How to Cook Black Beans Perfectly

This is my favorite recipe for how to cook black beans. Homemade black beans are super flavorful and creamy and taste much better than canned. In addition to our stovetop method, I include tips for Instant Pot black beans below.

Watch the Video

How to Cook Black Beans Recipe Video

Our family eats a lot of black beans. I occasionally use canned beans, but I really love how delicious and creamy black beans turn out when cooked from scratch.

I love these simple black beans and make them often. For another twist, see our creamy coconut black beans!

Key Ingredients

  • Dried black beans: My black bean recipe calls for 2 cups of dried beans, which is about 1 pound. Most bags sold in stores are 1 pound.
  • Garlic and onion: I toss whole garlic cloves and half an onion into the pot with our beans, adding light garlic and onion aroma and flavor.
  • Bay leaf: Adds a subtle depth of flavor to our pot of beans. I genuinely love how incredible the bay leaf makes these beans smell and taste.

How to Cook Black Beans

You do not need to soak black beans before cooking them. However, when I have the time, I do it anyway. Soaking black beans speeds up the cooking time the next day. If you don’t have the time to soak, no worries! Your unsoaked beans will cook (promise).

To cook dried black beans, add them to a pot with aromatics (garlic, onion, and bay leaf) and enough cold water to cover them by 3 to 4 inches.

Cooking black beans with onion, bay leaf and garlic

Slowly simmer your black beans with the lid off until tender, usually taking 1 ½ to 2 hours. (If your beans are older, they may need a bit longer to cook.)

To turn the bean simmering liquid into a creamy sauce (like in our photos), remove the aromatics and continue to simmer until the sauce thickens and looks shiny.

Easy Black Beans From Scratch - How to cook black beans

When your beans are tender, season them with salt and pepper and, if you like, fresh lime juice. Black beans can take a lot of salt, so be generous! If you taste them and the flavor doesn’t pop, add more salt and lime juice.

For cooking dried black beans in an Instant Pot, see the recipe below.

Storing Cooked Black Beans

Cooked black beans last, stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days and in the freezer for 3 months. Thaw frozen beans in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

Ways to Use Black Beans

These delicious black beans are wonderful served over rice (see our Mexican rice or cilantro lime rice). You can also use them in your favorite recipes, calling for beans. Here are some of my favorite black bean recipes:

Many of these recipes call for canned black beans that have been drained and rinsed. We recommend draining homemade beans, but there is no need to rinse them. For reference, one (15-ounce) can of black beans is about one-half cup of cooked black beans.

Easy Creamy Homemade Black Beans

How to Cook Black Beans Perfectly

  • PREP
  • COOK

In the recipe below, I’ve shared how to cook black beans on the stove and how to cook them using an Instant Pot (pressure cooker). These black beans are so creamy and taste much better than canned.

Makes 8 (1/2 cup) servings

Watch Us Make the Recipe

You Will Need

1 pound (450g) dried black beans, rinsed, about 2 cups

3 cloves garlic, peeled and gently smashed

1/2 medium onion, sliced through the root end so that the onion doesn’t fall apart

1 bay leaf

1 lime

Salt and fresh ground black pepper


  • How to Cook Black Beans on Stove
  • 1Add the black beans, garlic cloves, onion half, and bay leaf to a large pot and cover with 3 to 4 inches of water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Uncover, stir the beans, and reduce the heat to keep the beans at a low simmer.

    2Cook the beans uncovered, stirring occasionally, at a low simmer until the beans are tender, 1 ½ to 2 hours. Add more water to the pot as they cook if you notice the beans look a little dry.

    3Remove the garlic, onion, and bay leaf. Add the juice from half a lime and season the beans with salt. Start with 1/4 teaspoon, then add more as needed (beans can take a lot of salt, so be generous).

    4Serve the beans straight away, or to make the creamy gravy surrounding the beans in our photos, increase the heat to medium and simmer until the liquid around the beans has thickened and sticks to them. Serve with additional lime juice squeezed over the top.

  • Instant Pot Black Beans
  • 1Add rinsed beans, garlic cloves, onion, and bay leaf to a 6-quart pressure cooker (we have an Instant Pot). Add enough water to cover the beans by 1 ½ inches, but do not fill past the “max fill line.”

    2Add one teaspoon of olive oil (this prevents the beans from foaming).

    3Seal the lid and cook on High Pressure for 30 minutes, then allow the cooker to naturally release for 20 minutes. Then, use the manual release button to remove the remaining pressure.

