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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Quick and Easy Healthy Crock Pot Recipes

Maria’s Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken

  • Boneless Chicken Breasts (I use one chicken breast per person and cook a couple extra for leftovers)
  • Yoshida’s Teriyaki Sauce
  • Brown Rice or other whole grain such as Barley, Farro or Whole Grain Couscous
  1. If you want your chicken breasts thinner, pound them first. You can skip this step if you don’t mind your chicken being meatier.
  2. Line your crockpot with slow cooker liners or coat with olive or canola oil. Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of your crock pot (salt and pepper lightly if you want).
  3. Cover the chicken with the Yoshida’s Teriyaki Sauce so that all of your chicken is covered in the sauce.
  4. Stir so the sauce gets under the chicken too.
  5. Set your crockpot for whatever cycle is most convenient for you and walk away
  6. Depending on which whole grain you choose, cook that and time it so that it is done approximately when the chicken breasts are done.
  7. Remove the chicken breasts onto a cutting board and slice into strips
  8. Serve over cooked whole grains with a little extra sauce (I use the sauce it cooked in, but you can warm up some from the Yoshida’s bottle if you prefer)

Maria’s Crock Pot Salsa Chicken with Cheese

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 (16oz) jar salsa (Verde or Roja or your favorite)
  • 1 1/2 c. Monterey jack cheese, shredded (or to taste)
  • 1/3 – 1/2 c. chopped cilantro (optional)
  1. Line your crockpot with slow cooker liners or coat with olive or canola oil. Place chicken breasts evenly over the bottom of the crock pot and cover evenly with salsa.
  2. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or on low for 4-5 hours or until cooked through. (165 degrees)
  3. About 30 minutes to an hour before serving, sprinkle cheese evenly over chicken. serve and sprinkle with cilantro if desired.

Maria’s Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore

  • 1 ½ pounds organic boneless, skinless chicken thighs (this is ~6 meaty thighs)
  • 1 (25-ounce) jar Red Marinara Sauce
  • Garnish: Grated or Shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • Healthy Harvest Whole Grain Pasta
  • Optional: you can add in 3 tbsp. drained capers or 1 small can of drained mushrooms several minutes before you serve.
  1. Coat the inside of your crockpot with olive or canola oil or use a slow cooker liner. Add the chicken pieces and pour the pasta sauce over. Stir to coat all pieces.
  2. Close the lid and cook on low 4-5 hours, until chicken pieces are cooked through. No need to open it to stir or check, until the end. (If you open it to stir, you will let out heat and it will take additional time to regain optimum temperature and you will delay your cooking.)
  3. About 25 minutes before you are ready to eat, heat a large pot of salted water to boiling. Boil pasta according to package directions, stopping when it is just al dente (firm to the bite). Drain and return pasta to pot, drizzling with a bit of olive oil so it won’t stick. Put the lid back on until you’re ready to serve.
  4. To serve, place a portion of pasta on a plate, top with a piece of chicken and some sauce and top with cheese.
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Healthy Crockpot Recipes

To make cleanup easier, line your slow cooker first with a liner.

Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore

  • 3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 3 x 3 chunks
  • 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 onion, sliced into 1 inch slices
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup whole mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning * or for simplicity add a tsp. each of dried oregano and basil
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp. water

Place all ingredients except cornstarch and water in 4-5 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 6-7 hours until chicken is thoroughly cooked and tender.

If you want a thicker sauce, combine cornstarch and water in small bowl and mix well. Stir into crockpot; cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes until thickened. Serve with hot cooked pasta, if desired. 6 servings

* Italian seasoning is a mixture of dried basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory and thyme. You can purchase this at the store. To make a homemade version, thoroughly mix together 1 tbsp. each of dried basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory and thyme. Afterward, it should be stored in an airtight container.

Crockpot Barbecue Pulled Chicken

  • 1 8-ounce can reduced-sodium tomato sauce
  • 1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles, drained
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon sweet or smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile,  depending on how spicy you want
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 3 x 3 chunks
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  1. Stir tomato sauce, chiles, vinegar, honey, paprika, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, ground chipotle and salt in a 6-quart slow cooker until smooth. Add chicken, onion and garlic; stir to combine.
  2. Put the lid on and cook on low until the chicken can be pulled apart, about 5 hours.
  3. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and slightly shred with a fork. Return the chicken to the sauce, stir well and serve.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

 

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