Great Trick for Cooking with Dry Beans

Cooking with Dry Beans

I haven’t eaten meat in about 15 years, so we cook vegetarian meals at our house. And vegetarian cooking calls for the use of a lot of beans! I like to buy my beans dry from the bulk section of the food co-op, not in cans. I think they taste a lot better, I don’t have to worry about potentially harmful chemicals from the cans, and I create less waste. But, the drawback of using dry beans is that you need to plan ahead in order to have them ready for a recipe. They need to be soaked for 8 hours and it often takes quite a bit of time to cook them. So, I can see why a lot of people opt for canned beans – you can just pop open the can and use them right away.

But, over the years I came up with what I think is a great shortcut to having quick and easy to use beans that don’t come in a can. Freezing cooked beans for later use! It’s so easy and convenient.

Let me explain.

If you usually cook your dry beans in a pot of boiling water you know how long it can take. So, this shortcut is definitely one you’ll want to incorporate into your kitchen.

If you eat a lot of beans like we do, I highly recommend getting a pressure cooker. This has revolutionized using dry beans in our house. No more waiting for garbanzo beans to cook for hours in a pot of water. Instead, they take 18 minutes once the pot gets up to pressure. Black beans take 12 minutes! (We have this one.)


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Step by step instructions :

Boiling water method – If you’re going to boil the dry beans in a pot, soak them for eight hours. Pour the soaking water out and rinse the beans. Then put them in a pot with fresh water. Bring to a boil and cook until done.

Pressure canner, quick soak method – Soak beans for four hours. Dump soaking water and rinse beans. Fill pressure cooker with beans and fresh water. (There’s usually a fill line you’re supposed to stay under.) Bring cooker up to pressure and set timer depending on what beans you’re cooking. Here’s a good table. When the timer goes off put the pot in the sink and run cold water over it. The pressure will lessen within a minute or so and you’ll be able to take off the lid. Test a bean to make sure it’s done. If so, dump the beans into a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. I LOVE this quick soak  method because it’s so, well…quick!

Whichever cooking method you used, wait until the beans cool. Transfer them into plastic containers, bags, or glass jars and freeze. I like to use wide mouth canning jars so I can see what’s in there. One pot of beans usually fills between 3-4 quart jars for me. That’ll last us about a month.


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To use: I usually take out a jar to thaw the morning of the day I’m going to use them for dinner. But, sometimes I forget. Luckily, they can be quickly de-thawed using a microwave, or at our house, lots of hot water.

If you follow this method you’ll never have to buy canned beans again! You’ll always have a supply in your freezer. I usually have black beans and garbanzo beans well stocked. Sometimes I’ll also cook pinto and white beans as well.

Do you have any favorite cooking shortcuts or tips? Leave them in the comments below to share with us!


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  • Ruth O'Donnell

    Hi Meghan,

    When freezing cooked beans in glass jars, do you add any liquid to the jar?

    When I cook garbanzo beans for hummus, they sometimes seem gritty. Am I cooking them too long – or not long enough?

    PS – thanks for the great tips!

    Ruth O’Donnell

    • Hi Ruth-

      I don’t add any liquid to the jar. It does seem difficult to get homemade hummus to the consistency of store bought. Ours usually isn’t as smooth. We wonder if they take the skins of the beans off? It seems like way too much work. Maybe manufacturers just have more powerful mixers than we have at home?

      If the bean tastes done then it should be fine. I usually test mine before discarding the water. I like mine not to be too mushy.

      • Yes, to get really creamy hummus you have to remove the skins…it really makes a huge
        difference in the consistancy, You don’t need to peel them, just a little squeeze will
        usually get them to pop right out. Having said that…it’s still time consuming compared
        to how fast hummus can be made. I don’t usually bother.

        • I’ve heard putting warm or just cooked chickpeas through a food mill will give you that smooth texture. I don’t own a food mill, so I haven’t tried it yet myself.

          • My husband just tried this, Laura, and it did work pretty well. He used the food processor instead. Thanks for the tip!

  • I don’t have a pressure cooker, but I cook beans in a slow cooker. It takes a while, but I can do massive amounts at once and freeze what we don’t use. I don’t mind many kitchen tasks (I don’t even mind washing dishes) but I absolutely HATE picking through dry beans before soaking. That’s one reason I do a lot at once, so I can just get it over with 🙂

  • I have been struggle with not having beans when I want them. I never thought to cook a bunch and freeze. So Thanks for the tip. I have been using this quick-soak method. In a stock pot, combine beans with triple their volume of cold water. bring water to a boil and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. remove from heat, cover and let beans soak for 1 hour. Drain beans and then cook as usual.

  • I use a pressure cooker and it is utterly marvelous! I freeze my cooked beans in 16 ounce jars, placing a cup and a half of cooked beans and a bit of liquid in each jar. That’s equal to the amount of beans in a 15 ounce can, so it’s easy for me to use measurements found in recipes. I refrigerate jars first, to cool down, then pop them in the freezer. SO easy!

  • You can dry beans. Fill jar 1/3 full of dried beans. Fill remainder of jar with boiling water. Place in hot water bath and process about 2 hours. Beans are mostly cooked when you open. Cuts cooking time. Make sure you have a seal after processing.

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