Slow Cooker Black Beans (with Instant Pot Option)

slow-cooker-black-beans-in-white-bowl.

With a ridiculously easy method and a short ingredient list, you can transform dried black beans into a few meals worth of tender, flavorful vegetarian protein with this Slow Cooker Black Beans recipe. Plus: They freeze beautifully!

slow cooker black beans in white bowl on counter.

Slow Cooker Black Beans

This is hands down one of my favorite easy ways to prep for multiple dinners at once. You literally just put the beans and spices into the slow cooker (or instant pot), cover the beans with water, and let the low heat work its magic.

You can serve some of the beans for dinner on the day you make them, then portion the rest out into meal-size containers and freeze for future weeks.

We use these slow cooker black beans for our weekly Taco Tuesday and they never disappoint. (And they are so much less expensive than buying canned beans.)

Ingredients You Need

To make this recipe, here’s a look at what you’ll need:

bag of dried black beans on counter.
  • Black beans: You’ll want to start with dried black beans. (This method also works for pinto beans.)
  • Garlic: You can add garlic cloves in with the beans to add flavor.
  • Cumin: This adds more flavor and works well if you mostly use black beans in Mexican-style dishes. Omit it if not.
  • Salt: You’ll want to salt the beans after you cook them, so plan on doing that once they’re fully cooked and drained.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at the simple process involved in making this recipe so you know what to expect. Scroll down to the end for the full information.

dried black beans going into slow cooker with garlic.
  1. Add all ingredients into a bowl of a slow cooker.
  2. Cover with a water.
  3. Place the cover on securely and cook on LOW until tender.
  4. Drain using a slotted spoon or pour into a colander. Serve warm, adjusting the salt if needed.

Vegetarian Black Beans

There’s no meat or pork in these bean so they are a great option for vegetarians or anyone looking for a budget-friendly protein option to add to family meals. At our local store, a can of black beans costs $.79 cents and has 3-4 servings.

A 1 pound bag of black beans costs less than $2 and has 10-12 servings. Such a giant savings! (And honestly, I like that I don’t have to remember to buy them as often.)

black-beans-in-slow-cooker

Do I need to soak the dried beans first?

Since these Slow Cooker Black Beans are cooked low and slow for 7-8 hours, you don’t need to presoak them. All you need to do is to remember to add them to the slow cooker and then drain them once they’re done.

Can I make this in an Instant Pot?

Sure! Add the beans and 10 cups of water to an Instant Pot. Stir in seasonings. Cook on high for 45 minutes and let the pressure naturally release or manually release. Salt to taste and enjoy.

Crockpot Black Beans for the Freezer

I most often do this method with 2 pounds of dried beans because the beans freeze so well and then I get to make them less frequently. It’s also a nice amount for most conventional slow cooker sizes.

Simply let the beans cool, then freeze in freezer-safe containers in the amounts that you’ll want to use them in for future meals.

black-bean-brownie-bites-on-pink-plate

What can I use these black beans in?

We love to use black beans in the following recipes to share with the kids:

Black Bean Brownie Bites

You can add sprinkles to make these fun or leave them plain—either one works! Serving size is 2 brownie bites.

Get the recipe

black-bean-brownies-on-plate-with-sprinkles
Easy Vegetarian Burrito Bowls

Prep the rice, beans, and veggies ahead if you can or want to. They store well in the fridge and simply need to be reheated. The nutrition information in this recipe will vary based on the ingredients you choose to use.

Get the recipe

grain bowls with rice and beans
Sheet Pan Black Bean Quesadillas

These easy quesadillas can be made with pumpkin puree, sweet potato puree, or butternut squash puree. You can also skip it and just go with beans and cheese! I make these as half moon shapes since it helps contain the mess a little when feeding these to kids.

Get the recipe

sheet-pan-quesadillas-on-platter
30-Minute Vegetarian Black Bean Soup

You can serve this soup chunky or pureed smooth, according to what your family might prefer. There’s also a slow cooker option if that’s more your speed! Try it as a dip for little kids if they’re not into a full bowl.

Get the recipe

black bean soup in white bowls
Vegetarian Burritos with Rice and Beans

You can vary the beans if you like in these simple burritos. Serve them with salsa and/or sour cream.

Get the recipe

rice and bean burritos
Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup (with Instant Pot Option)

The addition of grains helps to thicken the soup to a nice consistency for little eaters, so don’t be worried if it’s pretty thin before you add them in before serving. (This post was updated and the recipe was streamlined November 2020. You can get the original recipe here.) 

Get the recipe

slow-cooker-black-bean-soup
black beans for baby on plate and spoon

How to Store

This recipe makes enough for 3-4 meals depending on the size and appetites of your family. I make one batch about every 4-6 weeks and freeze the beans in meal-size portions until we’re ready to enjoy them.

The beans will last about 5 days in the fridge or 4-6 months in the freezer. It’s such a budget-friendly way to make a large amount of vegetarian protein that you can use in all sorts of dishes come meal times.

Best Tips for Success

  • Let them cook until tender, but turn off the LOW heat at 8 hours. It’s okay if they sit on WARM for a while though.
  • Add and adjust the seasoning as needed to suit the taste preferences of your family.
  • To serve to a baby, you can puree or squish a little if needed. (They are very soft and easy to chew.)
  • Let them cool pretty full before you pack the leftover up into storage containers to put into the fridge or freezer.
  • In the Instant Pot: Add the beans and 10 cups of water. Stir in seasonings. Cook on high for 45 minutes and let the pressure naturally release
  • Serve them with favorite dishes like rice and beans, in Sheet Pan QuesadillasSlow Cooker Black Bean Soup, or alongside Coconut Rice.

Related Recipes


I’d love to hear what you think of this recipe if you try it, so please comment and rate the recipe below.

slow-cooker-black-beans-in-white-bowl.
  • Add all ingredients into a bowl of a 4-5 quart slow cooker. Cover with about 4 inches of water. Place the cover on securely and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours. It’s okay if the beans sit on WARM for an hour or two.

  • Drain using a slotted spoon or pour into a colander. Serve warm, adjusting the salt if needed.

  • Instant Pot: Add beans and 10 cups of water to an Instant Pot. Stir in seasonings. Cook on high for 45 minutes and let the pressure naturally release.
  • To store: Let the beans cool and portion into airtight containers, freezer containers, or freezer storage bags. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw from frozen overnight in the fridge or at room temperature. I recommend freezing in portions that work for one meal for your family. I usually freeze 2 cup portions.
  • To make 1 pound of beans: Cook as directed, cutting the seasonings in half.

Calories: 175kcal, Carbohydrates: 32g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 140mg, Potassium: 763mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 145IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 67mg, Iron: 3mg

This post was first published April 2020.


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