Have you ever noticed how simple foods, with few ingredients—made well—can taste so amazing? This Easy Slow Cooker Black Beans recipe takes practically zero effort with a slow cooker, a couple handfuls of unsoaked, dried beans and a few basic pantry ingredients. Yet the result is full of flavor and nutrition.
A good rice and beans recipe pretty much a must-have for vegans or anyone hoping to adopt a healthy diet. (Watch this video about the health benefits of beans.) Not long after jumping on the whole-food, plant-based, vegan train, I realized that even though I’d been vegetarian for like 20 years, I’d never cooked dried beans in my life! (Pretty embarrassing, I must admit! ?)
One day, Hemant and I were eating breakfast at a diner, and I was served a dish with simple, but amazing made-from-scratch black beans. I decided right then and there, I needed to ‘quit the can’ and start cooking dried beans.
I messed around with a few recipes, but my favorite are these easy slow cooker black beans. (I could just as easily call them 'Lazy Black Beans!') I’ve tried soaking vs. not soaking, stove top vs. slow cooker, and lots of different add ins. But I love this simple, versatile recipe because I can throw everything together in about 5 minutes early in the day and know dinner will be (almost) ready in the evening.
(Full confession: I pretty much always forget to soak my beans the night before, so this recipe has come in very handy!)
I say almost, because as good as these easy slow cooker black beans are by themselves, they’re even better with a tofu scramble, in a burrito—or my new all time favorite—mashed and slathered on toasted whole-grain bread with some sliced avocado and red onion. Oh yum!
Sure, you could use canned beans in any of these recipes—I did for a long time. But with a few extra minutes, these easy slow cooker beans are so, so much better. Crazy simple, crazy good.
Easy Slow Cooker Black Beans
- 2 cups dried black beans (rinsed, but unsoaked)
- ½ onion cut in half
- 2 cloves garlic (smashed)
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
- Sea salt to taste
- Add all of the ingredients except the salt to the slow cooker and cover with 4 cups of water. There should be about 2 inches of water covering the beans.
- Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours, or on medium-low for 6 to 8 hours.
- Remove the bay leaves and large pieces of onion and garlic. Drain any excess liquid from the beans, add sea salt to taste, and serve. (I like to retain any extra liquid and eat it like soup!)
- If cooking on the lowest setting, it can take more than 8 hours to cook unsoaked beans. But you can turn the cooker on low, leave for 8+ hours, then increase to high to cook for about another hour and the beans will be soft.
- When cooking beans and lentils, I never add salt or acid (tomatoes, lemon juice, etc.) until they're soft, as adding these ingredients early can significantly prolong the cooking time.