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Aug 1, 2004 12:58 PM

How to cook dried red kidney beans?

  • m


I have some dried red kidney beans sitting in the kitchen. Unfortunately, I lost the instructions of how to prepare them. I think you're supposed to soak and prepare them somehow. I'm thinking of cooking them in an Indian style with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and chillies. Any ideas of how long I'd need to soak and boil them before cooking it up??

Any other ideas of what to make with red kidney beans?

Also, do any of you notice a difference in using canned kidney beans versus the dried ones?



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  1. You can soak them overnight, drain and cook. Or, you can boil them for two minutes, then let them sit, covered, for one hour as a quick soak. Red beans and rice is a classic New Orleans dish often made with kidney beans.

    1. Canned beans tend to be mushier. They are useful when you are doing things where the texture is less noticeable.

      1. How old are the beans, how long have they been sitting on the shelf? If they have been there for over a year you may not be able to reconstitute them at all. But, if they are not too old either method suggested should work.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Candy

          That's very good advice, Candy. I learned that after wasting hours cooking some beans that were just too old. I wound up throwing the whole batch out. Beans are cheap enough so it's worth replacing them if there is any doubt about them.

        2. Here is my humble opinion : There is nothing wrong with beans in a can. Whenever I use red kidney beans in a can (for refried, etc.), I first rinse them under cold water, then I blanch them (1 min. in boiling water) and I drain them. They are just like the dry ones, without the work and ready to be transformed into whatever wonderful dish you want. (Please, don't shoot the cook!)

          1 Reply
          1. re: lamaranthe

            I realize your post is ancient, but I'll still reply ;) One of the reasons someone might want to use dried beans is cost (especially for vegetarians that use it as a main source of protein). If you eat 100 cans of beans a year at 1.29, you're looking at $129. If you buy beans in bulk at an Indian grocery store or something similar, you could probably get that amount for $10-$15. Plus I still think they taste better :-P

          2. If they have been sitting on your shelf for more than a year, I don't recommend using them. The longer they sit, the drier they get and the worse they cook up (if at all.)

            Both the overnight soak and then slow cook for a few hours, or the bring to a boil, let stand an hour and then cook for a few hours work. I also cook beans in a crockpot by pouring boiling water over the beans and then setting the pot on low. When I come home from work, they are done.

            I usually add some garlic and onion to a pot of beans. Do not add salt until the beans are done, or they toughen up. I prefer to have the beans cooked through before adding them to whatever dish you're cooking up.

            I find canned kidney beans to be a good substitute for home cooked. I use canned beans when I am in a hurry, but when I cook beans, I almost always cook a double recipe and freeze what I don't use. That means I always have some great tasting beans handy.

            Cooked beans keep no more than a week in the refrigerator. If you smell something a-stinkin up the house, check the refrigerator for that container of beans you forgot about!

            7 Replies
            1. re: desert rat

              When you cook them in the crockpot, do you soak them overnight first? And do you add the seasonings in the morning (except salt, of course)? What about sausage or other meat products??

              I've heard that a pressure cooker can cook beans in a 1/2 hour, but I don't have a pressure cooker, so I've never tried it. This can also be dangerous because of the foam created, but I think it's not a big risk.

              1. re: Jessi

                Beans in a crock pot - OK...I start them in the morning before I go to work (around 7 am.) I pick over the beans (always do this to get rid of debris, dirt and little stones), rinse them well in a colander or strainer under warm running water and put them in the crock pot (it's one of the big crock pots). I turn the heat to low. Meanwhile, I've put my full, large teapot on the stove to bring water to a boil. Once boiling, I pour it over the beans in the crockpot, and top it off with some hot water if the pot still needs water (usually not.) I make sure there is 3 to 4 times more water than beans. Anyway, since I'm going to work, I put garlic and onion in when I add the water. If I'm cooking pinto beans, I add a pod of dried red New Mexico chile (seeded). Then I put the lid on and go to work and my hands smell like garlic all day (that is if I don't wash with that metal doohickey thingy that takes the smell off your hands.)

                If I am cooking them in the crockpot when I am home, I do wait until they are about half done before adding the onion, garlic and whatever other herb or chiles I want to add. I also start them late morning (for dinner) and put the crockpot on high. Works like a charm.

                Remember new ("fresh") dried beans cook better and faster, and taste better than ones that have been sitting around for a while. I prefer to purchase mine from a store that sells them in bulk and has high turnover, such as Whole Foods. I used to grow my own dried beans...they were amazingly better than anything store bought. Who'd have thought there'd be a difference in something as mundane as dried beans?!

                1. re: desert rat

                  I've tried beans on low, and they didn't cook. They just got waterlogged and stayed hard. So, I always cook dried legumes on high (2-temp old crockpot). Since the beans are for refried beans or soup, it doesn't matter if they get overcooked while I'm gone for a few hours.

                  1. re: Sharuf

                    I have had the same experience, beans in my crockpot, a new Rival, stay just a little crunchy if cooked on low. Have adjusted to cooking beans on high, for at least part of the cooking period.

                    1. re: Coyote

                      I've not had that problem. I use a large Rival crockpot.

                      Do you start with boiling water? I think that's the trick. Plus...they're cooking for 10 -12 hours while I'm at work. Are yours cooking that long? I leave around 7 am and don't get back to the house til around 6 pm (what's wrong with that picture?)

                      If I cooked them on high, they'd be mush when I got home. Not usually using them for refries.

                      1. re: desert rat

                        Thanks! That's my schedule, too, so I'll try your way. I'm in New Orleans, so even the red beans in the grocery store have very high turnover :)

                        1. re: Jessi

                          It should work real well there. I live at 6800 ft, which means water boils at a temp much lower than 212F. So things like beans and pasta take longer to cook. You might want to experiment on a day you are home.