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How to Soften Beans After Cooking – The Newest Tricks

If you’ve cooked beans and they seem tough, look on the bright side as not all of them may be ruined. Some need a little help softening after the cooking process. Here’s how to soften beans after cooking.

The quickest way to soften cooked beans after cooking is to soak them in boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes. However, if you need to cook your beans in advance or don’t have time to wait, you can use the microwave or Soak them overnight to enable the beans cooking water to be reabsorbed into your beans.

If cooked beans are still hard, bring a pot of water to a boil. Once it is boiling, add one teaspoon of baking soda and stir. Add the beans and cover with a lid. The beans should be soft in 15-20 minutes. If they are still hard after 20 minutes, add 1/2 cup of more water and reboil the beans for another 10-15 minutes.

How to soften beans after cooking

how to soften beans after cookingIf you find that your beans are too hard to eat, here are some simple steps to soften them.

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1. Soaking overnight

After you’ve cooked your beans, you can soften them further by resoaking them. Soaking your beans will also help them retain their shape after cooking. To soak your beans, put them in a pot of cold water, cover the pot, and put them in the fridge for as long as 8-12 hours.

You can also soak the beans in a pot with fresh water for at least 12 hours. Soaking them overnight will ensure that they soften smoothly.

2. Cooking in the microwave

Once you remove them from the pot, place beans in a microwave-safe dish with a bit of water with an onion cut in half, pop them into the warmed oven or microwave with a damp towel, close the door and leave for a couple of minutes. The towel will steam the beans and make them lovely and soft again.

You can also microwave them for 30 to 45 seconds. Note that dried beans require less cooking time than canned beans. Raw dried beans should be soaked in water for 8 to 12 hours before cooking and also drain off the soaking water before cooking the beans.

3. Simmering

After cooking, you can quickly soften beans by adding them to a saucepan with warm vegetable broth. Vegetable broth, wine, or tomatoes helps dissolve the starch and makes the beans creamier. Simmer gently and stir occasionally, and the beans will be soft within 15 minutes.

Canned beans are a great convenience food but may lose some of their texture when cooked. Simmering beans after opening can help soften their texture. You get more flavor and creamier texture by leaving the beans whole and simmering them for several hours with a few added ingredients (canned tomatoes or broth, bell peppers, bacon). Simmering is also an easy solution when you’re in a hurry.

How to Soften Beans While Cooking

The best way to make beans easier on your body is to cook them for longer. You can also try soaking the beans in water before cooking them, which will help to reduce their gas-producing properties.

If you’re looking for a quicker fix, follow these steps:

1. Soak them overnight

Soak your beans in water for 8 hours or overnight. It will help soften them up so much that you don’t even need to boil them before sautéing them with other veggies and spices for a tasty side dish or main course.

2. Use plenty of water

Beans take forever to cook if you don’t use enough water. So for each cup of dried beans, use at least 4 cups of water (8 cups if using canned beans). This ensures that they’ll cook quickly and evenly without burning on the bottom of your pot.

3. Add baking soda

Baking soda helps make vegetables more digestible because it neutralizes acids that may cause gas. You can add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda per cup of canned or dried beans in a saucepan of water, bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and then simmer for five minutes before draining the liquid off the beans into a colander.

Alternatively, you can combine 1/2 cup lemon juice with 1/2 cup water in a large pot and bring it to a boil; add beans and simmer for five minutes before draining the liquid.

Why beans don’t soften easily

Why beans don't soften easily

1. Tough beans skin

When cooking beans, tough skin keeps them tough. Beans’ skin is full of starch which is the key to its firm texture. Breaking down this skin requires sustained heat and moisture, which few home cooks can do.

2. When beans are too old

The age of beans can cause a wide variety of problems, including starchy or mealy texture, a terrible taste and aroma, and a cooking time that takes longer than it should. When your beans are too old, they may also fail to soften, even with long soaking periods and a long cooking time. The most common reason is that the beans are stored improperly in a too warm and moist environment.

3. Adding tomato ingredients too soon

Adding tomato to your dish produces a pectin chemical that acts as a natural thickener, creating a longer cooking time. It only takes 1-3 minutes for pectin to form, so be sure to cook beans until they are tender to enjoy their flavor fully. Because pectin forms quickly, it is also important not to put your other ingredients in before the tomato.

4. If you soak dried beans before cooking 

If you didn’t soak them before cooking, they would take longer to cook and never soften the same way as their soaked counterparts. When dried beans move out of the farm, much of their natural moisture will be absent.

