Cook Dried Beans and Freeze Them for Later

It’s no secret that we pay for convenience when we buy processed foods. A great example is canned chili and beans.

If you’re on a budget when it comes to food costs, every little bit helps to reduce your spending. Cooking your own beans is a great way to shave a few bucks off the bill.

Consider these price points:

  • Canned chili typically costs anywhere from 99 cents on sale up to two bucks when not. The contents? Cooked beans, tomato sauce, and seasonings.
  • Canned beans range in price from 50 cents to a buck twenty-five, though I see the price rising. Your average 15-ounce can contains beans and cooking liquid.
  • A 5 pound bag of dried beans costs between five and seven dollars. Once cooked, that’s the equivalent of about fifteen cans of beans. Your cost per 2-cup portion is about 33 cents, making dried beans the best deal.

Of course, all this depends on the price of beans (in its varied forms) where you live, but clearly, dried beans are the most economical choice.

They are also an excellent candidate for freezer cooking. Not only are they cheaper, but dried beans that you cook yourself are also healthier. You can add whatever seasonings YOU want and keep out additives that you’d rather avoid.

Cook up a big batch of beans in the slow cooker, divide them into 2-cup portions, and you have beans ready for any recipe.

Last week I made the best batch; my husband even inquired about them; they were that good. Sometimes homecooked beans can be tough or gassy. These were neither.

My trick: Soak the beans for a full 24 hours. Drain and rinse. Cover with one inch of water in the slow cooker and cook on high until tender, about three to four hours. Add the seasonings (salt, etc) after the beans have fully cooked. Be sure to cool them to room temperature and chill them in the refrigerator before freezing.

I freeze beans in larger than 2-cup portions because I’m feeding a small army. But, 2 cups is an approximate equivalent to one can, so that’s an easy way to package them.

Cook up a big batch of beans and freeze them.

31 Days of Freezer Cooking

For more ideas about how to make freezer cooking work for you, follow along with us here in October as I post 31 Days of Freezer Cooking. You can see past posts here.

For even more Freezer Cooking how-to’s you can also buy my book, Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook.

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Comments

  1. I have yet to cook dried beans, but seeing your simple way of doing in the slow cooker is just what I needed. I like that we can freeze them, once cooked. Thanks for the motivation and instructions!

  2. Great idea! We cook our own beans, butDo you freeze beans with or without cooking liquid?

  3. i’ve had some really icky expensive canned beans. really interested to see what home cooked tastes like. will it improve my white bean dip? my chili? can’t wait to see. thanks for posting an easy-to-follow guide.

  4. Melissa Witte says:

    Darn it….I just made my first batch (they are cooking now). I read soak overnight so they only soaked about 8 hours (should have soaked longer)….I hope they are not tough. Glad to know they will freeze well. Wish I had read this yesterday :)

    • I think you’ll be fine. They’ll still cook up great. Eight hours is typical. But, what I did differently last time was soak them for a VERY long time. Did you add salt yet? I think that will make a difference, too. Don’t want to add it until they are softened.

    • Patti Reis says:

      @Melissa Witte, It seems that you should be able to simply cook them a bit longer and they will be fine. Another way to soften beans (and I’ve done this for soup, I’ve never pre-cooked beans like this so keep that in mind) is to cover with an inch of water in a pan and bring to a boil, then soak for an hour or two. It’s good if you’re in a pinch anyway!

  5. I cook many types of bean in the crock pot but have a terrible time with red kidney beans. Is there a trick to keep them from whole? Mine always burst, not a good look for kidney beans.

    • @karen, I don’t like them, so I haven’t tried. But, I have read that you need to be very careful with red kidney beans. If they aren’t cooked sufficiently, they can make you sick/be poisonous.

    • AllieZirkle says:

      @karen, I stay away from slow cooked kidney beans. There’s a toxin in them that creeps me out.

