These are the BEST Slow Cooker Black Beans ever! Full of flavor, a total crowd pleaser and naturally vegetarian, gluten free and dairy-free.
Through my many years of clean real food eating, I have felt the sting of many a pricey grocery bill. Grocery bills that have made me cringe. Grocery bills that almost made me give up on real food and go back to the processed junk that is (for some insane reason) often cheaper.
Thank goodness I didn’t give up. I stuck with my belief in the importance of real food in our lives. And luckily, I found tricks and recipes that are wholesome, delicious and super-duper budget friendly.
Beans are a wonderful real food kitchen staple to have on hand. Especially the dry ones! About as cost efficient as real food gets, dry beans are a wonderful way to feed a crowd for pennies or make a grocery budget stretch a little further.
I’ve been making my beans from dry for years and don’t foresee myself every going back to the canned ones. The taste and texture of freshly cooked beans is so much better and, when made properly, much kinder to the digestive system than than the canned variety.
And this recipe is absolutely a bean recipe you NEED to have. Because, this is the recipes for the BEST Slow Cooker Black Beans….ever.
Everyone I have made these black beans for raves about them (adult, kid, vegan, vegetarian, omnivore…they all love them). These slow cooker beans are not your “blah” black beans, as they are full of savory spices and magnificent flavors.
Real food eating is amazing…..but it ain’t cheap. Amirite?
I love to soak my black beans during my weekly Sunday meal prep and then make this recipe in my slow cooker for an easy Meatless Monday dinner. But they are also great when feeding a crowd or just to enjoy whenever the mood strikes you. Which it will. Often.
Why is soaking your beans so important?
Soaking helps to reduces the phytic acid (enzyme inhibitors naturally present in beans, grains, nuts, and seeds) that makes certain foods hard to digest.
I HIGHLY, HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommended soaking your beans for at least 8 hours before cooking. This makes them so much easier on the digestive system and really cuts down on the whole “beans beans the magical fruit” situation that have most people running away from beans of all kinds.
How to soak your beans.
My preferred method for soaking my beans is to do it overnight. But If you only have 8 hours, that will do the trick as well.
Before you soak your beans, give them a good rinse. You want to get all the dirt and stuff off. And while you’re at it, pick through your dry beans to make sure there aren’t any little rocks trying to hang out in your dinner. Black beans are a bit notorious for having little rocks in them.
Once all that rinsing and picking through is done, simply throw your beans into a bowl. Cover them with 2-3 inches of clean water. Throw a clean dishtowel over the bowl to keep random debris and insects from ending up in the bowl. And let the bowl hang out at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.
You can also add a tablespoon or two of an acidic medium (apple cider vinegar, lemon juice) to the soaking water to help make the beans more digestible.
Do I have to soak my black beans?
Running low on time and want to skip the soaking process all together? You can and cook them right from dry if you want.
The cooking time will change, though.
Cook UNSOAKED beans for 4-5 hours on HIGH, checking the beans at 4 hour mark for doneness. Or on LOW for 7-8 hours, checking the beans at the 7 hours mark.
How do I make slow cooker black beans in the Instant Pot?
Some people have fallen head over heels with their Instant Pot (check out my Instant Pot Black Beans) and have totally ditched the slow cooker all together.
Combine everything but the salt in your Instant Pot and cook the beans on HIGH pressure for 9 minutes for soaked bean, letting the pressure naturally release for 15 minutes. Or 30 minutes for UNSOAKED beans, letting pressure release for 20 minutes.
Should I use salt when making my slow cooker black beans?
I think salt really enhances the flavor of beans, so I say yes to the salt.
However, WHEN you add the salt is key to their success.
I have made black beans from dry more times than I can count, adding salt before cooking and other times after. I have found that adding the salt AFTER the cooking process ensures that the black beans are consistently tender and perfect.
Why are my slow cooker black beans still hard after cooking?
