Cooking dried beans vs. Buying canned beans

by Emily from Frugal Living NW on October 5, 2014

How to soak & cook dried beans -- never buy a can again!

This week I have been reading and thinking about beans more than is probably healthy for the average adult. I even checked out The Bean Bible from the library. Who even knew such a book existed?! I happily added it to my stack. I’m just doing my small part to keep Portland weird.

And for good reason. Beans are incredibly versatile and economical. My pantry is stocked with cans of beans I bought, and my freezer is stocked with bags of beans I cooked. If I can find quality canned beans on a good deal, I stock up. If I have the time but not the money, I cook my own.

Once you see how easy it is to cook beans from scratch, it will give you one more way to stretch your grocery bucks as far as they can go. After all, thawing a bag of beans is every bit as easy as cranking open a can. Like I read on one online forum, “Beans in the freezer are like money in the bank.” Now that’s my kind of math. And the added bonus? Not only do you spend less money, but you also control the ingredient list.

How to soak & cook driend beans

Health Benefits:
Beans are high in protein and low in fat. They are a great source of soluble fiber which helps remove harmful cholesterol from your body before it’s absorbed. Incorporating beans into your diet can help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk for heart disease, heart attacks, and breast & prostate cancer. In fact, studies have found Hispanic women have half the risk of breast cancer as white women. Researchers attribute this, in part, to the high quantity of legumes in their diet. Cool beans.

The ingredient list in most commercially canned beans is actually pretty basic: water, beans, and salt. Most brands also contain calcium chloride which is a firming agent, and many brands include sugar which is just wrong. With the exception of Eden Organics, all companies use BPA in the lining of their cans. I’m not interested in debating this topic, but if you’re looking to cut down on BPA consumption in canned products, cooking dried beans is a great place to start.

Price & Quality:
There is a reason Dave Ramsey advocates a “beans and rice” diet when counseling people out of debt. It’s cheap. You can find canned black beans at Winco for as low as .60/can. Dried black beans are even cheaper than this. Winco sells their generic bags for .90/lb. One pound of dried beans = about six cups of cooked beans. Six cups for around a buck!

The bulk section is often an even better deal. Fred Meyer, Winco, or Bob’s Red Mill are all good options, depending on your budget and your taste. If you order through Azure Standard, their selection is very similar to Bob’s, but their prices are cheaper. Look for a store with a high turnover rate to ensure the freshest products and the best results.

Of course, if we’re debating quality, canned beans can’t even begin to compare with the flavor and texture you get from cooking them from scratch. So let’s get started… Today we’ll cover cooking dried black beans. This soaking & cooking method will work for any bean that requires a long cooking time such as black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans, cannellini beans, pinto beans, etc. Pretty much anything but lentils.


How to Soak and Cook Dried Beans


Pour the dried beans onto a rimmed baking sheet. Pick out any cracked or wrinkled beans, as well as any small stones or dirt.


Dump the beans into a colander and rinse with cold water.


Put the rinsed beans in a large bowl and cover with several inches of cold water. Soak overnight, around 6-8 hours.

There are a couple different reasons for soaking beans before cooking them: 1) It helps them cook faster. The larger the bean, the longer the soak. The longer they soak, the faster they cook. and 2) It leaches out carbohydrates that our bodies cannot digest. When beans move through our lower intestine, bacteria breaks down what our digestive enzymes can’t, resulting in gas. One author called it “digestive difficulties.” My 2-year old calls it something else, but we won’t get into that. Ok, that might fall into the too-much-information category, but I think it’s fascinating. Remember, I’m the one who reads The Bean Bible, after all.

Soaking isn’t absolutely necessary and some people avoid it, saying it also removes vitamins and minerals. Personally, I’m all about cutting down on cooking time and “digestive difficulties.” I’ll get those vitamins and minerals from other sources, thank you very much.


In the morning, pour out the water and rinse the beans. Black beans will be pleasantly plump and purple.

Pour the beans into a wide, heavy pot and cover with about two inches of water. Place over medium-high heat.

If you want to add any herbs, vegetables, or spices to kick up the flavor, this is a good time. Don’t add any salt yet because it will prevent them from absorbing water, slowing down the cooking process. Wait until the end when the beans are tender.

The water will quickly turn black and foam will come to the surface. Scoop off the foam and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot, and simmer on low. If you prefer using the oven, you could also bake the beans at 300 degrees. Check them as they cook, adding more water, if needed.

Cook until tender, anywhere from 40 minutes to 1.5 hours, depending on the variety. Black beans usually take around 50 minutes. Although they cook pretty quickly, you are not going for speed here. Your goal is a nice, easy simmer. Sample a few beans before removing them from the heat. You want them to be tender but not mushy.


Remove from the heat and sprinkle with salt, if desired. Let the beans cool in the cooking water, absorbing the salt as they cool. This will give them better texture and flavor. If you want to keep the cooking water, it can be used like a bean broth and added to vegetable soups to boost the flavor.


