Food is one of the biggest reoccurring expenses for my husband and I, so we try very hard to stick to a budget. Thankfully, beans are cheap, cheap, cheap! Plus they’re high in protein, easy to make, and super versatile. We use them in soups, for hummus and dips, as a topping on salads, and to stretch out meat purchases. Canned beans cost about $1 per can (or less depending on the store and the sales), but dry beans are even cheaper. For this post, I purchased a 2 pound bag of pinto beans from Aldi for $1.89 (regular price) and a 1 pound bag of chickpeas from Harris Teeter for $1.25 (sale price). A one pound bag of beans will yield about 6 cups of cooked beans, which is approximately four 15 ounce cans of beans.
Slow cookers are my absolute favorite kitchen appliance, so it’s no surprise that slow cooking dry beans is my favorite method. I love being able to set the timer and walk away for a couple hours. Sometimes I forget to check on my food, so I’m excited about my newest and fanciest Crock Pot, which will switch to “Keep Warm” when the timer goes off. I usually make a pot of beans on my weekly food prep days, so I start the beans in the crock pot and then work on chopping lettuce, fruits, and veggies for the week. Depending on my cooking plans for the week, I may portion and freeze some of the beans for later use.
It’s super easy to slow cook any type of beans, but I usually see posts on Pinterest with instructions for slow cooking black beans. It took a bit of experimenting to figure out cooking times for other types of beans. Two of my favorite types are pinto beans and chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), which both cook for the same amount of time. Stay tuned for two recipes using my Slow Cooker Pinto Beans and Chickpeas! In the coming weeks, I’ll show you how to make my Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Hummus with Sweet Potato and my Collard Greens and Pinto Beans.
Begin with one pound of dry pinto beans or chickpeas (available at your local grocery, health food store, or from Amazon. Dump the beans into a colander and sort through, removing the “weirdies” (broken pieces, small rocks, and discolored beans). Place in the sink and rinse the beans until the water runs clear.
Transfer the beans to your crock pot (3 quarts or larger is best) and cover with water. I fill mine so the water level is about 2 inches above the bean level. Cover the beans and let them soak overnight. You don’t have to soak them if you’re in a hurry, but I’ve found that pre-soaking the beans lessens the effects of the more undesirable qualities of beans (you know, the musical fruit part).
The next day, double-check the water level on your beans and add more if necessary. The water line should still be about two inches above the beans. Cover your slow cooker and turn it on. Set the beans to cook for 4 hours on HIGH. I don’t add seasonings or spices to my beans, because I use them in other recipes, but you can easily add some now if you want. Bay leaves, garlic, chopped onions, spices, etc. would really punch of the flavor of the beans.
When the timer goes off, remove one bean and taste it (let it cool first!) to make sure the beans are soft enough. If they need more time, cook them for another half hour on HIGH and check again. Once fully cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove the beans and transfer to containers for storage. I used the small and medium sizes of Ziploc Twist ‘n Loc containers to portion out 1.5 and 3 cup servings so I can easily substitute my cooked beans for canned beans in recipes. If I’m making hummus, I also save some of the chickpea cooking liquid. I refrigerate the beans I need for salads and dinners for the week, and stick the rest of the containers in the freezer for future use.
- 1 pound dry chickpeas or pinto beans
- Remove weird pieces of beans and rinse in a colander.
- Transfer beans to the slow cooker and fill with water. The water line should be about 2 inches about the beans.
- Cover and let soak overnight.
- Add more water if necessary (the water line should still be about 2 hours above the beans).
- Cover the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on HIGH.
- Taste a bean to see if they are soft enough. If not, continue cooking in half hour increments until ready.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer beans to storage containers and refrigerate or freeze.