How to Cook Red Kidney Beans
How to Cook Red Kidney Beans
Red beans get a bad rap in today's culinary landscape. Rather than being the bland, uninteresting food they're often described as, beans are actually a nutritious, filling treat — when they're made right. With a few easy recipes in your repertoire, you can turn a cup or two of red beans and a few sides into a first-class meal. Best of all, you'll be doing it forcheap, as beans cost a fraction of what meats and certain other vegetables do.
Dry Beans Recipe
Three cups dried red kidney beans
Salt (to taste)
Two (2) garlic cloves (optional)
One half (1/2) white onion, chopped (optional)
Two (2) large carrots, chopped (optional)
One (1) bay leaf chopped (optional)
Cooking Dry Beans
Sort and wash the beans.Dried beans are among the most nutritious and affordable foods you'll find in your local grocery store. However, they require a little extra work before you can start cooking them. Start by pouring your beans out on a flat surface and looking for any that are shriveled or discolored. Discard these beans (and, if you find them, any small rocks).
- Next, drop your beans into strainer and rinse them gently under a little running water. This helps to remove any small imperfections or dirt particles you may have missed.
- The process for cooking beans is basically the same no matter how much you're cooking at once. The rest of this section will assume you're cooking1 poundof beans (about 3 cups dry or 6-7 cups when cooked), which will feed four or five people easily.
If you can, soak the beans overnight.Drop your rinsed and sorted beans into a large stove pot, cover them with an inch of water, and set them in the fridge overnight. They will soften slightly and absorb some of the water by the next day. They may appear larger and somewhat wrinkled. This is normal.
- This isn'tessential, but it's always a good idea if you have time. Letting the beans soak will shorten their cooking time, help them cook more evenly, and make them slightly easier to digest. In addition (there's no nice way to say this), soaked beans tend to cause less flatulence.
Bring the beans to a boil.If you let your beans soak overnight, pull them out of the fridge, drain them, and re-cover them with an inch of water. If you didn't soak your beans, transfer them directly to the stove. Heat on "High" until the water reaches a moderate boil.
- If needed, you can keep the water from foaming or boiling over by adding a dash of vegetable or olive oil.
- If you are using the garlic, onions, and other optional ingredients above, add them to the water as soon as you begin heating the pot.
Reduce the heat and allow the beans to simmer.As soon as the beans reach a healthy boil, turn the heat to "Low." The boiling should reduce to a gentle simmer. Stir gently. Leave the beans on the stone with the lid on (but tilted to allow the steam to escape).
Start checking for done-ness after about an hour.Dry beans almost always take alongtime to cook. You may stir the beans occasionally every 15 minutes or so, but don't expect them to be anywhere near done before at least an hour or so. At this time, you may check the beans by taking one in your hands and crushing it (after it has cooled, of course).Don't eat red kidney beans that are raw or obviously undercooked.This can cause a temporary condition similar to food poisoning (see "Tips" below).
- If the beans are even a little "crunchy," they aren't done. You want beans that are completely smooth and soft — this texture should be almost "creamy."
- Be patient. A batch of dry beans can take anywhere from one to four hours to cook completely. Resist the temptation to crank up the heat — this will just make them cook unevenly.
Add a little salt when the beans are slightly tender.As soon as you notice the beans start to lose some of their "crunchy" texture, add a few teaspoons of salt to the water. This will give the beans a pleasantly savory taste.
- Make sure that youdon'tadd the salt before this point. Adding it before the beans have started to break down will lengthen the cooking time and make the beans cook unevenly.
Cool and store the beans.Continue stirring and tasting the beans every 10 to 15 minutes. When the beans all seem to have a soft texture without a hint of "crunchiness," they're ready to eat! Let the beans cool in their cooking liquid, then serve or transfer to the fridge (keeping the beans in their liquid).
- If you think the beans are especially watery, you can drainsomeof the liquid, but try to avoid pouring it all off. Leaving the beans in their cooking liquid helps maintain their texture and flavor (plus, the liquid itself is flavorful and full of nutrients).You can even use it as a nutritious base for soups.
Using a Pressure Cooker
Prepare the beans for cooking as above.Cooking in a pressure cooker (or a slow cooker, crock pot, etc.) is basically the same as the stove top process, but with a few minor changes. You'll want to start with exactly the same steps as you'd use above: sort and wash the beans, then cover them with water and let them soak overnight if you have time.
Put beans and water in the pressure cooker.If you soaked the beans overnight, drain the soak water and add the beans to the pressure cooker. If not, add the beans directly. Cover the beans with about an inch of water. Don't fill the cooker more than halfway.
Heat to high pressure.Secure the lid and place the pressure cooker on the stove over medium-high heat. Once it reaches high pressure, reduce the heat to low to maintain the pressure. If you are using an electric pressure cooker, simply set it to the high pressure setting.
- If you are including the garlic and optional vegetables, add them before securing the lid.
Count on a much quicker cooking time.Pressure cookers cook beansveryquickly compared to ordinary stove top cooking. Most recipes call for anywhere between 22 and 30 minutes of cooking time.You may want to check for done-ness after about 20-22 minutes and adjust the cooking time accordingly.
- When the beans are done, release the pressure under cold running water, then drain and rinse the beans.
Using Beans from a Can
Check whether the beans are plain or flavored.Compared to dry beans, canned beans are a mixed bag. Some cans contain beans that are "plain" except for the preservative fluid they are sitting in. Other cans contain beans that are sitting in a sauce. Some cans even contain beans that are meant to be heated and eaten on their own. A quick check of the label should tell you which type of beans you have.
