Stovetop Instructions for Cooking Dry Kidney Beans

This guide will teach you how to properly prepare and cook dry kidney beans on the stove. You'll also find some suggestions for preparing and storing red kidney beans for later use.

cooked kidney beans in a serving bowl next to a spoon and napkin

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Being familiar with the process of preparing dry beans is a valuable skill for anyone interested in cooking more plant-based meals. It's true that canned beans save time and effort. But when you cook beans from scratch, you'll discover their true flavor and creamy texture. For some reason, I enjoy the entire procedure.

I've been trying out various bean preparation methods, and this guide will cover cooking dry kidney beans in a stovetop pot. It's not the only method, but it's quick, simple, and doesn't call for a pressure cooker or Instant Pot to prepare red beans.

Let's go over some frequently asked questions about red kidney beans before we get started with the tutorial. Concerns about their safety during preparation, cooking, and evaluation of doneness may arise.

Can kidney beans kill you?

Kidney beans are toxic if eaten raw. Phytohaemagglutinin, a compound in them, can cause severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea if it is not cooked out. This is why you need to make sure the red beans you eat are cooked all the way through.

Must kidney beans be soaked?

It is recommended that dried kidney beans be soaked for at least 5 hours prior to cooking. Bean soakage is a topic of ongoing debate. While some say soaking beans makes them easier to digest, others disagree.

My preference is to soak beans because it reduces cooking time and ensures that they cook evenly. However, I do not soak the beans before cooking them in an Instant Pot.

red kidney beans soaking in a bowl full of water on a counter

How long do kidney beans need to cook?

Kidney beans need 45-90 minutes to cook on the stove. Beans may need less time in the oven than expected, depending on how long they've been soaked and how old they are. As soon as they are tender and have a creamy consistency, they are done cooking. Some beans may burst open while others retain their form, but this is perfectly normal.

Kidney Beans: How to Cook Them Without Hazard

Kidney beans need to be cleaned, soaked, cooked, drained, and stored after preparation. It's not instantaneous, but it's not hard, either. Learn the ins and outs of preparing and cooking dry kidney beans here.


A big bowl is needed for the soaking process. Put together a wooden spoon, a Dutch oven or other large pot, and a colander for cooking. Now is also a good time to pull out any storage bins you have been meaning to use.

The Process of Soaking Kidney Beans

Before you soak them, sort through the kidney beans and discard any that are shriveled, damaged, or broken. The kidney beans should then be put in a very large bowl. The kidney beans will expand while they soak, so use a bowl that can accommodate the growth.

A few inches of water should be added to cover the kidney beans. The recommended amount of water to use for one cup of dried beans is four to six cups. Double the amount you would normally use for one pound of dried beans (about two cups). Kidney beans need to soak for at least 5 hours, preferably overnight.

Stovetop Kidney Bean Cooking

Kidney beans should be removed from their soaking liquid. Throw them into a very big pot, like a Dutch oven. If you're boiling a pound (roughly two cups) of kidney beans, add 10 cups of water. Toss in two bay leaves, if you like.

Start with a rolling boil for a few minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer for 45–90 minutes. Kidney beans are done cooking when they are tender and creamy. Potential for some to develop cracks.

It's important to give the beans a stir every so often to ensure they cook evenly. Since the time required to cook beans varies greatly depending on factors such as the length of time they were soaked and how old they were when they were cooked, you should check them after 30 minutes.

About 10 minutes before the beans are ready to be removed from the heat, I like to add a teaspoon of salt. I add the salt at the very end because I've heard that salt stops the beans from softening during cooking.

cooked kidney beans in a Dutch oven with a wooden spoon on a counter

Preserving Kidney Beans After Cooking

You can either use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked beans to containers, or a strainer to remove excess liquid. I use a slotted spoon so that I can retain some of the liquid along with the beans, but that is totally optional. When kept in liquid, they become creamier, which is one of my favorite features. You can cool the beans down before storing them by rinsing them in cold water in a colander.

Since most bean-based dishes call for 15-ounce cans of beans, I usually divide my cooked kidney beans into 1.5-2-cup (or 15-ounce) portions for storage. That way, they can be easily integrated into other recipes.

Beans, once prepared, can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. When stored in airtight containers or silicone bags, they can be kept in the freezer for up to three months. Since kidney beans are typically used in cooked dishes like soups and chilies, you do not need to thaw them before adding them to recipes. Beans that have been frozen should not be used in salads or other cold dishes.

cooked kidney beans on a counter next to spoon and napkin

Utilization of Kidney Beans

Kidney beans are incredibly versatile and can be used in a wide variety of dishes, including soups, chilis, tacos, and salads, once they have been cooked. They're the main component in many dishes, including red beans and rice and pureed bean dips.

See the Instant Pot Pinto Beans and the Slow Cooker Black Beans with Scallions for alternative methods of preparing dried beans. Readers also love my BBQ lentils with shredded carrots.

Please let me know how this recipe turns out for you. Follow the Veg World on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest and give recipes a rating out of 5 stars in the recipe card or in the comments section. Wanting to try something new Learn how to cook by searching the recipe archive.

cooked kidney beans in a serving bowl next to a spoon and napkin
  • Pick out any wilted or cracked kidney beans.
  • Add 10 cups of water to a large bowl and spread out the kidney beans. Soak for at least 5 hours, preferably overnight, with the bowl left out on the counter. Use a large enough bowl to accommodate the beans' expansion while they soak.
  • Put the drained beans and 10 cups of fresh water in a Dutch oven or other large pot. Cram the bay leaves into the stew
  • For about 5 minutes after bringing to a boil, reduce heat to maintain a low simmer. Allow the beans to cook for at least 45 minutes and up to 90 minutes to reach the desired tenderness and softness. Ten minutes before they're done cooking, add the salt. While cooking, some beans may develop a split. Beans, depending on how long they've been soaked and how old they are, may be ready to eat in as little as 30 minutes. Beans cook more evenly if they are stirred occasionally.
  • Turn off the heat as soon as the beans are done cooking. You can let them sit in the pot until completely dry, or you can drain them and put them in containers. When storing beans, I use a slotted spoon to add just a bit of liquid. Before putting the beans away, drain and rinse them under cold running water to cool them down.
  • Beans should be kept in 1 It's convenient to have them already measured out into 75 to 2 cup portions (equivalent to a 15-ounce can of beans), as this allows you to quickly and easily incorporate them into dishes that call for a can of beans. They can be stored for a week in the refrigerator or frozen for up to three months.
  • You can rate this recipe card (up top) and/or this post (below) by tapping the stars.
  • Kidney beans require extensive cooking. If not cooked thoroughly, they contain a compound that can cause severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • For both soaking and cooking, you'll need 5 quarts of water for every cup of dried beans. To cook a pound of dried beans, which is about two cups, you'll need ten cups of water.
Serving: 1 cup | Calories: 255 kcal | Carbohydrates: 46 g | Protein: 17 g | Fat: 1 g | Unhealthy Saturated Fats: 1 g | Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 1 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g | Sodium: 397 mg | Potassium: 1028 mg | Fiber: 12 g | Sugar: 2 g | Vitamin A: 2 IU | Vitamin C: 3 mg | Calcium: 63 mg | Iron: 5 mg
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Indulge in those beans – Lizzie

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