10 Recipes that Prove Dried Beans are Worth It

January 18, 2016

A confession: When a recipe calls for soaking dried beans overnight, I nearly never do it. I go to the store, buy a can of beans, open it, and proceed from there. I’ve just saved myself 12 hours, I think. Just the model of efficiency.

But my self-congratulation is misguided for a couple of reasons. First, beans are possibly the only realm in which I'm efficient. Second, the texture and flavor of homemade beans are far superior to the canned variety (no tinniness or mushiness!). Once cooked, they last in the refrigerator for a week or in the freezer for months. They can add some substance to a soup, or become a topping for toast, a non-dairy milk, or even a dessert.

Today, I will become a Person Who Soaks Beans Overnight. I hope you will join me in this resolution. (Or one of these 57 others.)

Do you prefer dried beans to canned? Tell us why (or why not) in the comments!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Risottogirl
  • witloof
  • Smaug
  • Valerie L
    Valerie L
  • Sarah C
    Sarah C
Annie Crabill

Written by: Annie Crabill


Risottogirl January 13, 2017
Instant Pot. Cook from dry. No soaking. Perfect.
witloof January 22, 2016
I get beautiful dried beans from my local greenmarket in the fall. The taste is vastly superior to the cheap packages of dried beans from the grocery store and is worth the extra money. Cooking the beans with a square of kombu makes them extra digestible and adds to the deliciousness of the broth. I use salt in the soaking water and always remember Tamar Adler's excellent advice when I'm preparing them to cook: "Beans need an immoderate, Tuscan amount of olive oil."
Author Comment
Annie C. January 22, 2016
There are few things that immoderate amounts of olive oil can't improve. Thanks for the tip!
Smaug January 20, 2016
Need is a big (and vastly overused word) but, apart from how they cook, there is an excellent reason to soak beans- the nondigestible proteins that cause flatulence are water soluble, while the nutritional proteins are not.
Valerie L. January 20, 2016
@Sarah C, I was just about to say THE SAME THING! I'm also a devotee of Rancho Gordo beans! They've made me a complete convert to cooking dried beans. In fact it's made me a bean LOVER, something I never thought I'd say! So, that's my answer to your question - (fresh) dried beans FTW; the flavor and texture are so much better that I can't bring myself to buy canned any more!
Smaug January 18, 2016
There are better and worse canned beans- the good ones aren't at all bad. One thing about dried beans- they've gotten awfully expensive. You can probably do pretty well with 50 lb. bags from the right source, but if you just go down to the store and buy a pound or two, you don't save that much. There's also the quick soak- you're usually told to drop them in boiling water and leave covered (off heat) for an hour- this will result in most types of beans breaking up more than you might like, but if you switch out with cold water after about 1/2 hour, they hold up pretty well and you can start them in the morning to cook in the afternoon.
Sarah C. January 18, 2016
Dried beans are always worth it, but there's really no need to soak overnight if you use fresh dried beans (that is, this-season ones rather than decades-old things from the back of the grocery shelf). So I'd suggest that your resolution be to buy excellent beans instead (and, of course, I mean the amazing heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo: WORTH EVERY PENNY).
Author Comment
Annie C. January 22, 2016
That seems to be the consensus here -- I'll give them a shot!