I'm thinking of recipes like chili, which have a "brothy" component to the finished recipe. One would hope that adding dry beans to an appropriate amount of liquid, loaded with aromatics and spices, would add flavor directly to the beans as they cook. I can imagine the counterpoint being the differing amounts of liquid that dry beans might absorb, according to variety and age, but it doesn't seem as though that would be hard to compensate throughout the cooking process.

  • 6
    Erm… there are lots of dishes that use dried beans? Precooked or canned are more for convenience as they need little more than warming up?
    – Stephie
    Mar 23 at 20:21
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    Many people developing recipes these days assume that people don’t have all day to cook, so take convenience shortcuts. You can always cook a large batch of beans and freeze them in useful quantities if you don’t want to use canned beans in those recipes.
    – Joe
    Mar 24 at 1:05
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    I cook with dried beans quite a lot. If I'm looking for recipes (for inspiration rather than to follow strictly) I tend to search with "dried beans" or "dried" in quotes as recipes for tinned are more common. But there are plenty for dried beans. I also wonder if recipes using dried beans might be more likely to be hand-written than posted online, i.e. I see them as likely to be traditional or handed down.
    – Chris H
    Mar 24 at 11:20
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    I'm starting to think Cooking needs a location tag. What you describe, is from my experience a very American issue, and perhaps somewhat western Europe. I've never seen anyone else use canned/precooked beans and similar in recipes.
    – Davor
    Mar 24 at 13:07
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    i was confused by title, given i've never seen beans sold in any form other than dry. guess there is a lot of regional contexto to it, too. here you'd only find dry beans. cooking them on a pressure cooker spends little time, energy or water. i can't imagine why people would prefer to get their beans pre-made. how would you season it to your likes? Mar 24 at 15:13

2 Answers 2


Because the amount of liquid, time, and environment needed to cook dried beans will affect the finished result.

Beans absorb and require a very high proportion of water. A lot of people either presoak dried beans overnight to help shorten the cooking time. For your hypothetical chili, you are adding on hours of cooking that cook turn the rest of your ingredients into mush.

Another factor is that acidic ingredients increase the cooking time for beans. Cooking dried beans in your chili would increase cooking time because of the tomatoes.

  • Age of the beans and how they’ve been stored can also be a factor, so you can’t just say ‘cook for 1 hour’ in a recipe that’s using dried beans. You can maybe say ‘cook for two hours’ when you’re trying to get them to completely fall apart
    – Joe
    Mar 24 at 1:03
  • I can definitely testify as to the acidity factor. I do make a chili stew with soaked-but-uncooked dried beans, and it cooks all day to soften the beans (intentionally, but the cooking time is like 4 hours instead of 1).
    – FuzzyChef
    Mar 24 at 5:11
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    Plus, chilli would imply red kidney beans, which need ten mins at a rolling boil first.
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 24 at 8:44
  • @Tetsujin you're right of course, if simmering or slow cooking at least. This is a bit of a hassle for my slow cooked 3/4/5 bean chilli - I soak the kidney beans separately from the others then boil them while I have breakfast. If pressure cooking you achieve the hard boil, but some sources say to discard the water from this boiling step (I do, then bring back to the boil with everything else in the sauce, minus tomatoes which go in a bit later if I want the bean to soften well). And this all reminds me to soak beans tonight!
    – Chris H
    Mar 24 at 11:16
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    Adding any acid to your beans while they cook will have you chewing on car tires when you try to eat the beans..
    – Neil Meyer
    Mar 25 at 15:25

You have to soak beans for at least a day before you cook them. I usually do two days. There are in these two days also several changes of water as the bad solids have to be removed. There may also be some time spent trying to remove any stones that may be present in your beans. Depending on how your dry beans are sorted by the manufacturer this may be a concern.

Some people use Bicarb in the soaking also, if you do then there are several rinsing involved in removing the bicarb before you cook the beans. Then you have to cook it for two to three hours after the 1 - 2 days of soaking, then you have to cook it in the sauce for 30 - 60 minutes so that the generally flavorless beans can take the flavor you want to impart on it.

It is quite the process to cook beans and it is not something you can just do. It takes a certain amount of effort and meal prep to make. This is why the recipe calls for beans that have already been cooked.

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