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Beans that are ideal for the slow cooker

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The key to tender, not-mushy beans is to cook them at the barest simmer, which means they’re perfect candidates for the slow cooker. And the same principles for cooking beans on the stovetop apply: Skip soaking the beans; use flavorings to infuse the beans and the bean-cooking liquid; and salt before and after cooking. You can follow this formula for almost any dried bean, but know that the cook time will vary based on the age and type of bean, as well as the size and strength of your slow cooker. Start checking at the six-hour mark to see how quickly your beans are cooking. Keep flavorings in fairly large pieces, as the long cook time could turn smaller bits to mush.

Slow-Cooker Beans


• 1 pound dried beans (except red kidney beans; see tip)

• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)

• Optional flavorings (see tip)


In a 5-quart or larger slow cooker, add the beans, olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and your selection of flavorings. Add water to cover 2 inches above the beans, then cook on low until tender, 8 to 10 hours. To test for doneness, taste more than one bean to ensure they’re all cooked through; they should flatten without much effort when pressed between your fingers. (If you plan to eat your beans cold, cook them a bit past tender, as they’ll firm as they cool.) Season to taste with salt.

Let cool slightly, then eat right away or store beans in their liquid in an airtight container for up to a week in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Total time: 10 hours, makes about 6 cups.


Red kidney beans have a high level of a toxin and must be soaked and boiled before slow-cooking. For optional flavorings, fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, celery, fennel, shallots, scallions, leeks, onion, garlic or lemon peel work well. Spices and herbs, such as dried or fresh rosemary, parsley, basil, thyme, sage, oregano, bay leaves, or ground or whole spices work well. For heat, add red-pepper flakes, chipotle chile in adobo, fresh jalapeño or serrano chile, dried chiles or whole peppercorns. For umami, add bacon, pancetta, ham hock, dried mushrooms, Parmesan rinds, kombu or dashi.

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