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. I’m going to take some ingredients from your black bean recipe, add it to a recipe for chicken soup, which should make a real stick to your ribs type of soup for cold winter nights.

  2. Looking for frugal simple scratch made, tasty recipes for lunches. This looks good.
    A store near work has beans in bins for low cost. I bought black beans for extra nutrition.
    I have everything but the cumin right now.

  3. Thank you for all the Chipotle recipes! My kids were commenting how my attempts weren’t quite right so we shall see😊.5 stars

    1. Hey there! Sure, you can used canned beans. Since they are already cooked, it would just be however long it takes to heat them up. So maybe 2 hours on high? 3 to 4 hours on low? That should be about right. Just cook them in there until they are hot. :) Thank you for your question! I’ll test it out myself when I get a chance and update the recipe notes. Take care!

    2. Hi Melissa! You would need about 4 cans. And the cooking time would be reduced a lot because you just need to heat the beans through, not actually cook them. I hope this helps! Thank you for the question! I’ll update the post with this information.

  4. Okay don’t laugh at me but I’ve never had black beans! I’m planning a “Chipotle” night for my family and was going to make this. I always get pintos at the restaurant, as does my husband, but my oldest always gets black beans (she doesn’t like pintos). Do these taste anything like pintos? LOL But my main question is have you ever tried it with chicken broth instead of water? I was just curious if that may give the flavor a bump. My soaking water for pintos is always very dirty looking the next morning, so I’m a little hesitant on using that.

    1. Hey April, no laughs over the beans! No big deal. Obviously at some point in our lives, everyone is trying black beans for the first time. :) I don’t think black beans taste like pintos. However, I do think in general all beans have a similar taste and texture. So, they taste as much like pintos as kidney beans do. If that makes sense. You could definitely make these with chicken broth instead of water, but you really don’t need to give them a flavor bump. I’d say the bacon in cumin in particular make the beans quite flavorful, but there’s a lot of other stuff going on such as garlic, a bay leaf, and red pepper flakes. And when you stir in the cilantro and lime juice at the end, that’s quite bright and fresh as well. But use chicken broth! It’s no problem at all. And it’s okay if you want to dump your soaking water. Use fresh. No biggie. If you have anymore question just let me know! Thank you April! I hope your Chipotle night is a success. :) I have some of the other recipes from there too, the chicken, pork, rice, vegetables, guac, corn salsa, and tomato salsa. Good luck and take care!

    2. Just wanted to come back and say everything was a hit! We really enjoyed it all and our daughter loved the black beans. We also made the corn salsa, the rice, pintos, and the chicken (which was amazing). Took some time for everything to come together but it was totally worth it! Thank you so much for these fabulous recipes! Will make again!5 stars

    3. Thank you so much, April! I’m glad you loved the food, it sounds like quite the feast! I really appreciate the feedback. I need to post a pinto beans recipe. Take care. :)

  5. This is a great recipe. Thanks! I don’t always plan ahead enough to leave time for soaking over night.  I often make a ton of beans and then freeze them in manageable batches so that they can be thawed and served a little more quickly. 5 stars

    1. I really want to do more of this in my life! I picked up some 16-ounce containers recently so I can start batch-cooking and stocking my freezer, everything from brown rice and quinoa to beans like these. Great idea! Thanks Abby!

  6. Made them today with some enchiladas. Soaked over night, Cooked on high for 2 hours and then dropped down to low for 3 hours. They were just about perfect. It was my first time using dry beans and it was too easy to not do again. The only problem? I made an entire crock pot full for 4 people! I think I’ll be eating them for the next few days.5 stars

    1. That is always the problem with beans! You start with one pound and suddenly you have more beans than you can shake a stick at. I’m so glad you tried them and that it went well. They are super easy and the flavor is great. Thank you so much for your comment! #EdlhubersForever

    1. Thank you Rebecca! I agree with you, it’s nice to have a fairly simple, yet still delicious, way to eat more beans. :) Have a great week! Thanks again!