While this recipe is almost always successful….there are a few factors to keep in mind if you beans are still hard after cooking and may result in you needing to give them a bit more time.
If your beans are still hard after cooking, some reasons why this might be are:
- The size of the beans. Black beans are usually pretty consistent in size but they are a plant and sizes can vary. If your beans seem larger than normal, you might need to cook them for a a bit longer. If your beans are on the smaller side, they may need less time!
- How old your beans are. Old beans tend to take longer to cook and may also require a bit longer in the slow cooker to become tender.
- You added the salt before cooking. As mentioned above, I HIGHLY recommend adding salt AFTER cooking to ensure your beans soften up.
- Not all slow cookers are the same. Some cook at a lower temp. Others at a higher temp. Know your slow cooker and adjust cooking times as needed.
The BEST Slow Cooker Black Beans
- slow cooker
- 1 1/2 cups dried black beans, picked over, rinsed, soaked overnight and rinsed again
- 1 cup salsa (I used mild since I was serving it to children)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 1 1/2 cups bell pepper, deseeded and diced
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp garlic powder or to taste
- 4 cups water or broth
- 1-2 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil (optional, but it adds a richness to the beans many enjoy)
- 1/2 tbsp salt** or to taste
- Combine ingredients **EXCEPT SALT** in your slow cooker. You will add this after cooking.
- Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours (checking after 3 hours to see if the beans are done) or on low for 6-7 hours (checking after 6 hours to see if beans are done).
- Once the beans are done cooking, remove the bay leaves. THEN, stir in salt.
- Enjoy warm! Use a slotted spoon to drain off extra liquid and serve beans over rice, quinoa or a salad. Top with avocado, extra salsa or shredded cheese.
- If storing leftovers, allow beans to cool completely before transferring beans and some of the cooking liquid to an air-tight container. Store beans in fridge for up to 5 days or in freezer for up to a month.
The nutritional information is provided as an estimate only and may vary based on the product type, servings and other factors. If you are following a diet, please consult with a professional nutritionist or your doctor. Stay healthy!
These look amazing! Can’t wait to try them. Thanks for sharing.
They are such a house favorite! Enjoy!
Could I totally leave out the salsa or would it be ruined? My son has IBD and can’t tolerate tomatoes.
It wouldn’t be ruined, just wouldn’t have the same flavor. I think if you still use the spices, the beans will still be delicious!
Thank you! I’ll give it a try and let you know how it turns out.
Thank you so much for this loving, nourishing and delicious recipe.
So happy I can help!
I made this dish for a baby shower with 40 guests and still had a little left over. It was so delicious! I soaked my beans overnight and no tummy issues whatsoever. Really great! Loved by all!
how do you alter the proportions for 40 people? How many cans of beans, etc.
First, I would honestly do it in several different slow cookers and multiple batches.
Second, I would say it this recipe comfortable feeds 5-6 adults. So I would say you need to multiple the ingredients each by 6 or 7 to get and appropriate proportions.
Looking forward to making this for my bday dinner party!!
Is the water for rinsing the beans or do you add it to the slow cooker?
The water is part of the recipe and should be added to the slow cooker! Beans need lots of water to hydrate and cook!
As I mention in the recipe (but I like sure everyone is aware), there will be extra water after the beans are done cooking. Totally normal! I like to use a slotted spoon when serving to drain extra liquid, but I know some of my followers have added quinoa to the slow cooker and turned the whole thing into a stew!
Happy birthday and I hope you enjoy!
Do you know when the best time to add the quinoa would be? At the beginning?
I have never personally tried adding quinoa to this recipe (though I know many others have). In my experience, quinoa cooks up much faster than dry beans. I would say that if you are cooking on low, add it for the last 3-4 hours of cooking. If cooking on high, add the last 2 hours/
We use an instant pot instead of a slow cooker? Any idea what a good cook time would be?
I am still trying to perfect this recipe in the IP. I would say 20-25 minutes high pressure.
