If you aren’t using your slow cooker at least once a week, you may want to take a step back and evaluate the choices you’ve made in your life.

Seriously, slow cookers are a lifesaver. They are one of the easiest ways to create super-delicious, healthy, “one ingredient” meals with almost no work. Soups, stews, sauces, dips, even desserts (slow-cooker molten chocolate cake, anyone?) come together better in a slow cooker than through any other cooking method.

Perhaps the best use for a slow cooker, however, is to cook your own beans. Canned black and pinto beans taste fine… until you make them yourself in a slow cooker. I first tried this about a month ago and the difference is so shocking, I can hardly eat the canned beans anymore. Not to mention, slow-cooking your own beans is more economical and less processed. It’s a win-win-win. The way the garlic and onions mingle with the starchy beans, it almost taste like a delicious stew that is good enough to be eaten all by itself. Add them to a corn tortilla with some lettuce and it is the perfect meal.

Slow Cooker Beans Tortilla

Makes about 5 cups of beans


  • 16 oz dried pinto or black beans
  • water
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt, to taste

Slow Cooker Beans

Step One

Loosely dice the onion and garlic and add them to your slow cooker with the dried beans and enough water to cover the beans by about 3 inches. It seems like a lot of water now, but the beans absorb tons of water as they cook. If this is your first time, it would be a good idea to keep an eye on the water level to make sure the beans haven’t run dry (not a good thing).

Step Two

Go take an 8-hour break. These beans start to come together after about 5 hours and really hit their stride between the 7-8 hour mark. At this point, the onions & garlic are completely broken down and the beans become starchy and magical and delicious.

As I mentioned, these beans are good enough to be eaten all by themselves, but one of my favorite ways to serve them is, like pictured, on corn tortillas with lettuce.

NOTE: As a reader mentioned in the comments on this post, it may be dangerous to use a slow cooker with kidney beans. These particular beans (but not pinto or black) need to reach high temperatures to deactivate a toxin that is naturally present. See this article on Wikipedia for more, and please take care when cooking kidney beans!

Slow Cooker Beans