Recipe Spotlight

Why Cooking Dried Beans Is Well Worth the Extra Effort

Enjoy the comfort of cooking a big pot of beans this week.
By and

Published May 16, 2022.

It’s true: Canned white beans are impossible to beat for convenience. And if you’d prefer to choose to use them for your next bean recipe, then go for it.

But for those recipes where beans take center stage, starting with dried legumes is well worth the extra time and effort. The creamy texture and earthy flavor of homemade cooked-from-dried beans are more satisfying than anything you get from a can. 

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10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.

Plus, theres just something comforting and wholesome about making a big pot of beans to eat throughout the week. But if you’ve never tried cooking dried beans, heres our foolproof method for cooking dried cannellini beans.

  1. Brine the Beans: Brining the beans for 8 to 24 hours takes forethought. But this step seasons them thoroughly and helps them maintain their shape throughout cooking.
  2. Cook Uncovered: The cooking time for dried beans can vary a lot based on bean type, brand, and age; cooking them uncovered on the stovetop gives you the ability to watch and taste them as they cook.
  3. Slowly Simmer: Maintaining a gentle simmer prevents the beans from rupturing.
  4. Taste for Texture: After 40 to 50 minutes of simmering, the beans should be just barely al dente; to check, simply bite into a few.
  5. Finish off the Heat: Turning off the heat, covering the pot, and letting the beans steep allows them to gently finish cooking through without rupturing their skins.

White Beans

Serves 8 (Makes 7 cups)

  • 1½ tablespoons table salt for brining
  • 1 pound dried cannellini beans, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon table salt

  1. Dissolve 1½ tablespoons salt in 2 quarts cold water in large container. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
  2. Drain beans in colander and rinse well. Combine beans, 10 cups fresh water, and salt in Dutch oven and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook at gentle simmer until beans are barely al dente, 40 to 50 minutes. (During simmer, bubbles should just break surface of water.)
  3. Turn off heat; cover pot; and let beans steep until tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Serve beans from pot using slotted spoon or drain in colander for later use. (Beans can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 3 days. Alternatively, beans can be cooled, transferred to zipper-lock bags, and frozen for up to 1 month.)

So now that you know how to cook up a whole heap of beans, what are you going to use them for? Such flavorful beans are great eaten with a drizzle of oil and some salt and pepper but also lend themselves well to other applications, so we developed a few quick recipes featuring them.

White Bean and Tuna Salad

The creaminess of cooked white beans in this recipe makes for a delicious way to enjoy briny tuna and an herby dressing. It may be simple, but that’s what makes it so good: The flavors of this salad are fresh and bright.

White Bean and Tuna Salad

Creamy white beans and an herby dressing provide a fresh, filling take on tuna salad.
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White Beans with Tomatoes and Capers

This side dish packs all the flavor and nutritional value of a main in a quick and easy recipe. Fruity, peppery olive oil helps bring out the flavor of the salty-savory combination of capers and tomatoes, while the creamy white beans soak up all this flavor.

White Beans with Tomatoes and Capers

This fresh, substantial side dish pairs well with any roasted meat or fish.
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White Bean Dip

Simple yet classic, a good white bean dip is the hero of any appetizer spread. The garlic and sage penetrate cooked white beans to create a truly flavorful experience that pairs beautifully with sea salt crackers or an assortment of crudités.

White Bean Dip

This easy dip is perfect with crudités or crackers.
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