How to Cook Dried Beans and Freeze Them for Later

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. We participate in other affiliate programs as well. For more details, please see our disclosure policy.

You pay for convenience with canned beans, but you can save money when you cook dry beans yourself and freeze them to use later. Here’s how.

pinto beans in a metal pan for sorting

It’s no secret that we pay for convenience when we buy processed foods. And that convenience is great. I mean, it’s so easy to open a can of beans and get dinner going in a matter of minutes.

But, the flip side is that to cook dried beans is a pretty simple task. It seems silly to pay someone else to do it.

If you’re on a budget, every little bit helps to reduce your spending. Learn to cook dried beans and you can shave a few bucks off the grocery bill.

Since our family got out of debt thanks to a beans and rice diet, beans play an important role in our diet to this say. And since it’s important to me to get the biggest ROI from my time, I crunched the numbers to see if it was cheaper to cook dried beans myself.

Is it cheaper to cook dried beans than to buy canned beans?

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. And maybe some preservatives and cooking “agents”.
  • 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, to cook dried beans yourself is the most economical choice.

woman holding pot of dried navy beans

Can you freeze beans you’ve cooked yourself?

Yes! Home cooked beans are 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.

Scroll down for the directions.

How long does it take to cook dried beans?

When you buy canned beans, you’re paying for convenience, right? So, it stands to reason that cooking dried beans might be a little inconvenient. Or at least it seems to be.

Your cooking time for dried beans will depend on the manner in which you’re going to cook them.

To cook dried beans will take:

  • all day in the slow cooker
  • several hours in a pot on the stove
  • about an hour in an electric pressure cooker

Do you have to soak beans before cooking them?

If you are cooking dried beans in a slow cooker or in a pot on the stove, you will need to soak them for 8 to 12 hours before cooking them.

There is a quick soak method in which you heat the beans in a pot of water and boil for several minutes. Then cover the pot and let them soak in this water for at least an hour.

You don’t need to soak dried beans before cooking them in the electric pressure cooker.

How do you keep beans from giving you gas?

Caveat: Sometimes home cooked beans can be gassy. Oy.

One way to eliminate this is to soak the beans for a full 24 hours. Drain and rinse. Then proceed with the cooking. This long soaking time seems to eliminate the gas that can come from cooking dried beans yourself.

cooked pinto beans divided into containers for freezing

What kitchen tools do you need to cook dried beans?

These are the tools I use to cook dried beans on a weekly basis:

How do you cook dried beans?

To cook dried beans, you will need to decide on your method of cooking them: in the slow cooker, on the stovetop, or in the electric pressure cooker.

But, first some prep work:

Sort the beans.

When you open a bag of dried beans, you need to remember that they are a minimally-processed agricultural product. You’ll need to sort them and remove any pebbles or bits of dirt that might have made it through the processing plant.

Placing the beans in a strainer or a metal sheet pan will make this sorting process easier.

Rinse the beans.

Place the beans in a strainer if they aren’t already and rinse off any surface residue that might be present.

Soak the beans.

If you’re going to cook the beans in the slow cooker or on the stovetop, you’ll need to soak the beans. Place them in a pot (the slow cooker crock or a stockpot) and cover with 3-4 inches of water. Allow the beans to soak for 8 hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to cook them, drain the water and rinse the beans again.

If you’re going to cook the beans in the Instant Pot, you won’t need to soak them.

cooked pinto beans in instant pot

Cook the beans.

To cook dried beans in the slow cooker:

Place the soaked beans in the crock of the slow cooker and cover with about two inches of water. Add any spices, chopped onion, or seasonings you like.

Hold off on salting them until they are cooked. Salt during the cooking process can toughen the beans.

Cover and cook on low for 8 to 12 hours.

To cook dried beans in a pot on the stove:

Place the soaked beans in the pot and cover with about two inches of water. Add any spices, chopped onion, or seasonings you like.

Hold off on salting them until they are cooked. Salt during the cooking process can toughen the beans.

Bring the pot to a boil. Turn the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 to 2 hours or until the beans are tender.

