These slow cooker black beans are tender, flavorful, and the perfect way to turn dry black beans into a flavorful addition to tacos, salads, and casseroles!
Black beans cooked from dry in a slow cooker are more flavorful and more affordable than canned black beans. This recipe takes just about 5 hours in a Crock Pot, but pretty much all of the cooking time is hands-off!
I use black beans in so many recipes and I've cooked them so many different ways: on the stovetop, in the Instant Pot, and of course, from a can.
While I think that each method has its merits, I've found through many years of cooking dry black beans that slow cooker black beans have the best texture and flavor out of all of the methods.
Why this recipe works
- Hands-off: After dicing an onion and grating garlic, all you have to do is add dry black beans and seasonings to a slow cooker. This recipe is super easy!
- Flavorful: We don't skimp on the spices in these slow cooker black beans. Chili powder, smoked paprika, and cumin create a really flavorful and warming base.
- Just looking for a method to cook dry black beans in the slow cooker? You can omit the spices to keep a blank slate.
- The cooked black beans freeze well and the recipe can be doubled to make a larger batch.
If you like this recipe, don't wait to check out my Crockpot Black Bean Soup. It has a similar flavor palette and also uses dry black beans.
- Dry black beans: Dry beans are usually available in the same aisle as canned beans. They are also often available in International aisles and bulk food aisles.
- Onion: I prefer sweet yellow onion because it adds a subtle sweetness to an otherwise savory and salty recipe. Regular yellow onion, white onion, and red onion all work here if that's what you have on hand.
- Garlic: I recommend fresh garlic for the best flavor. However, about ½ teaspoon of garlic powder can be used in place of fresh garlic as needed.
- Chili powder, smoked paprika, and cumin provide depth and smokiness to the black beans. If smoked paprika isn't available, regular paprika is an okay swap, but the black beans won't have any smokiness.
- Vegetable broth: I recommend using broth instead of water to make slow cooker black beans because it adds a ton of flavor. I use Better than Bouillon vegetable base dissolved in water.
- Tomato paste adds depth to the cooking liquid.
Step by step instructions
Making black beans in the Crock Pot is so simple. Start by rinsing the dry black beans well in a fine-mesh sieve.
Remove any broken black beans or foreign objects. Sometimes dry beans have little sticks or stones in them, this is normal and it's why sorting beans is an important step.
Add all of the ingredients to a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Stir everything well, then cover with a lid.
Cook the black beans on high for at least 4 ½ hours and up to 5 ½ hours, depending on desired tenderness.
Expert tips and FAQ
- Cook time varies based on black bean age, and sometimes slow cooker brand and model. I recommend checking on the black beans at the 4 ½ hour mark. Test two to three beans to determine if they are cooked through. I find that the beans are usually perfect at around 5 hours. Continue cooking for up to 5 ½ hours, as needed.
- Flavors can be adjusted based on seasoning preferences. For an even easier recipe, use a packet of taco seasoning and adjust the salt to taste. Or use my homemade taco seasoning blend.
- Low vs high heat: I recommend high heat for this recipe simply because it is quicker and I didn't see a noticeable difference between low and high heat when testing black beans in the slow cooker. However, dry black beans can be cooked on low heat for 6 to 8 hours.
No, black beans do not have to be soaked before cooking. Soaked black beans cook more quickly.
Bean cook times can vary based on the slow cooker model and black bean age. If the black beans are still hard after 5 hours in the Crock Pot, simply continue cooking in 30-minute increments until they are tender. Add additional vegetable broth as needed.
Leftovers: Slow cooker black beans are best within 3 to 4 days. Let leftovers cool to room temperature before refrigerating in an air-tight container.
Reheating: Reheat large portions in a pot on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring occasionally until heated through. Individual portions reheat quickly in the microwave.
Freezing: Black beans freeze very well. Let cool before transferring to an airtight freezer-safe container. For best quality, freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
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Slow Cooker Black Beans
- Rinse the black beans in a fine-mesh sieve. Sort the beans on a sheet pan or another flat surface, removing any stones or broken black beans.
- In a 6-quart or larger slow cooker, stir together the dry black beans, diced onion, grated garlic, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and vegetable broth.
- Cover with the slow cooker lid. Cook on high heat for 4 ½ to 5 ½ hours. Check 2 to 3 beans at the 4 ½ hour mark, adding more time as needed. I find that they are usually perfectly tender at around 5 hours.
- The black beans can be served with or without the seasoned cooking broth. Use a slotted spoon if serving without the broth. Enjoy!
- 1 cup (roughly 7 ounces) of dry black beans yields about 3 cups of cooked beans.
- The recipe can be doubled. Simply double all ingredients, including seasonings.
- Freezing: Black beans freeze well. Let cool to room temperature before transferring to a freezer-safe container. For best quality, freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
- Reheating: Reheat large portions in a pot on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring occasionally until heated through. Individual portions reheat quickly in the microwave.