How to Cook Great Northern Beans

Preparing great northern beans from scratch can be a rewarding process that ensures you have complete control over the seasonings and no preservatives are used. Whether you’re cooking them on the stove, in a slow cooker, or an Instant Pot, getting dry beans to become tender and tasty is easier than you might think! This tutorial will primarily focus on an easy Crockpot recipe but will also include tips for other methods.

Key Takeaways

  • Cooking great northern beans from scratch allows for seasoning control and no preservatives.
  • Various methods can be used, such as a stove, slow cooker, or Instant Pot.
  • Our guide primarily focuses on an easy Crockpot recipe with additional tips for other methods.

How to Prepare Dry Beans in a Slow Cooker

Using a slow cooker, like a crock pot, is an easy way to cook dry beans. To begin, first, soak the beans for a short time or even better, overnight. After soaking, drain the beans before placing them in your slow cooker. Cook the beans throughout the afternoon until they reach the desired tenderness.

This method ensures that you’re eating healthier by controlling the ingredients in your meal. Plus, it gives you the freedom to customize the flavors. For a spicy twist, feel free to add red pepper flakes or chili powder to suit your taste.

How Long to Soak Dried Beans

So, you might be wondering if soaking dried beans is necessary. While it’s not absolutely required, soaking can be beneficial, especially for those with sensitive stomachs. Soaking also reduces the cooking time, which is a nice bonus.

For instance, if you’re preparing slow cooker ham hock with pinto beans, you might skip the soaking and let the beans cook all day. But if you soak them overnight, the cooking time gets cut in half. Here’s what you’ll need to soak your beans:

  • 2 cups northern beans (dry)
  • 6 cups chicken broth or water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

After soaking your dried beans overnight, you can add your preferred seasonings to enhance the flavor of your dish. For some added heat, try incorporating dry Sriracha – just be careful, as you only need about 1/4 teaspoon!

In summary, soaking dried beans overnight can improve the digestion process, taste, and reduce cooking time. Give it a try and see how it works for your recipe!

How to Cook Dried Beans

To cook dried beans on your stovetop, you’ll first need to soak them for at least an hour. Keep in mind that cooking times may vary depending on the size of the beans, personal preferences for tenderness, and burner settings.

  1. Sort and wash the beans, discarding any debris, then rinse them well in a colander.
  2. Fill a large pot with water and add the beans, ensuring they are fully submerged.
  3. Bring the water to a boil and let the beans cook at a low temperature. Remember to cover the pot with a lid.
  4. Depending on the type of beans, adjust the cooking time as follows:
    • Small beans (e.g., black-eyed peas, navy beans): 50-90 minutes
    • Medium beans (e.g., Great Northern, pinto, garbanzo): 1-2 hours
    • Large beans (e.g., lima, butter beans): 1.5-2.5 hours
  5. Test the beans for tenderness during the indicated time frame.
  6. Once they reach your desired level of tenderness, drain the beans in a colander and discard the cooking liquid or save it for later use as a broth or stock.
  7. Season the cooked beans with kosher salt and pepper to taste.

Note that you can also cook dry beans in a slow cooker if you prefer a longer, more hands-off approach. Just remember to be patient as it takes time to achieve the perfect tenderness.

How to Cook Dry Beans in an Instant Pot

To cook dry beans in your Instant Pot, follow these simple steps. First, place the beans in the pot, without soaking them beforehand. For dishes like Instant Pot baked beans, you’ll need two steps: cooking the beans until tender and then adding sauce for a second round of cooking to absorb the flavors.

When preparing Instant Pot black beans as a side dish for your Taco Tuesdays, only one step is needed. The same goes for cooking pinto beans. If you’re pressed for time, using canned great Northern beans is a quick alternative for making dishes like Instant Pot ham and beans.

To ensure proper cooking, place the lid on your Instant Pot, secure the valve, and select the appropriate pressure cooker setting. After cooking, use the quick release to let out the steam safely. Remember to keep your tone friendly and enjoy your delicious beans!

Slow Cooker Northern Beans Recipe

To get a delicious slow cooker Northern beans with a rich taste, follow these simple steps. Begin by rinsing the beans, then place them in a large bowl and fill it with water, covering the beans by 3 inches. Allow them to sit on your countertop for at least an hour. If you’re short on time, you can skip this step, but remember to add 30 minutes-1 hour to the cooking time.

