Welcome to the ultimate guide on how to perfectly cook black beans. Don't do anything else before reading this!
We'll walk you through helpful information and step-by-step instructions to guarantee perfect beans every time.
How is it possible to write an ultimate guide on cooking black beans? Well, you're about to find just how much information there is to know.
Beans are one of the most versatile, cheap, and easy-to-make foods on Earth (if you make them properly). Once you bite into a creamy, buttery black bean cooked from scratch, you'll realize what the hype is all about.
Here's some black bean history for you:
- Beans belong to the Fabaceae family
- The Fabaceae is the third largest plant family on the planet
- The fruits of this family are called legumes
- Black beans are classified as a legume
- Beans fruit in a pod (like peas)
Prized for their extremely healthy makeup, black beans are packed with fiber (15g per cup), which is a nutrient most people are deficient in.
Oh, and did we mention the protein content? In one cup, there is also 15g of plant-based protein!
Black beans are full of potassium (essential to keep your blood pressure healthy), rich in iron (helps your blood cells carry oxygen), and contain essential nutrients like copper, magnesium, and manganese (which statistically, you don't get enough of).
Black beans can be used a million different ways, but we'll give you a few ideas to spark your creativity.
Mash them up to use in black bean burgers (they make a great binder), black bean hummus, or black bean tortilla chips.
Don't even get us started with refried beans! The options are endless.
Dried vs canned
Cooking beans from dry does take longer than just cracking open a can. So, why use dried over canned?
Where to start...
If you can find canned beans cheaper than dried beans, you're an anomaly. Cans are great for convenience, but that's about it.
On average, canned beans are 2.5x more expensive. That really adds up, especially when you're using them as a base in so many recipes (like us).
You also have no control over the sodium levels in canned beans, which contain up to 500mg per ½ cup. Home-cooking beans allows you to add only what you want based on your health needs.
A lot of canned foods contain BPA, AKA Bisophenol A (mmm, sounds delicious). Exposure to this chemical has been shown to cause adverse health effects.
If all that wasn't enough to convince you, home-cooked beans taste WAY BETTER! Seriously, way better. They turn buttery soft and slightly sweet. There is no comparison.
Now for the best part... how to perfectly cook black beans from the comfort of your home!
While not exact, these conversions should give you a good starting point for cooking black beans:
- ⅓ cup dried black beans = 1 cup cooked beans
- 1 cup dried black beans = 3 cups cooked beans
- 2 cups dried black beans = 6 cups cooked beans
- 1 pound dried black beans = 2 cups dried beans
- 1 can (15 oz) black beans = ½ cup dried beans
- 1 can (15 oz) black beans = 1 ½ cups cooked beans
Before you get started, you'll need to decide which cooking method to use. There are basically three options. All work well, but there are subtle differences in time needed, skill level, and overall taste and texture.
This is the longest (and our least preferred) method. It definitely requires a more hands-on approach. But, since practically everyone owns a pot, it is the most widely available choice.
Electric pressure cooker
If you don't have time to wait around for your beans to cook, invest in a pressure cooker! There are two types you can purchase. The electric varieties, like Instant Pot, come with different cook settings and allow a set-it-and-forget-it approach.
While we do appreciate the convenience this style of pressure cooker offers, it lands in second place to the version we'll talk about next. From personal experience, the bean consistency is not as reliable as cooking on the stove.
Stovetop pressure cooker
We have a winner! Things really changed when we started using a stovetop pressure cooker. Not only can you find them significantly cheaper than the Instant Pots of the world, but our results are so much more consistent!
Seriously, we love our stovetop pressure cooker. It requires some initial effort. You'll need to wait for pressure to build up over high-heat, then turn it down before going about your day (don't actually leave your house).
If you have any questions that aren't answered here, make sure to check out our FAQ all the way at the bottom of the page.
Following all of these techniques will provide you with the creamiest, richest, most perfect black beans every time. Can you skip any of the steps? Sure you can, but don't expect premium quality.
First, rinse the beans in a colander to remove dirt. Then, sift through them to make sure there are no rocks or anything that can damage your teeth after cooking.