So just curious about the coconut oil and the sea salt ? Any particular reason why for either one of those? Going to try this recipe for a baby shower. THANKS!
The oil just gives the beans a bit more of a luscious flavor and the sea salt helps to balance out the other flavors in the mix. While both are totally option, I wouldn’t suggest skipping them…put perhaps adjust to your personal taste.
Can you use olive oil instead of coconut oil?
Yes! Whatever oil you prefer will work fine.
I followed the recipe but my beans were hard. I cooked it for an extra hour and they were still hard. Any idea what could be wrong?
Did you soak the beans for at least 8 hours before cooking? If not, they’ll need to cook a couple extra hours.
Yes! Soaking breaks the beans down and cook faster!
Dry beans can get old and NEVER get soft. I would guess your beans were to old to get soft no matter how much cooking you did. I freeze dry beans, they last longer.
Did you soak them? It really does help with not only digestion, but the cooking process.
If you did, then your slow cooker might cook on a lower temp then mine. I have found that a "LOW" temp on one brand of slow cooker is not the same as "LOW" on another brand. Frustrating, I know. Hopefully you were able to enjoy the beans with a little extra cooking time!
Tomatoes have acid which prevents beans from softening! Add tomatoes/-salsa after beans soften!
What happens if you soak the beans for more then 8 hours? What is the longest that they can soak?
Have you ever perfected the Instant Pot version of this? Just curious?
Not yet! But thank you for the reminder to get back on that project!
These really are the BEST I’ve made. Very easy. Mine cooked in 6 hours…after I soaked them for 12 hours. The only thing I did different was add some more spice and tang at the end by adding Tajin Clasico Seasoning.
Yum! Great addition! So glad you enjoyed them!
I’m making this mow, but I only have canned black beans, will it turn out the same?
Canned beans are already cooked, so if you want to cook these with other ingredients, I would only do so in your slow cooker for a couple of hours on low so they don’t turn to mush!
My first ever batch of Best Black Beans Ever is in the slow cooker right now! I am beyond excited to try this recipe!!!
This is one of the best bean soups I’ve tried to make. Many black bean soup recipes lack flavor! I used 2 cups beans, 6 cups water, and Costco organic medium salsa; and I added 2 carrots, fresh garlic, and 1 can tomatoes with onions. Served with quesadillas and guacamole for a group of 6. Yum, Bravo!
I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe!
For YEARS! I tried to like beans. Tried them dozens of ways dozens of times. I want to like beans- they are so healthy! FINALLY! This is fabulous! I ate them alone- I made vegan tacos with them and then, I put the leftover in my vitamix and chopped some cilantro and put it on top of the best black bean soup! Thank you for sharing this recipe! We are all healthier for it!
Yay! I’m so glad you enjoyed them!
Just used this recipe and I used fresh garlic instead of garlic powder I added tumric and used Himalayan salt instead of sea salt. It was amazing! I brought some to my oh so picky brother who is a very clean eater and he loved it. I added the avacado and cheese like you suggested and it was killer!
Thanks for recipe. I cook a lot of dried, mostly Black Bean and use them not only to eat outright but for bean "hummu", Black Bean Loafs, Black Bean Burgers. I have a bit pot of Slow Cook going now, batch cooking. I have not tried using green bell peppers but will soon. I’m using Instant Pot on slow cook, low for 6 hrs. Reason not longer is I cook a little less and then simmer, without lid, for about an hour, to make a nice thick sauce that you don’t pour off. I’ve tried in Instant Pot pressure but everyone prefers the slow cooked. Cheers
Have you ever used chicken broth instead of water?
Can you help a new Crock-Pot owner, senior male.
On the beans, I want to know about making this like a bean soup.
* So, how instead of 4 cups water, I use 2 cups water and 2 cups chicken broth? Or something else.
On the onions and bell peppers, wouldn’t it taste more if they were browned before putting in the crock pot?
I will want to spice it up some.
