Cooking Kidney Beans the Right Way

If you love kidney beans, whether in soups, salads or as a side dish, it is essential to know how to cook them the right way to achieve maximum flavor and texture. Properly cooked kidney beans are delicious, nutritious and versatile in the kitchen. However, improperly cooked beans can cause gastrointestinal distress, including bloating, gas, and diarrhea. In this article, we will discuss the right way to cook kidney beans to perfection and avoid the potential health risks associated with undercooked beans.

Cooking Kidney Beans the Right Way | Eat Urban Garden
Cooking Kidney Beans the Right Way

What are Kidney Beans

Kidney beans, named for their kidney shape, are a type of legume that are essential in many dishes. They originated in Peru over 8,000 years ago and were eventually brought to Europe by Spanish explorers. Today, they are commonly used in dishes all around the world, especially in Mexican, Caribbean, and Indian cuisine. Kidney beans are a great source of plant-based protein and are rich in fiber, iron, and antioxidants.

How to Use Kidney Beans in Cooking

Kidney beans are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some suggestions on how to use kidney beans:

  • Add them to soups like chili or minestrone.
  • Mix them into a salad for added protein and texture.
  • Puree them into a dip like hummus or serve as a side dish with rice.
  • Cook them with spices and vegetables for a flavorful vegetarian main dish.

What Nutrients are in Kidney Beans

Kidney beans are a nutritious and delicious ingredient that can be used in many different dishes. They are packed with essential nutrients that are important for overall health and wellness. In this section, we will discuss some of the most important nutrients found in kidney beans.


Kidney beans are an excellent source of protein, making them a popular choice for vegetarians and vegans. Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues, producing enzymes and hormones, and maintaining healthy bones, muscles, and skin.

One cup of kidney beans contains about 15 grams of protein, which is equivalent to the protein found in about 2 ounces of meat. However, unlike meat, kidney beans are low in fat and cholesterol, making them a healthier choice.


Kidney beans are also a great source of fiber. One cup of cooked kidney beans contains about 16 grams of fiber, which is more than half of the daily recommended intake for adults. Fiber is important for digestive health, as it helps to keep food moving through the digestive system and promotes regular bowel movements.

In addition to promoting digestive health, fiber also helps to lower cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar levels, and maintain a healthy weight.


While not as well known as protein and fiber, molybdenum is another important nutrient found in kidney beans. Molybdenum is a trace element that plays a key role in breaking down amino acids and purines in the body. It also helps to detoxify the liver and release stored iron into the bloodstream.

One cup of kidney beans contains about 177 micrograms of molybdenum, which is more than twice the daily recommended intake for adults.


Folate, also known as folic acid or vitamin B9, is another essential nutrient found in kidney beans. Folate is important for cell growth and development, as well as DNA synthesis and repair.

One cup of kidney beans contains about 33% of the daily recommended intake for folate.

Why Should Kidney Beans Be Soaked Before Cooking

Kidney beans are a wonderful source of fiber and protein, and they are used in a variety of cuisines around the world. Before you cook your kidney beans, it’s important to soak them properly to ensure that they cook evenly and are easier to digest. In this section, we’ll explore why soaking kidney beans is important, how long to soak them for, and the benefits of doing so.

Why is Soaking Kidney Beans Important?

Soaking kidney beans is important for several reasons. Firstly, it reduces cooking time. Beans that are soaked cook a lot quicker than those that aren’t. This is because soaking makes the beans softer and easier to cook by breaking down some of the components that inhibit proper cooking. Secondly, soaking the kidney beans removes some of the gas-causing compounds, making them easier to digest. Thirdly, soaking helps to remove some of the anti-nutrients, which can impair mineral absorption in your body.

How Long To Soak Kidney Beans?

The length of time you should soak your kidney beans largely depends on your method of cooking. Typically, soaking should last between 6-8 hours, but this will vary based on the bean’s age, size, and how you’re going to cook them. The soak can be done overnight with no need for temperature regulation, which will be effective in softening your kidney beans. If you choose to use a slow cooker or an instant pot, then soaking can be reduced to 2-3 hours before cooking, as these methods can significantly reduce cooking time.

