Simple Seasoned Adzuki Beans

April 13, 2021
5 Ratings
  • Prep time 10 hours
  • Cook time 3 hours
  • Serves 8-10
Author Notes

Adzuki beans (aka aduki beans) are small red beans that are most typically used in Japanese cooking. They are often featured in sweet recipes such as red bean paste. Adzuki beans also make an appearance in macrobiotic cooking.I like aduki beans because they do not require soaking and because they don’t take all that long to cook compared to other bean varieties. If you can’t find them, though, feel free to use pinto or another type of beans instead. This recipe is adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond. - WinnieAb

Test Kitchen Notes

Most beans need strong aromatics and bold spices to make them palatable. Not so with adzukis. This recipe uses them to best advantage, by showcasing their lovely flavor. The beans, while cooking, create their own sauce that’s mildly seasoned with bacon. WinnieAb suggests that you then add garlic powder and chili powder, but says you can use other spices, if you prefer. I added a touch of toasted cumin and one black cardamom pod instead, shortly before the beans were done cooking. Delicious!! Thank you, WinnieAb, for my new go-to “basic bean” recipe! - AntoniaJames —AntoniaJames

What You'll Need
  • 4 cups dried aduki beans (or pinto or another type of beans)
  • 4 slices preservative-free bacon, sliced into 1 inch pieces- optional; bacon lends a nice smoky saltiness but you can leave out for vegetarian beans
  • 1 teaspoon course sea salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder or to taste
  1. If not using aduki beans, it's best to soak your beans overnight in a large pot covered with water. After they have soaked, drain them and rinse several times. If you are using the aduki beans, just go ahead and rinse them.
  2. Place rinsed beans and bacon in a large pot on the stove. Pour water over the beans to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  3. Skim any foam that might rise to the top while cooking, and add additional water (or stock), if there does not seem to be enough liquid.
  4. Cook until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours (or as long as 3 hours for pinto and other beans).
  5. 5. Add the sea salt (don't add too much if you've used stock) and pepper, plus the seasonings I mentioned (or others that you like) to taste. You can serve these in whole wheat or corn tortillas with the toppings of your choice: think grated raw cheese, fresh salsa, guacamole, organic sour cream, etc. Or have some in a bowl with a side of cornbread. Fresh chopped tomato, cucumber, red pepper, and sliced avocado are also wonderful additions.
  6. My favorite healthy way to eat these, though, is this: chop some collard greens very fine, add some olive oil and fresh lime juice, and mix with the beans, veggies, and salsa. Top with some green onions and minced cilantro.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Hilarybee
  • AntoniaJames
  • WinnieAb
  • Meg Osterby
    Meg Osterby
I grew up in a restaurant family (my parents owned the now closed Quilted Giraffe in NYC) and I've always loved to cook. My interest in the connection between food and health led me to pursue a graduate degree in naturopathic medicine. I don't practice medicine anymore; I have a blog called Healthy Green Kitchen that I started in May of 2009 and I wrote a book called One Simple Change that will be published in January, 2014. I live in upstate New York with my family and many pets.

7 Reviews

Meg O. November 22, 2020
I find this recipe comes out much better if you first chop or cut the bacon into 1/2 cm wide sections of the slices, and then brown them in the bottom of the soup pot. You won't need to drain them, the little bit of fat adds to the flavor of the soup, and you get that wonderful browned bacon taste that adds to your soup. It also cooks the fat so you won't get that scum you need to skim off, and makes sure the bacon has been fully cooked for food safety. All plusses, and it doesn't take much time.

To make it take even less time, since I often add chopped bacon to beans and bean soups, I buy a pound of bacon for that purpose, and cut it across the sliced bulk in 1/2 cm wide pieces, and freeze in 1/3 or 1/4 lb. amounts in doubled freezer bags. Then when I need it, all the work has been done, so I take it out of the bag, pop it into the pot, turn the heat on lowest possible setting with a lid on and ignore it for 10 minutes as I chop the veggies and let the heat steam it until thawed. Then turn up the heat and stir to brown, without the lid, then proceed with your soup recipe.

Also would mention, since I know this as a chemist, and you might not, that if you have hard water, that in itself can cause the scum you get, and that if you have a water softener, the usual practice is to soften only the hot water tap in the kitchen sink. So I use the softened water, since the scum is a reaction between the hard water ions and the fat molecules in your food (or tannins in your tea, etc.) so if you use the softened water, you don't get the scum in the first place. So I use the hot water to heat for tea or hot chocolate, to make soup, and for other foods I've noticed unattractive scum form on in the past. The scum isn't harmful, but is unsightly and sometimes acquires an odd flavor, that can wreck my enjoyment of that cup of tea or hot chocolate or cappuccino. Using the softened water eliminates the scum.

And for those of you who have been told that the sodium in the softened water is bad for you, it might be for those on potassium depleting heart medications, (most of which are no longer used, check with your pharmacist), BUT ONLY IF the sodium was very concentrated. It isn't. It's very very dilute. So, although this urban myth has been studied over and over, NO NEGATIVE EFFECTS of drinking or cooking with softened water HAVE EVER BEEN OBSERVED. It simply doesn't happen. Softening your water DOES NOT make it unsafe to drink.
ronaldcarmona October 21, 2021
Hello Meg I'm Ron in Los Angeles. I am impressed by your knowledge of food interactions and chemistry. I know this is getting off the subject but can you tell me if water quality, whether hard or soft, has anything to do with how good a pizza dough you can make? I'm a beginner and my dough springs back on me. It's nothing like the ones that the pros are able to toss in the air and stretch. They are way ahead of me on that. I know it's complicated and involves the type of flour used and refrigeration time ect, but should I just use bottled purified water to avoid any bad effect tap water may have on the dough? Thanks for your help.
Hilarybee May 9, 2011
I made this in my slow cooker this morning. (On high for about 2 1/2 hours). I had a few "tastes"- it is wonderful. I used chili powder, garlic powder, and a touch of cumin. I'm serving it with spelt berries, avocado and spicy pan-fried tofu this evening. Thank you!
WinnieAb May 19, 2011
Sounds so delicious!
AntoniaJames April 2, 2011
I just stirred some of these into my morning steel cut oats -- I'd frozen half of last weekend's pot of them -- with a few shavings of ricotta salata and a splash of red wine vinegar. Sensational! It's my new favorite breakfast. I have another pot on the stove, as I write this. ;o)
WinnieAb May 19, 2011
Love this breakfast idea AJ!
AntoniaJames March 25, 2011
So looking forward to trying these! Will not be using chili powder, but instead some toasted cumin and one black cardamom pod. Really like all the serving suggestions . . . haven't made corn muffins for Mr T for a while, so I plan to make some to go with these. ;o)