Every few months, I have a black bean cooking marathon. I pull out my huge stock pots from the basement and cook pounds and pounds of dried black beans to use over the next few months. After doing this for years, I’ve become quite the black bean cooking expert!
We stash our black beans by pressure canning them (and it is incredibly convenient to have shelves and shelves of seasoned black beans ready for quesadillas, salads, chilis, and more), but of course, you don’t have to operate on my large scale. The great thing about cooking really tasty black beans is that the same method works for one pound or one hundred pounds! Let’s get cooking.
How much protein is in black beans?
One half-cup serving of cooked black beans will give you 8 grams of protein. Not too shabby!
Do you have to soak black beans before you cook them?
You don’t have to—soaking just makes the cooking process go much more quickly and makes the beans easier to digest. If you’ve ever had digestive distress after eating black beans (ahem, beans, beans the magical fruit…), soaking them overnight before cooking can really help!
To soak, cover the beans with water in a large bowl (remember that they will expand as they soak!). The water level should be about an inch above the beans. In the morning, drain off the water and use fresh water for cooking them.
For a quicker soak, you can also boil the beans hard for one minute on the stovetop, shortening your soak time to one hour.
How do I make seasoned black beans?
To make black beans super flavorful, I simmer them with a bunch of aromatics and stock as they cook. For this recipe, you’ll need:
- A diced onion
- Six cloves of minced garlic
- One or two diced jalapeños, depending on your heat tolerance
- Two bay leaves
- Two tablespoons ground cumin
- Vegetable or chicken broth
Just simmer everything together with the beans until the beans are tender. This could take anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the age of your beans. You are looking for beans that hold their shape, but are soft and tender when you taste them!
Once you have your pot of beans made, you can eat them as is (so good with some cornbread!) or stash them in the fridge to turn into meals throughout the week. A one pound bag of black beans should get you around six cups of cooked black beans (or three cans worth).
Why are these beans still hard after cooking?
Check the age of your beans. Older beans will take much longer to soften (and if they are really old, will never soften), so you may need to cook them for up to a few hours.
Sometimes, beans don’t soften properly when cooked in an acidic liquid (like tomato sauce or lime juice). So if you’re making chili, the beans always go in AFTER they’ve been properly cooked and softened in another cooking liquid.
How long will cooked black beans last?
Plan on eating your black beans within a week if you are storing them in the fridge.
If you’d like to freeze your beans instead, you’ll get about 10-12 months out of them without any reduction in the quality of flavor or texture.
I need my beans ASAP—how do I cook them fast?
If you need a speedy shortcut to get your beans from dried to cooked, the Instant Pot is your answer! You can cook black beans (without pre-soaking, even) in less than an hour in your trusty pressure cooker. We’ve included instructions on how to in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
- Combine 1 pound of dried beans with 4 cups of water (or broth works wonderfully, too) in the Instant Pot. Add the aromatics if you want to make seasoned black beans.
- Seal and set to manual, high pressure for 35 minutes.
- When the cooking time is up, let the pressure release naturally for 20 minutes.
- Release the pressure, give it a good stir, and enjoy!
How do you cook canned black beans?
Canned beans are already cooked, so they are ready to use! Either use them straight out of the can (rinse first), or warm them gently in a saucepan on the stove. You can season them as they warm!
What should I do with all these black beans?
These seasoned black beans are delicious as-is, so you can eat them just with some cornbread and have a super satisfying meal! But if you want to do something more with them, try them in: