How to Cook Black Beans

Learn how to cook black beans from scratch! Serve them as a hearty, flavorful side dish, or add them to your favorite black bean recipes.

Black beans

When I opened the pantry last weekend, I found a bag of dried black beans that I’d been meaning to cook for weeks. With all the recipe testing that goes on in our kitchen, I hadn’t gotten around to it. But that day, a trip to the grocery store was totally out of the question. Six inches of snow had already accumulated outside, and six more were on their way. It seemed like the perfect time to cozy up in the kitchen and cook black beans from scratch.

Black beans are an ingredient that I use all the time. More often than not, I rely on the canned kind because they’re convenient, but when I have the time, I prefer to cook them myself. They come out creamy and flavorful, with a rich cooking liquid seasoned with cumin and garlic. Like canned beans, they’re great in tacos, enchiladas, and other black bean recipes, but they’re also a delicious side dish on their own.

You’ll find my method for how to cook black beans below. It takes a little time, but the cooking process is super easy and hands-off – an ideal activity for a long winter weekend at home. Cook a big batch one day, eat some for dinner, and freeze the rest. That way, you’ll be able to make delicious versions of your favorite black bean recipes whenever you please!

How to cook black beans from scratch - ingredients

How to Cook Black Beans

My method for how to cook black beans from scratch is slightly different from my approach to cooking other types of beans. Because I often use them in black bean recipes like tacos and enchiladas, I want them to hold their shape. As a result, I don’t soak the beans before I cook them. I also find that not soaking creates a richer, creamier cooking liquid, which makes the beans an especially delicious side dish. So, I skip the soak, and follow these easy steps:

  • First, sort and rinse the beans. Add them to a colander and discard any stones or debris. Rinse them well, and place them in a large pot.
  • Then, add the water and seasonings. Because I like black beans to have a thick, flavorful cooking liquid, I always measure the water when I cook them. I start with 4 cups of water for every cup of beans, and I add more as needed to keep the beans submerged as they cook. After I pour in the water, I stir in cumin, olive oil, salt, and pepper and bring the pot to a boil.
  • Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the black beans are tender. I start checking mine at 1 hour and then again every 15 minutes after that. Depending on the freshness of your beans, it could take up to 2.5 hours. Right before the beans are ready, stir some garlic into the pot.
  • Finally, season to taste. Taste the beans and season them with more salt and pepper. Then, have fun spicing them up however you like! They taste great with chili powder, Mexican oregano, lime juice and zest, and/or chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Pot of cooked black beans

Best Tips for Cooking Dry Black Beans

  • Go ahead and add salt. If you’re familiar with cooking dry beans, you might be surprised that I add the salt right away. Rumor has it that salting the beans too soon can lengthen the cooking process, but in my experience, it doesn’t make a difference. I’ve even cooked two pots of dried beans side by side, salting one but not the other. The timing was exactly the same, but the flavor in the salted pot was way better. Don’t be scared to salt!
  • Fresher beans = better beans. The primary determinant of how long it takes to cook beans from scratch is NOT when you add the salt: it’s the freshness of the beans! If you can, source them from a grower or store with high turnover. The fresher your beans are, the better they’ll be.
  • Add kombu for more digestible beans. Simmering dried beans with a piece of kombu kelp is said to make them more digestible, so if you like, feel free to add some after the pot comes to a boil and you reduce the heat to a simmer. Be careful not to boil the kombu – if you do, it can give the broth a bitter flavor.
  • Save some for later. If you’re cooking black beans from scratch, you might as well make a big batch! Eat some right away, and save the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months. Feel free to drain them or to store them in their cooking liquid. Both ways work!

Veggie burger and veggie tacos

Best Black Bean Recipes

Once you learn how to cook black beans, you’ll find a million ways to use them. Season them with lime juice and zest, chili powder, oregano, and/or cilantro, and serve them as a side dish with Mexican or Latin American-inspired dishes like tacos or taquitos. Paired with some cilantro lime rice, they could also pass as a meal on their own!

Cooked black beans are a fantastic component in larger dishes, too. They’re the base of classic recipes like Black Bean Burgers and Black Bean Soup, and they add plant-based protein to vegetarian main dishes like Stuffed Peppers, Stuffed Poblanos, and my Vegan Meatballs.

But that’s not all! Black beans are also excellent in burritos, salads, and more. Show them off in any of these recipes:

Let me know what black bean recipes you try!

