How to Cook Beans in a Slow Cooker (Crock-Pot)

How to Cook Beans in a Slow Cooker (Crock Pot)

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.

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!

Several of you have emailed and asked how I cook beans, so I thought I would answer it here.

How many cups of dry beans equals how many cups of cooked beans?

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how many cups dry beans equals cooked beans

This website is brought to you without annoying ads because we can better live healthier lives without the influence of marketing. But running a high-traffic site is expensive. How can you help? If you purchase anything through the affiliate links on my site, your cost is the same, but I receive a small commission. Thank you!

One cup of dry beans yields about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of cooked beans. This will vary slightly depending on the type of beans.

How do I choose the best slow cooker?

Which slow cooker crock pot should I buy

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.

(There are approximately 2 1/2 cups of beans per pound of dry beans. )

Do I have to pre-soak my beans?

No. 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?

Should I cook 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?

Why do beans need to be boiled

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?

how-long-should beans be cooked in a crock pot

Cooking time depends on what type of beans you’re 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?

How-to-Cook-Beans

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.

Can I Use an Instant Pot to Cook Beans?

How to Cook Chickpeas

Yes, you can use the slow-cook function on some Instant Pots to cook beans, but not all models get hot enough on the slow-cook function. (See above.) You can also use the pressure cook function on the Instant Pot to cook beans. Check out my step-by-step guide for how to cook garbanzo beans in an Instant Pot.

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.

Do you have any healthy crock pot bean recipes?

Yep.

Slow-cooked beans come in handy for making:

Garbanzo (Chickpea) Pesto Salad
Garbanzo Pesto Salad
 
White Bean Guacamole
Low fat guacamole
Tex Mex Beans and Rice
Tex-Mex-Beans-Rice
Kale and White Bean Soup
Chilean Porotos Granados
Recipe for Chilean Porotos Granados
Homemade, Oil-Free Hummus
 
White Bean Garlic Dip
White Bean Garlic Parsley Dip


And more!

What are the health benefits of beans?

Beans have numerous health benefits, including making weight loss so much easier.

The Many Health Benefits of the Beautiful Bean
How to cook beans in a slow cooker

How to Cook Beans in a Slow Cooker (Crock-Pot)

Slow-cooked beans are tender and delicious!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 hrs
Total Time 10 hrs 5 mins
Course Main Course
YIELD 10 cups (approximately))
All recipes on jenniferskitchen.com are property of jennifer’s kitchen and cannot be republished without written permission.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups dry beans
  • 10 to 11 cups water - (see note)
  • seasonings to taste

Instructions

  • 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.
  • 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.

Notes

1. Many raw beans contain a toxin that is destroyed by boiling for at least ten minutes. Most slow cookers get hot enough to bring beans to a good boil for several hours. Check your beans at the end of the cooking time to make sure they are gently boiling.
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.
4. 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.
Yield: 10 to 12 cups

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26 Comments

  1. This was a simple "how to" question, but it brought me to your blog. What a great treat! I will check back often. Oh, and the beans were great!

  2. Hi Jodi,
    Welcome. I'm happy you liked the blog and that the beans turned out good.
    I just spent almost an hour reading through your blog and am anxious to have some time to read more. You are an incredible woman. Very inspiring to me. Thank you so much for being willing to share your experience. I will be sure to keep you in my prayers.
    Blessings to you,
    Jennifer

  3. i like the look of this – other advice was to soak the beans first. if you can't just put the beans straight in, if you have to soak them first, you may as well do it the conventional way.

  4. Hi Wendy,
    I agree … this is a really convenient way to cook beans. When I know I'm going to be too busy to cook, I just throw some beans in my crock-pot the night before and we have an easy meal the next day.

    Happy cooking,
    Jennifer

  5. Hi Virginia,

    Thank you so much for sharing this information. As the article notes, toxins in the beans are removed by boiling. Thankfully, most modern slow cookers do get hot enough to bring beans to a boil, and if the beans are at the boiling point for at least 10 minutes, then there's no concern.

    My slow cooker gently boils beans for several hours.

    To be safe, one should check one's slow cooker to make sure it gets hot enough to boil beans.

    I should have mentioned this in my post. Thank you for pointing it out. 🙂 I’ll edit to make this clear.

  6. 5 stars
    Just found your site and am looking forward to learning more. Just put my beans in the crockpot and set the timer. . . thank you!

  7. I have been experimenting with a whole plant food diet for approaching 5 years now and am constantly amazed by the benefits. I have stopped most medications and my doctor is delighted with my blood pressure and bloodwork. I don’t have to take supplements any more and all results are in the normal range. I can eat as much as I want (no dieting other than the range of foods I eat) and have lost 45 lbs with no effort. I just don’t get sick any more.

    Your slow cooker recipes for hot whole grain cereals are wonderful encouraging me to experiment. My wife and I love a hot cocoa, barley, rye, steel cut oats, quinoa recipe with shredded coconut and walnut pieces.

    I have just found your bean page and will play with it now. Thank you.

    I’m interested in creative seasonings for beans. Do you have something on that?

    I notice the last posting here is 2013. Are you still doing this great service?

    1. Hi Ray,

      Thanks for your comment. So great to hear about what a plant-based diet has done for you! I’ve heard so many stories like yours and it’s amazing what a big difference this little change can make.

      I like simple seasonings for beans. I often add some fresh garlic and some granulated onion and some salt at the end of the cooking time. But you could also lean toward Italian with some basil and oregano or towards Mexican with some fresh cilantro.

      And yes, I am still trying to post helpful information every week or so for those who are trying to live a healthier lifestyle. I hope you enjoy! 🙂

      Thanks again,
      Jennifer

  8. I have a black bean posole that I want to start at 10:00 p.m. and serve around noon the next day. Will it not overcook the beans to cook on high the entire time? Would it be better to begin on low, then turn to high when I get up the next morning? I don’t mind super soft beans.

    1. Hi Kelly,

      It is very difficult to overcook beans in a slow cooker. I often start my beans on high in the afternoon or evening and continue cooking them on high all through the night and well into the next day and they turn out great.

      That said, if you want firm beans like you would find in a can, you may not want to cook them so long.

      Jennifer

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