Seasoned black beans rest on a wooden spoon in a large pot of cooked beans.

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.

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A wooden spoon scoops finished black beans out of a pot.

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.

Close up of a wooden spoon scooping cooked black beans.

How long do black beans take to cook?

The cooking time when you are cooking dry beans from scratch on the stove can vary widely—taking anywhere from 45 minutes to three hours. The timing will largely depend on how old the beans are. Fresher beans take less time to cook to fork tender!

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 jalapeño peppers, depending on your heat tolerance
  • Two bay leaves
  • Two tablespoons ground cumin
  • Salt
  • 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!

Close-up of perfectly cooked seasoned back beans.

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.

A wooden spoon full of cooked beans held above the pot of finished beans.

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 in the freezer 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!
Close up of black beans in a bowl with fresh toppings such as radish slices, jalapeno slices, and avocado.

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!

Overhead of a bowl of seasoned black beans topped with fresh salsa, jalapeno, cilantro, and avocado.
Close up of a wooden spoon scooping cooked black beans.

Seasoned Black Beans Recipe

Yield: About 6 cups of black beans
Prep Time: 8 hours
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 10 hours

Save some cash and make the best tasting beans around by using our method for how to cook black beans! Freeze or can your beans so you never run out.


  • 1 pound dried black beans, picked through
  • Water
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 or 2 jalapeños, seeds and membranes removed and diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 8 cups vegetable or chicken broth for stovetop, or 4 cups broth or water for Instant Pot


For Stovetop:

  1. Place black beans in a large stock pot and cover with at least two inches of water. Let soak overnight. Or, for a quick soak, bring stockpot to a boil, boil hard for one minute, then remove from heat, cover, and let soak for an hour.
  2. Drain and rinse the soaked beans. Return them to the pot. Add in all the remaining ingredients.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the beans are tender. This will depend a lot on the age of your beans. Fresher beans will be ready in 45-60 minutes, older beans might take 2-3 hours. Your best bet is to start tasting around the 45 minute mark.
  4. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary, then remove beans using slotted spoon. Eat immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

For Instant Pot

  1. Combine 1 pound of dried beans with 4 cups broth in the Instant Pot, plus the onion, garlic, jalapenos, bay leaves, cumin, and salt.
  2. Seal and set to manual, high pressure for 35 minutes.
  3. When the cooking time is up, let the pressure release naturally for 20 minutes.
  4. Release the pressure and stir the beans. Eat immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 172Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 287mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 9gSugar: 4gProtein: 10g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

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:

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  1. After the beans have soaked, when your begin adding flavorings, what does the “1 Water” means in
    the instructions? Thanks! Making these now, just unsure how much water I need to add for the final cook.

    1. When you soak the beans, you just need to use enough to cover the beans by about 2 inches of water.

  2. Brilliant! I’m usually lazy when it comes to beans and end up using cans, but now that our second baby is starting to eat solids I’m going to go back to dried again (our pediatrician is really strict about canned foods in the first year because of the botulism risk…the silver lining is that we save money). Definitely trying this base!

  3. I can’t wait to try these next week! I get Hello Fresh delivered, but then have to come up with another 2-3 meals… This looks perfect 😀

  4. What a great post. I love pulses and can’t wait to see what else you come up with for them.

  5. Hi Cassie – love these recipes! I just wanted to check that you want 12 whole jalapenos in this black bean base? That seems like a TON to me – and I like spicy things!

    1. Oh good catch – that didn’t go into the recipe format correctly. It should be 1-2, not 12 (ouch!). Should be fixed now! Thank you!