Cool the beans completely, split into small containers or bags, and freeze. Store the cooked beans, covered, in the refrigerator for up to four days or in the freezer for up to six months. If I am using the beans on a salad or in a wrap, I just thaw them under warm water or in the microwave. If I am making chili or soup, I just toss the frozen beans directly in the pot.

So there you have it : sort, soak, rinse, cook, salt, cool, freeze. See? Those bags of dried beans really aren’t as intimidating as they may seem. You can do this! Your wallet and your taste buds will thank you.

Want to read more? Amazon has Bean by Bean: A Cookbook by Crescent Dragonwagon (no joke) in stock and ready to ship!

All About Beans Series

Read more in our All About Beans series including how to make crockpot pinto beans and homemade hummus

This post may contain affiliate links. See the disclosure policy for more information.

{ 115 comments… read them below or add one }

PaulN from CMH August 17, 2015 at 4:17 am


I wonder how you came up with this rule “store the cooked beans, covered, in the refrigerator for up to four days or in the freezer for up to six months.”

Why 4 days and not, say, 5? Why 6 months and not, say 14? I think you simply picked some random numbers not based on scientific evidence. Am wrong?


Emily from Frugal Living NW August 17, 2015 at 2:23 pm

No lab coat here! I just went with the numbers that are most common. Food will obviously last in your refrigerator longer than 4 days and in your freezer longer than 6 months. But when it comes to preserving food by canning or freezing, you will notice that the quality will decrease after this time. That doesn’t mean it’s not edible (my family still eats it as long as it’s not spoiled).

Beans in your refrigerator might be good for 3 days, 5 days, or… maybe even a full week! This obviously isn’t a hard & fast rule, just a general guideline to help you know how many beans to store where for how fast your family typically consumes them.


PaulN from CMH August 17, 2015 at 2:34 pm

Thanks for the honest response. I regularly keep cooked bean soup in the refrigerator for over seven days. In the freezer? In my experience, it will last forever (with proper wrapping and temperature control).


Greg W December 1, 2015 at 7:48 am

Well…food will keep in the freezer for a long time, but the problem is that water ice slowly works its way to the surface, where it sublimates, resulting in the “freezer burn” taste and smell as the cells collapse. Even vacuum packaging won’t prevent this completely, though it’ll delay the process a lot longer than, say, freezer paper.


MommaMary May 24, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Mom used to make kidney bean bread, a moist black bread. It was delicious.


Carissa January 11, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Hi! I tried cooking beans in my crock pot (vita clay cooker) without soaking, and maybe it was because I burned them or maybe I didn’t get all of the toxins out, but they didn’t taste very good. Canned beans taste much better to me so far.

I am trying again and I will soak the beans tonight. So is the consensus that you must soak the beans overnight even if you are going to use a slow cooker?


Kate from Frugal Living NW January 11, 2014 at 10:28 pm

Soaking is an essential part of the process. You absolutely must do it even if you’re using a slow cooker. Once you do that it will be amazing. Remember though, canned beans have TONS of salt so you may need to add more salt than you think to the beans at the end. Just keep adding a bit at a time until it tastes the way you want. They are really good.


Briteleaf December 11, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Love the website and lots of good information about our family staple. Thank you so much.

However, don’t love the ad about political contributions. It is a come on for the great sounding Oregon Family Council that is a hate group fighting equality of marriage for gay Americans and legislating for businesses to legally be able to refuse providing products and services to gays. Hope you get rid of it.


Kate from Frugal Living NW December 11, 2013 at 10:00 pm

We don’t control the ads that pop on the side bar. They are generated by Google based upon the recent searches or viewings by those using the computer you’re writing from.


dane October 4, 2015 at 3:12 am

That is true, the ads that came up for me are about cars. Can’t wait to try soaking and cooking dried lima beans!


doug September 18, 2013 at 6:46 am

Beans,beans..the magical fruit,the more you eat,the more you toot


HEATHER January 28, 2014 at 2:01 pm

I was singing that as I read the article!


emmer September 12, 2013 at 2:58 pm

I have found two things which seem to reduce the “digestive difficulties”. first, when put to soak, add a small spoon of baking soda. it helps to neutralize an enzyme on the bean surface that prevents it from sprouting too soon and which makes the bean less digestible. second, after soaking and changing the water, add 1/4 tsp or so of ground ginger. it cooks with the beans and won’t be tasted. supposed to do the same thing and is good for bloated tummies as well.
I have found that older beans take longer to cook. so, if you found a bag in the back of the pantry, you can use it, but you might plan on all day cooking. just check on it periodically. or if it cooks to mush, use it as a filling in something. if you use dried beans when pre-cooking a pie crust to keep the crust from puffing up, that will lengthen the cooking time as well.


Barb August 27, 2013 at 9:10 am

I would never cook beans from scratch without my beloved pressure cooker! Soak overnight and cook for 10 minutes! And that’s it! :) Just the thought of waiting almost an hour to get it done makes me cringe and I am not even adding the extra cost of gas or electricity.