- When in doubt about how to use canned beans, check the back of the label. Many will include sample recipes and serving suggestions.
Rinse plain beans.Plain canned beans usually come in a clear, slimy brine. This works well for keeping them fresh and it's perfectly safe to eat, but it can taste unpleasantly "artificial." All it takes to get rid of this gross substance is to pour the contents of the can into a strainer and rinse them with cold water for a few seconds.
Heat the beans in a saucepan or microwave.Canned beans come pre-cooked, so all you need to do is heat them up. If you're using plain beans that you've just rinsed, add a small amount of water to the container you're heating the beans in. If you're using beans in a sauce, you can usually just heat the beans in their liquid without any extra work. If you're using a microwave, be sure to heat the beans in a microwave-safe container like a ceramic or glass bowl (rather than a metal or plastic one).
- If you're camping, you can cook a can of beans-in-sauce directly in its can. Simply open the top of the can and carefully place it over your campfire. This is easiest if your fire pit has a metal grate, but if it doesn't, you can just balance the can on a rock near the edge of the fire. Be careful — it will get very hot.
Alternatively, add plain beans to other recipes.Since canned beans are already cooked, it's easy to use them in other other recipes. If these recipes require cooking, add the beans at the end of the cooking process so they don't over-cook. For cold recipes, you can usually use canned beans as-is.
- In the section below,you'll find a few recipe suggestions that you can use red kidney beans in. Except where noted, you can use cooked dry beans or plain canned beans interchangeably.
Try making red beans and rice.This classic Southern dish is hearty, tasty, and filling. The protein and fiber in the beans pair with the carbohydrates in the rice to make a meal that's completely satisfying on its own. However, you can also serve with gumbo, jambalaya, or spicy sausage for a true Deep South feast!
Try making chili.This popular, spicy stew is perhaps the most famous recipe for using red kidney beans in the world. Traditionally served with meat ("con carne"), chili can be served in virtually endless ways. Try it with an assortment of veggies for a vegetarian treat or pair it with a serving of cornbread for a classic American frontier dish.
- If you're using dry beans for this recipe, you'll want to cook them until they'remost of the way doneon their own, then transfer them to the chili pot with the liquid ingredients. This prevents them from over- or under- cooking. If you're using canned beans, add them near the end of the cooking process.
Try making bean soup.Bean soup is delicious, nutritious, and easy to make — all you need are beans, water, and your favorite vegetables and seasonings to make a full-fledged meal. You can also add ham (or ham flavoring) for a classic combination, though sausage, chicken, beef, and other meats work just as well. There's no "right" way to make bean soup, so feel free to get creative! is a great recipe to get you started.
- If you're using dry beans, you can add the other ingredients to the pot the beans are cooking in as soon as they'remost of the waycooked.
- If you're looking for inspiration, a can of diced tomatoes makes a great addition to almost any bean soup. Plus, it will do wonders for the presentation, turning the greyish water to a pleasant brownish-orange.
Try making a cold bean salad.Have a few different types of canned beans handy? Drain them, wash them, and toss them together with a little olive oil and salt for a low-calorie salad that's also a great source of protein and fiber. You can try adding chopped red onions, tomatoes, and corn to add tangy flavor, but the great thing bean salad is that it's usually great on its own, too!
Try making a bean dip or hummus.Making a hummus-like bean dip out of red kidney beans is so easy it's criminal. Just add the beans with a little salt, pepper, and olive oil to a blender or food processor and pulse until you have a creamy spread.
- If you're going for a more "hummus-y" taste, add a little tahini and lemon juice — these are essential ingredients in traditional hummus. Garnish with cayenne pepper and parsley before serving.
QuestionI cooked kidney beans in a crockpot, and they tasted metallic, why is this?Top AnswererPre-soaking beans usually helps in ridding them of any bitter or metallic taste. Toss the soaking liquid and use fresh when you're ready to cook. Also, if you're using seasonings, even salt, add them towards the end of cooking and not in the beginning. This may seem counter-intuitive, but seasonings can tighten the skin on the beans, which won't get soft until they've been cooking awhile. It's also possible that your beans are just old. Even dry beans have a shelf life, after which they may not taste as good. Lastly, perhaps using the crockpot isn't the best idea. Beans are usually cooked at a simmer (about 195 degrees F), and most crockpots don't get above 175.Thanks!
QuestionCan you steam red kidney beans?Top AnswererNo, you can't. Beans need to simmer for about 2 hours. It's going to be hard to steam for that long if you have to keep opening the pot to add more water as it dissipates.Thanks!
QuestionCan red kidney beans be reheated in a ready cooked meal?Top AnswererOf course they can. In fact, if your beans are part of a seasoned meal, such as a casserole, reheating them after a day or two in the fridge will probably make them taste better. Beans need time to soften, and they need time to allow flavors to meld into them. A bean casserole, left overnight in the fridge, tastes even better than when it first comes out of the oven because of that.Thanks!
- Beans all cook similarly, so the instructions above generally apply to other varieties like black beans and pinto beans as well. Some beans may have minor differences (like garbanzos, which are notorious for taking lots of time to cook).
- Do not eatraw or severely undercooked kidney beans. This can sometimes cause a food-poisoning condition called "Red Kidney Bean Poisoning". Though it's rarely dangerous, it can result in a few hours of nausea and vomiting.
Sources and Citations
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