How to Cook Beans in Your Slow Cooker the Easy Way

The Easy Way to Cook Beans.jpg

Canned beans are a major convenience item in my house. But since I’m participating in the SNAP4aWeek Challenge, I’m reminding myself that it’s really not that inconvenient to buy dried beans and chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) and cook them myself.

And it certainly saves a lot of money.

The average one pound bag of dried beans costs between $1 and $1.50 and will make three cans worth of beans, which cost $1 – $1.50 per can. In other words – one-third the cost. If you eat a lot of beans and legumes like we do, that savings can add up quickly.

Before I discovered the slow cooker method of cooking beans, I could never get them right. And it took a lot of paying attention – which I’m not always so good about in the kitchen.

Now that I know how to cook them overnight, though, it takes me less than three minutes of work – about the same amount of time as going to my basement storage room, getting a can of beans and opening it!

Here’s the method I use:

Step #1: Dump the beans or chickpeas into a colander and wash them well, sifting through to remove any broken pieces or rocks (I haven’t found a rock lately, but it has happened on rare occasion.)

Step #2: Pour the cleaned and sorted beans into the slow cooker.

Step #3: Fill the slow cooker with water to about two to three inches above the beans.

Step #4: Turn the slow cooker on low and go to bed. In the morning your beans will be ready.

I don’t add any salt or spices to these – I do that when I am cooking depending on the dish I’m making.

Your cooked beans will keep in the fridge for about a week. Or, you can freeze them – I like to flash freeze them (just like I do with fruit.) Or you can also freeze them in 2-cup portions, which is about how much is in one can of beans. Again, label your baggie/freezer-safe container with the date, so you can use your oldest stock first.

Stay tuned tomorrow when I share how I used half of these cooked garbanzo beans to make our homemade hummus!



  1. Mara, I just made a 4 bean chili. I soaked my beans overnight and then cooked them. While they cooked, I sauteed veggies and then mixed it all together. It is delicious!

  2. This crockpot idea is fabulous! I’m eager to try it. Right now I have cooked white beans in my freezer in snack baggies. (I think they hold about 1/2 cup.) I thaw one bag out at night and throw it into my lunch salad the next day. I’ve also used the thawed bean-baggies to mash into a spread/dip (with salt, garlic, etc) that I spread on Wasa crackers for lunch.

  3. I use my crockpot at least once a week to cook beans for various dishes.

  4. We get TONS of beans each month on WIC. I just cooked some last night for “Mexican” dinner. (I could do most of meal on WIC, just not the Morning Star meat and cheese.) I usually use our presser cooker, which is great if you decide an hour before dinner you want beans. But I haven’t quite figured out chickpeas with the pressure cooker. The timing is always wrong. Have you tried it?

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this tip! I recently bought dried beans to save money but have been too lazy to prepare them. This method looks so easy, I can’t wait to try it.

    • I hope it works well for you! I have the same problem (too lazy), which is why this is really so perfect for me!

  6. I’m pleased to read that this works, because the instructions with my slow cooker say that beans should be fully cooked on the stovetop before adding them to the slow cooker. I suspect that this idea dates back to the first-generation slow cookers, where the low setting was lower than it is now.

    For the SNAP project, I cooked lentils on Sunday. They’re a bit cheaper than most beans and they cook faster.

  7. Hey Mara,

    You recently inspired me to start cooking my own beans, which I’ve so far done with black beans. Next up is chick peas! It wasn’t the most convenient process so I’m more than happy to simplify it with your slow cooker method.

    I have 2 questions:

    1) What about soaking? Don’t the beans need to be soaked before cooking?
    2) After soaking, I read that there is a certain amount of time that the beans should cook, and afterwards you’re overcooking them and they’ll be too mushy. So how does that idea fit in with your method of cooking the beans for an unspecified amount of time overnight?

    Thanks for your help!

    • I’m curious about this, too– beans are supposed to be more digestible if soaked, right? I’ve heard of the “quick-soak” method that involves heat; does using the slow-cooker combine that with the normal cooking time?

      • I’ve never soaked them – just do exactly as I posted about. We haven’t noticed them to be, errr, gassier than regular!

  8. Jessi Levy says

    I do this also! But I’ve never done chick-a-peas. If you use them to make your own hummus, I’m curious on the price comparison of making your own vs. buying it at like Costco. We go through a lot of hummus in this house, so I’m interested!

    For our mexican night I cook pinto beans in the slow cooker with onion, taco seasonings(which I make), salt and garlic. Then puree them and freeze in 2 cup portions. Its’ great for loaded nachos, 7 layer dip, taco’s, well all of it!

  9. Robyn sheiniuk says

    Does this work with lentils too?

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