What are the Benefits of Soaking Kidney Beans?

  • Soaking reduces cooking time and makes the beans softer and easier to cook.
  • Soaking reduces gas-causing compounds, making them easier to digest.
  • Soaking helps to remove some of the anti-nutrients, which can impair mineral absorption in your body.
  • Soaking helps to preserve the nutrients present in the beans during cooking.
  • Sprouting can be done after soaking, which makes the beans even more nutritious.

What is the Best Way to Cook Kidney Beans

If you want to cook kidney beans, it’s essential to know the right way to do it. Cooking these beans improperly may result in indigestion and even cause kidney damage. So, here are two main ways to cook kidney beans:

Method #1: Boiling

The boiling method is the most common and straightforward way to cook kidney beans. It doesn’t require any special equipment or ingredients, and anyone can do it. Here are the steps:

  1. Pick the Beans – Sort through your beans and pick out any that are discolored or misshapen. Rinse them well under cold water.
  2. Soak the Beans – Soak the beans in enough water to cover them by at least two inches. Allow it to soak for at least eight hours or overnight. Alternatively, you can follow the quick soak method by boiling the beans for two minutes and then letting soak for an hour.
  3. Boil Water – In a large pot, heat enough water to cover the beans by at least two inches. For one cup of dry beans, it’s recommended to use at least four cups of water.
  4. Cook the Beans – Drain the beans and add them to the pot of water. Let it boil for five to ten minutes, skimming off foam as needed. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer for one to two hours. You can add salt, garlic, or bay leaves for extra flavor.
  5. Check for Doneness – After one hour, start checking for doneness. The beans should be tender but not mushy. Cook them for longer, if necessary. Beans can take on average of 90 minutes to 2 hours to fully cook.
  6. Remove From Heat and Serve – Once the beans are done cooking, turn off the heat and let them sit in the pot for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain any excess water, and then serve.

Method #2: Pressure Cooking

If you have a pressure cooker, cooking kidney beans is much faster. They can cook in 20 to 30 minutes without soaking, and 5 to 15 minutes if soaked. Here’s how:

  1. Pick the Beans – Rinse the beans well under cold water and pick out any discolored or misshapen beans.
  2. Soak the Beans (Optional) – If you have time, soak the beans in water for eight hours or overnight. Discard the soaking water.
  3. Add Water – Add enough water to the pressure cooker pot to cover the beans by at least two inches. For every cup of dry beans, use at least twice as much water.
  4. Cook the Beans – Set the pressure cooker to high pressure and let it cook for 20 to 30 minutes if not soaked, and 5 to 15 minutes if soaked.
  5. Natural Release – Turn off the heat and allow the pressure to release naturally. This can take up to 20 minutes.
  6. Drain and Serve – Open the pressure cooker, drain any excess water, and serve.

Which Method is Best?

The boiling method is the most common and may take the longest to cook, but it’s the safest way to cook kidney beans. The heat breaks down toxins in the beans that can cause serious health problems. If you’re in a rush, the pressure cooker method can be great, but only use it if you’re comfortable with the device and follow the instructions. Lastly, for taste and health, you can try reducing the gas-inducing elements found in beans by cooking them with garlic or fresh ginger.

How to Store Kidney Beans

Kidney beans are a staple ingredient for many delicious dishes and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. However, it’s important to store kidney beans correctly to keep them fresh and avoid spoilage. Here are some tips on how to store both cooked and uncooked kidney beans:

Storing Uncooked Kidney Beans

Uncooked kidney beans have a longer shelf life than cooked ones. To keep them fresh, store them in a dry and cool place such as a pantry or cupboard. Airtight containers or glass jars work best as they help to preserve their texture and flavor. Ensure that the container is sealed tightly to prevent exposure to air and moisture which may lead to spoilage.