For a tastier batch, I sautée onion, garlic and small piece of sausage or meat for stew (whatever I have at the time) before adding the soaked beans to the pressure cooker. Big time difference!! Season with salt and other dry spices to taste.

Also, do you get rid of the broth? It’s rich in protein, very little in carbs and a perfect pair to pour over the rice. Your pictures don’t really show any at all hence my question.

And I agree, beans in the freezer are like money in the bank. I always have many batches stocked up!! :)


Emily from Frugal Living NW August 27, 2013 at 6:58 pm

I used to rinse the beans, but then I started to keep the beans in the broth. My family’s tastes adjusted and now we prefer it that way. For a simple dinner, I serve the beans over brown rice with fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro. It is so flavorful and delicious!


Terry October 19, 2014 at 5:45 pm

I have a pressure cooker, but when I use it, my beans turn out with missing skin, etc. Any suggestions?


Margaret June 12, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Your black bean recipe worked great!!!!! Thanks!


Em June 10, 2013 at 8:53 am

I think the beans were boiled too long prior to soaking. I would recommend soaking first in cool water overnight, then boiling only after the beans are fully hydrated.


L. Howard Kyle June 8, 2013 at 12:30 am

I washed and cleaned dried black beans and brought to a boil for several minutes, let soak overnight, still hard as rocks and slightly bitter. Put fresh water on and brought to boil again. Soaked several more hours, now slightly softened, but still too hard to do anything with. Could they be just to hard to reconstitute? We live in the desert area with low humidity. I just hate to through out all my beans if there is any way to get them soft and use them.


Emily from Frugal Living NW June 9, 2013 at 9:18 pm

I can’t tell for sure, but it doesn’t sound like you’ve actually cooked the beans yet? They will still be hard after soaking. You have to simmer them to get the soft, cooked consistency you want. Don’t toss them! Read the full set of directions for more detail. Hope that helps.


C Barton May 13, 2013 at 9:54 am

I love cooking with beans and there are so many varieties, too.
I recently tried cooking dried small red beans and am curious why it took more than 2 hours to get them al dente. I got them at a local supermarket (Shop-Rite) and assume that age is not an issue. The beans, I mean, not mine.
I like your ideas about freezing them. That would make it more efficient to cook a lot at one time.


Em May 6, 2013 at 9:55 am

Mom was a home ed teacher in the ’30s, she knew how frugal and healthy dried beans are. As to the smell of cooking beans, why not just put the crockpot outside? Also reduces heat in the summer.
Mom also was an advocate of solar cookers, had one made of cardboard and plexiglass, and used it successfully for years. She also donated them to be used in Africa, to preserve sparse vegetation being used for fires.


Dave May 5, 2013 at 5:43 pm

beans u can cook ahead-then freeze in a plastic bag—defrost in 1 minit, use rite away ! make chili in 10 –left over hotdogs hams left over carrots tomatoes onions from yesterdays picnic even wash off the mac mayo salad and add that last to the chili —-who said you dont have anything for dinner for the kids the thing is wast not want not wen u dice it all up brown the meat add the tomatoes– its from yesterday , fresh, & from mom Its gotta b good ! Moms no how to save the day


Dave May 5, 2013 at 5:26 pm

please, one thing to remember! dry beans are really cheap,u get alot. the taste wen cooked is lots better then canned,no comparisen.!
make the kids a great quick snack,even with the canned beans let them dip vegies carrots stringbeans celery cukes—vegies are cheap
Its not a meal,its to teach them to b friends ,eat togeather ,like coloring with crayons so to speak [no sugar] never tried it with penutbutter ,,its a thought ?


Dave May 5, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Home Made hummus
If u have food processer – please u will need 3 tab lemon juice –1/4 c
olive oil – 1lb bag cooked white beans –or garbanzo beans –pinto beans — even black beans- 1/2 tees salt perhaps a [1/2 tees pizza dried peppers–for zing ! then push da button puree the whole thing , u have now made a great & very popular dip ,for raw vegies
for chips ,pretzels, remember you can add ,blu cheese,pepper sauce
mayo , mustard, even orange food coloring,or sherry,or white wine


Dave May 5, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Dear ladies,Gents — please soak ANY beans overnite hide in cold oven covered with 3 in water in plastic container — drain & wash in morn– Plug in crock pot with cup of water in [so it wont crack liner wen u fill it-u want it hot !] your beans should b covered with 3 in of water in sauce pan,bring to boil ! ahh, its boiling , please pour into
hot Crock pot, cover –the beans will b done in approx 1 1/2 hrs –taste for tenderness after first hour–absolutly perfect ! scoop out & add to what ever your making– store the rest in fridg. ! Dave


Chelsea March 28, 2013 at 10:45 am

So I opened my first bag of dried beans (ever) today and they’ve been soaking for about 2 hours now. And much to my surprise, I just checked on them and the majority of them have already split open and basically all of them are now wrinkled and/or peeling their skin. Any idea why this is happening?


