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How to Cook Dried Beans (Because Yep, It’s the Best Way to Eat Them)
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

Let’s get real—who has the time or energy to cook with dried beans? You do!

Let me explain: I was once like you and scoffed at the idea of soaking beans overnight and cooking them the next day. Why would I go through all that effort when grabbing a can from the cupboard was so much faster and easier?

But then I actually tried it (my husband’s idea, not mine) and, honestly, I could really taste the difference. The beans were creamy and soft instead of mushy and with none of the metallic taste you sometimes get from the ready-to-eat version. It’s also cheaper (yay). And another thing? Prepping them was easy—all you need is some time. Trust me on this one, guys. Introducing your no-fuss guide for how to cook dried beans.

1. Soak the beans

Put the beans in a pot and cover them with a couple of inches of water. Put the pot in the fridge overnight and, well, that’s it. (Note: one cup of dried beans will make about three cups of cooked beans.) Don’t have that much time? Here’s how to quickly soak your beans: Put your beans in a pot on the stove and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Then, turn off the heat, put a lid on and let the beans soak for an hour.

2. Add seasoning

Drain and rise the beans, then transfer them to another pot and cover with fresh water (about two inches should do the trick). While cooking your beans in water and salt will yield delicious results, you can amp up the flavor with herbs, spices and aromatics. Anything goes, but here are some suggestions to get you started: onion, bay leaf, garlic, shallots, chiles, rosemary, thyme, carrots, celery and more. You could also cook your beans in stock or throw in some meat (like bacon or ham) for a richer flavor.

3. Cook the beans

Bring the beans to a simmer (avoid boiling them, which will break them up). Depending on the type of beans, they’ll cook in one to three hours (my pot of cannellini beans took about 90 minutes). You’ll know the beans are done when they’re tender and cooked through but not mushy. Now, let the beans hang out in the cooking liquid for 30 minutes or so—this will infuse some of the flavor from the broth. If you’re planning on storing these guys in the fridge (where they’ll last for about a week) or freezer (keep them there for three months), then let the beans cool fully.

4. Enjoy

Add your delicious beans to soups, tacos, salads, stews and more. (Or enjoy them all on their own with this white bean side-dish.) And whatever you do, don’t throw away the cooking liquid—use it the same way you would regular stock. We like adding it to soups, stews and pasta sauces for extra flavor.

RELATED: 20 Meals You Can Make With a Can of Black Beans

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