If you know you're going to make beans in a regular pot, ensure you soak them beforehand since it can drastically reduce the cook time. There are three options for soaking:
Overnight soak: put the beans in a container full of water about 2-3 inches over the beans (to allow room for expansion). It's best to let them soak for 12 hours or so. The next day, drain and rinse your beans before cooking.
Quick soak: if you're pressed for time, fill a pot with water and your beans. Bring the water to a boil for about 2-3 minutes, then take it off the heat. Let the beans sit in the water for 2 hours, which will help them soften. Note: if you use this method, your beans may not stay whole during the cooking process.
No soak: if you are pressure cooking the beans, soaking is not a requirement. What great news for forgetful people (like us) because you can skip the 12 hours and end up with perfectly cooked beans in an hour (the skins may be more likely to split, but it's purely an aesthetic thing).
While we haven't found any differences in our digestion regarding soaking versus not soaking, some people find it does help. If that's the case, do what you gotta do! Soaking won't hurt, plus it will also cut down your pressure cooking time.
Step 1: add your beans to the pot, cover with 3-4 inches of water, put a lid on, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, stir and reduce to a low simmer.
Step 2: stir on occasion to ensure there are no beans that stick to the pot. Depending on how old your beans are they can take longer to cook. The whole process can take from 1 ½ to 2 hours to complete.
Step 3: taste taste your beans during the cooking process. If they're soft and creamy, that means they're done. Note: if your beans are looking dry, add in more hot water to keep the temperature even.
Stovetop pressure cooker
Step 1: before starting, check that the rubber is intact along the inner portion of the pressure cooker lid.
Step 2: add your beans to the pot and cover with 2-3 inches of water. Make sure you don't fill the pressure cooker more than a total of halfway for safety reasons.
Step 3: put the lid on, double-checking it's in the locked position and the valve is down. Set your stove to high until you hear a "hissing" noise coming from the pressure release valve.
Step 4: turn the heat down to low and start your timer for 40 minutes (total time may vary slightly from brand-to-brand). Once the time is up, turn your stove off and allow the pressure cooker to naturally release.
Note: get to know where the safety features are on your personal stovetop pressure cooker as they all differ slightly (see ours above for reference).
Electric pressure cooker
Step 1: add your beans to the pot and cover with 2-3 inches of water. As with the stovetop cooker, make sure you don't go past the "max fill line."
Step 2: put the lid on, making sure the pressure valve is closed. Set your pressure cooker for 30 minutes on high power. Once the timer goes off, allow your pressure cooker to naturally release.
Note: all pressure cookers are made slightly different, so it's best to read your manual for the most accurate instructions and cook times. Our experience is with Instant Pot and Power Pressure Cooker XL (both reliable).
Dried: these can be stored in a sealed container in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year. If you buy new beans, don't mix them with older ones since the cook time changes the more they sit.
Fridge: once cooked, black beans will keep in the fridge for up to 5-6 days in an airtight container. If they smell good past this, they should still be okay to eat.
Freezer: allow the black beans to cool completely before transferring to freezer-safe bags or containers. Cover them with the cooking liquid, and store in your freezer for up to 6 months (but, 3 months is ideal).
Note: if you are using freezer bags, remove all air and store them flat to save space. If you are using containers or jars, leave some room at the top for expansion. If you want to play it safe, freeze the containers with the lids loosened initially, then tighten them once frozen.
Reheating: thaw the frozen beans in your fridge overnight, in a bowl of cold water, defrost them in the microwave, or cook them from frozen if the recipe allows for it.
Meal Prep: we always have a batch of beans on-hand for quick, easy, and cheap meals. Once we run out of beans, we throw on another pot. This really saves time, especially for busy households.
💭 Pro tips
Time to share our tips and tricks we've learned over the years of cooking beans:
- It's best to use fresh beans from a store that receives a new supply often to ensure a faster cook time and better taste (just ask a store manager if you're unsure).
- Use distilled or filtered water for the best taste, consistency, and cook time. Hard water (heavy on the minerals) can make the cooking process more difficult.
- Add some flavor in! Try garlic, onion, herbs, bay leaves, etc. Do NOT salt before cooking though because it can make the beans mushy.
