How to Cook Simple Black Beans (soaked or unsoaked)
It’s awfully handy to know how to cook simple black beans. I found this to be the case several years ago when a pot of beans served as the foundation for our meals during a trip to Mexico. We ended up there when a friend generously offered up her vacation condo at the last minute. With my hubby tied up with work, I grabbed a girlfriend and our collective crew of kids, and off we went. The place was breathtaking, but unfortunately, so were the prices at the resort restaurant. Since we had a kitchen at our disposal, we figured we’d cook in rather than spend our children’s college funds in the dining room.
Simple Black Beans
Our cooking goals were to prepare dishes that were in keeping with our south-of-the-border surroundings AND wouldn’t eat up too much precious pool time. We hit the supermarket and loaded up on fruits, veggies, avocados, two kinds of tortillas, eggs, cheese, the requisite chips and salsa, and a couple of pounds of dried black beans, which we tossed in as an afterthought.
Easy, Tasty Black Beans
Back at the condo, we brewed a delicious pot of simple black beans that was the staple of our diet for the week. We worked them into our meals at all hours of the day and night. Here were some of our favorite combinations:
- Served beneath fried eggs and salsa for breakfast
- Pureed with a splash of the bean cooking water, lime, cumin, and cayenne for a chip dip
- Tossed with corn, chopped cilantro, scallions, olive oil, and lemon or lime juice for a salad
- Served as a side dish to grilled fish or chicken with sliced avocado and tortillas
A Simple Way to Cook Dried Beans
Everyone has a different opinion about the best way to cook dried beans. Some insist that you soak them overnight first, others claim that’s a waste of time, and nobody can agree on when to add the salt. I’ve ignored all the chatter with this recipe and just do beans the way my friend Sara taught me. She’s from Guatemala, where beans are eaten on a daily basis. She manages to make a perfect pot every time.
Although black beans take time to cook, it’s an easy task, since no hovering is required. Rely on an Instant Pot (recipe link below) if you want to speed up the process.
Once you know how to cook simple black beans
I’d suggest making a pound (or even two) and finding ways to use them throughout the week. Here are a few suggestions:
Quick Breakfast Tacos is an easy fix for the morning
Easy Cheesy Thermos Beans makes a nourishing lunch to go
Sweet Potato Black Bean Bowls with Glossy Green Sauce is a terrific vegetarian dinner
Three-Ingredient Black Bean Soup (use 4 1/2 cups of beans rather than 3 cans)
Crock Pot Borracho Beans from Kate Ramos
How to Store Black Beans?
Once you’ve got your beans cooked, transfer them to a large jar or container with a tight seal and keep in the refrigerator. I find they typically keep about five days. When they begin to get a little stinky, it’s time to send them to the compost. If you tire of the beans, simply pack them into a storage container and stick them in the freezer for another day. Freezing impacts the texture a bit, but they remain very tasty. To defrost, leave them on the counter for a few hours or defrost overnight in the fridge.
More Bean Recipes:
A printable guide on slow cooking six beans and legumes
Simple Pot of Black Beans
This is a supremely simple method for turning dried black beans into creamy cooked ones. You can add the step of soaking in advance if you prefer, as it will speed up the process. Know that cooking time can vary considerably, so keep an eye on the pot as they approach doneness.
- 1 pound dried black beans, about 2 cups
- 2 large cloves garlic
- ½ yellow onion
- 8 cups water
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
Pour the beans into a colander. Run your hands through them, looking for any tiny stones or other debris to throw out. Rinse the beans under water and let drain.
Peel the garlic and onion (no need to chop). Put the garlic, onion, beans, and water into a medium saucepan. Put the pot, uncovered, on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil. Once the water reaches a full boil, reduce the heat just a touch so that it continues to boil, just not super vigorously. Boil the beans, checking them occasionally to make sure there is plenty of water in the pot. If it looks like there isn’t much water in the pot, add another cup or so of very hot tap water, and turn the heat up so it boils again.
After 30 minutes, add the salt, stir, and taste a couple of beans. You want them just tender, but not mushy. The length of cooking time can vary significantly, from 30 minutes to 1 hour or longer. Check the beans from time to time until they are done. Remove the pot from heat. Leave the beans in their cooking liquid, scooping them up with a slotted spoon as needed. Feel free to discard the garlic and onion.
Store the beans in a covered container in the fridge, where they will keep for up to 5 days.