Guide to Slow Cooker Beans and Legumes

coconut curry red lentil soup

Beans, peas, and legumes are one of the world’s most economical foods.  Consider this:  a serving of lentils will set you back about 10 cents. That’s a seriously steep discount from any type of animal protein. Pulses, as they’re known, are deeply satisfying and enormously nourishing. They’re also very easy to cook, particularly with the aid of a slow cooker, which is why I put together this guide to slow cooker beans and legumes. It makes perfect sense, since dried beans, peas, and legumes are excellent cooked gently; a slow cooker allows you to do so without having to watch the pot. 

Guide to slow cooker beans and legumes

Guide to Slow Cooker Beans and Legumes

In this guide, you’ll find the results of a deep dive into slow cooking pulses, including:

  • Black Beans

  • Pinto Beans

  • Cannelinni Beans

  • Black-Eyed Peas

  • Chick Peas

  • Lentils

Should You Soak your Beans First?

You’ll note that none of the instructions in this guide call for pre-soaking.  After much experimentation, I found little upside to soaking beans (other than the fact that it cuts down on cooking time). I gathered up my data and assembled this printable slow cooker guide, with suggestions on ratio of beans to water, seasonings, and recipe ideas. Scroll down a little further and you’ll find more on how to store and prep beans once you’ve run them through your crock pot.

The Ultimate Guide to Slow Cooking Beans and Legumes #slowcooker #pulsepledge Share on X

How to Store Beans

Guide to Slow Cooker Beans and Legumes

Once beans and legumes are cooked, store them in some of their cooking liquid in a covered container in the refrigerator, where they will keep for 4 to 5 days (you know when it’s time to toss them because they get stinky). You can store cooked beans in a resealable bag in the freezer for several months. Be sure to label and date the bag so you can keep track of what you have.

How Healthy Are Beans and Legumes?

Despite trendy diets hat might have you believe otherwise, beans and legumes are seriously good for you. Every last one is high in fiber, something most of us are lacking. They are universally low in fat and vary in vitamins and minerals depending on the variety:

  • Lentils are high in protein.
  • Kidney beans are rich in antioxidants.
  • Black beans are full of iron.
  • Chick peas are heavy hitters when it comes to folate.

One important side note about slow cooking kidney beans: They contain a toxin that can cause GI distress, so you must bring them to a full boil on the stove top for 10 minutes BEFORE you get them going in the slow cooker. After boiling, drain, add to the slow cooker with water, and then cook until tender. 

Beans are Enormously Versatile

quick huevos rancheros

The possibilities for how to use beans and legumes in your cooking are endless.

  • Turn them into soup, such as this Easy Black Bean one.
  • Toss them with a vinaigrette along with diced vegetables or greens for a simple salad.
  • Puree them with olive oil, garlic, lemon, and salt, for a hummus-like spread.
  • Toss them with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and fresh herbs and serve under a piece of grilled fish.
  • Put them on a corn tortilla and top with a fried egg.

How do you do beans? Chime in below in the comments section.

Now that you’re armed with a guide to slow cooker beans and legumes, check out these slow cooker recipes:

 Lentil Tacos with Indian Spices

Black-Eyed Pea Chili

Turkey and Butternut Squash Chili

Pinto Beans

Baked Beans


03.13.2017 at8:51 PM #


Love your website and approach to food. I’ve long been preparing beans in my slow cooker and freezing (toss a handful on a salad in the morning they thaw by lunch) but black and kidney beans always seem to break apart in cooking. Did you encounter this issue? Any tips?

03.13.2017 at8:51 PM #

Katie Morford

Thanks for your kind words. A couple of suggestions about beans: try to buy them from a source you know has a lot of turnover. I’ve read that older beans are more prone to breaking down. Also, I have the best luck cooking them at a low temperature in the slow cooker rather than the high setting. I tend to add salt in the beginning, just for ease, but plenty of folks will tell you to add salt towards the end of cooking. It’s worth a shot. Lastly, be sure to pre-boil your kidney beans for at least 10 minutes before you cook them in the slow cooker. They have a toxin that can linger under low heat. Best of luck.

03.14.2017 at8:29 AM #

Meg Hart

I love this guide. I have been cooking with mixed beans all winter. Many markets have a packages or beans which contain a mix of beans, some with dehydrated veggies, some just plain. All mixes are yummy when prepared as you suggest, with a long simmer and herbs to taste, and a ham hock thrown in never hurts. Thanks Katie!

03.14.2017 at8:29 AM #

Katie Morford

Yes…I do love a big ole’ ham bone in my beans, especially white beans and black-eyed peas.

08.29.2017 at9:05 PM #


Thanks! I like things simple for everyday fare. Ain’t nobody got time for cooking all day!

08.29.2017 at9:05 PM #

Katie Morford

me too! I find simple is so often the best.

06.15.2018 at11:45 AM #


Thanks so much for this handy chart. I;m new to slow cooking. Question: What size crock pot is suggested for this recipe? I only have a small, 2 quart size, and was planning to make only about 1 cup of dry beans at a time. Your recipe calls for 1 pound of beans. Can I just cut the recipe in half?

08.16.2018 at1:49 PM #


Do you have any tips for cooking navy beans in the crockpot?

01.13.2019 at9:00 AM #

Jeannie Johnson

Can you cook navy beans in the crock pot just like pintos?
I did the pintos — best ever!
Now I want to do navy beans. thanks

01.13.2019 at9:00 AM #

Katie Morford

Hi Jeannie, Yes! You can do navy beans using this method. The cooking time will likely be a bit different, so just keep an eye on things. Here’s a chart on slow cooking a variety of beans.

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