Catherine March 6, 2013 at 10:23 am

Any tips on cooking them in the crockpot after they soak?


Tam February 16, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Hi, I’ve tried a few times to do the dried beans thing and I can’t stand the smell of the beans cooking .No matter how I try to vent the smell out if the house it still lingers. I’ve gone back to using the canned beans but I would much rather use the dried bulk beans if I could conquer the smelly problem.


Emily February 18, 2013 at 10:58 pm

Hi, Tam – I agree. I’m not a big fan of the smell either. I just try to pick one morning during the week when I plan to be home and do a couple varieties at once. I guess you could do a bunch to freeze in the spring/summer with open windows. The smell doesn’t linger too long, thankfully, but here are 2 suggestions from

Remove Smells from Cooking: Place a small bowl of vinegar in the kitchen. It does a great job removing smells from frying, cooking strong-smelling foods, and even burned foods. I use strong red wine vinegar.

Add a Great Smell: This bonus tip comes from my best friend who is a Greek real estate agent. Put a few whole coffee beans in a baking dish. Put in the oven and turn on low heat. Even those who don’t drink coffee will be enchanted by the aroma!

Here are more great ideas:

Definitely worth a shot!


Beth February 5, 2013 at 3:03 pm

When you soak the beans does it need to be in the refridgeator? or is on the counter ok?


Emily February 5, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Hi, Beth – Your counter is fine!


Beth February 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm

When you soak over night do hey need to be in the refridgerator? or just on the counter ok?


Elisa January 6, 2013 at 10:19 am

I’m not sure my first comment went through- if this is a duplicate I apologize. What price would you consider to be a good stock-up price for canned? Fred Meyer often does $.50 per can sales on garbanzo, black, red, kidney, etc. Is this a good stock up price? Thanks!


Kate January 6, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Yes, that is a good price. WinCo’s lowest generic price is around $.60 a can so when you find the for $.50 buy a few. Fred Meyer does that sale every 2 months or so.


Elisa January 6, 2013 at 10:18 am

Just curious what you consider a good price for canned beans? Fred Meyer often has a coupon deal making cans $0.50 each for any type: black, kidney, red, garbanzo, etc. I that a good stock up price or do I wait for a cheaper price?


James Lyman December 29, 2012 at 5:45 pm

If you are looking for a GREAT place to buy beans in bulk in the Portland, Tacoma, Salem, and Eugene areas, look no further than Cash and Carry. In Portland they are behind the 7-11 on 82nd at the Estacada exit off of I-205. In Salem they are on Salem Industrial off of Cherry. For other locations check their website. Right now they have 50 pound bags of Pinto beans for only 32 dollars. We also purchase ALL of our baking supplies there as well. And if you want to save money on meat, you can purchase primals there at a fraction of the cost of the retail stores, cut it up yourself and save TONS of money :)


Cathy Facer December 18, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Did you know that you can cook dry beans in a small pressure cooker without soaking or venting? I went to a demonstration and we were all saying aren’t you going to vent the steam? The reply was no need to for dried beans.


RICK September 6, 2012 at 3:23 pm

My mom has canned green beans that are ten years old. They are in quart jars and taste and look as good as the day the beans were picked. Are the beans healthy to eat? If canned goods look and taste good, when do they need to be thrown out?


Jammie Eastham September 8, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Rick, I would check the ball blue book for recommended shelf life of beans. Old beans if not canned properly can cause botulism and especially if the lid is not sealed perfectly after the many years. Canned goods are good for a long time, but I would check anyway. When cleaning out my grandmothers canning stock, I found things that were 20 years plus old. Needless to say they all went to the compost pile.


Jammie Eastham September 8, 2012 at 8:36 pm

I just looked at a couple of sites where people were eating stuff canned 30-50 years old and were fine. I am a little skeptical, but check the lids to see if they are sealed and cook for 20 minutes to kill botulism spores.


Dave September 4, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I’m a beanaholic. I’ve been to counseling and attend a support group but nothing helps. I currently have 17 different varieties of beans displayed in glass containers above the range in my kitchen. Most are beans that I grew in my garden; many are heirloom varieties.
I’d like to offer a tip to save $$. Just bring the pot of beans to a rolling boil for a few minutes. Then shut off the heat and cover the pot with as many kitchen towels as you have.You’ll be surprised to find that the pot will stay hot for hours and the beans will continue to cook. If you do this in the morning you’ll have beans for dinner. If the beans are old, you may have to repeat the process.
Also, I ALWAYS salt my beans at the start to prevent them from splitting. I’ve never considered the beans I cook to be tough. I can’t explain the difference in my experience with some of the others who say it makes the beans tough.