Black beans recipe

More Favorite Cooking Basics

If you loved learning how to cook black beans, try cooking one of these pantry items next:

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How to Cook Black Beans

rate this recipe:
4.91 from 22 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves 12
Learn how to cook black beans from scratch! Creamy and flavorful, they're a delicious side dish or component in black bean recipes like tacos and enchiladas.


Optional add-ins:

  • Chili powder
  • Mexican oregano
  • Lime juice and zest
  • Chopped fresh cilantro


  • Place the beans in a large colander and sort through them to remove and discard any stones or debris.
  • Rinse the beans and transfer them to a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the water, cumin, olive oil, salt, and several grinds of pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, add the kombu, if using, and simmer, uncovered, until the beans are tender. I like to check mine starting at 1 hour, and every 15 minutes after that. Depending on the freshness of your beans, it could take up to 2½ hours. Add more water to the pot, as needed, to keep your beans submerged.
  • Remove the kombu and add the garlic during the last few minutes of cooking.
  • Season the beans as you like, adding chili powder, oregano, and more salt and pepper, if desired. Let the beans cool in the cooking liquid (I like how it gets nice and thick). Just before serving, stir in lime juice, zest, and cilantro, if desired.


Store the beans in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for several months. The beans can be stored in the cooking liquid or drained and stored.
The kombu is optional, but it helps the beans become more digestible. Kombu can get bitter if boiled, so be sure to keep your beans cooking at a gentle simmer after you add it.


4.91 from 22 votes (17 ratings without comment)

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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Mary

    3 stars
    I made this black bean recipe today. They taste too salty for me. Is there a way to reduce the saltiness after the beans are cooked?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Mary, you could try adding some lime juice, or use them in a dish/recipe with less salty things to balance it out.

  2. Dennis Richard

    5 stars
    The how to cook black beans was an amazing recipe. Luckily I had all of the ingredients at home. My wife also loved it. Made Indian style plain fried rice with it. I will definitely be making this again. Thanks for this recipe.

  3. Chris

    Thank you so much, this is exactly what I was looking for. I’m making a meal for a fast and needed to use black beans instead of beef. I love your explanations and simplicity of it.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Chris, I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  4. Jenny Beatie

    Has anyone ever tried these using vegetable or chicken broth instead of water? I know salt will be a factor to consider.

    • Issac

      I’m sad nobody answered this. I have 4 quarts of delicious fatty homemade broth in my freezer and a shitload of dried beans. I’m going for it. If I remember I’ll report back.

      • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

        I think using broth here would work well! If the broth is already salted, you may want to start with half the salt or even no salt and add more to taste at the end of the cooking process.

  5. Donna

    Doesn’t not soaking the beans make the eaters gassy?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Donna, I think it’s just a rumor.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      You can certainly soak them, if you prefer.

  6. Liz F

    5 stars
    This was so helpful! I appreciate that you included ways to use the beans as well. This made the whole process super easy and also inspiring. Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad it was helpful!

  7. Estelle

    5 stars
    These were outstanding. The flavour was amazing!! I’ve been looking for ways to cut grocery costs and being a family that loves black beans, I’ve been searching for a very simple and delicious black bean recipe so I don’t need to buy the canned ones. This one checked all the boxes! Incredible flavour – 10 stars!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      I’m so glad the beans were a hit!

  8. Sue Howard

    I like the idea that you don’t need to add the salt last or soak the beans before cooking.Do you ever add tomatoes?

  9. Vickie Davis

    5 stars
    Made these last night to go with ropa vieja
    They are the best beans we’ve ever had! Thankyou!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved them!

      • Cindi

        Good to know!
        Just wondering about the spice measurement?
        Please and thank you

        • Jeanine Donofrio

          Hi Cindy, the measurements are in the recipe card at the very bottom of the post. Hope that helps!

          • Elaine

            Hello. I don’t see spice & zest quantities anywhere nor a recipe card. (Doesn’t show on printed recipe either ) Can you provide the info please? many thx

          • Jeanine Donofrio

            Hi Elaine, the recipe card is at the bottom of the post with all of the measurements.

  10. CM

    Do you ever cook these in a slow cooker?

  11. Shy

    Delish! I looked up recipes after soaking my beans for 24 hours so I get it, but these are so delicious with a little fresh garlic, cumin, S&P! Just the perfect seasoning, thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you enjoyed them!

  12. Michelle

    Do you have black beans recipe in the instant pot?

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.