Leave the canned beans on the grocery store shelf and discover the superior flavor and quality of Slow Cooker Black Beans! Cook up a large batch of healthy, preservative-free black beans and customize all the spices and additions to your liking. In just a few steps, you will have plenty to serve for dinner and leftovers to stock your freezer.
This method makes the best slow cooker black beans without the hassle of soaking and remembering multiple steps. Start the uncooked beans at the beginning of the day and you’ll have a healthy base for endless meal options later on.
Why I Love Black Beans In The Slow Cooker
- Cooking dried black beans (or any type of dried beans) in the slow cooker is so easy! No need for hours of pre-soaking and staying close to the stove while cooking. Grab a bag of dried beans to keep in your pantry and you’ll have all you need for a protein and fiber-rich, tasty side dish!
- A bag of dried black beans is so much more economical than the same amount of canned beans. You can cook one large batch and portion the cooked beans to use for later in lots of different recipes. I love to stash portions in my freezer to use in soups and enchiladas.
- This is a basic recipe that leaves plenty of room for customization! Add your favorite chili or taco-flavored spices, or get creative with a ranch or herb and garlic flavor. Or, simply keep it plain to season with individual dishes!
- Slow cooker black beans make the best refried beans for tacos, sides, casseroles, and more! If you start with this basic recipe, you can make a much healthier refried (or mashed) version than the premade cans at the store.
- Black beans are a common staple in many vegetarian dishes. They are filling and so versatile in the slow cooker.
- You really can’t mess up this recipe! As long as you ensure the beans have cooked until tender, you can rest assured that the slow cooker will do the work for you.
Ready for a short ingredient list? Just 2 ingredients and that’s it! Add in any other seasonings or extras that you like.
- Black beans – Pick up a bag or two of dried black beans from the store now and then and you’ll be glad to know you have an easy, shelf-stable ingredient on hand. Dried black beans can usually last up to one year if they are stored in a cool, dry location. Buy in bulk or in 1-2 pound bags.
- Water – Keep it simple by adding just enough water to cover the black beans in the slow cooker. As you experiment with flavors, you might like to switch it up by adding a little broth or bouillon paste to the water.
At my house, we love taking a batch of slow cooker black beans and turning them into the most delicious refried beans. I will also include those ingredients here since it’s such an easy next step when you finish up with the slow cooker!
For refried beans, you’ll need:
- Cooked beans – We use about 1 ¾ cup of the cooked beans for a family-size serving of refried beans. (This is roughly equal to a standard 15-ounce can of beans.)
- Olive oil – Olive oil is a much healthier choice for the “refried” taste than the typical ingredients in canned beans such as lard or canola oil.
- Homemade taco seasoning – If you already have a batch of my homemade taco seasoning, it’s an easy step to add in some flavor! I highly recommend keeping this taco seasoning mixed in a sealed container so you can transform even the most simple ingredients.
How To Make Black Beans In The Slow Cooker
This might be one of the simplest slow cooker recipes ever. You’ll have a healthy side dish ready for the day and leftovers to store for later!
If you plan to cook the 2 pounds of beans in this recipe, be sure to use at least a 6-quart slow cooker to allow plenty of room for expansion. Decrease the recipe amount if your slow cooker is on the smaller side.
- Rinse black beans well under running water and then add them to the slow cooker.
- Add enough water to cover the beans by a couple of inches.
- Cover and cook on high for 6-8 hours.
- Allow the beans to cool and divide up to store in portioned bags or containers, or drain the liquid from the beans and season to serve.
Note: The cooking time can vary depending on how old the beans are. Typically, older beans will be more dry and take longer to reach tenderness.
How To Serve Slow Cooker Black Beans
Serve a side of black beans as a flavorful, protein-packed side with your favorite Mexican dishes, or in rice bowls. Try a scoop of black beans and rice (or cauliflower rice), and top with salsa, shredded cheese, avocados, sour cream, or additional veggies! Use slow cooker black beans to create dishes with tortilla chips or in tortillas, either whole or mashed and refried.