Emily September 5, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Ha! I love this. I’m headed the same direction. They’re cheap, easy, delicious. What’s not to love?


shilpa August 16, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Beans are also very staple in India where I come from and we make them curried with Rice or Bread( good source of protien for a primarily vegetarian/vegan diet). There are simple recipies available online that you can follow to make amazingly favlorful curried beans(Garbanzo and red are my favorite). Here is one that you might find handy


ann July 18, 2012 at 6:41 pm

i am working on a list of dried bean recipes on our blog. Is it ok with you if I add a link to this post to to ours I think your post does a good job giving reasons to cook dried beans without going into too much info. Thanks so much


Emily July 18, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Sure, no problem! Glad you found us.


Randal Oulton July 6, 2012 at 4:04 am

Hi, Black Beans are actually one of the few beans that really don’t require any pre-soaking:


Martha January 29, 2012 at 7:11 am

I would like some instructions on how to roast garbonzo beans. Temperature, for how much time, etc.
Thank you


Aileen December 12, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Thank you so much for these wonderful instructions! I have recently begun the switch to dried beans and have only a few more cans in the cupboard to go before I will be using 100% dried.

However, I have searched and searched and cannot find the answer to my nutrition question. So perhaps you, the reader of the Bean Bible, can help me?

Here are the facts for the dried, followed by the canned black beans:

Serving Size 1/4 cup dry (equals 1/2 cup cooked)

Calories 70
Total Fat 0.0 g
Saturated Fat 0.0
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 20.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 23.0 g
Dietary Fiber 15.0 g
Sugars 1.0 g
Protein 9.0 g

(Canned Black Beans of the same brand)

Serving Size 1/2 Cup

Calories 90
Total Fat 0.5g
Saturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 460mg
Total Carbohydrate 19g
Dietary Fiber 6g
Sugars <1g
Protein 7g

Now, my question is, how can the canned beans have more calories, less than half the fiber, and less protein than the dried beans when in the end they're the same thing?? I mean, this definitely gives a strong argument (as if there weren't enough already) for using dried beans, but how can the numbers be so drastically different? Am I really consuming 15g fiber in one serving of dried beans, or does the cooking make them have less? Thanks for your time, I really am baffled by these differences.


Brittani November 17, 2011 at 4:25 pm

My question is could canned beans be as healthy as dry beans if the canned beans are thoroughly drained? On a can of goya black beans the sodium content is 460 mg per serving (holy sodium batman), on a bag of black beans the sodium content is 20 mg (holy difference batman). Do you think the sodium content of the canned beans is reduced significantly if drained of all those delicious juices?


Heather Wood June 20, 2011 at 7:39 pm

I just made beans yesterday. They were “great northern beans” using your method for cooking.

I used this recipe for baked beans

Although the sauce was awesome, the beans were so dry. Could this have been the bean type? a cooking error in my part, or could the beans have been too old? I cooked the beans the day before I cooked the recipe :(


Emily October 26, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I wonder if they weren’t cooked long enough? I made black beans the other day that were too dry/hard because I pulled them off the heat too soon. I simmered them for about 10 more minutes to hit the desired consistency. I haven’t done great northerns yet; I’ll have to try them and see what happens…


Andy April 27, 2011 at 10:06 am

Wow! Thanks for this great info about the BPA in the cans. After doing some digging, we found out that even our favorite organic canned beans have BPA in them! Putting them in a freezer is a great idea, too.


christie April 10, 2011 at 8:49 am

It is so coincidental that you have this posted! I was laying in bed last night, thinking about how I was going to use non-BPA canned beans for cheap b/c I was looking at the Edegn ORganic ones on Amazon and they are almost $3 a can! Yikes. So I was laying in bed wondering if I cooked them and canned them myself, if that would work, but I hadn’t considered freezing them. Thanks for the idea! We use lots of beans too, and now I can use them easily and not worry about the BPA!


Kimber March 24, 2011 at 11:37 am

awesome.. our huge family loves beans and am so excited to have a new way of making them fit the budget.. thanks… love this sight….


Carla M February 3, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Would the steps/recipe be the same for Great Northern beans?


Kate February 4, 2011 at 9:14 am

They are similar to black and pinto so I would say yes.


Leah February 17, 2011 at 9:33 pm

My husband is from a rural part of Mexico and beans are our life. I’ve not had much success shortening the cooking time by soaking my beans, but sometimes I do it if I sort them at night. We eat all kinds of beans: white, red, black, pinto, limas and black eyes peas. All cook the same way, just alter the cooking time until done cooking. Add a piece of onion and some garlic and the flavor really takes off.


Betty Morgan January 15, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Thanks so much for linking to my article on “How to Cook Dried Beans”.

I’ve so glad to see how interested readers are in how to cook the lowly, yet tasty dried bean!

A Note: black-eyed peas, lentils, peas (whole or split) DO NOT REQUIRE SOAKING.

My article on SALT ( might be of interest to you and make the beans taste even better. Try a variety of natural salts and season individual batches and then try the taste. Let me know what you think!


Online shopping January 14, 2011 at 3:01 am

I read this post and i enjoyed it because i like dried beans its tasty to eat. Thanks fo this post and telling about us about the beans. Thanks.


