How To Cook Dried Kidney Beans (The Ultimate Guide)

Learn how to soak and cook dried kidney beans using an Instant Pot or on the stove with this ultimate guide.

A bowl of cooked kidney beans placed on a white surface with cilantro in the background.

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Kidney beans are a common ingredient used in Indian and Mexican cuisine (called frijol rojo). This versatile bean is called rajma in Hindi and has a mild earthy flavor with a creamy texture. Keeping cooked beans in the refrigerator or freezer can come in very handy. They go into a variety of dishes, including curries, kabobs, soups, and salads.

While canned beans are easily available, they may have preservatives and high sodium. Cooking dried kidney beans from scratch is simple, allowing for greater control over the texture and flavor. In this post, I will show you how to soak them (with a quick-soak option) and cook them perfectly using different cooking methods.

Ingredients

Dried kidney beans in a white bowl placed on a white surface.

You will need dried kidney beans, salt, and water. Optional seasonings that can be added are shallot, garlic, and bay leaves.

How to soak dried kidney beans

There are two methods to soak the beans: the long soak method and the quick soak method.

Take the beans in a large bowl or pot and add sufficient water. The kidney beans absorb a lot of water and become almost triple in size after soaking. So, it is important to add lots of water. Cover and let it soak for at least 8 hours (or overnight). Drain and rinse the soaked beans at least 2-3 times.

If you have not planned ahead, use the quick soak method. Take lots of water in a large pot and bring it to a rolling boil. Once the water boils, turn off the heat and add the dried beans. Give it a quick stir, cover and let it sit for two hours. Drain and rinse the soaked beans at least 2-3 times.

How to cook soaked kidney beans

Soaked kidney beans and water in the Instant Pot.

Step 1: Add the soaked beans to the inner pot of the Instant Pot. Add five cups of water and salt.

Cooked beans on a wooden spoon over the Instant Pot.

Step 2: Set the Instant Pot in ‘Bean/Chili’ mode for 30 minutes. Do a natural pressure release.

To cook dried kidney beans on the stovetop:

  • Add them to a large pot and cover them with several inches of water.
  • Bring it to a boil and let it boil for 20 minutes on high heat.
  • Reduce the heat after 20 minutes, and cover with a lid, leaving a small gap for the steam to escape.
  • Check once every 30 minutes to ensure there is sufficient water. Simmer for 1½ to 2 hours or until the beans are done to your liking.

Expert Tips

  • Soak dried kidney beans in water before cooking. This helps soften the beans, reduces cooking time, and also removes harmful substances. Aim for at least 8 hours, or use a quick soak method.
  • After soaking, rinse the beans thoroughly under cold running water.
  • Use fresh water for cooking the beans, discarding the soaking water.
  • If you are cooking on the stovetop, ensure you boil the beans on high heat for the first 20 minutes. Reduce heat and cover only after that.

How to use cooked kidney beans

Boiled kidney beans can be used in various dishes to add a hearty texture. In Indian cuisine, it is commonly known as “rajma” and is a staple ingredient used in various dishes, from main course to snacks. Some popular dishes made using it are rajma masala, rajma kebab (kidney bean patties), and rajma chaat.

This versatile ingredient can be used in salads, stews, chili, and soups. My favorite is this paneer tikka and kidney bean salad. You can also mash them to create bean dips or spreads, incorporate them into vegetarian burgers, or add them to rice and grain bowls for a satisfying meal.

Storage Tips

To store cooked red kidney beans, transfer them to an airtight container. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days. They can be stored with or without the cooking liquid in the refrigerator.

Cooked beans also freeze well and can be stored in the freezer for up to six months. Drain all the cooking liquid from it and portion them. Place them in ziplock bags or airtight containers and freeze them. To use frozen beans, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight or microwave them for a quick defrost.

Recipe FAQs

Can I cook kidney beans without soaking?

Cooking kidney beans without soaking is not recommended, as soaking reduces the toxins present in raw kidney beans. Soaking also helps reduce cooking time and promotes even texture. For convenience, consider the quick soak method.

How long does it take to boil kidney beans?

Soaked kidney beans typically take from 30 minutes up to 2 hours. Timing can vary depending on your cooking method (stovetop or Instant Pot).

Should I cook canned kidney beans?

Canned kidney beans are pre-cooked and ready to eat, requiring no additional cooking. However, when adding them to curries, soups, or stews, briefly simmer them to enhance flavor. Adjust based on your preferences and recipe requirements.

Cooked kidney beans in a white bowl.

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Cooked red kidney beans garnished with cilantro.

How To Cook Kidney Beans

Learn how to soak and cook dried kidney beans (or rajma) using an Instant Pot or on the stove with this ultimate guide.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Soaking Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 50 minutes
Course: Other
Cuisine: All
Servings: 5 cups of cooked kidney beans
Author: Shilpa Kerur

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried kidney beans
  • Water depending on the cooking method
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

  • Pick any dirt or stones from the dried kidney beans. Give it a quick rinse.

Long Soak Method:

  • Take the kidney beans in a large bowl or pot and add sufficient water. The beans absorb a lot of water and get almost triple the size after soaking. So, it is important to add lots of water.
  • Cover and let it soak for at least 8 hours (or overnight). Drain the soaking water and rinse the beans two to three times in running water.

Quick Soak Method:

  • Take lots of water in a large pot and bring it to a rolling boil. Once the water boils, turn off the heat and add the dried kidney beans.
  • Give it a quick stir, cover and let it sit for two hours. Drain the soaking water and rinse the beans two to three times in running water.

Instant Pot Method:

  • Add the soaked kidney beans to the inner pot of the Instant Pot. Add salt and five cups of water.
  • Secure the lid and set the Instant Pot in 'Bean/Chili' mode for 30 minutes. Do a natural pressure release.

Stovetop Method:

  • Take soaked kidney beans and salt in a large pot and cover with several inches of water. Bring it to a boil and let it boil for 20 minutes on high heat.
  • Reduce the heat after 20 minutes, and cover with a lid, leaving a small gap for the steam to escape. Check once every 30 minutes to ensure there is sufficient water. Simmer for 1½ to 2 hours or until the beans are done to your liking.

Notes

  • Soak dried kidney beans in water before cooking. This helps soften the beans, reduces cooking time, and also removes harmful substances. Aim for at least 8 hours, or use a quick soak method.
  • After soaking, rinse the beans thoroughly under cold running water.
  • Use fresh water for cooking the beans, discarding the soaking water.
  • If you are cooking on the stovetop, ensure you boil the beans on high heat for the first 10 minutes. Reduce heat and cover only after that.

Nutrition

Calories: 248kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 9mg | Potassium: 1000mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 61mg | Iron: 5mg
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Perfectly cooked red kidney beans in a white bowl topped with fresh cilantro.

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