The rewards of cooking dried beans from scratch are numerous!  They’re 1/10th as expensive, more flavorful, firmer, and loaded with extra health benefits.  Enjoy their versatile uses by cooking a large pot to have on hand throughout the week for salads, dips, and soups or to freeze in quart-sized bags for future use.

Be sure to check for and remove any debris, gravel, or damaged beans from your bulk purchase.  Rinse the beans in a strainer, rinsing thoroughly under cool running water.


Soaking to Increase the Digestibility of Beans:

  • Reducing the Sugars- Legumes cause intestinal gas due to their indigestible complex sugars (oligosaccharides).  When these sugars are consumed by bacteria in the large intestine it forms gas.  To reduce these gas-forming compounds, simply soak dried beans by covering them with three inches of water for eight hours, or overnight.  Then drain and discard the water used to soak the beans and replace it with fresh water before cooking.  Remember that beans will swell to at least twice their size so pick a large enough pot.
  • Phytic Acid- Not only does soaking shorten cooking time but it makes them easier to digest.  The bran or hulls of all seeds, nuts, and legumes have an organic acid called “phytic acid” or “phytates” which blocks the body’s uptake of essential minerals such as magnesium, iron, calcium, and zinc but soaking reduces the phytic acid content.  Research evidence shows that cooking beans with a 1-3 inch strip of dried kombu (seaweed) and spices further improves the digestibility of beans while also increasing nutritional value by adding trace minerals to your meal.  These spices include cumin, bay leaf, fennel, and ginger but any aromatic spices will help inhibit bacteria and stimulate digestion.
  • Shorter Cooking Time- Another benefit for soaking beans is that it allows for shorter cooking times, which preserves water-soluble nutrients, as the beans are exposed to less heat, maximizing the nutritional value.


Cooking Beans: Do you love beans and cook them all the time? You may consider buying a pressure cooker. Beans cook 30% faster using this method. (You can cook grains and other items much faster this way, too.)

A pressure cooker is an ideal appliance for cooking beans because it cuts the required cooking time of beans in half, cooking most beans within 30 minutes!  The stovetop or a slow cooker are also wonderful alternatives.  Regardless of your method, soak the beans with enough water until it covers 1-3 inches above the beans level.  Since the cooking time of beans vary depending upon the variety, refer to Leanne’s bean cooking time chart for soaking, stovetop, and pressure cooking times.

More Tips:

  • Are you new to beans? Introduce them slowly, allowing your digestive system time to adjust and learn to build up the enzymes to better break down the bean sugars in your intestines.
  • Have you soaked your beans enough? A simple way to tell is to slice a bean in half; if the center is opaque, soak them longer.
  • Certain flavoring options will toughen uncooked beans and increase cooking time considerably if added at the beginning of cooking. These are salt, miso, tamari/soy sauce, sugars and acidic ingredients like tomatoes, wine and lemon.  Where possible, hold off on add them to your recipe until the last 30 minutes before the beans are done.


Five Creative Uses for Leftover Beans:

  • Dips: dip, hummus, or spread for sandwiches
  • Thickening: puree to thicken any broth, sauce, soup
  • Stews/Soups: extra protein, fiber, and variety to your favorite soup.
  • Beans & Rice or Quinoa: a quick, delicious, high protein meal.  Combine with veggies, sliced avocado, and salsa.
  • Salads: add cooked beans atop any fresh green salad for extra protein and fiber.
  • Burgers: form into patties and bake as a black bean chipotle zesty burger or falafel.
  • Wraps, Quesadillas and Burritos: Wraps can be made ahead, sealed in wax paper, and frozen to have on hand for a quick, grab-and-go satiating meal.
Type Soaking
Cooking Pressure Cooker
(Soaked Beans)
Pressure Cooker
(Unsoaked Beans)
Adzuki Beans 4 1 hour 15 minutes 20 minutes
Black Beans 4 1 1/2 hours 15 minutes 20 minutes
Black-eyed Peas - 45 min. to 1 hour - 10 minutes
Lima Beans 4 1 to 1 1/2 hours 20 minutes 25 – 30 minutes
Cannellini Beans 4 1 to 1 1/2 hours 15 minutes 20 minutes
Dals - 30 minutes - 8 minutes
Fava (Broad Beans) 12 3 hours 40 minutes 1 hour
Ful Nabed (Broad Beans) 12 3 hours 40 minutes 1 hour
Great Northern Beans 4 1 hour 20 minutes 25 minutes
Brown Lentils - 35 minutes - 12 minutes
Green Lentils - 40 minutes - 12 minutes
Red Lentils - 30 minutes - 8 minutes
Mung Beans 4 45 min. to 1 hour - -
Split Peas - 30 minutes - 10 minutes
Whole Peas 4 40 minutes 15 minutes 20 minutes
Pigeon Peas - 30 minutes - 10 minutes
Pink, Calico, Red Mexican Beans 4 1 hour 20 minutes 25 minutes
Pinto Beans 4 1 to 1 1/2 hours 20 minutes 25 minutes
Red Kidney Beans 4 1 hour 20 minutes 25 minutes
White Kidney Beans
4 1 hour 20 minutes 25 minutes
Small White (Navy) Beans 4 2 hours 25 minutes 30 minutes
Soybeans 12 3 to 3 1/2 hours 30 minutes 35 minutes

Watch Leanne’s Coconut Salmon Chowder and Sprouted Lentil Hummus videos for nutrient-rich whole foods recipes ideas which creatively utilize beans from scratch.

©Leanne Ernster

Click below to print:

Download PDF of recipe and shopping list.

Read more about Celebrate Nutrition's Leanne Ernster.