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How to Quick Cook White Beans Without Soaking

VirginiaLynne has been experimenting in the kitchen for almost 50 years. She loves to share her recipes, cooking tips, and reviews.

White beans are nutritious and delicious!

White beans are nutritious and delicious!

Quick Cooking White Beans Recipe

Follow this fast and easy recipe for cooking white beans (navy beans) without soaking overnight. Moreover, use this method to quick cook any sort of dry bean without soaking.

Cooking Tips for White Beans

White beans are smaller than pintos and black-eyed peas, but they are also harder. So be prepared to know they will take a little longer in your recipes. You can use a pressure cooker or a crock pot to make the process easier, or just put them to simmer on your stove.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

5 min

2 hours 30 min

2 hours 35 min

4 cups beans

Ingredients

  • 8 cups water
  • 16 oz dry white beans, or "navy beans"

Instructions

  1. Put white beans in a pot.
  2. Cover with 8 cups of cold water
  3. Place on stove on "high" setting. Soon the beans will be moving and float to the top.
  4. Wait until the beans are in a rolling boil. Boil 2 minutes. Take off heat and put a lid on the pot. Let sit for at least 20-30 minutes.
  5. Drain water off beans and rinse them in cold water. Your beans are now ready to use in any recipe calling for "soaked beans."
  6. To fully cook beans for puree or other recipes which call for canned beans, add cold water to drained beans. Cover them by at least 1 inch of water. Do not add any salt yet, because that can prevent beans from softening. Put them back on the stove and heat until they are simmering. Cook for 1-2 hours, or until soft. Then add salt and flavorings (like ham, onions, and spices).
  7. Note: alternatively, you can finish quick-cooked beans in a crockpot on low overnight or all day, or on high for 4-5 hours.

Navy Bean Soup

My Navy Bean Soup is a simple recipe to cook up for a healthy dinner.

My Navy Bean Soup is a simple recipe to cook up for a healthy dinner.

Why Quick Cook White Beans?

Dried beans are hard and need to be softened in order to be used in recipes. Quick cooking (or soaking overnight) speeds up the final cooking time. Maybe more importantly, beans that are soaked or quick-cooked and then drained release some of the enzymes which can irritate our stomachs and cause gas.

Quick Cook vs. Soaking Overnight

Some people claim that soaking beans overnight makes them softer, but I'm not sure that is true. I've tried both ways and find quick cooking works better for me. However, it is important to know that whether you soak or quick cook, white beans take longer than other beans. Be sure you allow enough time for them to fully cook through and don't add salt until the beans are soft enough to eat.

12 Ways to Use White Beans

White beans are very versatile. Here are 12 of my favorite ways to use them:

  1. Navy Bean Soup (my version of the classic version from Marie Callender's Restaurant), which I serve with Marie Callender's Copycat Sweet Cornbread and my own fabulous, quick Honey Butter.
  2. Mashed up with spices or salsa as a low-fat dip for chips, bread or vegetables.
  3. Mashed navy beans can be included to add fiber and protein to muffins or to thicken soups, spaghetti sauce or gravy.
  4. In any bean salad recipe.
  5. Mashed and formed into patties that are fried as a burger substitute.
  6. Mashed as a dip. you can use white beans instead of garbanzo beans to make great hummus.
  7. Pureed, with garlic, spices, and bouillon to make an upscale mashed potato substitute.
  8. Cooked with chicken for a white chili.
  9. Mixed with garlic, spices, tomato, and spinach for topping bruschetta.
  10. Mixed with pesto and spinach for a pasta dish.
  11. For many soup recipes like minestrone or chili.
  12. Boston Baked Beans.

Inexpensive, versatile, white beans are a true superfood. A one cup serving gives:

  • 75% of a day's fiber
  • 25% of our daily protein and iron needs
  • Many other important minerals.

Cooking your own dried beans makes sure you retain all of that nutritional value.

White Beans are a True Native American Food

Many beans were familiar to the early settlers, but white beans were introduced to them by the Native Americans. Perhaps because white beans stored so well, they were soon used on ships a lot and earned the name "Navy Beans." White beans are used in the familiar Boston Baked Beans recipe.

Questions & Answers

Question: Should white beans be peeled?

Answer: These type of beans can't be peeled but as they cook the skins will tend to wrinkle, shrink, and break. That is an indication that the beans are getting softer.

Comments

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on January 13, 2017:

Hi Nadine--I'd definitely advise cooking them first and then adding in the vegetables for the soup. These beans are hard to get soft and sometimes other ingredients, especially tomatoes can make it more difficult to get them soft. In addition, these beans need more cooking than most of your soup. At least do the quick boil method before adding them to the soup.

nadine on January 13, 2017:

If I bought a bag of dried navy beans, do I have to cook them 1st before I put them in my vegetarian soup?

