bowl of pinto beans topped with jalapeno slices

How to Cook Dried Beans

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Learning how to cook dried beans is an excellent basic cooking skill to learn. You can save a ton of money learning to cook them. And they are delicious in so many recipes.

pot of dried pinto beans and a plate of tortillas with a spoon scooping beans on

Dried beans are a great money saver and they are a healthy food to eat. They are low in calories and nutritious and a fraction of the price of canned beans. Adding beans to your diet can help you save a ton of money on groceries too because they are a really inexpensive protein. If you’re trying to save money, check out these dirt cheap meals you can make.

For this post, we are going to cook dried pinto beans, but remember, the techniques work exactly the same for black beans, kidney beans, butter beans, northern beans, or whatever kind of bean you like!

How to soak beans

The quickest way to cook dried beans and the best way for your body to digest beans is by soaking. Here are a few different ways you can do it. (and remember, the tiny beans like split peas and lentils don’t need to soak for cooking times, but you can soak them if you want to)

So how do you go about soaking beans? You can do it overnight by rinsing your beans and putting them in a large pot or bowl and covering them with water. Once you get up in the morning, drain and rinse them until the water runs clear.

If you don’t have enough time for the overnight soak, you can rinse them and place them in a large pot. Cover them the same way. Bring the pot of water to a boil and cook them for one minute. Then remove from heat, add a lid, and leave them for an hour. Then drain and rinse them just like you would for the above method.

small white bowl of cooked pinto beans

Cooking pinto beans on the stove top

  • Add your soaked beans to a large pot and cover with water (I use the same pot for soaking if I’m going to do stove top beans. And I generally don’t cook them this way because you have to watch them more actively and I don’t want to. But if you don’t have a crock pot or instant pot, then here’s how you do it.
  • Add seasonings (but wait to add the salt until the end, it can keep them from getting tender), See below for some great choices.
  • Bring them to a boil over high heat.
  • Reduce to low and cook for one hour. Then begin to check for doneness and make sure they are still covered with water every 30 minutes. You may have to add more.
  • When the beans start to get tender, add salt.
  • Continue cooking until 5 different beans are soft when you bite into them. Always check several beans.

Instant pot dry pinto beans

  • Add soaked beans to the instant pot.
  • Add seasonings (except for salt)
  • Cover with 2 inches of water
  • Follow the instant pot instructions for sealing the lid and pressure cook on high for 15 minutes (if you didn’t have time to soak the beans, you can cook them on high for 30 minutes here)
  • Natural release for 15 minutes.
  • Quick release the rest of the steam and remove the lid.
  • Add salt.

Slow cooker pinto beans

  • Rinse beans and soak overnight
  • Drain and rinse well
  • Add to crock pot with seasoning (save salt for later)
  • Cover with 2 inches of water
  • Cover and cook on high for 6 hours.
  • Add salt to taste

Check out the recipe below for the absolute best flavored pinto beans.

How to store cooked beans

Cooked dried beans will keep up to a week in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer. We love to cook a couple of pounds of beans and then dish them into quart size bags and have our own “frozen beans” that are healthier, just as convenient and taste a whole lot better. Plus we save a ton of money over canned beans.

For recipes you can make with pinto beans, check these out:

The best seasoning for pinto beans:

Can you soak beans too long?

The purpose of soaking is to make them more digestible and the nutrients easier to assimilate when you cook dried beans. But beans can spoil in the water, so keep your soaking time between 4 and 24 hours.

For more basic cooking, check these out:

instant pot pan full of cooked pinto beans
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Slow Cooker Mexican Pinto Beans

Spicy flavorful pinto beans that are tender and full of nutrients. These beans will make your whole house smell great and people will be asking you for the recipe!
Prep Time1 day
Cook Time8 hours
Total Time1 day 8 hours
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: dried pinto beans, how to cook dried pinto beans, mexican beans, taco beans
Servings: 9
Calories: 187kcal
Author: Christina


  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 1/4 c homemade taco seasoning (or a large package of store bought)
  • 2 TBSP salt
  • 8 cups water


  • Rinse beans and soak overnight
  • Drain beans and rinse well
  • Add to crock pot with taco mix and water
  • Cook on high for 8 hours
  • Add salt


Calories: 187kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 2097mg | Potassium: 702mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 617IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 3mg

Growing pinto beans

You can grow your own pinto beans in the garden, check out how here.

For more ideas with beans, check out Black Bean Quesadilla Recipe.

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