Learn how to quick-soak beans in one hour! Using hot salted water speeds up the final cooking time, shaving off at least 45 minutes for stovetop preparation. Instead of overnight soaking dried beans, try this faster method to have them ready to eat the same day.
How to quick-soak dried beans
Soaking beans overnight kick starts the hydration process. It makes cooking faster the next day and yields a creamier texture. However, sometimes we forget to soak or need a faster same-day solution. Using the quick-soak method is a handy technique!
Various types of beans can be used, like large pinto, black, red, or kidney beans. The dried beans sit in hot briny water for just an hour. The total cook time slashes down to just a few hours. Now you don’t have to wait all day to prepare wholesome dishes like a big batch of baked beans or black bean soup.
1) Wash the beans
Rinse the beans in a colander using cold water before soaking for about 1 to 2 minutes. Beans can gather dirt on the surface from processing. Washing ensures a clean pot of legumes. This is also a good time to check for any broken or cracked pieces and discard them.
2) Add salt and water
In a large pot add salt (1 ½ tablespoons), the rinsed beans, and 2 quarts (8 cups) of water. The generous amount of salt will help to soften the outer skin and season the beans as it soaks.
3) Quick soaking
Bring to a boil briefly, just 2 minutes. This will rapidly heat the cold water but not completely cook the beans. Turn off the heat, cover, and allow it to sit for 60 minutes. This is the critical point to let the water and salt work its magic. Make sure to drain the water and rinse the beans well before cooking so that it doesn’t taste too salty.
Ready to cook!
When you’re ready to cook, add 1 quart (4 cups) of water, salt (1 teaspoon), and soaked beans in a large pot. Cover and simmer. Make sure to stir the beans every 30-minutes as they cook.
The beans will be ready when their texture is tender and creamy. This could take about 1 to 1 ½ hours or more, depending on the size. Once ready, you can now enjoy them in your favorite dishes or for meal prepping.
Why you need to soak beans
There are advantages to taking the time to soak beans. If the beans are not hydrated, the cooking time increases. Soaking can save you around 45 minutes of stovetop simmering. Limiting the simmering time also reduces the number of burst beans. Hydrating the starches inside makes the beans creamier. Legumes like lentils, split peas, adzuki, and black-eyed peas do not require a pre-soak.
Hot water and salt are key
Overnight soaking uses cool water, which takes 8 to 24 hours of soaking. Hot water hydrates the skin faster. However, I find that combining water and salt works better together. They make the skin softer while transferring more water to the center.
The dried beans are exposed to boiling water briefly, then sit off the heat for gentle absorption for one hour. Plus, the beans retain their characteristic taste because they sit in the water for a shorter period of time.
Tasty ways to use cooked beans
The role of salt and why how it helps
Soaking the beans in salted water helps to soften the thick outer skin. This yields creamier centers and beans that don’t burst as much. The sodium ions in the salt replace the calcium and magnesium ions on the skin. The new abundance of sodium ions weakens the pectin in the cell walls and allows more water to infuse through the skin, softening the core and cooking the starches. Don’t skip the salt! They are better tasting too.
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Quick Soak Beans
Quick Soaking Beans
- 1 cup dried beans
- 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
- 8 cups cold water
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Quick Soaking Beans
- Pick over and discard any broken dried beans.
- Add beans to a colander and rinse with cold water for 1 to 2 minutes.
- In a large saucepan or dutch oven add beans, 1 ½ tablespoons salt, and 8 cups water, stir to dissolve.
- Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Turn off heat and cover the beans for 1 hour of soaking.
- Drain and rinse the beans before cooking.
- In the same pan add the soaked beans, 4 cups of water, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Bring water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover and reduce heat to low. Stir occasionally to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot, about every 30 minutes.
- Gently cook beans over low heat until tender and creamy, about 60 to 90 minutes.
- Drain and serve them warm.
- Recipe Yield: One cup of dried beans yields about 2 to 3 cups of cooked beans depending on the type.
- Serving Size: ½ cup cooked beans
- Beans that DO NOT need soaking: Lentils, split peas, adzuki, and black-eyed peas.
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31 Comments Leave a comment or review
Nita Bello says
I learned cooking beans from my former assistant operator. We used to cook on the job on weekends and share it with the crew. He doesn’t soak the beans. He starts boiling the beans for about an hour and then start adding other ingredients like onions, tomatoes. bell peppers and cilantro leaves. He lets it boil for another hour and add the sausage and boil it more until the beans get tender and ready to eat.
I just notice on your recipe that the beans had no other ingredientd but salt (if needed) and water
Hi, Jessica. So, I can’t use baby Limas for the quick soak. I have a 1lb soaking now & it has been almost 4 hours. I forgot to soak last night & now pressed for time. Was hoping to start cooking before 6. I have an Instant Pot but I feel like beans aren’t as flavored than on a stove top. I tried everything to flavor the beans when cooking in the Instant Pot. I don’t know if I am doing something wrong or what.
I like having the science perspective on a quick-soak and bean-cooking in general! Super helpful! But I am quite surprised to see you call a tablespoon and a half “a lot” of salt for dry beans! I usually add in four or five times that much salt to cook a pot of beans. As mentioned above, I also add a LOT more flavoring in general to my beans. Dry herbs, garlic, onions, maybe an orange or lemon early on. Oil on top in the middle of the cooking. I’m also usually adding even more salt to taste! (easy tasting early on: try the cooking water)
Jessica Gavin says
Thanks for sharing! I love the addition of garlic, herbs, onion, and citrus.
What about replacing the salt (SODIUM chloride) with a salt substitute of POTASSIUM chloride?
I’ve eliminated all added salt from my food, including cooking, for health (blood pressure) reasons, & found that it tastes just the same; plus, the potassium is (more) healthy – in fact, it’s a necessary nutrient anyway – & doesn’t contribute to HBP.
You mentioned the action of salt on the beans in your process, & I’m wondering if you or anyone else had any thoughts or experience about how well substituting potassium chloride would work.
Jessica Gavin says
I haven’t tried using potassium chloride to soften the beans. The sodium helps the pectin in the cell walls soften by exchanging sodium ions for calcium ions. I’d love to know if you give it a try! I’m curious if you typically use less potassium chloride in a recipe when it calls for salt. Or do you use it as a 1:1 replacement?
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