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You may know that I have a slight obsession with beans. Beans are a wonderfully frugal whole food, they have an excellent nutritional profile, and they’re extremely versatile. There are hundreds of varieties of beans/legumes available, which really helps keep things interesting. Beans also make an excellent addition to your food storage. In this article, I’ll share how to cook black beans, plus some of my favorite meals.
This post was originally published in May 2013.
For ease of cooking and digestion, we soak and/or sprout our beans. (You can learn more out more about sprouting beans in my Sprouts for Your Food Storage book!)
Here is how to cook black beans for a Stretchy Beans meals. With Stretchy Beans, my goal is to make one pot of black beans and then re-invent that pot into three or four meals to enjoy during the week.
How to Cook Black Beans
Start with 5 cups of picked over (to remove any stones or debris) and rinsed black beans. Five cups are approximately 2 pounds. This seems to be a good amount for a family of five, providing the three meals plus leftovers for lunch.
The night before you want to cook the beans, put them to soak in plain water. I usually soak them in the crockpot that I plan to cook the beans in. Making sure you add plenty of water since they will absorb it and nearly triple in volume.
You might choose to add an acidic liquid to your beans during the soaking time. I’ve tried that many times, and I didn’t notice a difference in the digestibility compared with a plain water soak. Your results may be different. Here is an excellent article from Shannon at Nourishing Days on why beans are hard to digest and how to help with that.
The next morning, after my beans have soaked, I drain the soaking water off and put them back in the crockpot. I like to cook my beans in homemade broth.
If I don’t have any broth made, I will often add some bones from my freezer stash and then fill the crockpot with water. When we make roast chicken or duck, we keep the cooked bones in the freezer to use for broth. In the photo below, you can see that I had a few duck hindquarter bones, which worked out perfectly for this pot of black beans. (Note: I personally don’t add raw bones to my beans, only previously cooked.)
Sometimes I will cook the beans in plain water, especially if I intend to turn the black beans into a dessert such as Black Bean Brownies. Don’t tell anyone, but I have made brownies out of beans cooked in broth. Tasted great!
Cover the beans with the liquid, put the lid on, and let them cook. They usually take 5 to 6 hours and then they’re ready to be turned into meals.
I haven’t added any seasoning at this point. When the black beans are thoroughly cooked, I lightly season the entire pot with salt, pepper, and garlic (if making a dessert, I’ll pull those beans out first before seasoning).
The cooked and seasoned beans are now ready to be divided up. I pull out enough beans for our supper that first night, then the remaining beans are divided into two or three other portions depending on my menu plan for the week. I also reserve the bean broth, often in a separate container but sometimes not.
My Favorite Black Bean Recipes
While I am sharing links to recipes here, I should tell you that many times I don’t use a recipe when putting our meals together. I create the dishes while standing at the stove. I do have several Basic Formulas that I use for common dishes, which I share in my Design a Dish book. But I find that formula cooking is one of the best ways to make the most of our food budget.
Here is how my Stretchy Beans meals usually go when I make black beans:
I’ll usually make an easy black beans and rice dish. I almost always make a double batch of rice so we can turn that into Stretchy Rice to either use for supper or for breakfast (we love Butterscotch Rice and also Rice Pancakes).
- Black Beans and Rice (simply seasoned black beans served over rice) with sauteed greens or fresh salad
- Easy Black Beans and Yellow Rice (based on this recipe; I do modify it quite a bit to fit our choice of ingredients, and I portion out the rice after it is cooked and add the turmeric then)
- Black Bean Rice Bowls
This is we’ll have a burrito or tostada-style meal.
- These Stuffed Burritos are super easy and versatile.
- Using the same idea as the stuffed burritos, I’ll make tostadas. I like to cook our sourdough flour tortillas in butter to allow them to crisp up a bit as a base. Use any of the suggestions in stuffed burritos for toppings, but leave it open-faced.
- We’ll sometimes have a Breakfast Tostada. I’ll crisp the tortilla and then top it with black beans, scrambled eggs, salsa (lacto-fermented is our favorite), cilantro, veggies, and shredded cheese. We really like the combination of eggs and black beans.
For the third black bean meal, I often make a soup, chili, or skillet dish. I find these types of meals work great for using up the remaining beans.
- Taco Soup is a tasty and easy soup. I like to fry a few strips of tortillas (in coconut oil or animal fat) to top it with along with sour cream and shredded cheese.
- We love this Creamy Black Bean Soup served with corn bread.
- Another great way to finish off a pot of black beans is with a Skillet Dish.
Black Bean Brownies are spectacular!
None of these nights are not written in stone. We might choose to have chili on night one, tostadas on night two, and a skillet dish on night three. Sometimes, I’ll start with extra beans so I have some to stash in the freezer or to dehydrate. Both are excellent to keep on hand for the base of a quick meal. I usually save the dehydrated beans for chili or taco soup and allow them to simmer long enough to rehydrate the beans. Delicious!
More Bean Recipes
- Delicious & Healthy Black Bean Recipes
- Navajo Tacos with Sourdough Frybread
- 20 Lentil Recipes Your Whole Family Will Love
- Not-Really Maine Baked Beans
- 20 Pinto Bean Recipes You Have to Try
Useful Tools for Cooking Beans
- Instant Pot Duo Plus 6-Quart 9-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker
- Lodge Cast Iron Enameled Dutch Oven
- 35-Piece Glass Storage Containers
- Crockpot 7-Quart Slow Cooker
- 12-Cup Food Processor and Vegetable Chopper
- 9-Tray Food Dehydrator
Want More Stretchy Bean Ideas?
Stretchy Beans: Nutritious & Economical Meals the Easy Way
Do you struggle with feeding your family delicious, healthy meals? Are you tired of trying to figure out what’s for dinner each night? Do you cringe when you see how much money your family spends on groceries each month?
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- How to cook healthy, affordable beans with amazing flavors
- How to make one pot of beans each week and turn it into 3+ delicious meals the whole family loves—without feeling like you’re eating the same thing every night
- Weekly Stretchy Beans meal plans that you can adapt to fit your family
- How to spend less time in the kitchen, while still getting dinner on the table every night
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I always have black beans on hand! I grab a bag at the store–usually a 2 lb bag—and put the whole lot on to soak. The next day I rinse and cook in the crock pot with no oils or seasonings at all,then freeze them and keep them in a large ziplock bag. Any time I want beans, I just grab however many handfuls I need and let the dish I’m making do the seasoning. We aren’t vegetarian but use meats mostly only for flavoring. When I make something that calls for a pound of hamburger, I use 1/4 lb and make up the volume with smashed black beans (just smashed, not pureed.) I love that beans are so cheap and making my own takes out a whole lot of salt that comes in the cans.
Hi Mary Beth,
Thank you for the wonderful tips.Beans are a great way to stretch the budget.