No More Cool Beans: Cooking Beans Correctly

Welcome back to the second post in our bean series!  As you probably know, beans can be purchased dried or pre-cooked and canned for convenience. As with many convenient food items, canned beans are high in sodium. If possible, purchase pre-cooked beans that are canned in water or reduced sodium. Straining and rinsing beans of their salt is another option, however only an estimated 40% of the sodium content is actually washed away using this method.

beans cooked

The healthiest way to prepare beans is from their uncooked, dried state, often available in bags or the bulk purchase section of the grocery store. As a rule, 2 cups of dried beans is equivalent to 4-5 cups of cooked beans. Dried beans can be prepared in two ways: soak and boil or with a pressure cooker.

Soak and Boil Method

  • Clean: Remove broken beans or small rocks or foreign objects that may have gotten into the bag during harvest and packaging.
  • Rinse: Rinse beans under cold running water in a strainer.
  • Soak: 
    – Put beans in a large pot and add 10 cups of water for every 2 cups of beans. *Tip- remember using hot water can decrease gas-forming compounds. Heat to boiling for 2-3 minutes before letting soak.
    – Let beans soak in water 8 hours to overnight.
    – Drain beans and discard soak water. *Tip-discarding soak water 2-3 times during soak period can decrease gas-forming compounds.
    – Rinse beans under cool running water.
  • Quick-Soak Method: Interested in saving some time?  Give the quick-soak method a try!  Cook your beans for 1-2 minutes, then cover with a lid and let it sit in the warm water for 1-2 hours instead of the regular 8.
  • Cook: Add enough cold water to cover the beans plus 2 T of oil to reduce foaming. Simmer beans, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender but not mushy. Cooking times vary by type of bean but you can refer to the package. Most take 60-90min, or enough time to get some laundry and chores done around the house!
    beans cook
  • Pressure Cooker Method: It takes only 1/3 of the amount of time it requires to cook beans from their dried form. When cooking beans using a pressure cooker it is still necessary to soak the beans prior to cooking. This is because inside a pressure cooker the steam from the boiling water is able to reach above the 212⁰F boiling point which cooks the beans faster. Faster cooking time and need for less water in cooking helps to retain more nutrients. Pressure cookers are a bit pricey, around $50-$100, however they may be considered a small investment in comparison chronic disease and cost savings!
  1. Read the manual that came with your pressure cooker. It should have at least one or two safety features included. Make sure you fully understand how to operate the cooker before using.
  2. To soak the beans in the pressure cooker. Fill the pressure cooker approximately ½ full with water.
  3. Add desired amount of dried beans.
  4. Add 4 T of oil and 3 tsp of salt to the cold-soak water for each pound (2 cups) of dried beans. It helps to decrease foaming and retain shape of bean.
  5. Let the pressure drop by itself, DO NOT open the lid while beans are cooking.

Did you know?

A 1/2 cup serving of cooked dried beans had an average retail cost of $.12/serving in 2012. A 3 oz serving of ground beef cost $.72 per serving which is 6 times as much.

If a pound of ground beef cost $3.99 and a bag of pinto beans cost $1.49, if a family of 4 substituted beans for one meal a week for a year they would save an estimated $130.


Spicy Black Bean Burgers
Serves 10- Make ahead a freeze the rest!

bean burger wiki

Black beans, cooked              4 cups
Potato, cooked and smashed  1 cup
Plain yogurt or sour cream      ½ cup
Bread crumbs, toasted           1 cup
Cayenne pepper                     1 tsp
Salt                                       1 tsp
Black pepper, ground               ½ tsp
Cilantro, chopped                    1 cup


  1. Mash 2 cups black beans using a potato masher or fork. If possible, use a blender or food processor for better consistency. Mix black beans with with yogurt, bread crumbs, cayenne, salt, and pepper until a coarse purée forms.
  2. Add to a bowl and stir in the cooked and mashed potatoes, cilantro and the remaining 2 cups of black beans. Mix gently to combine and chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Form mixture into 10 patties and coat each in the bread crumbs.
  4. Spray a medium skillet with cooking spray or 1 T oil and heat to medium-high heat. Cook burgers until outsides are crisp and lightly browned, turning once, about 5 minutes total.
  5. Serve on hamburger buns with lettuce, tomato and onion.


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