Slow Cooker Black Beans are flavored with vegetable broth, aromatics, and herbs, then cooked to perfection while you go about your day. Add them to tacos, grain bowls, salads, enchiladas, and anything else you’re craving for a hearty dose of protein!
When it comes to bulking up my meals to make them heartier and more filling, beans are some of my favorite ingredients. Is it easy to grab a can of beans at the store and simply drain them? Of course. However, these slow cooker black beans are way more budget-friendly and taste even better than the sodium-packed canned beans at the store.
An incredible source of plant-based protein, black beans can be added to a ton of different meals for extra flavor and fiber. These slow cooker black beans can be added to everything from black bean tacos to black bean burgers, and even transformed into this amazing black bean dip. Trust me, if it involves beans, I’ve probably tried it.
Ever since I learned how to cook black beans at home, I’ve never looked back. It’s beyond easy (especially with the help of my handy slow cooker), budget-friendly, and way lower in sodium than the canned black beans at the store. Once you try this amazing slow cooker recipe, I guarantee you won’t look back either. They make an amazing side dish, base for a vegan or vegetarian main course, and can be added to many dishes to add flavor.
To prepare this healthy slow cooker recipe, you will need the following key ingredients:
- Black beans: Make sure to use dried beans for this recipe and rinse them thoroughly before adding them to the slow cooker.
- Vegetable broth: Cooking the beans in vegetable broth adds a deliciously robust flavor, but feel free to simply use water instead if you prefer.
- Onions and garlic: Fresh onions and garlic add a ton of fragrance and a wonderful savory flavor. You don’t need to do much chopping; just quarter the onions and peel the garlic cloves. You can use red onions, yellow onions, or white onions - all give great flavor.
- Bay leaf: The show-stopper for this dish. Don’t skip out on the bay leaf because it infuses the beans with a depth of savory flavor that you can’t miss out on. This also brightens up the dish, adding great contrast to the heavier flavors.
- Kosher salt: Avoid adding salt until near the end of the cooking process. Otherwise, you may end up with tough beans that won’t soften up even after hours in the cooker.
Ideas for Seasoning Black Beans
There are lots of ways to customize this recipe and make it work for any type of meal you are preparing.
- Plain: Eat it as is! It’s delicious all on its own.
- BBQ: Add 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce to the slow cooker. This is kind of like an easier spin on a barbecue bean made with black beans instead of the traditional pinto beans. You could also finish with some crispy bacon.
- Cuban: Add 2 chopped green or red bell peppers, 4 extra garlic cloves, 1 tsp. oregano, 1 tsp. ground cumin and 2 bay leaves to the slow cooker.
- Mexican: Add 2-4 whole jalapeno or serrano peppers (or some chili powder) to the slow cooker. You can also add some salsa to the slow cooker or serve with salsa on top to finish. I love adding this pico de gallo salsa on my cooked black beans along with some fresh cilantro and lime juice.
Crockpot Black Beans Tips & Tricks
Here are some of my top tips and tricks to help you get the best slow cooker black beans every time:
- You can make this recipe your own by adding flavorful spices like cumin, paprika, oregano, or even some organic apple cider vinegar for a tangy flavor. I prefer adding these ingredients towards the end of the cooking time to avoid altering the creamy texture of the beans.
- This recipe isn’t just limited to black beans; you can use it to prepare all sorts of dried beans like pinto beans, garbanzo beans, and white beans.
- To check if the beans are done, just press into them with the fork to see if you’ve reached your desired consistency.
- Not feeling the vegetable broth? You can swap it out for chicken broth or even water. To keep the sodium content low, make sure to use low-sodium broth.
- After the beans are done cooking, you might be left with some liquid gold aka cooking liquid. Don’t throw it away! It’s extremely flavorful and a great tool for making refried beans.
Do you have to soak beans before cooking?
For a long time, I always believed that you had to soak beans before cooking them but after trying this recipe with both soaked beans and un-soaked beans, I haven't seen any difference in the end product.
Now for people with more sensitive stomachs or digestion issues, soaking the beans before cooking may help. Soaking is thought to remove some of the more complex fibers and sugars in the beans. This makes them easier to digest and is said to reduce gas and bloating caused by beans.
Sometimes soaking beans can also reduce cooking time, which could be important when cooking beans on the stovetop if you want to spend less time cooking. Since we are using the slow cooker, it wasn't important to me to cut down on cooking time.
So it is actually up to you! To soak beans, place them in water in the fridge overnight. Then check the beans a couple of hours earlier since they will cook more quickly.
What to Serve With Slow Cooker Black Beans
Black beans are a staple in my diet and you’ll quickly learn just how versatile they really are. This easy slow cooker recipe is wonderful for so many dishes, from hearty breakfasts to protein-packed dinners.
Looking for some inspiration? These are some of the ways I love serving these black beans:
- Quesadillas and tacos. These tender beans work great as a filling for quesadillas and tacos. Check out my Black Bean Taco recipe for a fuss-free lunch option, or this Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas for a feel-good dinner.
- Grain bowls. Looking to whip up a delicious grain bowl for lunch or dinner? Start with a base like quinoa or Mexican Cauliflower Rice, then add these black beans along with some cooked veggies and cheese. Yum!
- Salads and soups. You can also use black beans as a plant-based protein source for salads and soups like this Black Bean and Corn Salad or this quick and easy Black Bean Soup.
- Dips. Try turning your black beans into the ultimate game-day treat by transforming them into a bean dip or hummus. Just add some fresh veggies and crackers, and enjoy!
How to Store Leftover Cooked Beans
Not only is this slow cooker dish easy to make and beyond delicious, but it’s also extremely easy to store. Once you’re done cooking the beans, make sure to let them
cool before transferring them to an airtight container.
Then, store them in one of two ways:
- In the fridge for up to 3-5 days.
- In the freezer for up to 5-6 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about slow cooker black beans:
Salt can prevent the beans from softening and may result in beans with a firm, gritty texture. To avoid less than stellar results, make sure to add salt towards the very end of the cooking process. I like to add it in when there are about 30 minutes left on the cooking time.
Yes, this is super important. You always want to thoroughly wash your dried beans before cooking them to get rid of any dirt and debris that may be in the bag.
One pound of dry beans should yield around 5 to 6 cups of cooked beans on average, excluding the liquid. This amount produces around 10 servings in total, so it’s plenty to serve a big group or to store in the fridge for meals over the next few days.
I highly recommend it! Beans continue to develop more flavor as they sit in their cooking liquid. Saving the liquid is also highly beneficial if you want to turn your cooked beans into refried beans or bean dip.
If you are making one pound of black beans, start by rinsing the black beans to remove any debris. Add them to the instant pot with the vegetable broth, onion, garlic, bay leaves, and salt. Cook on high for 30 minutes and then let the Instant Pot naturally release. This will take another 20-30 minutes. Taste and season as needed.
Add everything to a large pot and stir well. Make sure the beans are covered by 3-4 inches of broth or water. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a low simmer. Cook for 1.5-2 hours until the beans are tender and creamy.
Slow Cooker Black Beans
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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