Must-Try: No-Soak Dried Bean Recipe!

My family hails from the South,—Alabama to be exact. Growing up, it was common to see some form of beans being served almost daily. My grandmother was a woman who didn’t even own a microwave until she was in her 80s, so you can take a wild guess that she made everything from scratch. She never cooked beans from a can, she would buy them dried, pick out the duds, soak them for hours, and then stew them. That was always the process I knew. So when I started cooking on my own, I always thought cooking raw beans took too much time. I don’t have hours to soak beans, then cook them for another lengthy amount of time. But, then I learned something astonishing: You can actually skip soaking beans over night, and actually you should. Not only does it shorten the amount of time until you have ready-to-eat beans, it also produces a more flavorful end result. 

What Is the Point of Soaking Beans, Anyway?

Soaking dried beans helps shorten the actually cooking time because it helps break down the complex starches and fibers that dry beans possess. Which is great if it’s easy enough for you to remember to cover those beans with water and let them sit overnight while you’re sleeping. But there are two downfalls:

  1. You forget to soak your beans.
  2. The beans are absorbing mostly plain old water, read: no flavor.

Why You Shouldn’t Soak Dried Beans?

So if you did forget to soak your beans overnight, consider this a win and skip that step. Rather than soaking those beans in mostly flavorless water, you can cook them in a flavor-loaded broth for just a little longer than normal and you’ll still have perfectly cooked beans but they’ll taste so much better than normal.

Take these Mexican-Style Pinto Beans for example, sure, you could soak them overnight in plain water and then cook them with all the spices and aromatics for 3 hours. OR you could skip the 8 to 12 hour soak and cook them for 4 hours with all the spices and aromatics, ensuring every single drop of water the beans absorb is packed with flavor for super-tasty beans.

How to Cook Dried Beans Without Soaking Them First

Apply this method to any recipe that calls for dried beans. Just take your favorite beans (pinto, black eyed peas, chickpeas, lima beans) and cover them with your favorite broth or stock or even water seasoned with salt, spices, herbs and other aromatics like onion and garlic, and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours. The same amount of time it took you to cook the beans in stock is negligible compared to waiting 12 hours for them to soak.