It’s happened to most of us. We decide we want to cook a big old pot of beans for dinner, and we realize we didn’t put the beans on to soak the night before. If this is you, worry not! We’re going to show you how to use hot, salted water to quick soak beans that will cook up perfectly tender.
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When you quick soak your beans, it will take you about 45 minutes less time to cook them when you start preparing dinner. Technically, you can cook beans without soaking them at all, but unsoaked beans take them so much longer to cook. Plus, the beans tend not to become as tender if you don’t soak them.
Are you ready to start cooking beans? Let’s dive in and learn all about how to quick soak beans.
How to Quick-Soak Dried Beans
When you soak beans overnight, we recommend that you soak them for at least 8 hours and as long as 24 hours. Soaking the beans helps to kickstart the process of hydration. It means that when you cook the beans the next day, you’ll be able to cook your pot of beans in about half the time, and the beans will also have a creamier texture.
What types of beans can you quick soak? Naturally, you can quick soak pinto beans, but dry pinto beans aren’t the only beans you can cook. You can also quick soak red beans, black beans, red kidney beans, navy beans, garbanzo beans, great northern beans, and kidney beans. Once you have your beans cooked, you can use them in recipes. Just imagine making homemade baked beans, pinto bean soup, black bean soup, and chili.
To quick soak beans, bring washed and rinsed beans to a boil in a pot of salted water. Once the water has boiled for 2 minutes, turn off the heat and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Let the beans sit there and soak for at least an hour, and when you cook your pot of beans later, they’ll cook in roughly half the time they would if you don’t soak them at all.
Step 1: Wash the Beans
Beans are an agricultural product, and they aren’t washed before they come to you in dried form. For this reason, dried beans have to be thoroughly washed before you cook them. Our grandmothers always said dried beans had to be washed 6 times, but as long as you wash them well, that’s not really necessary.
Put your beans in a colander in your sink. Using cold or lukewarm water, was the beans for a full 1 to 2 minutes. As you wash the beans, use a spoon or your fingers to move them around so that all the beans get washed well. When you’re sorting through the beans, pick out any beans that are broken or rotted (rotten pinto beans will be black).
Step 2: Add Water and Salt
Once your beans are perfectly cleaned, add them to a large pot or Dutch oven, along with 8 cups (2 quarts) of cold water and 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt. The salt will help the beans become softer, as well as add a lot of flavor. Stir well until all of the salt has dissolved.
Step 3: Quick Soak the Beans
Once your salt has dissolved, and you’ve got your pot of beans on the stove, turn the burner to medium-high heat. Bring the water to a rolling boil, but only allow it to boil for 2 minutes.
After 2 minutes of boiling, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and turn off the heat. Let the beans sit in the hot water for 60 minutes. During this hour, the salt and water will soften the beans so that when you cook them later, they’ll cook much more quickly.
Before you cook your beans, drain the soaking water. You don’t want to cook your beans in the water that you used to soak them. If you cook your beans in the soaking water, they will be too salty.
Cook the Beans
Once your beans have been soaking for an hour in the hot water, you can cook them. Before you cook dried bean products, drain them first so that you’re not cooking the beans in the salty water you used to soak them. Once they’re drained, rinse them thoroughly again.
After draining and rinsing your beans, add them back to the pot, along with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 4 cups (1 quart) of water. Cover the pot and turn the burner to medium-high heat.
Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat, cover the pot, and let the beans simmer. Stir the beans at least every 30 minutes so that they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. If the beans start to stick, they will scorch. The scorched and burned flavor will get into the entire pot of beans, making them virtually inedible (unless you like the flavor of burned food!).
Allow the beans to simmer for between 1 and 1 1/2 hours. It can take longer, depending on what type of beans you cook. Also, keep in mind that beans are sitting for a long time before they even make it to your pantry. If the beans you’re cooking are older, they’re still good. Dried beans keep well for years. However, older beans can take longer to become tender.
Why Soaking Beans Is Important
The short answer to why you should soak beans is that it reduces cooking time. After all, if you soak your beans, you can shave off approximately 45 minutes of cook time. This saves fuel and energy, and it helps you get dinner on the table more quickly.
