Slow Cooker Black Beans are easy to make, inexpensive, filling, and just plain delicious. They taste just like Chipotle’s black beans, but a little bit of bacon takes them over the top.

A photo of the cooked black beans in the crock pot, being stirred by a wooden spoon.

Recipe ingredients:

Labeled slow cooker black bean ingredients in a crock pot.

Ingredient notes:

Black beans: Dried black beans are very affordable. You can use other types of beans in this recipe, though; see the variations section for ideas.

Oregano: Italian or dried Mexican oregano, if you’re lucky enough to find it. They have different flavors (Mexican oregano tastes more like marjoram) but both taste great in this recipe. Feel free to use whatever you have.

Bay leaves: Aka bay laurel leaves, they’re fragrant and in my opinion, a must-have ingredient in beans. Because they’re sturdy, take them out after cooking so no one is tempted to eat them.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. In a 3-quart saucepan, sauté bacon until it begins to crisp, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add onions, bell pepper, cumin, and ½ teaspoon salt. Continue to cook about 5 minutes longer, until vegetables are softened. Stir in garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add water, beans, bay leaves, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Pour into a large crock pot and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or LOW 7 to 8 hours (see notes).
  4. Remove and discard bay leaves. Add cilantro and lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Yield: 1 pound of dried black beans makes approximately 7 cups of cooked beans.
  • Cooking times vary: Taste the beans and feel their texture to see if they’re done or need more time. Depending on your crockpot, the size of the bean, or even how old the beans are, they might need to cook longer than the recipe says.
  • Make ahead: You can pre-cook any type of bean to keep on hand or freeze in portions for later.
  • Storage: Let the cooked beans cool and refrigerate them. Eat the leftovers within 3 to 5 days.
  • Soaking: Un-soaked beans take about 30 minutes longer to cook and require more liquid than soaked beans. You would need to adjust this recipe if you don’t pre-soak your beans. Do you have to pre-soak beans? Nope. In Mexico, people almost never do.
  • How to soak beans: Soak dried beans in cold water at least 5 hours or overnight. Discard the soaking liquid and use fresh cold water for cooking. To quickly pre-soak beans, cover the beans with water and bring to a boil on the stove for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 1 hour. Discard the soaking liquid and use fresh cold water for cooking.
  • Salting beans: You may have heard somewhere that the universe will implode if you add salt to beans before they are completely cooked. It’s…not true. If you read Kenji López-Alt’s information in his book, The Food Lab, he did some side-by-side testing and determined that salting beans before they are cooked is absolutely fine. In fact, doing so helps prevent the beans from exploding (see page 256 in his book).
  • This technique applies to (almost) any bean: Pinto beans, navy beans, Great Northern beans, red kidney beans, Cannellini beans, garbanzos, or black-eyed peas all can be cooked in a slow cooker. Depending on their size and age, they may need more or less time to get to the finish line.
  • Kidney beans: Kidney beans phytohemagglutinin, a type of lectin that is very toxic at high levels if not cooked correctly. You MUST pre-soak dried kidney beans and hold them at boiling point (212 degrees Fahrenheit) for at LEAST 10 minutes. This means you should never cook kidney beans in a slow cooker or pressure cooker; only a stove-top method will be safe.
  • Substituting canned beans: To substitute canned beans use three or four 15-ounce cans of black beans. Rinse and drain before adding to the crockpot.
  • Stove-top beans: It’s easy to cook beans on the stove, too.
  1. In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, sauté bacon until it begins to crisp, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add onions, bell pepper, cumin, and ½ teaspoon. salt. Continue to cook about 5 minutes longer, until vegetables are softened. Stir in garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add water, beans, bay leaves, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until beans are tender, about 2 hours.
  4. Remove and discard bay leaves. Add cilantro and lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Recipes that go great with beans:

Chipotle burrito bowls in white bowls.

