Never tried adzuki beans? Learn how to cook them for this tasty grain bowl recipe! And don't worry, if you can't find them, black beans work here too.
Have you ever tried adzuki beans? If you haven’t, you totally should. Like most bean varieties, they have a host of health benefits. They’re packed with protein and fiber, and they’re even said to promote heart health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Because of their small size, they cook quickly, and last but not least, they’re delicious! Their unique sweet, nutty flavor is at home in everything from hearty grain bowls to Japanese ice cream.
If you’re ready to try them, find my method for how to cook adzuki beans below, along with my all-time favorite adzuki beans recipe.
How to Cook Adzuki Beans
While it’s possible to find canned adzuki beans, you’ll more often see them dried. Unlike other dried beans, there’s no need to soak adzuki beans before you cook them. Like lentils, they cook in under an hour on the stove, even without soaking! In fact, because they cook so quickly, I prefer the dried beans to canned ones. Cooking adzuki beans yourself allows you to control their final texture, and you can amp up their flavor by simmering them with aromatics like quartered onions, smashed garlic cloves, bay leaves, or black peppercorns.
Want to try it? Here’s my easy method for how to cook adzuki beans:
- First, pick them over. Small stones or debris are often mixed in with dried beans, so sift through the beans before you cook them. Discard this debris along with any shriveled or discolored beans, and rinse the beans in a fine mesh strainer under running water.
- Then, cook them! Place the beans in a large pot, and add cold water to cover them by 2 inches. Season them with salt, and add any aromatics to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the beans are tender, but not mushy. This could take anywhere from 35 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the freshness of your beans. If the beans begin to dry out as they cook, add more water to the pot, as needed.
- Finally, eat or store the beans. When the beans are tender, eat them hot off the stove with a ladle of their cooking liquid, drain them to use in your favorite adzuki beans recipe, or store them for later use. Refrigerate them in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or freeze them for several months.
Adzuki Beans Recipe Components and Variations
This Adzuki Bean Bowl from the cookbook Healthyish is my all-time favorite adzuki beans recipe. The sweet, nutty beans pair perfectly with earthy brown rice and a crisp, miso-dressed slaw. All these components keep well if you prep them ahead of time, so this recipe would be a fantastic make-ahead lunch or weeknight dinner. And if you don’t have these exact ingredients on hand, don’t worry! Like most good grain bowls, you can easily swap in what you do have. Here’s what the recipe calls for, plus a few ideas for easy substitutions:
- Cooked adzuki beans – The main event! If you can’t find them, use black beans instead. I often use them interchangeably.
- Brown rice – Red beans and rice are a classic pairing, and these tasty bowls show why! If you don’t have brown rice on hand, white rice, cauliflower rice, or quinoa would also work well here.
- Napa cabbage, snap peas, and carrots – Use this combination, or swap in your favorite crispy veggies to make the slaw for this bowl. Snow peas, cucumbers, green onions, or red or green cabbage would all be delicious.
- Cilantro – I love to finish grain bowls with a fresh herb. The cilantro is wonderful here, but mint or Thai basil would work too.
- Sesame Miso Dressing – This has become one of my go-to dressings. It’s made with white miso paste, rice vinegar, sesame oil, tamari, and olive oil.
Finish the bowls with creamy avocado, red chiles, and toasted sesame seeds or crushed cashews. Let me know what variations you try!
More Favorite Grain Bowls
If you love this adzuki beans recipe, check out the Healthyish Cookbook! It has a mix of really-healthy and mostly-healthy recipes, hence the name. The book is not entirely vegetarian, but there are SO MANY vegetarian recipes. I have my eye on the Linguine with Trumpet Mushroom “Scallops” and the Smoky Cauliflower and Onion Frittata. I hope you love this book as much as I do!
Then, try one of these grain bowls for more healthy recipe inspiration:
- Mango Ginger Rice Bowl
- Tamago Kake Gohan
- Roasted Veggie Grain Bowl
- Best Buddha Bowl
- Sesame Soba Noodles
Or find more of my best bean recipes here!
Adzuki Bean Bowls
- 1/2 large Napa cabbage head, sliced (6 1/2 cups)
- 3 small carrots, shaved with a vegetable peeler
- 1 cup sugar snap peas, sliced
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, more for serving
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves, more for serving
- 1 1/2 cups cooked adzuki beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 avocados, sliced
- 1 small fresh red chile, sliced
Sesame Miso Dressing (makes extra)
- 1/4 cup white miso
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons tamari
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- Make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the miso, rice vinegar, olive oil, tamari, and sesame oil.
- In a large bowl, mix the cabbage, carrots, snap peas, and sesame seeds with 1/4 cup of the dressing.
- Just before serving, fold the cilantro in the cabbage salad. Divid the rice, cabbage salad, beans, and avocados among four bowls. Drizzle with more dressing, as desired, and sprinkle with the chile and more cilantro and sesame seeds, if you like.