Beans can be tough for new vegetarians. With the exception of baked beans, many of us never ate these foods growing up. And it can be hard to let go of the idea that beans are boring.
One way to update your attitude about this group of foods is to become familiar with their use in other cultures. Beans are central to some of the most exotic and sophisticated cuisine throughout the world. The absolute best meal I’ve ever eaten was a platter of chickpeas and fresh tomato sauce; it had simmered all day on the open heart of a restaurant in Sicily. Along with a little pasta, escarole, and Chianti, of course, it created a meal that could never be rivaled I’m sure by even the most expensive cut of meat! Other wonderful bean-based delicacies: garlic-infused Cuban black beans, spicy Indian lentil curry, or lemony chick pea hummus from the Middle East. Truly, beans are anything but boring!

The recipe below is for cooking pinto beans, one of the easiest dried beans to cook, very tasty and versatile, with a creamy texture.

Once you know how to cook pinto beans, all other dried beans are easily conquered.

The basic cooking method for all types of dried beans is the same, although soaking and cooking times vary. See our bean cooking chart and beans without gas report for more info.

Total Prep And Cook Time: 4 Hours

4-6 Servings

Bean Cooking Ingredients

1 c. dried pinto bean (or any other bean)

Bean Cooking Directions

Sort and clean the dried beans
Soak the beans in boiling water for 1 – 2 hours, or 6 – 12 hours in cold water, until they’re doubled in size and wrinkle free – soaking time varies with the bean
Drain and rinse the soaked beans
Place in medium saucepan, cover with cold unsalted water
Bring to boil uncovered, boil for ten minutes. Skim the foam off the beans with a ladle or large flat spoon
Cover and simmer the beans for 1 – 2 hours
OR cook 8 minutes at high pressure in a pressure cooker
Slow cooker or crockpot: Add the beans, cover and turn the heat to low. Cooking time will vary with the bean, but six hours in the crock pot on low is about right for pinto beans

Helpful Bean Cooking Hints

Keep in mind that the soaking and cooking time will vary for each kind of bean
They’ve had enough soaking when they’ve doubled in size and have no wrinkles
The larger and harder the bean, the longer the soak. Garbanzo beans and kidney beans take 12 hours, but black eyed peas soak in 4 hours
Beans have cooked long enough when they’re completely soft. Lentils can be a little firmer.
Most beans should be cooked without salt or they’ll be tough, but a little salt added in soaking and cooking helps lentils or black beans or kidney beans to cook with skins intact. They will need to cook longer if you add salt though.
Slow cooking is an excellent way to cook beans, but be sure to boil them & skim the foam before putting in the slow cooker or crock-pot
Same goes for pressure cooking. If you do use a pressure cooker, consult our bean cooking chart for cooking times.
Add a pinch of kelp sea veg granules or powder or a 1 inch strip of kombu (kelp) to beans when cooking. According to Maine Coast Sea Vegetables, kelp is high in glutamic acid, which enhances flavor and tenderizes while reducing gas causing sugars in beans. Glutamic acid also improves mental and nervous system activity, energy, and is thought to help control alcoholism, schizophrenia and the craving for sugar. Now there’s a whole bunch more reasons to eat beans!

About Beans

Different types of dried beans taste and act very differently. If you don’t like one kind of bean, just skip those and try some of the many other kinds of beans.

Or try lentils, especially the Indian lentils, like mung dhal – they have a shorter soaking & cooking time, or can be cooked without soaking.

Beans are blamed for gas, but if they’re cooked properly, not over-eaten, and you take the time to let your digestion adjust, beans really don’t cause more gas than any other high fiber food, or onions or the cabbage family.
Basic Chickpeas

Beans are brooms, which sweep debris out of the intestines and the colon. That process will create gas. Taking a good pro biotic is one way to ease the transition to a clean digestive system. Free Report: Beans Without Gas.

Beans and lentils can also be sprouted, giving you a valuable source of fresh vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, especially great in winter. Sprouting also boosts protein and reduces carbs. Sprouted beans can be added to stir fries, salads, soups, or juiced, or eaten raw!

