How to Cook Black Beans From Scratch
Ridiculously simple black beans recipe that can be made in one pot on the stove. These beans are ultra-flavorful, creamy, and taste so much better than canned. Tips for how to cook black beans using a pressure cooker is also provided below. Jump to the Easy Black Beans Recipe or read on to see our tips for making them.
How and Why to Cook Black Beans From Scratch
We go through a lot of black beans around here. We add them to vegetarian tacos, grain salads, and use them to make our favorite black bean soup, our quick and easy black bean burgers (vegan recipe), as well as these homemade veggie burgers. We love the ease of canned beans (and still use them), but my absolute favorite black beans are cooked from dried. Here are a two reasons why:
- Just like with other dried bean recipes (like this dried chickpeas recipe), when you cook dried black beans from scratch, you have to opportunity to add flavor with spices, garlic, and other aromatics. This is why home-cooked beans taste so delicious!
- You are able to control how soft the beans are so if you want the beans to have some texture, which would be ideal for adding to soups or salsas (like this black bean and corn salsa), you can take them off of the heat before they get too soft. Alternatively, if you are turning the beans into a dip or spread, you can cook the beans a bit longer.
Cooking dried black beans from scratch is easy! Here’s our go-to three step process for doing it on the stove (my favorite method):
- Add beans to a pot with aromatics (like garlic, onion, bay leaves, and spices) and enough water to cover the beans by 3 to 4 inches.
- Slowly simmer the beans until tender, which takes 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Remove aromatics simmer a bit longer to make a creamy sauce, and then enjoy!
[OPTIONAL STEP] Before cooking the beans, soak them overnight. We do not find this is necessary, but some may find that an overnight soak helps with digestibility. To do it, add beans to a big bowl with enough that covers them by 3 to 4 inches, and then set aside to soak overnight. The beans will triple in size.
How to Use Home Cooked Black Beans
Our recipe is for one pound of black beans (about 2 cups dried). One pound of dried beans makes 4 1/2 to 5 cups of cooked black beans. The beans will keep, stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 5 days and in the freezer for a few months.
I love to spoon these creamy cooked black beans over rice and grains (see our cilantro lime rice or this tutorial for cooking quinoa). The slow simmer creates a thick creamy sauce, which thanks to the aromatics tastes amazing.
For some dishes, though, you might find that the sauce isn’t needed. Take our homemade black bean burgers, for example. In that recipe, these flavorful beans would be perfect, but too much sauce would make the burgers mushy. So when following that recipe, I drain the beans first and rinse them before adding them to the burger mixture. You can always save the sauce for another recipe.
More Ways To Cook Black Beans
I’ve already mentioned that cooking black beans on the stovetop is my preferred method. I wish it was a little quicker, but it’s the best method I’ve found that creates that thick, flavorful, and creamy sauce.
That said, when I’m short on time, I do love using my pressure cooker to cook beans (we have a 6-quart Instant Pot). We’ve shown us using it to make refried beans and to cook chickpeas ready for hummus. I’ve shared the steps for cooking black beans in a pressure cooker in the recipe below.
More Easy Bean Recipes
- Easy Creamy Coconut Black Beans — Thanks to one pot and coconut milk, these easy creamy coconut black beans are made completely from scratch.
- Black Bean and Quinoa Salad — Thanks to lots of vegetables and quinoa, this easy black bean salad is ultra satisfying, hearty, and absolutely delicious.
- Utterly Delicious Chipotle Bean Chili — Make this easy and delicious vegetarian bean chili with dried beans or canned.
- Kale and Bean Salad with Tahini Dressing — This easy kale and bean salad is packed with good for you ingredients, is crave-worthy and can be made in advance.
- Refried Beans (Use Pinto or Black Beans) — How to make delicious homemade refried beans from scratch. We’re showing you how to make refried beans using dried pinto or black beans as well as how to make refried beans from canned beans.
How to Cook Black Beans From Scratch
Our favorite black beans recipe that can be made in one pot on the stove. These beans are ultra-flavorful, creamy, and taste so much better than canned. Tips for adapting our recipe for a pressure cooker is provided in the recipe below.
How to know when the beans are done: How soft the beans should be depends on what you plan to do with them. For dips and spreads, cook the 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 for soups, cook the beans until tender, but not falling apart.
You Will Need
1 pound (450 grams) dried black beans, rinsed (about 2 cups)
3 medium cloves garlic, peeled and gently smashed, use more for garlicky beans
1/2 medium peeled onion, see notes
1 bay leaf
1 medium lime, halved
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Stovetop Method
- Pressure Cooker Method
Add the 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.
Cook, stirring occasionally, at a low simmer until the beans are tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. As they cook, if you notice the beans look a little dry, add a bit more water to the pot.
Remove the garlic cloves, onion, and bay leaf. Add the juice of half a lime and season the beans with salt. Start with 1/4 teaspoon and go from there based on your tastes.
Serve straightaway or to make the creamy gravy that surrounds the beans in our photos, increase the heat to medium, and then simmer until the liquid around the beans has thickened and sticks to the beans. Serve with additional lime juice squeezed over the top if needed.
Rinse the dried beans then add to a 6-quart pressure cooker (we have an Instant Pot). Add the garlic cloves, onion half, and bay leaf. Add enough water so that the beans are covered by 1 1/2 inches, but do not fill past the “max fill line.” Add 1 teaspoon of neutral oil like vegetable or olive oil (this prevents the beans from foaming).
Seal the lid and cook on High Pressure for 30 minutes, and then allow the cooker to naturally release (you can tell when it is safe to open the cooker when the steam release valve drops). We recommend you read the user manual of your specific pressure cooker before using this method.
Remove the onion, garlic cloves, and bay leaf, and then discard them. Add the juice of half a lime and season the beans and liquid with salt. Start with 1/4 teaspoon and go from there based on your tastes.
Serve straightaway or to make the creamy gravy that surrounds the beans in our photos, turn the pressure cooker to SAUTE and simmer, without the lid until the liquid thickens and starts to stick to the beans. Serve with additional lime juice as needed.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- Onion: So that the onions is easy to remove after cooking, slice the onion through the root and leave enough of the root intact so that the layers of onion do not fall apart.
- Optional Soaking: Before cooking the beans, you can soak them overnight. We do not find this is necessary, but some may find that an overnight soak helps with digestibility and more even cooking. To do it, add beans to a big bowl with enough water that it covers them by 3 to 4 inches, and then set aside to soak overnight. The beans will triple in size.
- This recipe was inspired by Serious Eats.
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.