How to Cook Simple Black Beans

A few summers ago, a friend generously offered me her family’s vacation condo in Mexico for a week after she had to abandon her holiday plans at the last minute. With my hubby tied up with work commitments, I grabbed a girlfriend, along with the kids, and off we went.

It wasn’t until we pulled up to the luxurious grounds of the resort that we realized we’d hit the vacation jackpot. The place was breathtaking, as were the prices at the resort restaurant. Since we were staying in a condo, it made sense to hit the local supermarket rather than spend our children’s college funds in the dining room.

Our cooking goals were twofold: prepare dishes that 1) were in keeping with our south-of-the-border locale, and 2) wouldn’t eat up too much of our precious pool time (this was vacation, after all). We loaded up a goodly haul at the market –fruits, veggies, herbs, and the requisite chips and salsa– as well as a couple of pounds of dried black beans, which we tossed in as an afterthought.

Back at the condo, we brewed up a delicious pot of basic black beans that proved to be the staple of our diet for the week. We found ourselves working them into our meals at all hours of the day: underneath fried eggs at breakfast, pureed with lime and chili for a chip dip, tossed cold with corn alongside salad greens, served as a side to grilled fish with the tender, home-made tortillas we bought in town. Who knows whether it was the sun and cerveza, but somehow nobody tired of the beans.

Although black beans take time to cook, it’s an easy task since no hovering is required. Rely on a pressure cooker or slow cooker for help if you have one. Make a big batch, a pound, or even two. Then, find ways to use them throughout the week. Quick Huevos Rancheros is a good place to start as is Easy Cheesy Thermos Beans.  If you tire of the beans, simply pack them into a storage container and stick them in the freezer for another day, perhaps in the sunshine with a cerveza in hand.

For More Bean Recipes:

Easy Instant Pot Black Beans 

A printable guide on slow cooking six different beans and legumes

Slow Cooker Pinto Beans

Simple Pot of Black Beans

Everyone has a different opinion about the best way to cook beans. Some people insist that you soak them overnight before cooking, others claim that’s a waste of time, and nobody can agree about when to add salt to the pot. I’ve ignored all that chatter and just do beans the way my friend Sarah does them. She’s from Guatemala, where they cook an awful lot of beans, and manages to make a perfect pot every time.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 cups
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. Put the garlic, onion, beans, and water into a medium saucepan. Put the pot 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.
  4. Store the beans in a covered container in the fridge, where they will keep for up to 5 days.


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 #


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 #


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 #


I would say about three days. They freeze very well.

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 #


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

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