If you want to make this more as a soup, I think doing 2 cups water and 2 cups both is an excellent idea! Or perhaps all broth from an extra flavorful soup!
Yes, you would get a lovely flavor from sautéing the onions and bell peppers prior to adding them. I was going for easy for people who don’t want that extra step, but I think that would be a lovely idea!
As for spice, chili powder is always a nice compliment to black beans. I’d start with 1/2 a teaspoon and adjust it to your personal taste!
Just a tip, I cook beans often. This bag of beans is the same one I have been using from Costco for the past several weeks. I always quick soak and then use the stove top to cook. I never put salt in until after they are soft. Acid and salt will cause the beans to remain hard. I trusted trying this new recipe this morning. I had a long afternoon of carpooling ahead and was looking forward to a nice bowl of beans to put on the table for the family as soon as we came home. Well, we are going hungry tonight. The beans have cooked for 9 hours after a quick soak. Maybe the quick soak doesn’t work if you salt the beans during the cooking time. They sure smell delicious! I’m going to continue to cook until the morning. Hopefully they will be ready for tomorrow night!
Sorry to hear these were not ready to be enjoyed after your busy day! And interesting info about the salt keeping them hard! I’ve never had an issue with that, but that is something for me to experiment with!
I’m going to try these with the quick soak method you mention in the recipe again today! Hoping they work better than last time and are soft enough to eat tonight. They were absolutely delicious when they finished cooking the next day. Thanks for a yummy recipe…one of these days I will plan ahead enough to do with an overnight soak!
Really, you can’t eat because you didn’t follow a recipe correctly? Wow.
Hi. Yes, the beans tend to stay hard if salt is added before they are cooked. However, that’s what I’ve noticed if it’s cooked on the stovetop. Maybe it’s different in a slow cooker and/or soaked.
Beans are a staple in my culture and we always have a pot made every week. We usually make it more soup-like and with minimal ingredients(whole onions, garlic cloves, maybe green peppers, and salt at the end). But I’m looking forward to trying this recipe with more flavors. Looks delicious and my interest was piqued when I saw the coconut oil.
Tried this recipe yesterday and what a hit! I used red beans instead of black bc that’s what I had and it was absolutely delicious. Thank you!
I’m so glad you enjoyed them!
Hello Taesha, I started with this recipe, and it was delicious.
However, I had a hankering for black bean dip, so I started with this recipe. I added a quarter lb of split peas, and at the end added black and red pepper, and liquid smoke.
When the beans were soft, I ran it all through the food processor to make it into a smooth dip (the split peas gave it a bit more body so the dip would actually stay on a chip).
It’s wonderful on tortilla chips, hot with added cheese, spread on a quesadilla, or even on hamburgers.
Do NOT soak your beans over night using vinegar in the water. I did and it made the beans NOT cook very well. They were still kind of crunchy after 7 hours in the slow cooker. Pre-soak in water only!
Interesting! I have never had this issue! Did you happen to add salt before or after cooking, by chance? I know if you add it before, the beans will sometimes stay hard.
I do not see mention of oil of any type in the recipe- where and when is this “oil” also the salt preferences.. I have sea salt and pink Himalayan… which should be used
My beans are soaking now- will put this in the slow cooker in the morning before going to school
Whichever salt you prefer works just fine! I personally like Himalayan. And the oil is an optional ingredient, though it does add a lovely richness to the beans that some people enjoy. Others, however, prefer to skip it. It is added when everything else (except the salt) is at the start of the cooking process
Has anyone tried this on just the stove top? I’m without a pressure cooker and slow cooker but really want to try this recipe out! Any tips on cooking instructions for stove top?
Nice blog and content, I really excited, thanks for share!
Has anyone used fresh garlic with this recipe for garlic lovers, if so how much, and did you use the coconut oil or olive oil? I am doing a large crock pot for a soccer dinner, too large for my instant
pot. I am debating between The Best Slow Cooker Black Beans and Black Beans (Slow cooker or Instant Pot) the one with the chicken broth and bell peppers. Any suggestions as to which would be a favorite. This is an all school dinner with four classes of soccer teams boys and girls.
