2331 Commercial Blvd
State College, PA 16801

Dried Beans


Look for smooth surfaces and bright colors. Dull, wrinkled surfaces can indicate age.


Even though the beans are dried, fresher is still better. Store beans in an airtight container away from heat and use them within 6 months, preferably sooner.


Look for smooth surfaces and bright colors. Dull, wrinkled surfaces can indicate age.


With few exceptions, beans will cook more evenly, tenderly and in less time, if they have been soaked in ample cool water first. (Check specific beans below to see the exceptions.)
Any amount of soaking time is beneficial, but most beans can use a soak of at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours. Or try the quick-soak method: Cover beans with 2 inches of water and boil 2 minutes.


Dried beans can be cooked in a saucepan or pot on top of the stove, in a pressure cooker, in your oven, or in your microwave.

The basic principles of cooking dried beans remain the same no matter which method you use. Dried beans require water or other liquid, oil or other fat and salt. Any acidic ingredients called for must be added at the specified time.

Water or other liquid is needed to soften the beans as they cook. There must be enough liquid to keep the beans covered so they will cook uniformly. Any beans not covered during cooking will dry out and be inedible.

Oil or other fat is used in the cooking of many foods to lessen the possibility of the cooking water boiling over. Vegetable oil, butter or margarine, lard or bacon is usually added to beans to help prevent boil-overs. The oil or fat used in the cooking also adds flavor to the beans.

Salt may be necessary to give beans flavor. There is some controversy as to when is the best time to add the salt to the beans. Some cooks add the salt only after the beans have been softened in cooking. Others prefer to add the salt to the cooking water with the beans. Our experience is that adding salt at the beginning of cooking results in more flavorful beans and does not significantly influence the cooking time or tenderness of the beans. For average taste, 1 teaspoon of salt in the cooking water for each cup of beans is about right. Note: You may want to hold off or cut down on the amount of salt used if salty meat is going to be added.


Place the drained beans into a large pot or Dutch oven and cover with 6 cups fresh water for each pound (2 cups) of beans, or to about one inch above the beans. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons oil (to prevent boiling over) and seasonings as desired. Boil gently with lid tilted until tender when taste tasted, 11⁄2 to 2 hours. Add hot water as needed to keep beans just covered with liquid. The best rule is to test frequently during cooking, then come to your own decision when beans are tender and taste “done”.

Cooking beans on top of the stove is a slow process that allows the flavors of the beans and seasoning to intermingle, creating the hearty flavor you expect from bean dishes. The disadvantage of this method is that it requires you to be present, although not continuously involved, while the beans are cooking.

To cook beans on your stove-top, combine soaked or dried beans, water, oil or fat, and seasonings in a saucepan or pot of appropriate size. Bring the beans to a boil, reduce the heat, then cover and simmer until beans are tender. This takes 30 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the bean variety. Check the beans occasionally to see if they are covered with the cooking liquid. If there is so much liquid absorption and evaporation that the top of the beans becomes exposed, add very hot tap water to the pot to cover the beans.

When dried beans boil, a foam forms on the top of the cooking liquid. This foam is water-soluble protein released from the beans and it will be absorbed back into the bean cooking liquid. It is not necessary to remove the foam. (To keep the foam down when cooking beans, add 1 tablespoon of butter, drippings (consider flavor), or vegetable salad oil, for each cup of beans.)

The best cookware for beans is a heavy metal pot or saucepan. Stainless steel, cast aluminum or cast iron are all excellent. The following guide may help you decide which of your pots and pans would be best for cooking beans.

Stainless steel pans should have copper or aluminum bottoms to distribute heat evenly. This cookware is easy to care for and lasts a lifetime.
Cast aluminum pans must be heavy to distribute heat well. Aluminum darkens with use but this does not affect the quality of the cookware or the cooked beans. Thin aluminum pans are inappropriate for cooking pans.

Cast iron is the heaviest of stove-top cookware. It heats slowly, distributes heat evenly and holds heat better than other materials. Cast iron coated with porcelain enamel is easy to clean.

Beans (soaked)SaucepanPressure Cooker*
Adzuki Beans45 Min to 1 Hr.Not Recommended
Anasazi Beans1.5 Hrs.5 to 7 Min.
Black Beans1 to 1.5 Hrs.5 to 8 Min.
Black-Eyed Peas1 to 1.5 Hrs.5 to 7 Min.
Canellini Beans1.5 Hrs.5 to 7 Min.
Cranberry Beans1.5 to 2 Hrs.5 to 9 Min.
Fava Beans1 to 1.5 Hrs.5 to 7 Min.
Flageolet Beans1.5 Hrs.5 to 7 Min.
Garbanzo Beans1 to 1.5 Hrs.5 to 7 Min.
Great Northerns1 to 1.5 Hrs.5 to 7 Min.
Lima Beans, Large45 Min to 1 Hr.Not Recommended
Lima Beans, Baby1 Hr.Not Recommended
Mung Beans1.25 Hrs.5-7 Min.
Navy or Small Whites1 to 1.5 Hrs5 to 8 Min.
Pink Beans1 to 1.5 Hrs6 to 8 Min.
Pinto Beans1 to 1.5 Hrs5 to 7 Min.
Red Beans1 to 1.5 Hrs6 to 8 Min.
Red Kidney Beans1 to 1.5 Hrs5 to 8 Min.
Soybeans3 Hours12 to 15 Min.