Recipes > Lunch/Dinner > Stovetop Dried Beans Base Recipe

Stovetop Dried Beans Base Recipe

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.
stovetop dried beans base recipe in a white bowl surrounded by a white dish cloth

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.

Base Recipe Ingredient Substitutions

  • Beans: use any beans of your choice – garbanzo, black, pinto, white, cannellini, adzuki, etc. 
  • Water: substitute some or all of the water with low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth. 
  • Kosher Salt: We use Morton kosher salt. If using Diamond Crystal kosher salt, use 1 ½ teaspoons. If you use table salt, use slightly less than 1 teaspoon. 
  • Acid: use lemon juice, lime juice, or your favorite vinegar – apple cider, balsamic, white wine, red wine, etc.

Base Recipe Variations

Remember that this is a base recipe, so the goal is for you to customize it to your taste! Keep it simple or spice it up!

Use these additional ingredients for even more flavorful beans.

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: use if adding aromatic vegetables. You can also substitute canola, avocado, or coconut oil, or even butter.
  • Onion: use yellow, white, or red onion or shallots. You can also substitute 1 Tablespoon onion powder.
  • Aromatic Vegetables: use a combination of onion, bell pepper, and celery for a classic Cajun/Creole flavor profile (The Holy Trinity). Or use a combination of onion, carrot, and celery for traditional French/Italian flavors (mirepoix).
  • Garlic: substitute 1 ½ teaspoons pre-minced garlic, 1 ½ teaspoons garlic flakes, ¾ teaspoon granulated garlic, or ½ teaspoon garlic powder.
  • Spices: use chili powder, cumin, turmeric, or your favorite spice blend.
  • Tomatoes: use diced, crushed, or fire-roasted tomatoes. You can also add 1 cup diced fresh tomato.
  • Green Chilies or Chipotles in Adobo: substitute ½ a diced jalapeño pepper, seeds removed.
  • Fresh or Dried Herbs: add hearty or dried herbs, such as rosemary, oregano, or thyme at the beginning of cooking. Delicate herbs, such as parsley, basil, and cilantro, are best added after cooking.

For maximal flavor, add spices after the aromatic vegetables are cooked, but before you add the liquid. Toast them for 30 seconds to bring out their 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! 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.

Storage Tips

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 in these bean-based recipes! 

Vegetarian Meatballs

Sweet Potato Black Bean Tacos

Bean Burgers Base Recipe

Vegetarian Tostadas

stovetop dried beans base recipe in a white bowl surrounded by a white dish cloth

Stovetop Dried Beans Base Recipe

This is one of our base recipes. 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!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Soaking Time 10 hours
Course Main Course, Side
Cuisine Vegetarian
Servings 8 cups

Ingredients
  

Base Recipe

  • 1 pound dried beans (~2 cups)
  • 6-8 cups water or low-sodium broth or stock (~2 inches above top of beans)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar, lemon juice, or lime juice
  • Salt to taste (after cooking)

Additions to YOUR taste

  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced (~1 cup)
  • ½ cup diced bell pepper
  • ½ cup diced carrots
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (~1 ½ teaspoons)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons spice(s)
  • 14-ounce can diced, crushed, or fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 4-ounce can green chilies
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced +1 teaspoon adobo
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary or thyme
  • 1-2 Tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (1-2 teaspoons dried)

Instructions
 

  • 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. Soak for 8-12 hours.
  • The next day or after soaking, drain and rinse beans.
  • If adding onion, bell pepper, carrot, celery, and/or garlic, heat a Dutch oven or 4-quart pot or saucepan over medium heat. Add oil. Once oil is simmering, add aromatic vegetables and sauté until translucent, ~5 minutes. Add the optional garlic and/or spices and sauté for 30 seconds, stirring frequently.
  • Add the beans, bay leaf, salt, and optional tomatoes, chilis, chipotle peppers, and/or hearty herbs. Add enough water or broth 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 tender. 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. Sprinkle with optional fresh herbs. Enjoy!

Notes

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.
Check out these recipes for flavor inspiration!
 
Chipotle Black Beans
 
Rosemary White Beans
 
Mexican Pinto Beans
Keyword Stovetop Dried Beans

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