Beans are at their digestible best with other foods, in soups, or mashed and spiced as in re fried beans. Indian vegetarian cookbooks have fantastic bean recipes – India has been cooking beans for thousands of years. All those spices they use are essential for good bean digestion, and of course, taste fantastic!

Note: It’s always worthwhile to double the bean recipe, and freeze in small containers or freezer bags for future vegetarian or vegan bean recipes.
bean cooking chart

Bean Cooking Chart

Legumes — a class of vegetables that includes beans, peas and lentils — are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available. Legumes are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They also contain beneficial fats and soluble and insoluble fiber. A good source of protein, legumes can be a healthy substitute for meat, which has more fat and cholesterol.

If you want to add more beans and other legumes to your diet, but you aren’t clear about what’s available and how to prepare them, this guide can help.

Type of legumes

Many supermarkets and food stores stock a wide variety of legumes — both dried and canned. Below are several of the more common types and their typical uses.

Adzuki beans
Also known as field peas or red oriental beans are used most commonly used in soups, sweet bean paste, and Japanese and Chinese dishes.

Anasazi beans
Also known as Jacob’s cattle beans are used most commonly used in soups and Southwestern dishes; can be used in recipes that call for pinto beans

Black beans
Also known as turtle beans are used most commonly used in soups, stews, rice dishes and Latin American cuisines

Black-eyed peas
Also known as cowpeas are used most commonly used in salads, casseroles, fritters and Southern dishes

Also known as garbanzo or ceci beans are used most commonly used in casseroles, hummus, minestrone soup, and Spanish and Indian dishes

Also known as green soybeans are used most commonly used in snacks, salads, casseroles and rice dishes

Fava beans
Also known as broad or horse beans are used most commonly used in stews and side dishes

Lentils are used most commonly used in soups, stews, salads, side dishes and Indian dishes

Lima beans
Also known as butter or Madagascar beans are used most commonly used in succotash, casseroles, soups and salads

Kidney beans
Also known as Red kidney beans are used most commonly used in stews, salads, chili and rice dishes

Soy nuts
Also known as roasted soybeans or soya beans are used most commonly used in snacks or garnish for salads

Preparing legumes

Dried beans and legumes, with the exceptions of black-eyed peas and lentils, require soaking in room-temperature water, a step that rehydrates them for more even cooking. Before soaking, pick through the beans, discarding any discolored or shriveled ones or any foreign matter. Depending on how much time you have, choose one of the following soaking methods:

Slow soak. In a stockpot, cover 1 pound dried beans with 10 cups water. Cover and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
Hot soak. In a stockpot, bring 10 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 pound dried beans and return to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover tightly and set aside at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.
Quick soak. In a stockpot, bring 10 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 pound dried beans and return to a boil. Boil 2 to 3 minutes. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.
Gas-free soak. In a stockpot, place 1 pound of beans in 10 or more cups of boiling water. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Then cover and set aside overnight. The next day 75 to 90 percent of the indigestible sugars that cause gas will have dissolved into the soaking water.

Cooking tips

After soaking, rinse beans and add to a stockpot. Cover the beans with three times their volume of water. Add herbs or spices as desired. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender. The cooking time depends on the type of bean, but start checking after 45 minutes. Add more water if the beans become uncovered.

Other tips:

* Add salt or acidic ingredients, such as vinegar, tomatoes or juice, near the end of the cooking time, when the beans are just tender. If these ingredients are added too early, they can make the beans tough and slow the cooking process.
* Beans are done when they can be easily mashed between two fingers or with a fork.
* To freeze cooked beans for later use, immerse them in cold water until cool, then drain well and freeze.
* One pound (453.592 grams\ 0.453592 kilograms\ 16 ounces) of dried beans yields about 5 or 6 cups cooked beans. A 15-ounce (425.243 grams\ 0.425243 kilograms\ 0.9375 pounds) can of beans equals about 1 1/2 cups cooked beans, drained.