I'm guessing there are different answers depending on the type of dried bean (pinto, kidney, navy, white, etc.) and I am interested in all of them.

So: how long should dry beans be soaked?

Should the water be just tap water, or salted?

Should the soaking water be discarded or used later?



9 Answers 9


I found this article in the LA Times with detailed experiments suggesting that soaking beans is unnecessary and it takes away the flavor and texture.

  • 2
    I have always soaked beans because nobody wants to cook them all day long, steaming up the kitchen and making the house hot. I am well aware that soaking is not absolutely necessary, but I've never noticed a difference in taste. Jun 6, 2016 at 22:47

Overnight is ideal, but even an hour or two will help. If you don't have much time, you can speed the processs by using hot water. Tap water, and not salted - salt toughens the skin of beans if it used before they are cooked. Most folks discard the soaking water, as it is thought to produce flatulence. Also, if you have a pressure cooker, you can cook dried beans without a pre-soak and get great results.

  • 2
    Good answer. Also, the soaking water can have dirt in it, which you might not want to eat! That's an argument for at least rinsing your beans before you pressure cook them! (And in my experience, soaking beans before pressure cooking does improve the texture...)
    – Harlan
    Sep 2, 2010 at 20:38
  • do you know how many hours of soaking would be too many?
    – amphibient
    Sep 17, 2014 at 3:29
  • Regarding pressure cooker not pre-soaking: Americas Test Kitchen Pressure Cooker book states "Soaking beans before cooking is crucial for even cooking and to minimize busted beans." But yeah, I don't always presoak, and the pressure cooked beans always turn out acceptable.
    – Paulb
    Feb 3, 2017 at 14:31

This website has an excellent chart showing the soaking and cooking times for various types of dried beans. Some beans don't need to be soaked at all, while others need at least 8 hours.

I personally always discard the soaking water. I don't like the flavors, and in some cases, colors that the water adds to the food, not to mention the dirt/rocks that settle to the bottom. I normally soak and cook beans in filtered water, but that is only because the area I live in has lots of chlorine in the water and I don't like the taste. Throwing out the water also removes some of the starch so your beans don't foam so much when you cook them.


It depends on the beans: I soak garbanzo, kidney beans for 6-8 hours all others (pinto, navy, white, etc., I cook after 2-3 hours of soaking. Here are the answers to your other questions:

Should the water be just tap water, or salted?

Yes, just tap water will do. Let the beans be immersed in the water and you should be able to put your fingers till your second knuckle.

No need for salt.

Should the soaking water be discarded or used later? Discard the soaking water. this will make the beans less flatulent.

Cook delicious dried beans

  • Welcome! I've edited your answer to remove the last paragraph as it does not answer the question and instead reads like and advertisement for that pot. It's one thing to make a recommendation of a product (if you disclose your relationship) when it's asked for but to post it here when completely unrequested, it looks like spam.
    – Catija
    Mar 15, 2017 at 23:48

For most humans, it behooves the digestive process to soak beans at least overnight. Cooking beans w/o overnight soaking is asking for digestive malaise in most people.

  • Hello, and welcome to Stack Exchange. We look for focused answers that address the question; I've removed the unnecessary commentary from your post. Feb 3, 2017 at 12:12

An alternative to pre-soaking is pre-cooking. I have 200g borlotti beans and tomato sauce in the oven right now in a covered casserole. After three hours cooking at 110C I'll take them out and leave them covered until I get home from work after which time they should be nice and soft.


I always soak beans because I don't like having to steam up the kitchen or leave them cooking for a long time.

Another Answer Here has a great table for soaking times. Salt or no salt really only has to do with your personal preference, but I never do it because you can always add salt after, but you can never take it away.


I read an article once that said about 16 hours is the ideal amount of time--so 12 hours plus four more. (so if you washed and soaked them at 7 pm on Monday, ideally you would drain and re-wash and cook them at 11am on Tuesday). This is not always possible though, given everyone's busy schedules. I usually aim for 8 hours or more, and try to keep it less than 24 hours. Old beans may cook easier if you add a pinch of baking soda to the soaking water (rinse it away before you cook them) because it may help soften the skins and help the water get in there to soften them. Instead of using all the cooked beans right away I freeze some to add to baked goods like muffins (mashed before they go in the muffins).


I short-soak my beans in very hot water for an hour, and then drain completely. Then boil the fresh water with a teaspoon of added baking soda. This softens the "hulls" due to the acid-resistance of some beans; acidic products like tomatoes only prolong the water absorption. Result in simmering is much reduced cooking time. Try checking beans in half the normal time.

Tried only with Pinto and Garbanzo, however.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.