This is one of our base recipes. Have you ever been afraid to purchase dried beans because you don’t know how to cook them? “How much water do I use? How long do I cook them? What can I add to improve their flavor?” In this stovetop dried beans base recipe, we teach you the fundamental ingredients and ratios for making dried beans on the stovetop, then provide ideas for tasty variations!
Three Must-Know Cooking Skills
For recipe success, learn how to:
Culinary Tips for Fail-Proof Dried Beans
Rinse and sort the beans in a colander before cooking in order to remove damaged beans and debris.
You will notice that there is not an exact amount of water listed; that is intentional. The amount of water needed depends on the size of your pot. The key is to keep the beans covered by ~2” of water and then to add more during cooking if needed.
Cooking time will vary depending on the type of bean you use, if they were soaked, and how old the beans are. But how do you know when they are done? Taste them! Alternatively, smush a bean between your fingers. If it smushes easily, it’s probably done! Don’t panic if they aren’t done after 90 minutes; just keep simmering!
For the best texture, soak your beans overnight at room temperature for 8 -12 hours. Add your beans to a bowl that provides enough space for the beans to expand as they absorb water, and cover the beans by 2”. If you don’t have time to soak the beans overnight, use the quick soak method or check out our instant pot recipe!
For softer beans, cover completely during simmering. For firmer beans, leave uncovered. Note that the latter leads to more water evaporation, so you will likely have to add more water during cooking.
- Beans: use any beans of your choice – garbanzo, black, pinto, white, cannellini, adzuki, etc.
- Aromatics: substitute any onion: yellow, white, red, or shallots.
- Water: substitute some or all of the water with chicken or vegetable broth.
Base Recipe Variations
Remember that this is a base recipe, so the goal is for you to customize it to your taste!
Add additional aromatics. Bell pepper, carrots, and celery are all classic aromatics that build a flavorful foundation.
Add some herbs. Hearty herbs, such as rosemary, oregano, or thyme, are best when added at the beginning of cooking. Delicate herbs, such as parsley, basil, dill, and cilantro, are best when added after cooking. Dried herbs are also an option and, like hearty herbs, should be added at the beginning of cooking.
Add some spices. For maximal flavor, add the spices after the aromatic vegetables are cooked, but before you add the liquid. Toast them for 30 seconds to really bring out their flavor!
We love buying our spices from The Spice House. Click on the picture below to view & try out hundreds of flavorful spices and herbs!
Add fresh or canned tomatoes. Diced, crushed, or fire-roasted tomatoes all add great flavor.
You can also make this recipe in the Instant Pot for an easy “set it and forget it” recipe that comes together in minutes! Use the same aromatic vegetables in this recipe or add other ingredients of your choosing. Find our full instant pot dried beans base recipe (with variations!) here!
Need some dried bean recipe ideas?
Use these instant pot base recipe variations for inspiration (but use the same cooking method as stovetop), then have fun exploring other flavors, ingredients, and textures to your taste!
Equipment Recommendations for Cooking Dried Beans
You just need a few pieces of kitchen equipment to make this easy recipe come together!
Health Benefits of Beans
Are beans healthy? YES! Beans are one of our favorite foods because they are packed with high quality nutrients. All of the world’s longest lived populations consume beans daily. Beans are incredibly versatile and can be altered to meet any texture, flavor, or health preference. Beans of all varieties contain plant-based protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients promote gut health, decrease risk of developing heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, and promote a healthy weight.
Check out our Food as Medicine article to learn more about these benefits.
Serving Suggestions for Homemade Dried Beans
There are nearly endless ways that you can serve cooked beans. Blend them into a homemade hummus, mash them with salsa to make non-refried beans, add them to tacos, casseroles, salads, or soups, combine them with grains, veggies, and a vinaigrette to make a grain based salad, or keep it simple and serve them alongside a serving of whole grains.
Once cooked, allow the beans to cool completely before placing in an airtight container and storing in the refrigerator. Keep the cooking liquid to keep the beans tender. Beans hold their quality in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Cooked beans freeze well too. To freeze, allow to cool and then place in a freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Favorite Cooked Beans Recipes
Once your beans are finished cooking, enjoy them on their own, combine them with whole grains as part of a balanced meal, or use them in these bean-based recipes!
Stovetop Dried Beans Base Recipe
- 1 pound dried beans (~3 cups)
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced (~1 cup)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- Water to cover (~2" above top of beans)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons vinegar, lemon juice, or lime juice
- Salt to taste (after cooking)
- Place beans in a colander and rinse under cold water. Pick out any rocks or beans that are broken or shriveled. Transfer beans to a large bowl and cover with water, 2” above the top of the beans. Allow to soak for 8-12 hours.
- The next day or after soaking, drain and rinse beans.
- Heat a dutch oven or 4-quart pot or saucepan over medium heat. Add oil. Once oil is shimmering, add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, stirring frequently.
- Add the beans, bay leaf, and salt. Add enough water to cover beans by ~2 inches. Bring beans to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and partially cover. Simmer for 45-90 minutes, or until beans are soft. While the beans cook, add more water if needed to ensure the beans remain submerged.
- Once cooked, add acid and any additional salt to taste. Enjoy!