans should be cooked before they’re eaten, since they’re really tough to digest raw. Sprouted beans only need to be lightly steamed until they’re soft, since a lot of the complex carbohydrates will have been broken down in the sprouting process.

Some beans won’t sprout, if they’ve been pasteurized or broken. If your beans haven’t started to sprout in 2 days, they probably aren’t going to do anything and you should just go ahead and cook them for eating.

3: Cooking

To cook dried beans, add enough water to cover them by an inch or two, and bring them to a boil. Put a lid on the pot, turn down the heat and leave the beans to cook at a gentle simmer.

It’s really important that you don’t add salt until beans are fully cooked. Salt interferes with the process of how to cook dried beans, and they won’t fully soften if it’s added too early.

A piece of kombu (or other seaweed) in the cooking water while they boil helps improve digestibility and adds minerals to the beans.

The long-cooking beans (chickpeas, soy beans, and fava beans) will take about 2 hours to cook.

The medium-cooking beans (aduki, lima, black-eyed peas, anasazi, black turtle, great northern, kidney, navy, pinto and red beans) will take about and hour and a half to cook.

Short-cooking beans (lentils, mung beans and split peas) will take about 30 minutes to cook.

The new love of my life is my pressure cooker, which takes those times above down to 15 minutes, or less. Thanks to my friend JL Fields for continually telling me about the wonders of pressure cooking. I don’t think I can ever go back. If you’re intrigued, check out our incredibly fun live chat about pressure cooking, and consider picking up an electric pressure cooker. It will change your life.

Canned vs. Dried Beans

Most people like to use canned beans, since they come precooked and can be used immediately. Dried beans are quite a bit cheaper, and often taste better, but canned are fine for most purposes and make eating beans on a regular basis a lot easier.

If you’re using canned, look for a can that doesn’t have any salt listed in the ingredients, since it’s often added before the beans are fully cooked and means that they haven’t broken down properly. Be sure to rinse and drain the beans before using them.

Some brands are actually cooked with kombu, which is ideal. Another thing to look for in any canned food is whether the liner of the can is BPA-free. Eden Organic is my favorite brand, because it’s the only one I’ve found that does all of these things.

Amazon Associates Disclosure: Heather Nicholds is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to


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