Maria Faires’ Slow Cooker Crock Pot Beans

Lima beans cooked in the crockpot

How to Cook Beans in the Slow Cooker Crockpot

I have been making beans for years trying to come up with a recipe that would result in a flavorful satisfying dish. I think I have found it! These are full of flavor! The long, slow cooking method imparts a deep flavorful essence into the beans.

And being a dietitian, I am a huge fan of beans for their wealth of nutrients, antioxidants and value in a weight loss program since they are so filling.

And this method is the easiest I have ever tried. When beans are cooked in the slow cooker, pre-soaking them overnight is not important, so this method saves a step. The long, slow cooking process will soften them without the need to presoak.

The first time or two that you cook beans in the slow cooker, it’s best if you can be around to check on them toward the end of cooking. Some slow cookers and some beans will cook more quickly or slowly than others. Until you’re familiar with how long beans typically take in your slow cooker, start checking them around 4 and a half hours and then every 15 minutes or so after that until they’re done.

You may be wondering when you read the recipe what I mean by “aromatics”. Aromatics are ingredients like herbs, spices and vegetables (and sometimes meat) that are a base for the flavor of a dish. Cooking the aromatics slowly helps to release their flavors and aromas, creating a deep flavor foundation for dishes such as soups, stews, sauces, meat fillings, etc. Ever sautéed garlic in olive oil? That’s an example of using aromatics.

Different countries’ regional cuisines have a traditional combination of aromatics. In French cooking, the combination is the classic mirepoix: onions, carrots and celery and supplemented with the herbs parsley, thyme, bay leaves, herbes de provence. In Spain: onions, bell peppers and tomatoes, garlic, chilies, bay leaves, cumin, paprika, cilantro, ham or chorizo. Meanwhile, Cajun uses onion, celery, green peppers, garlic, parsley, shallots and paprika. And Indian regions use onion, garlic, chilies, ginger, tomatoes and various Indian spices.

Knowing the regional variations, after you get proficient with making beans in the slow cooker, you can experiment with different aromatic ingredients to flavor your beans.

To make, read through the general directions and then see my sample recipe for exact measurements.

General Detailed Instructions 

Ingredients Any amount of dried beans (other than lentils) 1 ¼  teaspoons salt (divided) per pound of beans, aromatics, like a bay leaf, peeled garlic, minced onion, or dried herbs. OPTIONAL: Smoked meat, like ham hock, ham chorizo, smoked turkey leg

Equipment 3 to 4 quart or smaller slow cooker for 1 pound of beans or less OR 5-6 quart or larger slow cooker for 2 pounds of beans or more

Pick through the beans: pour them into a long, flat container and pick through them, looking for stones, and dried, withered and discolored, then discard. Now rinse the beans in a colander.

Transfer the beans to the slow cooker.

Add aromatics such as bay leaves, chopped onion, chopped garlic or any dried herbs.

Add smoked meat if using.

Cover with water: Pour enough water over the beans to cover them by about 4 inches. Add ¾  teaspoon of salt for one pound of beans and stir.

Cook on low for 5 to 7 hours: Cover the pot and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours. When the beans are soft but still a little more firm than you’d like, add a half teaspoon of salt for one pound and continue cooking until done.

NOTE: The first time or two that you cook beans in the slow cooker, it’s best if you can be around to check on them toward the end of cooking. Some slow cookers and some beans will cook more quickly or slowly than others. Until you’re familiar with how long beans typically take in your slow cooker, start checking them around 4 and a half hours and then every 15 minutes or so after that until they’re done.

Cool and store: Cool the beans and then store them in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Here is exactly what I did so that perhaps your first time cooking beans in the slow-cooker you can copy mine.

My Favorite Smoky Pinto Beans

I followed the above instructions and I used 1 pound of pinto beans, 6 cups water, 2 bay leaves, 1 ¼  teaspoons salt total,1 chopped onion, 3 minced garlic cloves and 2 slices of raw bacon chopped.

I used a 5 quart slow cooker.

I did not soak the beans.

My pinto beans were soft in 4 hours 45 minutes.

For additional smoky flavor add some smoked paprika.

**See above for full detailed instructions.

Great Northern Beans

When I used Great White Northern Beans they cooked in about 3.5 hours.

Small Lima Beans

When I used small lima beans it took 5 hours to cook.

 

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Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit!

So eat some beans at every meal!

The benefits of beans are so numerous that I can’t say enough in praise about beans. Beans are so outstanding that only green vegetables come close as a valuable food source!

I recommend that adults eat 3 cups of beans per week for health and to reduce the risk of chronic diseases because of the richness of antioxidants and fiber.

Beans are “heart healthy” because they contain soluble fiber, which can help lower cholesterol and unhealthy triglyceride levels.

Research is saying we should be eating more plant proteins. Beans are a great choice! 1/2 cup of beans delivers 7 grams of protein, the same amount as in 1 ounce of chicken, meat or fish.

With a low glycemic index, beans contain a blend of complex carbohydrates and protein. Because of this, beans are digested slowly, which helps keep blood glucose stable.

Beans contain protein, healthy carbs, fiber, antioxidants, and copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium and zinc.

Beans can be incorporated easily into a main dish, salads, side dish, soup or dip.

Beans can are the least expensive source of protein, especially when compared to fresh meat.

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Roasted Butternut Squash

  • Butternut squash (about 2.5 pounds), peeled and seeded and cut in 1-inch chunks or 2 pounds of precut butternut squash (see photo below)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Pepper as desired

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the squash in a large bowl and drizzle with the olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss well. Arrange the squash in one layer on a sheet pan and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until the squash is tender, turning once with a metal spatula.

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