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How To/ Tips & Hints

How To Make Beans in a Slow Cooker + Freeze Them For Future Use

How To Make Beans in a Slow Cooker + Freeze Them for Future Use

How To Make Beans in a Slow Cooker + Freeze Them for Future Use
Beans are the original vegetarian protein. Before tofu and tempeh and fancy frozen meat substitutes, there were beans.

And when it comes to beans, you pretty much have two options: dried or canned. The biggest advantage to using canned beans is that they’re convenient. But guess what? You can make dried beans that are almost as convenient as the canned ones. Yes, it’s true!

Why use dried beans?

If canned beans are less of a hassle, maybe you’re wondering why you should bother with the dried ones. Well, here are a few reasons:

  • Dried beans are much cheaper! Canned black beans are about 50 cents per serving, while dried black beans are about 17 cents per serving.
  • You can control the amount of sodium with dried beans.
  • Dried beans taste better. This one is subjective, but I think they do!
  • Canned beans often have BPA in the lining of the can.

Dried Black Beans

How To Make Beans in a Slow Cooker

I prefer cooking dried beans in a slow cooker–I think they turn out better. There’s one big potential drawback to making beans in a crockpot, though: red kidney beans contain a toxin that can cause food poisoning if they’re undercooked. (Some other varieties, like fava beans, contain this toxin too, but in smaller amounts.) By soaking the beans overnight and cooking them on high instead of low, you’ll neutralize the toxins, but you can also boil kidney beans for 10 minutes prior to putting them in the slow cooker just to be sure.

Although slow cooking dried beans takes a little bit of time and planning, it takes very little effort. Here’s what you do:

Black Beans SoakingRinse and sort through the beans. Put them in a large resealable container and cover them with plenty of water. Cover and let them sit on the countertop overnight.

Rinse Beans in ColanderDrain the beans in a colander and give them a quick rinse.

Beans in Slow CookerTransfer beans to your slow cooker. Add a few cloves of garlic, a diced onion, or a bay leaf or two if desired. (If you want to add salt, do it after the beans are finished cooking.)

Pouring Water in Slow CookerPour water over beans to cover; for a pound of beans, that’s about 6-8 cups of water. Cook on high for 8-10 hours. Smaller beans, like black beans, should be done in 8 hours, while larger beans (kidney beans, for example) might take a bit longer, up to 12 hours. Older beans also take longer to cook.

How To Freeze Beans

And this is the point where dried beans become almost as handy as the canned variety–you freeze them! Oh fine, it’s a little bit annoying to have to thaw them first, but it’s still worth that tiny bit of annoyance, right?

Beans in Tupperware ContainersAfter the beans have cooled to room temperature, use a slotted spoon to portion them out into freezer bags or freezer-safe containers. Because a lot of recipes call for cans of beans, it’s easiest to freeze in can-sized portions, which is about 1 1/2 cups. Use a ladle to cover the beans with liquid remaining in the slow cooker. If the beans aren’t covered, add a little bit of water until they are.

Beans in FreezerCover and freeze for up to 6 months. (Oh, and you can label them with my handy printable freezing labels!) Before using, thaw in the refrigerator or microwave, then drain and rinse.

What’s your favorite way to use beans?

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79 Comments

  • Reply
    Anele @ Success Along the Weigh
    October 2, 2012 at 8:35 am

    I do mine like this all the time and LOVE it. But I don’t do the liquid thing. What does that do in the freezing process? I’m actually due to make a batch today or tomorrow.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 2, 2012 at 9:35 am

      That’s the way I learned how to do it; I’d guess that maybe it helps keep the beans from drying out? If you’re not freezing them for a long time, I’m sure it’s fine, but you know how sometimes if you freeze something too long it gets freezer burn and gets kind of dry and weird?

  • Reply
    Brian @ A Thought For Food
    October 2, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Fantastic! Time to pull out my slow cooker!

  • Reply
    Cassie
    October 2, 2012 at 9:19 am

    This is such great info! I love beans but always take the easy route in the can. I need to do this!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 2, 2012 at 9:33 am

      I stuck with cans for a long time too–I paid extra for the ones without BPA in the lining, so it ends up being WAY cheaper to do it like this!

  • Reply
    Alison @ Ingredients, Inc.
    October 2, 2012 at 9:22 am

    wow this is so helpful! Great girl!

  • Reply
    Sara M
    October 2, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Hooray, I just bought a big bag of pinto beans! I’ve been making them on the stovetop and while edible I haven’t been happy with how they’ve been turning out. Some are really mushy, some are still too firm. Time to re-arrange my menu planning to have beans sooner rather than later because now I’m anxious to try this in the crock pot! 🙂

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 3, 2012 at 2:32 pm

      Yeah, that’s what happens to me when I try to make beans on the stove too! But they’re pretty much fool-proof in the slow cooker. 🙂

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    October 2, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Hmm, I never tried to make beans in a slow cooker. If they taste better I will try them that way.
    But to make it easier I prefer to use mung beans and green peas – no soaking is what I love!)

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm

      That’s why I love lentils too–so quick and easy!