Slow Cooker Black Beans are great as a main dish (serve with rice or tortillas and toppings like salsa, sour cream, and guacamole) or on the side of your favorite Mexican entrees.  Or, build a classic Chipotle Burrito bowl. Just scroll down for all my Chipotle Copycat recipes!

A photo of the cooked black beans in the crock pot, being stirred by a wooden spoon.

Slow Cooker Black Beans

Slow Cooker Black Beans are easy to make, inexpensive, filling, and delicious. Inspired by Chipotle's black beans, but with BACON.
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs 20 mins
Total Time 4 hrs 30 mins
Servings 8 servings
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Mexican
Calories 225

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound dried black beans picked over, rinsed, and soaked overnight (see notes)
  • 2 slices bacon minced
  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)

Instructions 

  • Drain and discard soaking liquid. In a 3-quart saucepan, sauté bacon until it begins to crisp, about 5 minutes.
  • Add onions, bell pepper, cumin, and ½ tsp. salt. Continue to cook about 5 minutes longer, until vegetables are softened. Stir in garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add water, beans, bay leaves, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Pour into a large crock pot and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or LOW 7 to 8 hours (see notes).
  • Remove and discard bay leaves. Add cilantro and lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Notes

Slow cooker times may vary. The first time you make the beans, please check them after 3 or 4 hours on HIGH and continue cooking longer if necessary. If the beans have any crunch to them at all, please cook them longer.
You can use either Italian or Mexican oregano. They have different flavors (Mexican oregano tastes more like marjoram) but both taste great in this recipe. Feel free to use whatever you have.
Pre-soaking the beans:
Soaking the beans before cooking is not required. However, you can cut about 30 minutes off the cooking time if you pre-soak the beans. WARNING: If you substitute dried kidney beans, you MUST pre-soak them and boil them for at least 10 minutes.
Overnight-Soaking Method for beans:
  1. Pick through and rinse 1 pound beans.
  2. Cover the beans with 5 cups over water and soak overnight.
  3. Drain and discard soaking liquid.
Quick-Soaking Method for beans:
  1. Pick through and rinse 1 pound beans.
  2. To a large saucepan, add beans and enough liquid to cover them by 1 inch.
  3. Bring beans to boil and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Remove saucepan from heat, cover, and let beans sit for 1 hour.
  5. Drain and discard soaking liquid.
To substitute canned beans:
Use 3 or 4 cans of black beans. Rinse and drain before adding to the pot and cook until heated through, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Healthy Cookbook.

Nutrition

Calories: 225kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 14gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 46mgPotassium: 936mgFiber: 10gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 528IUVitamin C: 23mgCalcium: 90mgIron: 3mg
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Comments

    1. Hi Gina, sorry this isn’t clearly written. In step 3 it says to add water, but it should say “soaking liquid or water.” In the ingredient list it refers to both, so the instructions should refer to both. The only thing is, I’ve been talking to people in Mexico about this lately and one guy said that the soaking liquid has the potential to taste sour. So I am going to test this more and see if soaking liquid should still be an option for cooking FB beans. Having said that, in the past I’ve always used the soaking liquid to make these beans and I’ve never noticed any kind of sour taste. Sorry for rambling! I’ll fix the instructions so it’s less confusing. Thanks. -Meggan

    1. Hi Meg, yes definitely! The recipe should say that, sorry for the confusion. Thanks for the question! -Meggan

    1. Hi Erica, when I make this recipe I use fresh water. I’m still trying to figure out how much soaking the beans reduces the cooking time and whether it’s worth it (in Mexico, for example, at least the places I go, they NEVER pre-soak the beans). So, for now I’d say use fresh water, and hopefully at some point I’m more knowledgeable on the whole soaking-beans-situation in general and have the posted updated to reflect that. Thank you! -Meggan

    1. Hi Jennifer! Although I haven’t tested specific recipe this way, I don’t see any reason it wouldn’t work out just fine. I have doubled other slow cooker bean recipes with no problems. If they aren’t the right texture, just add to the cook time. Hope you have a great time at the party! -Meggan

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