Once the beans have soaked, drain the water and place them in your slow cooker. Pour chicken broth (or water) over the beans and cover the slow cooker. Cook the white beans on high heat for 4-6 hours, or until they become fork-tender. When they’re cooked, drain the liquid, season to taste, and enjoy your meal.

For added flavor, consider placing a ham hock in the center of the slow cooker during the cooking process. Diced ham is another great option for enhancing the taste, or for creating a satisfying bean soup. Additionally, you can include some carrots to the mix for extra texture and nutrients. With this friendly approach, your slow cooker Northern beans will surely impress your taste buds and satisfy your hunger.

How to Quickly Cook Dry Northern Beans

To cook dry northern beans fast, you can use an Instant Pot. Soaking the beans in water for a few hours before boiling will make them tender more quickly. Utilize the provided pressure cooking dry beans timings, ensuring that you use high pressure with a natural release at the end.

Once you master this method, you can confidently cook other types of dried beans such as lima, black, or kidney beans. Feel free to experiment with your slow cooker or a stovetop using a dutch oven for these beans.

If you’re curious about some of my favorite items I love using, take a look and see if you have any of them in your kitchen – we might be kitchen twinsies!

How to Cook Great Northern Beans


  • Stove, Instant Pot or Slow Cooker


  1. Place beans in a large bowl and fill with water, about 3 inches above the beans. Let them soak on your countertop for a minimum of 1 hour. (Skipping this step may require an additional 30 minutes to 1 hour of cooking time.)
  2. After soaking, drain the beans and place them in your preferred cooking appliance—stove, Instant Pot or slow cooker. Add chicken broth (or water) to cover the beans.
  3. Cook the beans on high heat for 4-6 hours or until they become fork-tender. Drain any remaining liquid, season with desired herbs and spices, and savor your delicious side dish!

Suggested seasonings and herbs to enhance flavor:

  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Black pepper
  • Bay leaf
  • Olive oil

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do Great Northern beans take to cook on the stovetop?

To cook Great Northern beans on the stovetop, you should first soak them overnight. Afterward, bring the beans to a boil and then simmer them for about 1-1.5 hours until they’re tender.

What’s a tasty way to make Southern-style Great Northern beans?

To prepare Southern-style Great Northern beans:

  1. Heat oil in a large pot.
  2. Add diced onions, bell peppers, and celery. Sauté until softened.
  3. Stir in cooked beans, ham hock, or bacon for added flavor.
  4. Pour in chicken broth and season with salt, pepper, and cayenne.
  5. Simmer for about 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender and flavors meld.

How can I speed up the cooking process for Great Northern beans?

To cook Great Northern beans more quickly:

  • Use a pressure cooker, which reduces cooking time to 20-30 minutes.
  • Apply the quick-soak method by boiling beans in water for 1 minute, then let them sit covered for 1 hour before cooking.

What’s the most effective method to cook dried Great Northern beans?

To properly cook dry Great Northern beans:

  1. Rinse and sort beans.
  2. Soak overnight or use the quick-soak method.
  3. Drain and rinse soaked beans.
  4. Add beans to a large pot along with fresh water or broth.
  5. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until beans are tender (1-1.5 hours).

How do I cook Great Northern beans in a slow cooker?

To make Great Northern beans in a crockpot:

  1. Rinse and pre-soak beans.
  2. Add soaked beans, water, and any desired seasonings or vegetables to the slow cooker.
  3. Cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours, until beans are soft and cooked through.

How do I cook canned Great Northern beans?

To cook canned Great Northern beans:

  1. Drain and rinse beans to remove excess sodium.
  2. Add beans to a saucepan and cover with water or broth.
  3. Heat on medium heat until warmed through, stirring occasionally.
  4. Season with salt, pepper, and other desired spices.

Great Northern Beans

Here's a simple recipe for Great Northern Beans.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 188 kcal


  • 1 pound dried Great Northern Beans
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 cups water or chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  • Rinse the beans and soak them overnight in enough water to cover them by at least 2 inches.
  • Drain the beans and discard the soaking water.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the drained beans, bay leaves, salt, black pepper, and water or chicken broth to the pot.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 2 hours, or until the beans are tender.
  • Remove the bay leaves and discard them.
  • Serve the beans hot as a side dish, or use them as a base for soups and stews. Enjoy!


Calories: 188kcal
Keyword how to cook great northen beans
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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