Do you soak all beans? No, not all dried bean products require soaking. These include split peas, lentils, black-eyed peas, and adzuki. Also, you don’t have to soak beans that you cook in the slow cooker (Crock Pot) or pressure cook beans in the Instant Pot or other type of pressure cooker. We love Instant Pot pinto beans.
The Key to Delicious Beans Is Salt and Hot Water
If you soak your dried pinto beans overnight, you use cold water. Soaking beans this way requires that they be soaked for between 8 and 24 hours. Because you soak them for so long, the beans become tender and perfect for cooking. However, it’s a little different with quick soaking beans.
With a quick soak, the hot water and salt penetrate the skin of the beans to make the beans softer. The salt helps to transfer more water to the beans’ centers, which means they’ll be super tender and creamy when they cook.
When you cook dried beans this way, the soaking dried beans are exposed briefly to boiling water. Then, they sit in the hot water for one hour to gently absorb the water. Doing a quick soak of your beans actually improves the flavor of the beans because they retain their natural, earthy flavor.
Why Salt Is Important for Soaking Beans
When you soak your beans in salt water, the salt softens the outer thick skin of the beans. Because of this, your cooked beans will have creamier centers, and the beans are less prone to bursting.
Sodium ions in the kosher salt replace the magnesium and calcium ions in the skin of the beans. The sodium ions work to weaken the pectin in the bean’s cell walls, and more water infuses through the skin of the beans.
Using Cooked Beans
Once you’ve finished cooking dried beans, try them in some of these recipes. Feel free to add some aromatics such as garlic and onion.
White bean soup
Chili with cooked kidney beans
Red bean soup with rice
Homemade refried beans
Baked beans made with navy beans
Storing Cooked Beans
If you have leftovers after cooking beans, they will keep well in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. Be sure to store leftover beans in a container that isn’t made of metal.
To freeze your leftover beans for recipes, put them in an airtight freezer container and freeze them for up to 6 months. You can freeze the beans with a little bit of the cooking liquid to keep them from drying out.
It’s handy to freeze leftover beans in portions of 1 and 2 cups so that you can have them pre-measured for recipes.
Quick Soak Beans
- 2-3 quart Saucepan
Quick Soak Beans Ingredients
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 cup dried beans
- 8 cups fresh water
Ingredients to Cook the Beans
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 4 cups cold water
How to Quick Soak the Beans
- Place beans into a colander in your sink. Pick through the dried beans and discard the broken beans. While you're going through the beans, also remove any beans that have become black.
- Rinse the beans in the colander under cold running water for between 1 and 2 minutes. Use your fingers or a slotted spoon to constantly move the beans around so they all get rinsed.
- Place the beans, 8 cups of water, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt in a Dutch oven or large saucepan. Stir until the salt is completely dissolved.
- Bring the pot to a rolling boil and allow the water to boil for 2 minutes. Stir as needed to keep the beans from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Turn off the burner's heat and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Allow the beans to sit covered and soak for 1 hour.
- After they've soaked for an hour, drain the beans in the colander in the sink. Discard the water that they've been soaking in.
- Thoroughly rinse the beans and prepare to cook them.
Cooking the Quick Soaked Beans
- In the same pot you used for soaking the beans, put 4 cups of cold water, the drained beans, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Bring the water in the pot to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as the water starts to boil, turn burner to low heat. Cover the pot and allow the beans to simmer.
- Stir the beans about every 30 minutes to make sure they don't stick to the bottom of the pot. If the beans stick to the bottom of the pot, they can scorch, and this will essentially ruin your pot of beans because they will all taste burned.
- Cook the beans gently over low heat for between 60 and 90 minutes or until the beans are creamy and tender.
- If you plan to eat your beans as a bean soup or with cornbread, you can use a potato masher to mash some of the beans up. This will create a creamy texture that's reminiscent of southern-style pinto beans.
- If you plan to use your beans in recipes, drain them and serve while still warm.