To cook dried beans in an electric pressure cooker:

Place the rinsed beans in the pressure cooker, cover with two inches of water. Add any spices, chopped onion, or seasonings you like.

Hold off on salting them until they are cooked. Salt during the cooking process can toughen the beans.

Cover the pot and turn the pressure valve on. Turn on the cooker and set to manual according to the type of bean:

  • pinto beans – 22 minutes
  • black beans – 20 minutes

Allow the pressure to release naturally.

No matter how you cook them, the beans are ready to serve when they are tender. If the skin cracks when you blow on a bean you’ve scooped up in a spoon, it’s done.

bowl of beans and rice with toppings

Season the beans according to your tastes.

Once the beans are cooked, salt them and taste them to see that they suit your preferences for saltiness.

Serve the beans or package them for freezing.

In addition to serving rice and beans as a main dish, often times I serve cooked beans as a side dish for Mexican food, as an element for a Mexican food buffet, or in salads and soups.

Cooked beans are good in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. For longer storage, you should freeze them.

How do you freeze beans?

Divide the cooked beans into meal-size portions in airtight, freezer-safe containers. Two cups is an approximate equivalent to one can of beans, so that’s an easy way to package them. Your own convenience at home!

Chill the beans for several hours in the refrigerator. Cold food freezes more quickly which will help preserve the taste and texture of your beans upon freezing.

Store the beans in the freezer for up to 2 months. To serve, simply thaw and reheat.

0 from 0 votes
Homecooked Beans (3 ways)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
8 hrs
Total Time
8 hrs 10 mins
Cooking dried beans is a great way to save money and enjoy a versatile and delicious legume.
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: bean, beans, black bean, black beans, cannellini beans, great northern beans, navy beans, pinto beans, pintos
Servings: 7 cups
Calories: 195 kcal
  • 2 cups dry black beans about 1 pound ( can also use navy or pinto), sorted, rinsed, and drained
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Sort the beans and remove any stones or pebbles. Rinse and drain the beans to remove any surface dirt.
  1. In a large bowl or pot, place the dry beans and cover with two inches of water. Allow them to soak overnight or up to 24 hours.
  2. Rinse and drain the beans and place them in a large pot. Add the water, onion, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil.
  3. Once the pot is bubbling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Allow the beans to cook until very tender, about one to two hours. You’ll know the beans are done when you scoop up a couple beans in a spoon and blowing on them causes their skins to break open.
  4. Drain the beans and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  1. In a large bowl or pot, place the dry beans and cover with two inches of water. Allow them to soak overnight or up to 24 hours.
  2. Rinse and drain the beans and place them in the crock of a slow cooker. Add the water, onion, and bay leaf.
  3. Cook the beans for 8 to 10 hours on LOW or 6 hours on HIGH. You can also start them cooking before you go to bed and they’ll be done in the morning. You’ll know the beans are done when you scoop up a couple beans in a spoon and blowing on them causes their skins to break open.
  4. Drain the beans and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  1. Place the beans, water, onion, and bay leaf into the pot of an electric pressure cooker.
  2. Secure the lid and turn on the pressure valve. Set the machine to manual for 20 minutes. When the time is done, press cancel and let the pressure release naturally.
  3. Drain the beans and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Recipe Notes

FREEEZING INSTRUCTIONS 1. Cool the seasoned beans and divide them into 2-cup containers. Label with the date and contents. 2. Chill the containers in the refrigerator until completely cold. This helps the beans freeze more quickly, reducing the risk of freezer burn. 3. Place the containers in the freezer for up to 6 weeks. 4. Thaw completely before using in recipes. Note: 1 pound of dry beans equals about 6 1/2 to 7 cups cooked.

Nutrition Facts
Homecooked Beans (3 ways)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 195
% Daily Value*
Sodium 17mg1%
Potassium 844mg24%
Carbohydrates 36g12%
Fiber 8g33%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 12g24%
Vitamin A 10IU0%
Vitamin C 1.2mg1%
Calcium 80mg8%
Iron 2.8mg16%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Cook Dried Beans to Freeze for Later

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

Subscribe to Good Cheap Eats
Read Newer Post
Read Older Post


  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. Georgina says

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

    • Jessica says

      I usually add a little of the liquid to add moisture when I reheat.

