How to Make Beans in a Slow Cooker

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Slow Cooker Beans Tortilla

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.

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

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 How to Make Beans in a Slow Cooker

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  1. I read this to my significant other (we cook most of beans from dry) and it started a debate about which is better:

    Pressure cooker beans vs. Slow cooker beans


  2. Do you put the slow cooker on high or low for those 7-8 hours.

    • Hi Marg, it depends. Every slow cooker is different. I had mine on high for several hours, then turned it to low for the rest of the time.

      • Several – 3 or 4? I am actually making these right now with some black beans; super excited to try them! I did leave it on high for 4 hours, now I am turning it to low. I have one of the black “Crockpot” slowcookers so I guess we will see how they turn out!

        • Hey Ruby, it just depends. After 4 hours, they beans should be pretty much cooked. Then it’s all about getting the right texture and consistency. The longer you leave them, the more they become like a stew. Good luck! :)

  3. Abbi*tarian says:

    Hello, Andrew! I was drawn to your blog through something you said on (I can’t remember what it was now.) So, I’ve been enjoying your site for 2 or 3 weeks and am really glad to see this recipe :0). I’ve tried to make dried beans maybe only 2 times over the years and couldn’t get their texture right. This recipe sounds perfect. Thank you!

    • Hey, thanks! I’m so glad you found my site and enjoy it. I think you’ll love these beans. If you have problems with getting the texture right, I’ve found that more time (if they’re too runny) or more water (if they’e too firm) can fix most problems :)

  4. I have had great difficulty cooking beans in a crockpot. Even split soup! I had a nice crockpot, but am unsure if it was faulty! It would burn around the edges. I have contemplated buying another crockpot. U sure if I would use it.

  5. Do you think I could use lentils in place of beans? Mainly because I don’t have any dry beans and I’m trying to find a yummy way to use up these lentils that’s not a soup.

  6. Yay! I’m totally making them tomorrow, I’ll let you know how they turn out ;) Thanks for the amazing inspiration!

  7. Gibran Locati says:

    Can you add other beans in with the pinto beans..say some black beans and some red beans or will the beans not cook at the same time so you will have some hard beans?

    • That’s a great question, Gibran. I haven’t tried mixing multiple types of beans but I assume they would cook fairly evenly together. After 6+ hours, I can’t imagine you’d have any undercooked beans.

  8. I cook adzuki beans almost every week. I always add some hot peppers to my broth to add a little kick to them. Had not thought of doing them in the crock pot. do you think your method would work with them?

    • Hi Warren, I have honestly never cooked adzuki beans in my life. I just did some research on them though and they look delicious (especially with your preparation)! I’m sure they would work great in a crock pot – give it a shot! :)

  9. I tried adzuki beans in my slow cooker. 3 cups beans, six cups chicken broth, half onion, two cloves garlic, a smoked turkey leg for added flavor and about 7 hours later I had great beans.

  10. Lauren Sullivan says:

    If you are going to post a recipe about cooking beans in a slow cooker, please implore your readers not to try this with red and white kidney beans! Red kidney beans cooked in a slow cooker without being boiled at any point can cause food poisoning, and in fact, slow cooker temperatures may be more dangerous than eating them raw.

    • Thanks for that information, Lauren! I hadn’t heard of toxicity in kidney beans, and that looks like it could be a real issue. I may add a note on this post after reading that. Although, I will say that I specifically suggested pinto or black beans in my post, which aren’t toxic in that way. Also, I don’t know about other slow cookers, but I leave mine on high for several hours and it absolutely reaches a boil for much of that time.

    • Judy Gibson says:

      Yow! I’m glad I read the comments to this recipe! Thanks, I had no idea…

  11. Hi,
    Can I use these beans for the frozen burritos recipe?

    • Hi Orly, that sounds like an awesome idea! The only thing I would take into consideration is the moisture content. Typically these beans have more liquid which could affect the consistency of the burrito filling. I would drain them thoroughly before adding to the burritos.

  12. Hi Andrew,
    I’m cooking the beans at the moment :) going on 4 hours now.
    I have just realised that there is no salt or flavouring in this recipe.
    Did I miss something? or is it supposed to be like this? seems a little odd…

    • Wow, I’m sorry. I can’t believe I left salt off this recipe. I’ll definitely update it ASAP to include salt (to taste) because, yes! They do need a little. Thank you for pointing this out!

  13. Hello well I cooked pinto beans for 8 hrs and they are kind of watery is there a way to make it thicker? First time I don’t really like them but there cooked.

    • Ah, I’m sorry about that, Sue. :( It sounds like there was simply too much water, which can happen sometimes. If I notice that the beans are drowning in water early on, I’ll often remove a little and add extra later on if needed. But if the beans are okay, you can use a slotted-spoon to remove the excess water as you serve them.

  14. I do this ALL THE TIME. And use the beans to make into burritos that I put in the freezer for quick lunches.

  15. lynda morrell says:

    I use my slow cooker to prepare 15 bean soup with diced ham. It comes out wonderful!!!


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