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on September 01, 2016:

Thanks Glenn! I don't think I've ever been nominated before!

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on September 01, 2016:

I'm very familiar with quick cooking beens as a prerequisite to using them in cooking a variety of dishes. I do it all the time. I learned some new tricks from you today that I never thought of... Mashing the beens to make dips and as a burger substitute, I'm going to try both of those ideas. You also got my vote for this year's Hubbie Awards for the delishably niche site.

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on January 17, 2016:

Good question Tina. When you cover the pot it increases the heat and keeps the moisture inside. However, that can sometimes lead to boiling over if you can't get the temperature low enough. I generally leave the pot lid on, but tilted up a bit so steam can escape and the pot doesn't boil over. Another trick is to leave a spoon in the beans, that seems to keep things from boiling over too. I don't remember where I learned that.

Tina on January 17, 2016:

Thank you for this short cut! Question, after you've pre-soaked the beans, do you cook them the last 1 -2 hours covered or uncovered?

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on November 03, 2014:

Good point Arco--as I learned when I was working on this article, white beans are harder to get soft than other types of beans.

Arco Hess from Kansas City, Kansas on November 03, 2014:

I love beans but they sure do take a long time to cook! Someday I will have to invest in a pressure cooker.

As per doing this for all beans, there are actually some beams that don't need soaked and soaking them can make them take longer to cook. The mung bean is a good example.

Toy Tasting from Mumbai on February 05, 2014:

Thanks for sharing the information. At time the decision to make beans is so impulsive that there is hardly any time to soak it. Now you have solved my problem. Thanks so much. :)

Donna Caprio Quinlan from Newburyport, MA on January 26, 2014:

I have never soaked my white beans overnight. I rinse them, put them in a saucepan and fill with cold water. Then I bring it to a boil. The beans are soft in two hours. I have learned that it is important to keep it to a slow rolling boil or the skins of the beans come off. I replace the water as it boils down. I never thought about doing it any other was as I learned this from my mother.

Pinklemonade Nikki on January 07, 2014:

I cook navy beans with smoked turkey wings and butter. Just follow instructions for beans and add meat, salt, black pepper, seasoning salt and fresh garlic in and boil for 2.5 hours! Southern comfort food!! Enjoy

RTalloni on January 03, 2014:

This is going to be handy--thanks!

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on January 03, 2014:

You are right malaria, that happens to me too! And thanks for pointing out that this method works for any sort of beans. In fact, whole researching this article, I learned that white beans are actually the hardest beans to soften.

Althea Weller from United States on January 02, 2014:

The quick-cook method would be ideal if you are in a hurry especially in this day and age when we are so fast-food oriented. A perfect example could be if you decided to cook red beans and rice and forgot to soak your beans overnight. This happens to me often, in which case I have had to change recipe or take the chance in cooking the beans as they are.

Thanks VirginiaLynne for your quick-cook method.

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on January 02, 2014:

Hi Makario--yes, the beans do cook really just the same in the end and are about double in size when fully cooked. I have not tried the vinegar technique. It would make sense that the acid in the vinegar might help the beans get softer faster.

Althea Weller from United States on January 02, 2014:

Very interesting. I have always soaked my dried beans overnight with a tablespoon of Apple Cider vinegar. I have never tried the quick cook method.

One think that I noticed when I soaked my beans, is that the beans double in size. Do they also double in size with they are quick-cooked?

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on October 26, 2012:

Ester--I have heard of that baking soda method before. I'm going to have to try that!

Esther Strong from UK on October 26, 2012:

Good info here, and reminds me of a relative who, instead of soaking overnight, would speed up the cooking of kidney beans/gungo beans and the like by bringing them to the boil, then add cold water, bring to the boil again and then add some baking soda and simmer for another 10 minutes approx.

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on July 10, 2012:

I hope so Maddie! In researching for this Hub, I was glad to know this method works for all sorts of beans. In fact, most beans cook even faster than white ones. I'm going to try some homemade refried beans next!

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on July 10, 2012:

I appreciate the vote Seeker! I usually don't make this soup in the summer and it really was good with those fresh herbs!

Heather Adams from Connecticut, USA on July 10, 2012:

Delicious and easy - great tips!

Maddie Ruud from Oakland, CA on July 10, 2012:

What an awesome shortcut for cooking white beans! I don't make a lot of beans at home, partly because I never think to soak them ahead of time. Maybe now that will change, with your help!

Helen Murphy Howell from Fife, Scotland on July 10, 2012:

What a great way to get white beans cooked! I love the taste of them and they are so versatile but I think your Navy Bean Soup beats the lot. It looks delicious - and it's not always that you get great taste with healthy foods.

A very interesting and enjoyable hub + voted up!