How to Cook Black Beans From Scratch

Georgann Dolfay

We love this ridiculously simple black beans recipe made in one pot on the stove. Homemade black beans are ultra-flavorful, creamy, and taste much better than canned. Tips for cooking black beans in a pressure cooker (like an Instant Pot) are in the video and recipe. Jump to the Black Beans Recipe

Watch The Video

How to Cook Black Beans Recipe Video

More basic cooking recipes: See how we cook dried chickpeas, how we cook lentils and how we cook quinoa.

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):

  1. 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.
  2. Slowly simmer the beans until tender, which takes 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  3. Remove aromatics simmer a bit longer to make a creamy sauce, and then enjoy!
Cooking black beans with onion, bay leaf and garlic

[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.

Easy Black Beans From Scratch

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 Homemade Black Beans

How to Cook Black Beans From Scratch

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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.

Makes about 8 (1/2 cup) servings

Watch Us Make the Recipe

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

Water

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Directions

  • Stovetop 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 ½ to 2 hours. As they cook, add more water to the pot if you notice the beans look a little dry.

    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 straight away 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.

    • Pressure Cooker Method
    • Rinse the dried beans, then add to a 6-quart pressure cooker (we have an Instant Pot). Add the garlic cloves, onion, and bay leaf. Add enough water, so the beans are covered by 1 ½ inches, but do not fill past the “max fill line.”

      Add one 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, then allow the cooker to naturally release for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, use the manual release button to remove the remaining pressure. The 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. We recommend you read the user manual of your specific pressure cooker before using this method. 

      Remove the onion and bay leaf, 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 straight away 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.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

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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