  • Before storing your kidney beans, sift through them to remove any debris or stones.
  • If storing in a packet, ensure that the packet is resealable for extended freshness once opened.
  • If you live in a humid area, consider placing a desiccant in the container to absorb any excess moisture.
  • Stored properly, uncooked kidney beans can last up to a year.

Storing Cooked Kidney Beans

Cooked kidney beans should also be stored carefully to avoid spoilage. You can keep them in the fridge or freezer, but the shelf life depends on the storage method.

  • Refrigerator: Store the beans in an airtight container and put it in the fridge within two hours of cooking. They can stay fresh for up to five days when stored in the refrigerator.
  • Freezer: Cooked kidney beans can last up to six months when stored in the freezer. Divide them into small portions to make reheating easy, and label the container with the date of preparation.

If the kidney beans have any sign of mold, an off odor, or flavor, it is best to discard them to avoid any risk of food poisoning.

What are the Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cooking Kidney Beans

Kidney beans are versatile, affordable, and a great source of protein, fiber, and other nutrients. However, it’s essential to ensure that you cook them correctly to avoid common mistakes that can lead to indigestion or worse.

1. Not Soaking Them

Kidney beans are one of the beans that contain a high content of a toxin called lectin. Soaking them for at least 5 hours can help reduce the amount of lectin they contain and make them easier to digest. However, some people prefer the “quick soaking” method, which involves boiling them for two minutes then letting them soak for one hour before cooking.

2. Adding Salt too Early

While adding salt to beans during the cooking process is crucial, adding it too early can prevent the beans from cooking adequately. Salt hardens the beans and makes them tough, so it’s best to wait until the beans are nearly tender before adding salt.

3. Cooking Them Too Fast

Beans, including kidney beans, need to be cooked low and slow to soften evenly and ensure that any toxins are adequately destroyed. If you cook them too fast, they may not cook uniformly, and the toxins may not be destroyed. For best results, simmer your kidney beans for at least an hour or until they are tender.

4. Not Testing for Doneness

It’s essential to test your beans for doneness regularly to ensure that they are cooked evenly and adequately. You can test them by taking a few out of the pot and squeezing them with your fingers. If they mash easily, they are done, but if they are still hard, give them another 15 minutes and test again.

5. Forgetting to Skim Off the Foam

While cooking, kidney beans produce a foam that can make your dish look unappealing. More importantly, it can trap impurities in your beans that affect their texture and flavor. Skimming off the foam helps to remove impurities and ensures the beans cook evenly, leaving you with a better-tasting dish.

6. Adding Acidic Ingredients too Early

Acidic ingredients such as tomatoes, vinegar, or lemon juice can prevent your kidney beans from cooking correctly, causing them to stay hard even after hours of boiling. Wait until the beans are almost fully cooked before adding them.

Come Back for More Kidney Bean Recipes

Thanks for reading our guide on cooking kidney beans the right way! Now that you know the basics, you’re ready to experiment with different spices, flavors, and recipes. Whether you prefer classic chili, bold and spicy soups, or healthy salads, there’s no shortage of delicious ways to enjoy this versatile legume. Be sure to check back for more kidney bean recipe ideas and cooking tips!

Cooking Kidney Beans the Right Way

Learn how to prepare and cook kidney beans the right way for maximum flavor, texture, and nutrition. From soaking and seasoning to boiling and simmering, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process to get perfect results every time.

  • 1 pound dried kidney beans
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Sort through the beans to remove any debris or stones. Rinse the beans in a fine-mesh strainer and transfer to a large bowl. Cover with 3-4 inches of cold water and let soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain the soaked beans and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Discard any discolored or shriveled beans.
  3. In a large pot, combine the soaked beans, water, salt, onion, garlic, bay leaves, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 60-90 minutes, or until the beans are tender and creamy.
  4. Taste the beans and add more salt or seasonings as desired. Remove and discard the bay leaves before serving.
Main dish
kidney beans, beans, legumes, soup, chili, salad, vegetarian, vegan, healthy

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