How to Cook Black Beans (and freeze them!)

This simple, fool-proof recipe shows you how to cook black beans from scratch and freeze them! Not only do they taste way better than canned, but they are more affordable, too.

Cooking beans from scratch is a great way to infuse them with extra flavor, and to save some money. We love making Instant Pot chickpeas as well as Instant pot black beans…and today I’m showing you how to cook black beans on the stove top!

close up of a spoonful of perfect black beans

This is a great recipe that will replace canned beans and work in numerous recipes, but I also have some suggestions if you’d like to give them extra flavor.

You’ll love black beans cooked from scratch because

  • you’ll save money ($2 for 12 cups!)
  • they taste way better than canned
  • you don’t need to soak them first
  • you can freeze them for later

Don’t forget to pin this recipe to save it for later!


collage image showing how to prep the perfect black beans

Recipe yield

This recipe calls for 1 lb of dried black beans (2 1/4 cups), which works out to 6 cups of cooked black beans, the equivalent of roughly three 15 oz cans.

  • measure out 1 lb of black beans on a kitchen scale, or use measuring cups to measure 2 1/4 cups
  • you can cut the recipe in half, using the same cook time
  • you can double the recipe (and freeze extras!), using the same cook time

Prepping the beans

Pick through the beans

Before you commence cooking the beans, it’s important to pick through the black beans, as sometimes small stones can sneak into the bag. Spread them out on a white plate or cutting board to make it simple to see them, and pick out any stones or moldy beans.

Rinse the beans

The next step is to rinse any dust or debris off the beans. You can do this by rinsing in a colander under the tap, or by covering in a pot with water, swirling the water, then carefully dumping it off.

A note on soaking

This is a highly controversial topic when it comes to beans! Traditionalist insist that soaking beans overnight makes them easier to digest and improves the cook time (1), while more recently, it’s been suggested that soaking beans actually dilutes their flavor (2).

There is also some evidence to suggest that soaking beans reduces the presence of antinutrients, compounds which hinder your body’s absorption of the nutrients in the beans (3), however more scientific studies need to be done on this topic before I’m sold on it.

I personally skip the soaking step, as I don’t find it results in any digestive issues, and find it difficult to remember to do it.

collage image showing cook times on stove top for perfect black beans

Simmer uncovered

To cook, add the rinsed black beans, bay leaf and salt to a pot (at least 4 litres/4 quart). Cover with 4-5 inches of water, and cover. Bring the pot to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, for 1.5-2 hours.

If your water reduces to the point that the beans are no longer covered, add a bit more.

How to tell when they are done

Cook until the skins commence to peel slightly, or just pop one in your mouth and determine if they are done to your liking. I don’t like my beans firm as I find them kind of dry, so I aim for something a tiny bit more firm than canned.

Old versus modern beans

One important thing to note is that older beans require a much longer cook time than modern beans, so it’s important to keep an eye on the pot. You can check the bag you purchased for an expiration date, which can help you guess if they are older or newer, but for the Trendy part, it’s a bit of a guessing game.

Always keep an eye on your pot of beans, and if they are not alert in 2 hours, it could be that your beans are older. Keep simmering, adding more liquid to cover them as needed.

Using a pressure cooker

If you want to speed things up, you can cook your black beans in an Instant Pot! This speeds the process, and means you don’t need to keep an eye on the pot to check for over-reducing.

On the other hand, you can’t taste your beans while they cook to see if they are done sooner than anticipated. Remember that ancient beans may require a longer cook time, but if you need to add more time onto the Instant Pot, it will arrive back to pressure quickly.

Check out my Instant Pot black beans recipe.

Adding more flavor

I kept the seasonings on these black beans very simple, because we use them in place of canned black beans in salads, soups and more. If you’d like these to be a standalone recipe, you can jazz things up with some added spices and aromatics:

  • one onion, cut into quarters*
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of your knife*
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • the juice of 1 lime (after cooking)

*remove before serving or storing

stacked jars full of black beans

Freezing black beans

After cooking, beans can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days, but unless you are eating a lot of black beans, you will likely want to freeze them.

  1. Cool + portion- cool the beans completely, then portion out into mason jars, meal prep containers or sturdy plastic freezer bags. I am using Weck jars above, which *just* fits a 15 oz portion.
  2. Cover- cover the beans with reserved cooking liquid from the pot. You want the beans to be covered in order to keep them from drying out.
  3. Freeze- once beans are at room temperature, you can freeze them. Place jars with lids ajar into the freezer, and abandon until they are frozen solid. Secure the lids once frozen. Lay freezer bags flat until frozen solid, at which point you can rearrange them.
  4. Thaw- thaw overnight in the fridge. Immersing the jar or bag partially in water helps speed the thawing process. Drain and rinse the beans before using.

Tips for freezing in jars

Here are a few tips for freezing black beans in mason jars to avoid the jars breaking:

  • Make sure to select canning jars; repurposed pasta sauce or food jars are not designed to withstand dramatic temperature shifts and can break.
  • I tend to avoid jars that have ‘shoulders’ and taper in at the top, as I’ve heard they are more prone to breakage, though I’ve never personally had any issues with them
  • Leave an inch from the top of the jar empty to account for expansion when freezing
  • Leave the lids ajar until the beans are frozen solid- at this point, you can secure them

black beans in a food processor with black bean hummus ingredients

Using the beans in other recipes

Because this recipe is simple on the seasonings, the beans are great for using in other recipes:

How to Cook Black Beans

Course: Dinner

Cuisine: Meal Prep

Keyword: black beans, vegan, vegetarian

Calories: 257kcal

Servings: 6 cups

This simple, fool-proof recipe shows you how to cook black beans from scratch and freeze them! Not only do they taste way better than canned, but they are more affordable, too.

Prep Time5 mins

Cook Time35 mins

25 mins

Total Time40 mins

  • Pick through black beans and remove any stones or bad beans.

  • Rinse under tap water to remove dust or debris.

  • Place rinsed beans in a pot and cover with 4-5 inches of water. Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 bay leaf.

  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1.5-2 hours, or until beans are cooked to your liking. Add more water if beans become uncovered at any point.

1- this recipe yields 6 cups of beans, which is close to three 15 oz cans.
2- you may halve this recipe and use the same cook time.
3- keep an eye on the pot as it simmers, and add more water if beans become uncovered.
Bean age
Depending on the age of your beans, they may take more or less time to cook. Use this cook time as an estimate and keep an eye on the pot as it simmers.
Remove the bay leaves, cool completely, then portion out beans into jars or meal prep containers cover the beans with cooking liquid.
Store in the fridge for up to 4 days or the freezer for up to 3 months *
*if freezing in jars, make sure you use canning jars, abandon 1 inch from the top of the jar to account for expansion, and do not place into the freezer until completely cooled
Adding other flavors- consider adding:

  • one onion, cut into quarters*
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of your knife*
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • the juice of 1 lime (after cooking)

*remove before serving or storing

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 257kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 391mg | Potassium: 1121mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 15IU | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 3.8mg

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