Supremely Delicious Black Beans From Scratch
Black beans are one of the tastiest, most versatile plant-based proteins around. I love them! And while I’m not averse to cracking open a can of black beans now and then, cooking black beans with a small handful of ingredients to maximize flavor is my absolute favorite way to enjoy them.
I’ve made black beans from scratch a gazillion ways in my search to create tender, flavorful – indeed supremely delicious – black beans. I wanted to be able to scoop the beans directly from their cooking pot onto my plate and be blown away, and this recipe does that for me. I LOVE these beans – they’re my favorite dried black beans recipe.
So what do I do to make these supremely delicious? Well, not a lot, I admit … but that simplicity is part of the beauty.
How to Cook Black Beans
I start out with one pound of dried black beans – the fresher the better. Did you know dried black beans that are more than a year old tend to have less flavor and can take much longer to cook? So, buy your beans from a place where you know turnover is fairly high so that you have the freshest dry black beans in your cupboard.
Some people don’t feel the need to soak their beans, but me? I believe in soaking. The threat of gastro-related side effects is enough to keep me firmly on “soak” side of the line – plus, soaking helps dried black beans cook a little faster. Win win.
And then … and then … we have the aromatics. These are ingredients that are carefully selected to add flavor to the beans without affecting the cooking process. We’ve got onion, garlic, a bay leaf, and my secret weapon: whole cloves. Awhile back I had a feeling that the subtly warm spiced aura that cloves impart would pair fabulously with black beans, and, in my opinion, I was right.
So now, you’ll only find me cooking black beans with a little bundle of cloves thrown into the mix.
And then we simmer.
After the beans have cooked (and only after, because salt can slow down the cooking!) I add a bunch of salt directly to the pot of beans, along with a splash of red wine vinegar to just accentuate and brighten the flavors.
I love to make a big pot of these beans on Sunday to enjoy all week long. They also freeze well – I like to freeze in 1 1/2 cup increments so I can just pull out a bag of cooked black beans and use them in place of one can.
Note: If you prefer to cook your black beans in a slow cooker, Lindsey’s how-to is terrific!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are black beans healthy?
“Healthy” can mean different things to different people, but the general consensus, I think, is that black beans are good for you. They are loaded with fiber and protein, and are a decent source of plant-based iron. Black beans are not considered low in carbs, so if you’re eating keto, you might want to look elsewhere.
Are black beans gluten-free?
Yes, black beans and other legumes are naturally gluten-free.
How long to soak black beans?
For the overnight method, add beans to a large soup pot and cover with water to about 4 inches above the top of the beans. Set in a safe place and let sit for 8 hours or overnight.
For the faster quick-soak method, add beans and water to a large pot and place on the stove over high heat. Bring to a boil. Boil for a couple of minutes, then remove the pot from heat and cover. Let soak for one hour.
How long to cook black beans?
This is a hard one to answer, because the cooking time can really vary depending on the age of your dried beans. Generally, it takes 30-60 minutes to cook up a pot of pre-soaked beans. To tell if the beans are done, scoop a few beans out of the pot and blow on the beans. If the skin peels and curls, your beans are cooked. Try one to be sure!
Favorite Black Bean Recipes
- I love black beans in chili! For a fast and easy chili recipe, check out Simple Instant Pot Vegan Black Bean Chili. One of my favorite black bean recipes is this Caribbean-inspired chili with black bean and mango. Trust me – so good! Black beans pair especially well with pumpkin – I love this Slow Cooker Black Bean Pumpkin Chili.
- This Southwest Mac & Cheese ups the protein quotient with black beans. I love this one!
- Black bean soup is so hearty! For a spicy variation that adds in some white beans too, try Jalapeño Black Bean & White Bean Soup. And for a fall/winter spin, how about this Roasted Butternut Squash Black Bean Soup?
Supremely Delicious Black Beans From Scratch
My favorite way to enjoy black beans is straight out of the pot after they’ve simmered with this simple list of heady aromatics. So easy and truly “supremely delicious.”
- 1 pound dried black beans, rinsed and picked over
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 4 medium cloves garlic, peeled and halved
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 whole cloves (the spice, not more garlic), inside a tea infuser or tied in a cheesecloth bundle
- About 10 cups water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Place the beans in a colander and rinse under water. Wash well to rinse out any dirt clumps and pick out any tiny rocks or twigs you might see. Pour into a large soup pot or Dutch oven and cover with water to about 4 inches above the top of the beans. Set in a safe place and let sit for 8 hours or overnight.
- When it’s time to cook the beans, discard soaking water by draining the beans in a colander. Give them a quick rinse. Return soaked beans to the pot and add the onion, garlic, bay leaf, and cloves. Add about 10 cups water, filled to about 4 inches above the top of the beans. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender, 30-40 minutes (longer for higher altitudes). You can tell the beans are done when you blow on them and skins peel back (I also bite into a couple just to be sure!)
- Remove from heat and stir in the salt and red wine vinegar. Remove the bay leaf, bundle of cloves, and any large bits of onion and garlic you can find.
- Scoop them up with a slotted spoon to serve immediately or let then cool then spoon drained beans into airtight zipper bags to freeze for later. They also keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
Yield: About 6 cups beans, Serving Size: 1/2 cup cooked
- Amount Per Serving:
- Calories: 110 Calories
- Total Fat: 1g
- Sodium: 590mg
- Carbohydrates: 24g
- Fiber: 5g
- Sugar: 1g
- Protein: 9g
First published Sept. 28, 2015. Updated May 13, 2020.
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