How to Cook Simple Black Beans (soaked or unsoaked)

Bowl of black beans with pot

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.

pot of black beans with a spoon

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.

bowl of black beans with cilantro

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

Easy Instant Pot Black Beans 

Slow Cooker Pinto Beans

bowl of black beans with cilantro
5 from 5 votes

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.

Course Dinner, Side Dish, Appetizer
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 cups (12 half cup servings)
Calories 114 kcal
Author Katie Morford


  • 1 pound dried black beans, about 2 cups
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt


  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Store the beans in a covered container in the fridge, where they will keep for up to 5 days.

Simple pot of black beans graphic pin


02.01.2011 at7:29 PM #

Pamela Hommeyer

I haven’t even read this yet and I already love it! I’ve been thinking about what do do with black beans. So, thanks, Katie.

02.02.2011 at3:34 PM #


Printing these recipes right now. THANKS!

02.02.2011 at3:34 PM #


Let me know how it goes!

02.02.2011 at4:29 PM #


I have a question regarding the nutritional difference between canned and dried beans. I generally try to avoid buying canned (and other prepared) foods, but I will admit to having a full pantry of canned beans (all varieties) as well as a few other items such as canned tomatoes in different forms. I know that canned beans have added sodium, but otherwise, are there any nutritional disadvantages to using the canned ones? Thank you in advance for addressing a long-time question.

02.02.2011 at4:29 PM #


Good question, Michelle. While fresh food is preferable, I too have the same canned pantry staples in my house. As you saw in today’s “hot tip,” I’m a fan of canned beans. They compare quite favorably to dried from a nutrition standpoint. Buying low-sodium beans and rinsing them will help cut down the salt.

02.08.2011 at6:19 AM #


Because of this post I started my week with a big pot of black beans. I used a different recipe so I could make them in the crockpot. We had the huevos rancheros tonight and tomorrow there will be a few thermoses of beans in the lunchboxes. Thanks for the ideas!

02.08.2011 at6:19 AM #


I’d love it if you would share how you did the beans in the crockpot and how it turned out.

08.21.2011 at7:07 PM #


Thanks for the recipe. I love beans

10.18.2012 at3:32 AM #


I have recently started to add beans to my diet. I must say I absolutely love them. Do you have some suggestions for seasonings to use rather than salt?

10.18.2012 at3:32 AM #

Katie Morford

It really depends on what direction you want to go flavor-wise. Dried cumin, fresh cilantro, lime juice, and lemon juice and my usual suspects for beans. Any type of chili sauce or salsa, other favorite spices.

10.24.2013 at10:16 AM #

Pam H

Can you cook these in a slow cooker, like your pinto bean recipe?

10.24.2013 at10:16 AM #

Katie Morford

The cooking time may vary, but yes.

02.23.2014 at12:11 PM #


How long do these beans keep in the refrigerator, roughly?

02.23.2014 at12:11 PM #

Katie Morford

I would say up to five days. They freeze well, too.

05.20.2014 at7:35 PM #


i love these beans!

09.19.2017 at1:45 PM #


How long can I Keep the Black beans in the freeze?

09.19.2017 at1:45 PM #

Katie Morford

I would say easily three months if they are packed well.

12.22.2022 at10:22 AM #

Heather M.

So easy and delicious! The only way I make black beans now

12.22.2022 at11:46 AM #


Soooo easy! Soooo good!

02.08.2023 at9:24 AM #


I love this recipe. I make a pot of these beans almost every week now. Thank you!

02.08.2023 at9:24 AM #

Katie Morford

Oh my gosh! Music to my ears. Thanks for the comment.

02.08.2023 at9:40 AM #

Jen H.

Never thought I’d opt out of canned beans but this recipe was so easy and delicious

02.08.2023 at9:40 AM #

Katie Morford

Awesome! Canned beans are great when you’re short on time, but there’s nothing like making them from scratch.

02.08.2023 at5:02 PM #

Louisa B

So easy and delicious. We made a huge pot and the whole family loves.

02.20.2023 at7:24 AM #


I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. Are we chopping the garlic and onion, or adding it whole, and removed later?

02.20.2023 at7:24 AM #

Katie Morford

Hi Denise, Good question. There’s no need to chop the garlic and onion. I added a note in the recipe to make it more clear!

03.12.2023 at5:24 PM #


Hello, I was wondering if you put a lid on the pot when cooking the beans?

03.12.2023 at5:24 PM #

Katie Morford

No. I will clarify that better in the recipe. Thanks for the comment.

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