HOW TO COOK BEANS, LENTILS, & OTHER LEGUMES

In this post, I’m going to give you various ideas for how to cook beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas. I’m sure that with this guide, you’ll be able to cook beans and other lentils at home, and I’m sure that you will love them, too.

legumes in an old muffin tin

As you may recall, I always say that the best way to stay organized in the kitchen and to have food ready in a jiffy is to already have a grain and a legume cooked and ready in the fridge.

There are many different types of legumes in the world. Look for the best black beans that you can find, the best pinto beans, bay beans, etc. Look for all types of lentils, chickpeas, and peas.

I promise that I never cease to be amazed at the richness of beans of all different colors, and by how nutritious they are – red lentils, yellow lentils, etc. And are you familiar with yellow split peas?

different legumes in a muffin tin

And if you have some grains and lentils already cooked, then you’ll be able to pull a meal together super quickly. Like if you already have black beans ready, then you can make sweet potato and black bean tacos, bean soup or Mexican rice and bean meatballs.If you have lentils ready, then you can make red enchiladas, you can make a meatball sandwich with tomato sauce, you can make a vegan ragu, or a lentil loaf, and all of that in half the time compared to if you were to start cooking your meal from scratch.

LegumeQuantitySoakCooking time (after soaking)Yield
lentils1 cup30 min.2 cups
beans (e.g., black, pinto, red)1 cupovernight60 min.3 cups
chickpeas1 cupovernight90 min.3 cups
cannellini beans1 cupovernight50 min.3 cups
peas1 cup30 min.2 cups
broad beans1 cupovernight60 min.3 cups

This is a small table that more or less tells you how to cook lentils. There are some that it’s better if you soak and others that you don’t need to soak at all. I’ll explain them one by one.

HOW TO COOK BEANS

There are three basic ways to cook beans. The cooking times can vary depending on whether or not you soaked the beans the night before. Sometimes I soak them and sometimes I don’t.

  • The first way is the easiest: you put them on the stove over medium heat. For each cup of beans, you add 4 cups of water. If you soaked the beans in advance, they will cook more quickly. The beans will be ready in about 1½ hours. I don’t add anything to them, not even salt. But you could add onion, garlic, and/or herbs. It’s important that you don’t let the water come to a boil because this could break open the husks of the beans. Keep a close eye on them, and when you can mash them easily, they are ready.
  • The second method is using the pressure cooker. It’s important to not fill more than two thirds of the pot in the pressure cooker; this can clog up the steam escape valve. This method is faster than the stovetop method, but the cooking times depend on where you live, so I can’t tell you an exact amount of time. The best way to figure this out is to try cooking them for half an hour, and then let the pressure slow-release for only 15–20 minutes after that. When you open the pot, you will see how they turned out and that’s how you’ll be able to figure out a good cooking time. 
  • The last way and the one that I use most at home is using my INSTANTPOT (affiliate link) or using a slow cooker (CrockPot). This way of cooking beans depends on the appliance you have. Read the instructions and you’ll see how wonderfully they turn out. In no time at all, you’ll have everything ready. The fastest is the InstantPot (affiliate link), which gives you a delicious pot of freshly cooked beans after only 20 minutes of cooking and 15 minutes of letting the pressure slow-release.
  • If the beans are very small, like adzuki beans, then follow the method for cooking lentils.
✎TIP: Chickpeas are cooked in the same way as beans.

HOW TO COOK LENTILS

Just like beans, there are many different types of lentils. There are red lentils, yellow lentils, beluga lentils, French lentils, Puy lentils, etc. They are all delicious and have many benefits.

  • Lentils can be classified into three general categories: the brown ones, the green ones, and the red/yellow ones.
  • In general, the brown and green lentils maintain their shape when they’re cooked, and the red and yellow ones don’t – they completely fall apart.
  • Use red and yellow lentils in soups like this red lentil soup with kale or this red lentil curry. In other words, use them in recipes where you know that it doesn’t matter if they fall apart.
  • Use green and brown lentils in salads or soups where you need cooked lentils, such as Mexican lentil soup or asparagus salad.
  • Lentils do not need to be soaked.
  • The best way to cook lentils is on the stovetop: For each 1 cup of lentils, use 2½ cups of water.
  • Just like with beans, I don’t add anything to them, but if you want, you can add salt, garlic, onion, and/or herbs. 
✎TIP: Peas can be cooked just like the lentils. It’s best to cook them on the stovetop, but if you don’t mind them falling apart, then you can use a pressure cooker or an InstantPot. 

Just like lentils, they can maintain their shape depending on the cooking time. This split pea soup only has three ingredients and is so, so good.
 

I hope this guide on how to cook beans and lentils – in other words, how to cook legumes – is very helpful for you. And I hope you like it… Please don’t forget to share it on Instagram and FB and to save it on Pinterest.

Information source: “The Good Essential Good Food Guide” by Margaret M. Wittenberg.

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