  3. jasi says

    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 🙂

    • Jessica says

      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.

      • Melissa Witte says

        @Jessica, No haven’t put the salt in yet….will wait till they are soft. I did cook them with onion, red and green bell peppers though for taste. Thanks

    • 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. karen says

    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.

    • Jessica says

      @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 “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. Stacy says

    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.

    • Jessica says

      Well, thank you. I’m so glad to hear that it was a good resource for you.

  8. Nancy says

    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.

    • Beth says

      I wash and reuse plastic freezer bags. You will eventually have to dispose of them, but not quite some time. When I wash, if water drips out, I know they have a hole. That’s when I dispose of them. I freeze my own shredded cheese, sauces, soups, chilli everything. They take less room in the freezer. I do label them, so I always use the same bag for like items. Hope this helps.

  9. Jessica says

    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!

    • Jessica says

      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.

    • A says

      Why not just package the rest if the meal you want to use with the beans and keep the bag do beans separate until cooking time? Then add it all together- no re-freezing of beans. 🙂

  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?

    • Jessica says

      I did 3 cups of dried beans, and about 6 cups of water covered the beans by one inch over.

  12. Laurie says

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

    • Jessica says

      @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. Tracy says

    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


    • Emilia says

      Tracy, my reason for (slow)cooking my beans is merely because they taste SO much more delicious than canned ones. I tried Jessica Fisher’s slow-cooker recipe for Pinto Beans and am irreversibly addicted to them. (I was raised eating black beans with smoked pork meat every single day and, from childhood, and, well, survived! We traditionally eat tons of beans in Brazil, especially in the north. Put some rice in your dish than pour the beans on top; divine!)

  14. Tracy says

    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.


    • Jessica says

      @Tracy, I don’t know that splitting makes them bad. I’ve never read that.

    • Emilia says

      PS: from my experience with beans, splinting means nothing bad at all. It might be that some are more tender then others, most likely.

      • Would you agree that the dry ones that are split or broken are those to dump?

        • Emilia says

          I am 57–on March 11th!–and throughout my life I never met anyone who has given thought to beans “splitting” after they have been soaked or not… Let’s not split beans, but here are some thoughts from someone who has eaten beans since before I could talk. I think we (in Brazil) just take for granted some beans will split and some will break (before or after soaking). Remember: beans are dried before being sold. Some will most certainly break due to packaging and transporting; that doesn’t mean they are bad. A bag of beans will have beans from different pods, of course. My point is that some might be a bit “older” than others. That does not mean the ones that split have a problem and the ones that do not are fresher or of better quality. In truth, I have cooked some black beans for three hours in the pressure (the most common way we did in Brazil) then the same kind took less than half this time. I supposed then, that the ones that took longer to cook were older–which did not make any difference to the taste of the final product. The issue is, I believe, that Americans are not so used at eating beans on a daily basis. (Hey, did I or didn’t I graduate from Bean University, lol!)

          • A belated thank you for the input. You are the Bean Queen! 😉

          • Ha, ha, ha! And you are the food queen! We love all your recipes, my husband and I. Thank you for sharing your God-given talent with the rest of us mortals, Jessica. (Check out my Amazon page!)

          • Thanks for your kind words!

  15. Janelle says

    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?

    • Jessica says

      I didn’t have very tender beans until I did this long soak. I am guessing that was why?

      • Janelle says

        I am going to give it a try in the coming week – I am hoping for great results! Thanks!

  16. Carla says

    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) . . .

    • Jessica says

      @Carla, I don’t believe that all crockpots are created equal. 😉

  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?

  18. Jill says

    When you soak the dried beans for 24 hrs, should they be refrigerated or at room temperature? Should the bowl be covered or uncovered?

    • I’ve done it at room temperature covered or uncovered. But, don’t let it go longer. I had some white beans that got really funky going longer. I think they were too old, but just to be safe….

Share Your Thoughts