If you plan to save some extra black beans for the fridge or freezer, use them to complete recipes such as Slow Cooker Stuffed Pepper Soup or in Black Bean and Corn Salsa. With refried beans, easily create Slow Cooker Black Bean Tostadas as a complete, healthy dinner!
I like to grab a bag of these beans from the freezer when I need a little extra protein or filling for an upcoming meal. Knowing I can add them into chili, casserole, or toss them in a salad helps simplify my meal planning!
One of my favorite ways to use slow cooker black beans is to turn them into a tasty seasoned and refried version. It only takes a few additional steps!
To make the refried beans:
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add beans and seasoning to the pan.
- Cook for several minutes until heated through (if previously cooled).
- Use a potato masher or hand mixer to mash the beans. Hand mashing creates a rustic texture that works well for serving alongside other dishes. Bonus – you get an arm workout in at the same time!
- Add a little cooking water or water as needed to obtain the desired consistency. Serve!
Black beans are also a great base to season for many different types of dishes. Here are a few flavor combinations to try:
- 2 tablespoons of garlic powder, onion powder, or a combination of the two
- 2 tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning
- 2 tablespoons homemade herb and garlic seasoning
- 2 tablespoons homemade ranch seasoning
- Add olive oil along with any of the above seasonings for a smooth, rich taste.
Bay leaves, minced garlic, or finely diced jalapenos are also great options for added flavor right in the slow cooker. Garnish black beans with chopped fresh cilantro or green onions if you wish!
Storing and Reheating
Store leftover beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove.
Save extra beans for freezer portions by dividing them into freezer-safe bags. For simplicity, measure out 1 ¾ cup of beans to place in each baggie to equal one can (typically 15 ounces). Freeze for up to 3 months and defrost in the refrigerator or in a pan on the stove.
Slow Cooker Black Beans
- Slow Cooker
- skillet for refried beans (optional)
Ingredients for slow cooker black beans
- 2 pounds dried black beans
- water enough to cover the beans
Ingredients to make refried beans
- 1 ¾ cup of the cooked beans
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon homemade taco seasoning
To make slow cooker black beans:
- Rinse beans well and add to slow cooker
- Add enough water to cover the beans by a couple of inches
- Cover and cook on high for 6-8 hours
- Cool black beans and divide up to store, or drain excess liquid and season to serve
To make refried beans:
- Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat
- Add beans and seasoning to the skillet
- Cook several minutes until heated through
- Use a potato masher or hand mixer to mash the beans
- Add a little cooking water or water as needed to obtain desired consistency
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in a sealed container and reheat in the microwave or over the stove.
- Freeze single portions in freezer-safe bags or containers for up to 3 months. Measure 1 ¾ cup of beans per bag to equal one standard-sized can of beans. Defrost in the refrigerator or a pan on the stove.
- Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro, diced green onions, shredded cheese, sour cream, or other toppings as desired.
- For 2 pounds of beans, use at least a 6-quart slow cooker.
- Nutrition information is calculated for just the slow cooker black beans.
Slow Cooker Black Beans FAQs
- Do you have to use dried black beans in this recipe? Yes, this slow cooker recipe is designed to use dried black beans with no pre-soaking required.
- Do you need to soak beans before cooking in the slow cooker? It is not necessary to soak the black beans ahead of time. Some have found that the flavor, color, and texture of unsoaked beans can outweigh beans that have soaked for an extended time before cooking. It really comes down to personal preference, but with slow cooking, the cooking time won’t vary much one way or the other.
- Can I make black beans in my Instant Pot? Yes, you can also make black beans in the Instant Pot and be amazed at how quickly they will be ready! Simply add beans, water, and desired seasonings to the Instant Pot. Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes and allow a natural pressure release.
- Why are my black beans still hard in the slow cooker? If you notice the beans are not tender after the recommended cooking time, check that there is enough liquid. There should still be some excess liquid surrounding the beans and they may need a stir along with some additional time. Also, keep in mind that older beans will tend to take longer to cook due to reduced moisture.