  • Reply
    Amy @ Pumpkin & Pi
    October 2, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Man! I wish I had seen this last weekend before making them the regular way…This is too easy not to try. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Kelly @ Texas Type A Mom
    October 2, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    I’m glad you posted this! I’ve all but given up on trying to boil/freeze my own beans. Hopefully the slow cooker will make the beans taste better and be easier all around. My beans either end up undercooked or overcooked (read: falling apart).

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 3, 2012 at 2:28 pm

      As long as you keep an eye on the beans around the 8 hour mark, you shouldn’t have too much of an issue with them falling apart. 🙂

  • Reply
    Kathy - Panini Happy
    October 2, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    I can’t wait to give this a try. I’ve had the worst luck with cooking beans, having them split and all. I’m all for a reliable method – thanks for sharing this one!

  • Reply
    [email protected]'s Recipes
    October 2, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    I like to use dried beans, but usually prepare them in a pressure cooker. Gotta get myself a slow cooker!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 3, 2012 at 2:25 pm

      …and I need to get myself a pressure cooker. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jackie @ The Beeroness
    October 2, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Ok, that’s it. It is officially time for me to buy a slow cooker.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 3, 2012 at 2:24 pm

      I’m shocked that you don’t have one!

  • Reply
    Maria Kronfeld
    October 2, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Soaking the beans in salted water (3 tbsp salt to 4 qt water) makes the skin more tender. Just be sure to rinse them well before cooking.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 3, 2012 at 2:23 pm

      I didn’t know that–thanks for the tip!

  • Reply
    Celeste O
    October 2, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    I always have dry pinto & black beans on hand. In fact I just made some pinto beans in my crockpot this past weekend. So easy to do and tastes better but it does require a little planning.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 3, 2012 at 2:23 pm

      They definitely taste better! Which makes it worth the small inconvenience. 🙂

  • Reply
    Meghan @JaMonkey
    October 2, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    My husband loves beans and we go through cans too fast. I need to start buying dry ones to save money!

  • Reply
    Mary Beth Elderton
    October 2, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    I do this regularly, but I freeze them dry rather than wet. That way, I can use a can’s worth or just grab a handful from the bag. I also don’t usually season mine at all when cooking but season them along with whatever dish I make. One way I use them is to substitute for half or more of the ground meat in a recipe–just smash them enough to get rid of the bean shape so the mouth doesn’t recognize it 🙂

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 3, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      I’ve never tried using smashed beans as a substitute for meat–I will have to remember that one!

  • Reply
    Notorious Spinks
    October 2, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Thank you so much for this. I’ll be stalking your sight because I’m making menus and plans to start my candida diet (yeast-free) next month and I want to have all my recipes lined up so I won’t have a reason to fall off the wagon.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm

      Good luck with the new diet! Having everything planned out will definitely help, I’m sure.

  • Reply
    Dee @ Cocktails with Mom
    October 2, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    We love beans here. I will have to try this method.

  • Reply
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com
    October 3, 2012 at 1:40 am

    You are totally right about dried beans vs canned version. I love cooking mine by overnight soaking and cooking using a pressure cooker which takes a lot less time to cook 🙂

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 3, 2012 at 2:12 pm

      I really need to get a pressure cooker! Quite frankly, they scare me a little bit. 😉

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    October 3, 2012 at 8:02 am

    What a great tutorial. We eat a lot of beans!

  • Reply
    Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell
    October 3, 2012 at 9:32 am

    This is so very smart, but I know I’m still too lazy. I just know it.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 3, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      Ha! But it’s so easy, I promise!

  • Reply
    BusyWorkingMama
    October 3, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    I never thought of freezing beans. I’ve been trying to stay away from using canned beans (and products in general) but the convenience is a factor for me. Dry beans take forever to cook! This would work well for us.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 3, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      I know! And when you cook them, you need to plan in advance too because of the soaking. This is a nice way to have them (almost) ready to go when you need them.

  • Reply
    Tina @ More Please Recipes
    October 3, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    I must admit I’ve been a canned bean person because I’ve never really had success with cooking beans. This seems like a tried and true method. Also, I like doing things that take their time, that are slow, and well worth it (I think dried are better than canned too).

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 5, 2012 at 5:06 pm

      Yup, I had just about given up on dried beans before this. I love my slow cooker!

  • Reply
    Twingle Mommy
    October 3, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    I hate using canned beans, but I always forget to soak them over night. Why didn’t I think of freezing them before? Thanks for sharing, I will be doing this soon!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 5, 2012 at 5:05 pm

      Yay, glad I could help! 🙂

  • Reply
    Jeanette
    October 3, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    I do love to make beans in a slow cooker – so easy and so much tastier with the onion, garlic, and bay leaf.

  • Reply
    Courtney Rae Jones
    October 4, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    This is a super handy post! 🙂 Thanks so much. I will definitely be doing this. So much easier than soaking beans WAY ahead of time. I never prepare in advance, so I don’t tend to use dried beans. But I would prefer using them, as I know they are cheaper. And I’d like to waste less (ie. the cans).

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 5, 2012 at 5:00 pm

      I plan my meals in advance, but my problem is that I completely forget the night before that I need to start soaking the beans. This way is much better because they can be thawed in the microwave. 🙂

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