An easy basic slow cooker black beans recipe for you to use in any way you wish. Use the cooked black beans in burritos or burrito bowls, taco salads, quesadillas, soups, and more. This crock pot method is great because it is hands free and a good way to batch cook black beans.
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of my links, I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you.
Dry beans are an incredibly inexpensive food and full of fiber and nutrition. They are very versatile and something every home cook should know how to make. Once you have cooked black beans, you can use them in so many different ways: soups, casseroles, tacos, burritos, and more.
My favorite way to cook dried beans is in the slow cooker, although I also sometimes use the Instant Pot pressure cooker. I'm notorious for my beans boiling over on the stove top and making a mess, so I stick to the slow cooker where I don't have to babysit them. The slow cooker makes it easy and is a perfect way to batch cook.
After slow cooking my beans, I divide the cooked beans into bags containing 1 ½ cup portions to freeze for future use. One 15 oz. can of beans is equivalent to approximately 1-½ cups home cooked beans, which is why I portion them this way. Cans of black beans are very convenient for weeknight dinners, so we are going to create our own convenience food.
It's also cheaper than buying canned beans and doesn't contain any unnecessary ingredients. In my opinion, homemade beans taste better as well. To me, it's worth the extra time.
Now let's learn to make some delicious black beans in the slow cooker.
Prepping the beans
Two things that are necessary for prepping the beans are rinsing and sorting.
A bag of black beans is often dirty and dusty, so they require a good rinse to remove the dirt. Simply place a pound of beans (approx. 2 cups of dried beans) in a colander and rinse the beans in the sink with water, agitating with your hands for a couple of minutes.
Sorting simply refers to the process of picking out the undesirable beans and debris. You will likely find some that are mushy, discolored, or just don't look good. If you find some that float, pick those out. You may also find small stones or other pieces of debris that aren't beans. They sometimes find their way into the bag of beans. Don't be alarmed. Just remove them.
How to soak beans
After washing and sorting the beans, you will want to soak them.
Is soaking necessary? Good question. Soaking is highly debatable in the bean world. Some say you don't need to soak and others say it's a must. I like to soak them to improve digestion, but if you forget, it's not a deal breaker. You can still cook them in the slow cooker without soaking first.
Soaking requires about a 12 hour time commitment, so make sure you get the timing right. If you are soaking and you would like the beans to be finished cooking by dinner time, you will need to start soaking the night before. If you want them finished cooking in the morning, you will need to start soaking the morning before.
To soak your beans, simply place the rinsed beans in a pot covered with warm water. You need enough water so that it covers about 2 inches above your beans. Cover and let sit for 12 hours or overnight. That's it. Simple.
Slow cooking the beans
The cooking process is super simple. The next day after soaking the beans, drain the water from the beans and give them a quick rinse. Place beans into your slow cooker along with six cups of fresh water, a bay leaf, an onion quartered, and 3 peeled garlic cloves. Bay leaves, onion, and garlic will add flavor to your beans so that they aren't bland. I keep the flavors basic when cooking a big batch of black beans and then add additional spices if needed when I'm using them in a specific recipe.
Cook on the low setting for about 6-8 hours. The last hour, add 2 tsp salt and stir.
Cooking time can vary a bit depending on a couple of variables. If you find that your beans are not even close to being tender when you add the salt, turn your slow cooker on high heat. Some slow cookers cook hotter or cooler than others. If yours cooks hot, your beans may be done closer to 6 hours. If yours cooks cooler, you may need a longer amount of time than 8 hours or may need to place the temp on high.
Older beans take longer to cook, so be aware of that when cooking your black beans. If you do not achieve tender beans in the amount of time I suggest, it could you be your slow cooker or the age of your beans. Don't give up though. Try again with newer beans and possibly raise the temp on your slow cooker.
The only thing left to do is to remove the aromatics (bay leaf, onion, and garlic) from the pot of beans. Then use them in your favorite black bean recipe.
Storing cooked beans
Cooked beans can be kept in the fridge for 3-5 days in an airtight container.
If you would like to freeze them, store them in plastic freezer bags or an airtight container. Label the bag with the date, and they will stay fresh for about 6 months. As mentioned above, I prefer to store them in the freezer in 1-½ cup portions like a can of beans.
Here is a video if you like to see the visual process.
Slow cooker black beans
- slow cooker
- heavy pot or bowl
- 1 lb black beans dry
- 6 cups water plus more for soaking
- 1 bay leaf dried
- 1 onion quartered
- 3 cloves garlic peeled
- 2 tsp salt
- Rinse dry black beans in a colander to remove dirt and dust. Remove any debris or bad beans.
- Place beans in a pot and cover with warm water 2 inches above the beans. Cover and let soak overnight at room temperature or for about 12 hours.
- The next morning, drain beans and rinse.
- Pour into a slow cooker and add 6 c. fresh water, 1 bay leaf, 1 quartered onion, and 3 peeled garlic cloves.
- Cook on low temperature for 6-8 hours.
- The last hour, add 2 tsp salt and stir.
- After elapsed time check to see if beans are tender. If they are not, increase temperature to high and cook for another hour or until beans are tender.
- Remove bay leaf, onions, and garlic and use the beans however you wish.
More bean recipes
- crockpot pinto beans
- slow cooker black bean soup
- crispy black bean tacos
- 30 awesome recipes with beans
- ways to use leftover beans