The 4 Essential Ways to Cook a Pot of Beans

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Cooking dried beans has this funny way of feeling like a complicated, daunting task, but once you find the method that works best for you, you’ll realize it’s mostly a hands-off affair. The main thing it requires from you is time — and exactly how much time varies from just an hour up to seven or eight hours, depending on which of these four cooking methods you use. They each have their merits and it’s important to know when to use which, so you can make beans in a way that fits your needs. Let’s take a look at these four techniques.

1. In the Pressure Cooker

Want to cook beans, fast? The pressure cooker is your answer. The exact cooking time will depend on what kind of bean and what kind of pressure cooker you have, but rest assured that you can cook a pot of tender, creamy beans an hour or less.

2. In the Oven

Second to the pressure cooker, this is the quickest way to cook a pot of beans, and it’s also least likely to break the beans. Baked in a large covered pot at a low temperature, it’s less crucial that the beans be pre-soaked when using this method. Cook time will vary slightly depending on the age, variety, and size of the beans, but you can plan for about two hours.

3. On the Stovetop

Cooking beans on the stovetop is no more trouble than letting the dried beans soak overnight, filling a large pot of water, tossing in some aromatics, and letting it simmer happily on the back burner all afternoon. Just remember to keep the water at no more than a simmer. Depending on the age, variety, and size of the beans, cook time can be anywhere from one to three hours with this method.

4. In the Slow Cooker

Have more time on your hands? Reach for your slow cooker. This hands-off method uses low, slow heat to deliver creamy, tender beans without much work. And because of the long cook time, pre-soaking the beans is much less important than with other cooking methods. Using low heat, this set-it-and-forget-it option will take anywhere from six to eight hours.