Ana January 14, 2011 at 12:26 am

I absolutely cannot believe that I never knew you could freeze beans!!! We freeze our own corn, pumpkin puree, etc… but I never thought about beans. I always hesitate to make them because I hate having to find a million ways to use them up before they go bad in the fridge, but now I know you can freeze them!

You might just be the bean-savior of my night. : )


Jeska February 26, 2015 at 7:59 pm

I cook a bunch at a time, drain, and spread on a baking sheet lined with wax paper (or washed-and-dried cereal bags). Place the baking sheets (level—experience talking there) in the freezer. Give a slight freeze—half hour or longer–then dump into freezer container (bag, jar, etc). This allows you to take out only what you want without them clumping together.


Marcia January 13, 2011 at 11:45 pm

Well that explains it. Is it possible to get beans that just don’t work? I soaked kidney beans for 24 hours (forgot about them) and they were still fairly firm and hubby and I deffinately had “digestive difficulties” after eating them. They didn’t get any softer after cooking in the crockpot. I would guess salt factored there but why didn’t they soften much after a 24 hour soak. I’d really like to use them again.


Linsea January 13, 2011 at 11:03 pm

This post is really helpful and inspiring. I am motivated to start soaking beans tonight… I did not know that you could freeze them!


Karrie@happymoneysaver January 13, 2011 at 10:58 pm

I love this post…I didn’t know you could freeze beans! Wowsers, that opens up a whole new world for me. Thanks!


Julie January 13, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Um, totally appreciate your sense of humor. Thanks for a laugh! :-)


maria January 13, 2011 at 8:51 pm

My parents are both mexican and one thing my mom always gave us was the bean broth because she said that’s where a lot of the vitamins are after cooking. As a matter of fact, babies were fed the broth mixed with gerber rice cereal or corn tortillas cut into tiny pieces. Besides it has all the flavor. Why would you throw it away and freeze them dry? Plus I find the juice helpful when making refried beans or chili beans. Personally, I just freeze them w/ the broth in ziplock containers w/ lids.
So don’t throw your flavorful vitamins away… :)


Misty January 13, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Okay, this does not serve the same purpose as do it yourself beans, but they are delish so I am going to share :) My hubby worked for a beanery in Wyoming and they sold dehydrated refried beans. Here’s a link to something similar (just different brand)
these were the BEST, quick, easy and so so good! Everyone is a skeptic at first, but a believer after one bite. I also worked at a Migrant school and even the parents loved them. Yes, they are that good.


jessica January 13, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Thanks so much for this post. I have tried to make beans less the can a couple of times now and they have not come out right. I think I have been adding the salt to early, good to know.


Terri January 13, 2011 at 7:40 pm

Can you use the frozen beans in cold salads? I love bean salad but am not sure the frozen beans would taste as good.


Bethany January 13, 2011 at 10:38 pm

I do and it works fine. :)


Jamie January 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm

I’m not sure if this was covered yet, but are the directions the same for kidney beans?


Emily January 13, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Yes, you would follow the same steps for kidney beans.

Because they are larger, they will take longer to cook. If you are using the stovetop, you will simmer them on low for around 2-2.5 hours.

Hope that helps! :)


carol January 13, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Just a thought — when I freeze my beans, I always include a small amount of liquid from the pot (just like they come in the can), without it, they can come out of the freezer a little “dried up” tasting or get freezer burn more easily. Also saves a step (straight from the cooled pot to the ziploc bags).


Erin January 13, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Thank you so much for this! I am loving these posts :)


tawnya January 13, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Perfect timing! My husband and I were just talking about canned vs. dried beans last night. We eat beans all the time because they are so cheap and they are good for you!


Lanna January 13, 2011 at 2:58 pm

One of these days I’m aiming to can my own beans since having them ready on the shelf makes me happy. Plus we don’t use a lot of them, but yes, it’s way cheaper (especially now!) to start with dried beans anyway.


oregon shopper January 13, 2011 at 2:47 pm

somewhere I read a tip that to really avoid digestive problems, rinse the beans several times as well as the pot they soak in each time. let me tell you, it really makes all the beans I have tried this way to be gas free which is important in a household with 3 men/boys!


DeAnna January 13, 2011 at 2:35 pm

I love using dried beans and stopped buying canned ones several years ago when I found a recipe to can my own. It is very simple and very convenient. Plus, I know what is in them and I get a lot less salt in my diet. Just one thing to remember when cooking beans–NO SALT DURING THE COOKING. Adding salt to dried beans while they are cooking can cause them to be tough. You will obtain good flavor when you add the salt at the end.


Bethany January 13, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Unless you do them in the crockpot. In that case you get soft & flavorful beans that were cooked with salt. :)


sue January 13, 2011 at 2:13 pm

If you only cook some beans,I find pinto are the cheapest in the dried form–I never buy them in cans and freeze them regularily. Even blending them after cooking , before freezing for refried beans. I do buy canned beans for convenience but never spend over 40 cents a can. I have frozen all kinds including garbonzo and soy beans( both are harder to find dry) .


