How to Cook Dried Beans

Here is (literally) everything you need to know about cooking dried beans at home. With a few tips, beans are really so easy, and there are literally hundreds of ways you can use them! The texture can't be beat, and you can always freeze what you don't use.

  • Cooking time: 45 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the type of bean
  • Yield: About 6 cups cooked beans


  • 1 pound dried beans, such as chickpeas, great northern, cannellini, navy, or black beans
  • Water
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided


1 Sort through the beans: Pull out and discard any small stones or wrinkled or broken beans.

2 Soak the beans (optional): Place the beans in bowl. Cover with 2 to 3 inches of water. Cover and leave on the countertop until you are ready to cook them the following day. Drain the water. Rinse the beans.

Alternatively, you can quick-soak your beans or skip soaking altogether; see above for a breakdown of these options.

How to Cook Dry Beans add the water

3 Cook the beans: In a large pot set over medium high heat, add the beans (either soaked or unsoaked) and cover them with water until it reaches about 3 inches above the beans.

Bring the beans up to a boil, then reduce the heat to gentle simmer. Leave the pot uncovered and cook.

How to Cook Dry Beans simmer the beans Dry beans recipe add water to cover by three inches

4 Salt the beans: After about 40 minutes, check a bean to taste it. If it’s firm, but tender, add 4 teaspoons of salt. Give the pot a gentle stir.

Continue cooking until the beans are creamy, but intact, about another 20 to 50 minutes.

Note: Total cooking time will vary based on the type of bean, the age, and whether you soaked or not. See total cooking time estimates in the headnotes above.

Dried beans recipe salt the beans Dry beans recipe cook until tender

5 Store or serve: If serving immediately, drain the beans through a fine mesh sieve and place them in a bowl. Season as desired (see headnotes for suggestions) and serve.

If storing, allow the beans to cool completely in their liquid, and then store in their broth in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to three months.

Dry beans recipe

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  • Kurt Rolfes

    In Sri Lanka I cook beans on a regular basis. The most commonly available are chic peas (garbanzo), black eyed peas and kidney beans. No Mexican or black beans out here! Beans lately have come in mixed packets which also contain dried peas and corn kernels. Problem is that the kidney beans are never fully cooked as they take much longer than the other legumes. I make my equivalent of Boston baked beans by draining and then recooking with BBQ sauce, sweet chili sauce , onions, garlic, bacon, ham etc. Love your article on beans and keep up the good work! Kurt Rolfes a retired American in Sri Lanka.

    • Summer

      Hi, Kurt! Thanks so much for your comment. Your take on Boston Baked beans sounds delicious.

  • John Meyer

    For even more information on best practices for cooking dried beans, there is a good article from Christopher Kimball about the science of soaking and cooking dried beans.

  • George R Hooper Jr

    I’ve recently become aware of another controversial issue as regards dried beans – whether to discard the soaking liquid or not. What are your thoughts on this?

    • Summer

      Hi, George! Thanks for your comment. I haven’t heard of the controversy. That being said if I soak beans overnight I toss the soaking liquid then start fresh. However, I don’t soak dark beans (black or red) overnight because the color fades and I want to maintain that rich color. For darker beans, I just cook them and skip the soak. Quite often I skip the overnight soak anyway.