    4The beans should be perfectly tender, but if they are still hard (this occasionally happens if your beans are old), you can seal the pressure cooker again and cook for another 10 to 20 minutes.

    5Remove the onion and bay leaf, then discard them. Add the juice from half a lime and season the beans with salt. Start with 1/4 teaspoon, then add more as needed (beans can take a lot of salt, so be generous).

    6Serve straight away, or to make the creamy gravy surrounding the beans in our photos, turn the pressure cooker to Sauté and simmer without the lid until the liquid thickens and sticks to the beans. Serve with additional lime juice as needed.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • How to know when the beans are done: For dips and spreads, cook your black beans until they are very soft, and you can crush them easily with your fingers or a fork. For salads, topping rice and grain bowls, and soups, cook the beans until they are tender but not falling apart.
  • Overnight soak: It is not necessary to soak black beans overnight, but some find that an overnight soak helps with digestibility and even cooking. I rarely do this, but it is up to you. To soak black beans, add the dried beans to a big bowl with enough water to cover them by 3 to 4 inches, and then set aside to soak overnight. The beans will triple in size. Drain and use in the recipe above. Cooking time will be slightly less.
  • The nutrition facts provided below are estimates.
Nutrition Per Serving Serving Size 1/2 cup / Calories 223 / Total Fat 0.8g / Saturated Fat 0.2g / Cholesterol 0mg / Sodium 607mg / Carbohydrate 40.3g / Dietary Fiber 15.8g / Total Sugars 0.6g / Protein 14.9g
AUTHOR:  Adam and Joanne Gallagher
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11 comments… Leave a Review
  • Nakita April 27, 2024, 10:37 pm

    Thank you so much for this recipe! Really loved the suggestion of the bay leaves. I also added some dried chilies and we have about 30 mins to go until complete! I can already tell these beans are AMAZING batch thank YOU

    • Joanne April 29, 2024, 1:21 pm

      Don’t they smell amazing as they cook!? I love this recipe, too. Thanks for coming back, Nakita.

  • Lynne -AZ June 5, 2023, 1:14 am

    Simple! In a delicious way. This recipe truly lets the bean shine.I never knew how yummy the black bean could be.This is a keeper and a do over. The cook times are spot on. Thank you.

  • Harper December 7, 2022, 5:45 am

    This is the way to cook almost any bean as far as I’m concerned. It’s the way my mother’s Mexican caregiver taught me. Great recipes all the time. Thank you!

  • Louise Schult December 6, 2022, 1:01 am

    Today is the first time I’ve seen your recipes and they look absolutely delicious… I can’t wait to try some of them!!!

  • Rachel August 11, 2022, 8:39 am

    These were so good, y’all! Easy and delicious. This is my new favorite way to make black beans. They digested well too which is a major plus! I served them with rice, guac and fried plantains. I just want to compliment y’all on your recipes. I have now made several of them and the ones I have tried have all turned out to be family favorites. Looking forward to finding more gems on you site. Your site is pleasant to the eyes, easy to navigate, as well as easy to follow steps in your recipes. Thank you so much and keep up the great work, Y’all! You are really good at what you do. God bless!

  • Marion Salazar August 22, 2021, 5:45 am

    This is my first time making black beans from scratch. Everyone tells me they are so nutritious, which is why I am doing it. I am soaking them overnight because I have digestive issues. I hope I get this right. I will let you know.

  • dante January 2, 2021, 1:19 pm

    You all have the best recipes. Thanks so much, love your work.

  • Shohreh October 26, 2020, 1:34 pm

    Hello, Thank you for the recipe. Just wanted to share our tradition (Persian) in cooking beans. Before cooking any Legumes such as beans or chick peas we soak them one night and try to change the water every 2 hours to remove some indigestible sugars that cause flatulence and also helps in cooking with less time. Thank you for gibi

  • Sicily February 3, 2020, 10:19 am

    Hello! Thank you for this easy recipe! Two questions the aromatics should just be placed at the top and not stirred in so that it’s easy to remove them from the beans? And the second questions is what kind of pot is that? Can I cook these been in an all clad pot? Teflon pot? Iron cast? Thank you!!

    • Joanne February 21, 2020, 5:28 pm

      Hi there, We do remove the aromatics, they are simple to remove with tongs or a fork. We used our Le Creuset Dutch oven, any deep/wide pot will work.


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