Ruth January 13, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Love your writing! You are hilarious and it makes for an awesome read! :)
I’ve been cooking beans from scratch since I married my hubby and we moved to Honduras where beans are served three times a day! To save on dishes, soak in the crockpot over night, or soak in the pot you’re going to cook with, then just turn it on in the morning. My hubby was aghast when I rinsed them after soaking b/c he said I took out all the good flavor (now I rinse them when he’s not looking – haha!). When boiling, we add chopped onion, garlic, and of course you can’t go without cumin.

On freezing: sometimes I blend them first, then freeze for future “refried beans” (healthy version). You know what makes homemade refried beans super duper delish?? Blend them with fresh onion first, then heat them on the stove with a little EVOO. The onion makes a huge difference and they turn out so yummy!


carol January 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm

All my friends from Mexico do it this way :) I’ve done it both ways and haven’t noticed that much difference.


Lou January 13, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Hi, yes we love beans! I don’t soak overnite but I do bring to a boil then pull off the heat and let them soak for about an hour then drain. I also put in about a teaspoon of baking soda in the soak water. This seems to take away the ‘digestive difficulties’.


Melissa January 13, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Freezing beans! Wow, it had never occurred to me, but it makes so much sense. Thanks for the post. And by the way, I love reading your blog. You are a hoot! Keep on writing!


Rebecca January 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Another option on the soaking is to do a fast cook on the beans. If you put them in a pot, bring to a boil for 5 mins, take off the burner then let sit on the stove for an hour it is the same effect as soaking. We have had mixed results with soaking, especially if it is cold out, but have always had good results with this method. We actually freeze after doing this rather than after cooking, and have also had good results unfreezing and using in chili, etc. Sometimes if you freeze after cooking they get mushy in dishes.

Finally, if you are avoiding plastic storage (like we are) Ball has freezer-safe pint canning jars. One pint jar is the same volume as a can of beans. You can buy canning jars at most grocery stores (Winco historically has the lowest prices on jars).


Marissa January 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Oh my word, I loved this tutorial……..especially about doing your part to keep Portland weird!
I am sold on cooking my own now. My question is if you are buying in bulk or even really large amounts, how do you store them until you cook them?
Do you just have a serious amount of tupperware? And large tupperware to boot? A bunch of Gallon size Ziplocks?
I am wanting to buy rice, beans, oatmeal etc…. in bulk, but I am not sure what to do after that.


Rebecca January 13, 2011 at 1:26 pm

We have a lot of dried goods and wanted to provide some suggestions on our storage. We typically store most of our dried grains, beans and pasta in 1/2 gallon or gallon jars. Mirador and New Seasons both carry the larger canning jars. Also, we bought a vacuum sealer from costco and purchased the additional add on to vacuum seal canning jars from Amazon. Even if you don’t vacuum seal, the jars are good for storage. For larger amounts of items you can buy food-grade 5 gallon buckets with airtight sealing lids.


Marissa January 13, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Where can I buy a 5 gallon airtight bucket? Costco too?


Sara Tetreault January 17, 2011 at 4:39 pm

You could also try Cash & Carry for food storage containers. They have multiple sizes. I have their large plastic container in my basement freezer, which I just filled with 25lbs of whole wheat flour. Glass jars (just keep them out of your recycling) are great for storing your rice and they’re free!


Donna January 13, 2011 at 1:27 pm

I buy rice in bulk (WAY cheaper than buying the bags) and just keep it in the small shoe box size plastic totes. If you want more than that, just get a bigger tote. :)


Sara Tetreault January 13, 2011 at 12:17 pm

I love cooking with beans. I cook a batch (6 cups dried) every single week, in my crock pot. They are tasty and so good for you. Cash & Carry (25lb bag) and Winco (bulk section) have the best prices on beans around.
Dried beans are much better for you, also, because they don’t come in a can. See above link for more on that.


kellis January 13, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Our family loves black, white and pinto beads. I can them it is fast and easy for me. If I know I’m low on any I will make a not take a day to process what I need and then I’m done for several month. No cooking or standing over a large pot. My canner holds upto almost 20 Pints so I can accomplish alot. I simpley wash my beans put about 1/2 cup in the pint fill up the water a inch from the rim throw it in the canner and let it do it’s own work:) The rest of my beans are stored in 5 gal buckets.
I also do chicken which is way better then the store, and will try ground beef later this month.


Emily January 13, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Oh man, this is totally next on my list of things-to-can! Thanks, Kellis!


Julie February 14, 2012 at 10:02 am

How long and how many lbs of pressure do you can your cannellini beans?? I would really like to try this method.


Linda January 13, 2011 at 12:10 pm

I am just starting to stock up on beans, rice, pasta — things like that. I would LOVE to get some more recipes that use beans that aren’t a soup. What about hot casseroles, etc? Chicken & beans? I am up for all recipes.