      From LiveStrong.com “Cooking red kidney beans in crock pots or slow cookers may not heat them enough to destroy the toxin and may actually potentiate it. Heating to a temperature of 176 degrees Fahrenheit may increase the toxin levels by as much as five times. Crock pots often don’t reach temperatures greater than 167. Using dry heat to cook the beans does not appear to inactivate the toxin. In reported cases, 100 percent of people who ate the beans developed symptoms; age and sex don’t appear to affect the symptoms, which vary in intensity according to how many beans were ingested, according to the FDA.”

      • @AllieZirkle, I wish I had seen this before I started to do my beans. I soaked red kidney beans for 24 hours. And they have now been in the slow cooker for 4 hours on high. I did check the water temp in there and it’s at least 200 degrees Farenheit. They still don’t seem soft enough. I think I’ll cook a little longer but I’m a little scared now. I have another batch of beans soaking but they are white kidney beans so I’m not worried about them.

  6. Do you have a particular recipe for the seasoning that you normally use? Also, I once made a healthier “refried” bean recipe using pinto beans in the slow cooker. It turned out pretty good. Do you do that and if so, do you have a recipe you can share or have shared before?

  7. Susan Kay says:

    Used your new cookbook over the weekend as my freezer cooking guide. THANK YOU!!! for a wonderful cookbook and for using your talents to share with the rest of us. Best wishes.

  8. When my crockpot beans are chilled, I transfer them to freezer bags with a little of the cooking liquid. I know that many people will not want to use the consumables (plastic bags) for various reasons, but I have limited freezer space and these create flat packages that stack easily.

  9. I have done this and have some frozen black beans in my freezer, but now I’m wondering if I can add my frozen beans to foods that will later be frozen (like Chili and Taco meat). Is there a no double freeze rule like with meat? Thanks!

    • The meat rule isn’t actually true. According to the USDA, it is safe to double freeze, but it can effect the texture. As for beans, same thing. It’s safe, but may give it a funny texture.

  10. AllieZirkle says:

    I always wondered if you froze in two cup portions. My growing army is eating me out of house and home. I have a ridiculous stock pile of canned beans, but when it runs out, we’ll be back to freezing beans- in three cup portions. :)

  11. Do you just add an inch of water in the crockpot or an inch over the beans? And how much of the beans?

  12. I noticed you don’t include cooking liquid in the container? Do yourbeans dry out without it?

    • @Laurie, There’s usually a little in each container, but no, I don’t fill all the spaces with liquid. No one’s complained about them being dry.

  13. I did a big batch of beans a couple of months ago. I did 8Ibs of kidney beans and black beans in the crock pot. It took me five days to cook them all. Some of the Kidney beans came out mushy but I just used these for burrito mix. Preparing your own beans is a little work, and my husband thinks I am crazy for doing it, for the few cents I save, but after giving him a lecture about the health benefits of making my own he is more supportive. I love being able to just go to the freezer and grab a bag when I need it. I highly recommend taking the time to do beans and the crock pot really makes it simple

    Tracy

  14. One more thing, I am not sure how you can tell if beans are fresh? The last batch I made many of them spit during the soaking process, and I ended up throwing away quite a few. I have also read about Kidney beans being dangerous if not cooked properly. I always boil them after I soak them and then transfer them to the crock pot and have not had any troubles.

    Tracy

  15. I have only tried cooking dried beans a few times and I have to say that I have not enjoyed the results – they were not getting tender. Could it be that the beans were old? I want to try your method of soaking them for 24 hours – maybe that is the trick?

  16. I wonder if the temp of the slow cooker has anything to do with the tender aspect. I’ve been cooking beans since last spring when came across your site. My new crock pot is HOT–boils on low if on that setting long enough. Making pintos for refried beans is a cinch in it as they cook REALLY well. LOL Learned to not cook on high for stuff like this. Last week I cooked up a smaller amount in my older small crockpot and it seemed to take FOREVER to get the beans tender! If I plan to use this cooker again I’ll try the 24 hour soak to see if that helps. Oh, and my clan hasn’t noticed any big differences with refreezing beans– nobody’s complained of funny tasting beans in their enchiladas! (as they scarf them down) . . .

  17. When you say cover with an inch of water, do you mean cover the beans with water and then go above by an inch? So LOTS of water, yes?

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