Pinchin’ Pennie$ in the Kitchen: 7 Steps to Using Dry Beans

(FN1701 Reviewed April 2024)
Lead Author
Lead Author:
Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., Food and Nutrition Specialist
Web only
Publication Sections

Dry edible beans, such as pinto, navy, kidney, pink and black beans, are members of the legume family. These nutrient-rich foods provide protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron, potassium and magnesium, and they may help protect us from diseases including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

These inexpensive ingredients cost less than 10 cents per half cup. After soaking and cooking, dry beans can be used in dips, salads, soups, casseroles and even desserts. Check out the cookbook “Spillin’ the Beans” at 


Here’s how to soak and use dry beans in your cooking.

1. Inspect the dry beans, removing any broken beans or foreign materials.

2. Rinse the beans thoroughly in cold water.

3. Soak the beans using the preferred method.

• Add 10 cups of cold water to the pot for each pound (2 cups) of beans. Bring the water to a boil, then boil for one to three minutes. Remove from heat and cover the pot. Let stand. A four-hour soak is ideal for high-quality beans.

4. Drain and rinse the soaked beans.
Draining and rinsing the beans helps remove natural sugars that may cause intestinal gas.

5. Cook the beans.
Add fresh, cold water to cover the beans. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil if you wish. Adding oil helps prevent foaming and boiling over. Heat to boiling, then reduce the heat to simmer gently until the beans are tender.

Cooking times vary with the type, size and age of beans, but generally cooking takes one to two hours. While the beans are cooking, add more water if necessary to keep them covered. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking during cooking. You should be able to mash the cooked beans easily between two fingers or with a fork.

6. Drain and rinse the beans immediately after they have reached the desired texture.
Refrigerate the beans until ready to use.

7. Use soaked, cooked beans in place of canned beans in your favorite recipes. Add flavorings, such as the following, after the beans are cooked:

• Acidic ingredients such as lemon juice, vinegar, tomatoes, chili sauce, ketchup and molasses increase the depth of flavor in your recipes.

• Onions can be added any time during the cooking process. However, onions retain their flavor best when added during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

• Herbs and spices can be added any time, but they gradually lose flavor during long cooking, so add them closer to the end of the cooking.

• Use minimal amounts of salt to limit the sodium content.

2 cups of dry beans = 4 to 5 cups of cooked beans

Country Chili Mix

1 lb. dry kidney beans

3 Tbsp. chili powder

2 Tbsp. dehydrated onions

1 Tbsp. garlic salt

1 tsp. oregano

¾ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

* To reduce sodium, substitute garlic powder for some of the garlic salt.

Pour the kidney beans into a clean quart-sized jar. In a small bowl, mix the remaining ingredients. Pour mixture into a clear sandwich bag and place it on top of the beans. Cover the jar tightly with a lid, decorate and attach a copy of the recipe card. To attach a card to a gift jar, punch a hole in the flower in the upper right.

Country Chili

• 1 container Country Chili Mix

• Additional ingredients: 10 c. water (for soaking beans)

1 lb. ground beef or turkey

1 (8-oz.) can reduced-sodium tomato sauce

1 (24-oz.) can diced tomatoes

6 c. water (for cooking beans)

Remove bag of seasoning from jar and rinse beans. In a stockpot, bring 10 cups of water to a boil. Add beans and return to a boil; let boil two to three minutes. Cover and set aside at room temperature for one hour. Drain and rinse the beans.

Fill a pot with 6 cups of water and add the beans. Cook beans until soft, about one hour; simmer gently with lid tilted. Brown meat; drain and add to the beans with sauce and tomatoes. Add in seasonings, stir and simmer, covered, for one hour. Add a little more water if needed to thin the broth. For best flavor, use mix within one year.

Makes eight servings. Each serving has 240 calories, 6 g fat, 21 g carbohydrate and 290 mg sodium.

For more information about nutrition, food safety and health, visit: