Quick Soak Beans for Faster Cooking

4.89 from 72 votes
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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.

Quick soak beans for faster cooking.

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

Washing beans inside of a colander.

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

Large saucepan filled with beans and salt.

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

Beans soaking in a pot of water.

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 it, and allow it to sit for 60 minutes. This is the critical point to let the water and salt work their 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 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 to soak. 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

Recipe Science

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.

Quick Soak Beans

Learn how to quick-soak beans in one hour! Using hot salted water speeds up the final cook time, shaving off at least 45 minutes for stovetop preparation.
4.89 from 72 votes
Prep Time1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

Quick Soaking Beans

  • 1 cup dried beans
  • 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
  • 8 cups cold water

Cooking Beans

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions 

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.

Cooking Beans

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 167kcal (8%)Carbohydrates 30g (10%)Protein 10g (20%)Fat 1g (2%)Saturated Fat 1g (5%)Sodium 308mg (13%)Potassium 672mg (19%)Fiber 7g (28%)Sugar 1g (1%)Vitamin C 3mg (4%)Calcium 62mg (6%)Iron 2mg (11%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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34 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Randy Purcell says

    A great time-saving recipe. The taste results were as pleasing to my palate as those produced by an overnight soaking. Thank you, Jessica!

  2. Gwendolyn says

    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?

  3. Christine says

    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)

  4. LLH says

    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.

  5. 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

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You could drop the salt down to 2 to 3 teaspoons, and make sure to rinse well after quick soaking. You can omit adding the 1 teaspoon of salt during the final cooking step.

  6. Boyd Chappell says

    Finally after listening for years to crap about soaking the beans over night, and not salting them prior to cooking I got my first pot of tasty soft and creamy pinto beans. I almost gave up and was going to resort to canned beans only until I read and tried this out. I even thought my water was too hard or the beans were to old to come out tender.

  7. Steven Peterson says

    Wait a minute. An hour of speed soaking beans (+ prep time to sort & rinse) saves you 45 min of simmer time?

    Now I’m no mathematical genius, but I see an issue here. Wouldn’t it be better to simmer the soup for 45 min longer? JusWonderin.

    (Ok, before everyone jumps all over me, I’ve been speed soaking beans for decades and know that, especially the softer beans like white, and cri- aw hell the one that starts with a ‘C’- they will tend to dissolve.

    . That’s why I like brown beans. You can boil them forever. Of course it depends what you were raised on.

    While I’d appreciate, eat, even help you clean up after your dinner of Great Northerns & ham. It wouldn’t be the same to me.

    (Dang, reading this has gotten me out of bed on a 20 deg night, dressing, & headed to the store for celery. It’s cold out & I wants me some BEANS ?)

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Steven, great question! For me, soaking overnight or quick soaking is crucial when it comes to hydrating the starches in the beans so they are more tender. As well as infusing more flavor from the salt. And as you said, some beans are really soft, so they may not benefit as much from this process. Yes, you could continue to cook for 45 minutes instead of quick soaking, however there is more chance that the core won’t be as tender on certain types. I appreciate your comments and am craving beans now as well! Would love to hear more if you skip the soaking process and just let it simmer longer.

  8. Matthew A Davis says

    I remembered my mom doing the quick-soak method. Almost forgot you soak beans overnight, thank you for this info. I’ve used it twice now, with excellent results. Thank you!

  9. Melissa K Cole says

    Great tips for quick soaking pinto beans. I never knew the salt helps so much during the soaking process. Thank you, I will always use this method.

  10. Christopher says

    I’ve heard you’re not supposed to add salt too early or the beans will remain hard. Can you clear up this possible misinformation I’ve long taken to be truth? Thanks!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I’ve found the opposite. 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 which softens the core and cooks the starches.

  11. Jonathan Lamm says

    So you say to rinse the beans for 1 to 2 minutes. That sounds to me like a colossal waste of water. How, as a food scientist, do you justify this?

  12. Eloise says

    I almost never soak or cook my beans in water. I use chicken, beef & vegetable broth (depending on the dish) and this helps the flavor. I also use my multi-pot & pressure cook my beans in broth. I have ~15 types of beans and I’ll pre-soak the larger beans for 30″ if necessary.

    I also love a variation of an ethnic classic: ysprin.(Not a typo, LOL) I slow cook the leftover ham bone for 6-10 hrs. along with the ham scraps. After it’s well cooked I strain the liquid & chill it. (Save any ham bits for the soup) Remove all the fat. Add in celery, shredded or diced carrot, a few cloves minced garlic & some chopped onion. Add in lentils, black-eyed peas, Mung beans etc. Add in leftover ham. Either slow cook this for 4-8 hrs. or pressure cook for 35″. Taste & season with salt, black & red pepper or a bit of Creole seasoning. Can add some rice if you wish. This wonderfully filling comfort soup/stew is perfect with a salad & some (Keto) garlic bread.

    A 3/4 : 1/4 blend of chicken to beef broth is a secret passed down from my g’g’g’ grandmother for soups, stews etc. And soaking beans. 😉 FYI: the original recipe calls for just rice instead of beans. I often use both.