🍴 Tasting notes
We love cooking beans at home and (with the help of this post) you will too! They're:
- Slightly sweet
If you try cooking beans at home, please rate this guide and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
How to Perfectly Cook Black Beans
- Stovetop pressure cooker
- Electric pressure cooker
- Large pot
- 2 cups dry black beans ($0.76)
- First, rinse the beans in a colander to remove dirt. Then, sift through them to make sure there are no rocks or anything that can damage your teeth after cooking.
- If you're using a regular pot, ensure you soak the beans beforehand. Add all beans to a large container full of water about 2-3 inches over the beans. Let the beans soak for 8-12 hours, or overnight.
- Quick soak: if you're pressed for time, fill a pot with water and your beans. Bring the water to a boil for about 2-3 minutes, then take it off the heat. Let the beans sit in the water for 2 hours. Note: if you use this method, your beans may not stay whole during the cooking process.
- Once soaked, drain and rinse your beans. Add them to the pot and cover with 3-4 inches of fresh water. Cover with a lid on and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, stir and reduce to a low simmer.
- Cook until your beans are tender, about 1 ½-2 hours depending on how old they are. Stir the beans occasionally throughout cooking to prevent sticking. Note: if your beans are looking dry at any point, add in more water (hot, not cold water). Once cooked, season to taste with salt and any other flavorings you want.
Stovetop pressure cooker
- If you are pressure cooking the beans, soaking is not a requirement. We only recommend soaking them in this method if you're having digestive issues.
- Again, add your rinsed beans to the pressure cooker and cover with 2-3 inches of water. Make sure you don't fill the pressure cooker more than halfway or just over (this is for safety reasons).
- Put the lid on, double-checking it's in the locked position and the safety valve is down. Turn your stove to high until you hear a "hissing" noise coming from the pressure release valve and the safety valve is up (this means it's pressurized).
- Then, turn the heat down to low and start your timer for 40 minutes. Once the time is up, turn your stove off and allow the pressure cooker to naturally release, about 10-15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and any other flavorings you want.
Electric pressure cooker
- Similarly to the stovetop pressure cooker, soaking is not a requirement. We only recommend it if you're having digestive issues.
- Add your rinsed beans to the pot and cover with 2-3 inches of water. As with the stovetop pressure cooker, make sure you don't go past the "max fill line."
- Put the lid on, making sure the pressure valve is closed. Set your pressure cooker for 30 minutes on high power. Once the timer goes off, allow your pressure cooker to naturally release, which takes anywhere from 10-30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and any other flavorings you want.
- 1 serving = ½ cup cooked beans.
- The most ideal (and safest) way to release your pressure cooker with beans inside is the natural release method.
- All pressure cookers are made slightly different, so it's best to read your manual for the most accurate instructions, cook times, and safety mechanisms.
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of our recipes.
- Nutritional information is a rough estimate.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe-to-recipe.
- All prices are in USD.
♻️ Black bean recipes
For some tasty dishes to use black beans in, check out our:
- Mexican black bean soup for an authentic meal that's light on the wallet and great for meal prep.
- Southwest sweet potato salad if you want an absolute flavor and color explosion!.
- Sweet potato black bean enchiladas to give your taste buds a reason to dance.
- Sweet potato black bean chili for a chili that packs in protein, fiber, and flavor (with a secret ingredient).
It depends on the method of cooking you choose. If you are using a regular pot, we recommend soaking the beans for 8-12 hours. If you are using a pressure cooker, it's not 100% necessary unless you're experiencing digestion issues.
Season with salt after the beans are done because it can alter the way they cook.
Not necessarily! Our preferred method is the stovetop pressure cooker because our end result is always consistent. However, the best method is the one you'll actually use.
If you want to set it and forget it, use an electric pressure cooker. If you have lots of time, use a pot on the stove. Or if you have a stovetop pressure cooker, you already know how amazing they are!
Beans have a bad reputation for causing digestive problems. This is because they contain a type of carbohydrate, called raffinose. By cooking beans properly, you can avoid a lot of these problems.
If you are coming from a diet that's low in fiber, the increase (from beans and other plant foods) will cause a major shift in your digestive system. Start slow and work your way up to eating more beans. Also, some people find soaking beans helps their digestibility.