Dinner is Ready When You Are
The crock-pot is a super tool when it comes to cooking legumes. In fact, beans and slow cookers are best friends. There are no worries about burning food or precise timing. And the food can even cook while you are sleeping or while you’re away from home. Just turn it on and forget about it!
If you like walking in the door and finding dinner ready and waiting for you, you’ll love the convenience of using a crock-pot.
Beans in a Slow Cooker Questions
How many cups of dry beans equals how many cups of cooked beans?
There are approximately 2 1/2 cups of beans per pound of dry beans. Two cups of dry beans yields about 6 cups of cooked beans.
How do I choose the best slow cooker?
I have you covered. Check out my post about How to Buy a Slow Cooker.
What size slow cooker do I need?
It depends on how many beans you want to cook. The recipe I’ve given below is for a 3- to 4-quart slow cooker. A 4-quart slow cooker will accommodate 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of beans. A 6-quart cooker will cook 2 pounds of beans.
Do I have to pre-soak my beans?
Because of the long cooking time, pre-soaking is not necessary when cooking beans in a slow cooker.
Should I cook my beans on low or high?
All slow cookers cook differently and the answer to this question will depend on how hot your slow cooker gets. However, because it is important the beans come to a boil (see next question), I always cook my beans on high.
One of my crock pots gets going a little too hot, so I slip the very sliver of the end of a toothpick under the lid (between the lid and the rim of the crock) and this lets just enough steam out to prevent having bean juice splattered all over my kitchen counters while still keeping the beans at a boil.
Why do the beans need to come to a boil?
Many raw beans contain a toxin that is destroyed by boiling for at least ten minutes. Most modern slow cookers get hot enough on low to bring beans to a good boil for several hours, but, just to be safe, I always cook my beans on high.
To be sure your slow cooker gets hot enough, take a peek through the glass lid of your cooker at the end of the cooking time to make sure the beans are gently boiling.
How long should I cook my beans in a slow cooker?
Cooking time depends on what type of beans your cooking and how hot your slow cooker gets. Most new cookers get hot enough to cook your average bean (pinto beans, black beans, cranberry beans, white beans, garbanzos) in 6 to 8 hours. However, I like my beans very well done and so I generally cook my beans for over 12 hours. (I start them before I go to bed and eat them later the next day.)
It’s very difficult to over-cook beans in a slow cooker.
What about other types of beans? How long do they take to cook?
Kidney beans and soy beans can take up to 12 hours until they are tender and thoroughly cooked. Lentils and split peas cook quickly – about 3 to 6 hours. Once again, I like my beans cooked well (better digestion and better taste), so I usually add a couple hours to these times.
I cooked my beans for 12 hours and they still aren’t done.
Beans have a long shelf life, but if stored too long or in a warm environment (best to store legumes in a cool place), they often won’t cook up tender. If your beans get too old, probably your best solution is to throw them in the compost.
Great Slow-Cooked Bean Recipes
Slow-cooked beans come in handy for making:
- 1 1/2 pounds dry beans
- 10 to 12 cups water
- Sort through beans, removing stones and dirt.
- Place beans in a large colander, and rinse very well under running water.
- Transfer beans to slow cooker.
- Add water.
(The amount of water needed may vary. Some crock-pots lose a lot of water during cooking, and some do not. With just a little bit of experimenting, you'll know exactly how much water your cooker requires. In fact, I never measure the water when I add it to the beans. I just pour it in to about an inch from the top of the cooker and they always cook up nicely.)
- Turn slow cooker on high and cook for at least 6 hours or up to 14 hours.
Cooking time depends on your slow cooker. All crock-pots cook differently, but you can determine how long your beans need to cook by testing them. If they are soft and tender, they are done!
- Season beans with onion, garlic, and salt to taste, or try some of your favorite herbs to flavor beans.
2. The cooked beans should be very, very tender before serving. If your beans are not soft after 8 hours of cooking, they may be too old or your slow cooker may not be working correctly.
3. This recipe is for a 3- to 4-quart crock-pot. If using a smaller slow cooker, reduce ingredient amounts and increase cooking time.