I wanted to like these more than I did 🙁
I was excited to find this healthy crock pot recipe. I cook dried beans a lot on the stove but thought I would give this a try. Disappointing- I think they cook better on the stove top. I liked the idea of the “creaminess” by adding coconut oil, but that just made a gross looking skim on the surface once they cooled and I was trying to use for meals. I recognize that crock pot settings can be different, but after 6 hours on high, they were still undercooked, so I had to change my dinner plans until I could finish cooking them the next day.
But, I DO look forward to more of your healthy crock pot recipes. I just didnt find this any easier or tastier than stove top.
Hi Melody! Bummer they didn’t turn out! Quick question. Did you add your salt before cooking? I think sometimes people miss the part about adding salt after and that can impact the cooking for the dry beans. As for the oil, I get that it is not for everyone and can be an optional ingredients. I usually drain off most of the liquid and have never noticed the coconut oil on top…but something good to know
I found this recipe with a google search of “easy slow cooker black beans”. Best search ever!! This recipe makes DELICIOUS black beans. I omitted the bell pepper because my daughter abhors bell peppers (I love them but the you know the sacrifices we make for our kids…) and soaked the beans just as directed. Cooked them on low for 7hrs and they are perfect and delicious!! Actually printed your recipe so that I can get my hands on it easily for my next batch. Thanks so much!!
Out-of-this-world awesome good!! Followed recipe exactly as written. Soaked beans overnight. Did not add salt until after cooking. Used unsalted chicken stock. I went with a cup of hot salsa, but the lengthy cooking time really mellowed it out. Only real deviation was adding about 1/4 cup of olive oil. You are so right that it adds a nice creamy note. Made this on a Monday for dinner and still happily eating leftovers for lunch! Only getting better as days go by. This is a keeper and these are the best black beans I have made. Thank you for sharing!
This is so quick and easy and packed with flavor. It’s so yummy!!! I’ve made it twice already. Absolutely delicious!
My whole family loves this recipe, including my very picky 16-year old! In fact, she has declared them her FAVORITE beans. Because she is so picky, I make a few adjustments: no chopped onion or peppers–I substitute 1 tsp. of onion powder (and, I add sautéed pepper and onion to the rice that I’m serving with it, so the adults can enjoy it!). Because she “doesn’t like tomatoes”, I make sure that I add a very finely chopped salsa–NO CHUNKS! She has no idea that this is the secret ingredient! Oh, and I don’t bother soaking the beans and they turn out fine. I cook them on low for at least 8 hours. Delicious!!
Such a win! I am so glad to hear that, Sheri!
Great recipe. I followed directions exactly (no salt until after) and the beans had a great flavor and were cooked through.
Perfect! So glad to hear it, Aubrey!
Carol in Texas
These beans are super good! The smell while cooking was amazing! I put 1 tsp. of baking soda in the soaking water overnight, then rinsed the beans before cooking to make sure the beans softened up during cooking. I was feeling lazy so I used powdered onion, garlic and freeze-dried red bell pepper. I love that these are vegan so I can serve them to everyone. Thank you for this recipe.
Thank you for taking the time to leave a review, Carol! I often take those shortcuts too and they work like a dream every time!
Delicious! Thank you for spending the time to give such great instructions.
So glad you enjoyed, Cynthia! Thanks for taking the time to share.
Make a pot of these once every week or so to keep in the fridge for tacos, omelettes, salads, etc. You won’t be sorry.
I have made this a few times, and it is always delicious. Question; I can substitute the salsa and and a can of coconut milk maybe make them creamier?
Oh interesting idea, Patty! The salsa adds a lot of flavor, so just be aware if you decide to omit it that they will definitely taste different. And I’d add the coconut milk after the beans have finished cooking. Can’t wait to hear how they turn out!