Basic Cooking Method for Dried Beans

Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Get in There and Cook: A Master Class for the Starter Chef

Get in There and Cook

By Richard Sax

Published 1997

  • About

Use this method for any variety of dried beans or legumes, except lentils and split peas, which need no soaking. Also, specialty beans (sometimes called “new crop” beans) may not require soaking; check the package instructions. (See Dried Bean Basics.)


  • Dried beans
  • Onion, peeled (optional)
  • Bay leaf (optional)
  • Salt, to taste


    1. Place the beans in a colander and rinse with cold water; sort and pick out any discolored beans.
    2. Place the beans in a large bowl; add cold water to cover by at least 2 inches. Soak overnight (refrigerated if your kitchen is very warm). The next day, drain the beans, discarding the liquid.
    3. Place the beans in a large pot with fresh cold water to cover by 2 inches. If you like, add the onion and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil; lower the heat and boil gently until the beans are tender, usually 1 to 1½ hours. Salt after cooking. Remove the bay leaf and discard, and chop the onion and add to the beans if you’d like.