Bethany January 13, 2011 at 1:56 pm

I have a bunch of bean recipes, but here are some non-soup favorites. :)

One of the few recipes our whole family loves equally, a delicious & easy casserole.

The best beans ever! I linked this in an earlier comment, but I’ll post it here too.

A salad of beans, couscous, bell peppers, corn and other goodies.

A salad of smoked turkey, beans, and other goodies.

Super duper yummy dip.


Kari January 13, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Thanks for this fun tutorial. I have bags of beans sitting in my cupboard, desperately wanting to be incorporated in the mealtime fun. Poor, beans. I wasn’t sure how to store them after cooking, so I’ve avoided them. I’m excited to make them the stars of our menu for the next couple of weeks. Thanks so much! Love your blog!


Becca Filley January 13, 2011 at 12:04 pm

I am so excited for this series and I love cooking my own beans. However, I never thought to freeze them…I always just make such little amounts, or plan the next few days to include beans in some way or another. Now, I am SO excited to freeze them!! I just made a huge batch of home made refried beans the other night and my family loved them! Thanks for such great tips! We save so much money by using dried beans. Also one of our children has food allergies so we are big on reading ingredients in everything and I was shocked at how many canned beans have sugar and/or salt added that isn’t needed!!


Susan January 13, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Couple of questions, how do beans come out after freezing?
How much volume do lb dried beans make?


Emily January 13, 2011 at 12:35 pm

I freeze my beans flat in small Ziploc bags, about 1-2 cup portions. As long as you let them cool completely before freezing, they will freeze individually, not in a big clump. Sometimes they have small ice crystals on them but not enough that I mind.

I forgot to mention that; I edited the post — 1 pound dried = about 6 cups cooked.



Susan January 13, 2011 at 12:45 pm



Faye January 13, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Thank you so much for this great info! One of my resolutions for 2011 is to stop using canned beans, because of salt content. Your post is incredibly timely!!


Stacy Curl January 13, 2011 at 11:59 am

Thank you for this post! I use beans all the time and I always have used cans because of the intimidation factor! I will be printing this post and using it, thank you!


Melissa January 13, 2011 at 11:57 am

My sister and I pressure cooked 50 lbs of black beans this year. Its a lot of work for one day but after that we had ready beans (with no salt) for the price of dry beans.


Donna January 13, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Melissa, what was you method for canning?


Amy September 7, 2011 at 11:12 am

Melissa, I have been canning beans too. I read to completely cook them prior to canning, but they turn out somewhat mushy. I have been thinking about experimenting with not quite cooking them all the way before canning. What do you do?


Jaimee January 13, 2011 at 11:52 am

The timing on this post is almost creepy! I was JUST telling my husband last night how I needed to start cooking my own beans! We use beans probably 3 times per week (if I am hungry and need a quick meal a can of beans heated up and rolled into a tortilla with hot sauce is always my first choice) and I always use canned for the convenience factor. Making my own and freezing them is the perfect solution! Thanks for the post, I can’t wait for the installment on hummus!!

Oh yeah- if anyone here does Weight Watchers beans are crazy low in points too!


Heather January 13, 2011 at 11:50 am

I also love to use dried beans. I have tried to cut out as much extra sodium as possible and even the “low” sodium are still ridiculously salty. I find that I usually forget to start the beans the night before I need them (so I am really glad to hear you can freeze them, I’d never heard that!) so I do the quick soak, when you bring them to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes, then cover and remove from heat and let them sit for 1 hour. I also use my crock pot to cook beans if I have planned ahead enough! I follow the guidelines found here:
This blog is great to help me use my crock pot more and free up my late afternoons!


Hollie January 13, 2011 at 11:48 am

Thank you so much! I love learning how to eat healthy and on a budget!


Tiffany January 13, 2011 at 11:43 am

I’m glad you mentioned the BPA issue for that reason, we’ve cut out almost all canned food from our diet. It’s been pretty easy to replace everything we used to eat in cans. I talked a little bit about it here:


Bethany January 13, 2011 at 11:31 am

We use lots of beans here! My favorite recipe is one I got from allrecipes a long time ago. They’re the best beans in the universe … and they’re done in the crockpot. :) Here’s a link with my notes on how I do them.


Jaimee January 13, 2011 at 11:55 am

that looks good, and easy!


Bethany January 13, 2011 at 1:44 pm

It is. Since we use them for everything that calls for either pinto or black beans, we end up with dishes that taste even better than they would if we used canned beans. They’re so good that I look forward to eating some straight out of the crockpot, the pesky little ones that don’t fit in the freezer bags. :)


Rebecca January 8, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Thanks so much! I look forward to trying this soon! I’ve always wanted to make my own but the only good recipes I’ve gotten from friends involve a lot of lard. We’re trying to eat healthier so that doesn’t really work for us. Definitely a money saver though!

I noticed you say that you don’t mash the beans when they’re done cooking. Do you freeze them in their liquid? Or do not used them as refried beans, just as a good way to cook and flavor them as whole beans? If you do mash them eventually, what do you thin them out with?


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