10 Hearty Recipes That Prove Dried Beans Are Here for You

Vegetarian dishes, with a little help from your pantry.

March 18, 2020
Photo by James Ransom

Now more than ever, home is where many of us are seeking refuge and solace in light of the novel coronavirus. This is a tough time, but we’re here for you—whether it’s a new pantry recipe or a useful tip for your kitchen, here are some ideas to make things run a little more smoothly for you and your loved ones.

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

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. Also, with supermarket shelves looking leaner than ever nowadays, canned beans and the like aren't necessarily available.

So here are 10 very delicious ways to use those dried beans sitting in your pantry, from hearty chili to garlicky beans on toast.

10 Tasty Ways to Cook With Dried Beans

1. Brussels Sprouts & Chickpeas

This veg-and-beans combo might sound a bit too simple to be very yummy, but a splash of dry sherry adds brightness and depth that render this recipe a must-make.

2. Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi's Basic Hummus

A made-from-scratch hummus (dried chickpeas, for the win) you can use countless ways—from a creamy-smooth dip to a sandwich spread.

3. Garlicky Smothered White Beans on Toast

Consider these garlicky white beans the do-anything dish to pull out of your pantry when you're low on ingredients. The recipe makes a big batch so you can add the leftovers to pasta, sprinkle 'em over salad, mix them into a stew, and the list goes on.

4. Homemade Soy Milk (Cook First Method)

Soy milk may not be in stock at the grocery right now, but if you happen to have soybeans in your pantry (or can find them in-store or online), you can make your own homemade version.

5. Lobios Salad (Spiced Kidney Beans with Herbs & Feta)

This kidney bean salad hits all the right notes when it comes to texture and flavor, thanks to crunchy walnuts, crisp red onion, and tangy-creamy feta.

6. White Bean Soup

Our co-founder, Merrill Stubbs, said it best: "This is a simple, tomatoey bean soup that will serve you well all week long."

7. Pasta e Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas)

The only non-pantry ingredient you need to pull off this vegetarian-friendly favorite: garlic. (It calls for fresh bay leaves and rosemary, too, but we bet dried would work just fine.)

8. Refried White Beans

These versatile refried white beans would be just as happy piled over a scoop or two of rice as they would spread in a quesadilla.

9. Heidi Swanson's Pan-Fried Giant White Beans with Kale

If you've got a bunch of kale that looks like it's about to go bad, consider making this simple dish. No giant white beans on hand? Limas will also work, as will most varieties of canned beans.

10. Smoky Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

This super-satisfying black bean and sweet potato chili just so happens to be vegan, too.

A Bonus Bean Recipe: Brothy, Garlicky Beans

What are your go-to recipes with dried beans? Share 'em with us in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Terese
  • Kit Bruce
    Kit Bruce
  • Risottogirl
  • witloof
  • Smaug
Annie Crabill

Written by: Annie Crabill


Terese February 27, 2023
Is Rancho Gordo a variety of bean? Or only a brand/company?
Kit B. April 10, 2020
I made that black bean sweet potato chili last week and it was a huge hit with the whole household, even my skeptical omnivore partner!
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."
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.
Smaug March 18, 2020
Mon Dieu- that's carbohydrates, not proteins.
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).
Annie C. January 22, 2016
That seems to be the consensus here -- I'll give them a shot!