Unsoaked dried beans will take longer, sometimes as long as five hours before they get soft. Soaking dried beans in cold water overnight will make them easier to cook and reduce cooking time by as much as half. 

Dried beans contain a lot of starch, which increases as they dry. The starch will absorb water from the soaking water. When cooked, this extra starch will help the beans stay firm after cooking.

5. Using hard Water or Chlorinated Water

The problem with beans is not the beans themselves sometimes but the water you are using. Hard or chlorinated water creates calcium and magnesium ions that will bond to the outside of your bean, making the bean hard, just as calcium carbonate is what makes up limestone.

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How Much Baking Soda to Soften Beans

Baking Soda is an excellent option for softening dried beans. It is generally 4 teaspoons of baking soda per cup of dried beans, depending on the number of cups of dried beans to soften. In other words, if you have one cup or 2 cups of dried beans, you will need 4 teaspoons or 8 teaspoons, respectively.

To soften beans with baking soda, put the beans in a large saucepan with water to cover by 3 inches or so, add in the baking soda, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes on top of the stove

The baking soda will react with the tannic acid in the beans and the water in the pan and soften them considerably. It is one way to cook dried beans without presoaking; it works well for kidney or pinto beans or small red beans, but not for larger red beans or black-eyed peas.

However, baking soda and salt speed up the process and produces amazingly soft beans.

How to Soften Beans While Cooking

Cooking beans with garlic, onion, and other ingredients adds flavor and soften them. While all beans soften when cooked, some require different cooking times.

To soften beans while cooking, cover the beans with water two inches above the level of the beans. Then Cook them in salted water seasoned with onion, bring everything to a boil, and let it simmer for at least an hour.

However, any variety of beans can be cooked without soaking. But if you have a bag of beans that have been in the cupboard for longer than 5 months and you want to cook them, the first thing to do is put the whole bag of beans into a big bowl of water in your kitchen sink overnight, then in the morning drain the water and start cooking. 

This way, the tough outer skins of the beans will start softening straight away, and it will be easier for them to cook after only 15-20 minutes.

Why Do My Beans Cook Unevenly?

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The reason can be the various sizes and different ages of the beans. Also, the beans and water in the pot might not be at the same temperature. 

The heat under the pot might not be evenly distributed as some beans might be close to the heating element while others are in cool spots.

Another reason can be that your pot never reaches a full boil during cooking. Beans cook best when they roll around the whole pot and are exposed to boiling water on all sides. The best solution I have found is to use another smaller pot or pan filled halfway with water and placed on top of the beans during the boiling stage. This technique will give you a complete rolling boil for even cooking and perfect beans every time.

However, controlling your beans’ temperature and cooking times is extremely important to avoid unpleasant textures and flavors. You need to bring them up to a boil, then let them simmer. Don’t let them boil too long; otherwise, they will dry out.

How to Soften Canned Beans

To soften canned beans, put them in a colander and run them under hot water. Shake the colander to keep the hot water moving over the beans. The heat thaws the beans and disperses some of the salt they were packed in. 

The latter is good because canned beans are very salty, and you should rinse them before cooking with them.

Another way is to open a can of beans and take two parts water to one part beans. Add some onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Bring a covered pot over medium heat on the stovetop to a boil. Or microwave until hot. Either way, it’s quick and easy.

How to Soften Pinto Beans After Cooking

How to Soften Pinto Beans After CookingPlace cooked pinto beans in a large bowl and pour boiling water over the beans. Let stand for about 15 minutes and drain. Beans should be thoroughly softened after soaking for this amount of time.

When you soak pinto beans before cooking, they become softer and tastier. This way, cooking time is reduced, making it possible to have healthy pinto beans on your table in just 40 minutes.

There are some other tricks to cooking the perfect pinto beans. Cook them on the stovetop—Cook white beans with garlic and coriander. To soften pinto beans after cooking, let them sit with a lid on for an hour. Add chicken broth, beer, or salt. Serve cornbread or tortillas, and garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges instead of salsa.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are my beans still hard after cooking?

The reason your beans are still hard after cooking is likely because you didn’t cook them for long in the first place. Beans cooked too long become very hard and rubbery. It takes less time to cook dried beans until tender than you might think.

What do I do if my beans are too hard?

Boil and soak your beans, and you will find that they will soften. For some beans like black-eyed peas, chickpeas, and pintos, the first boiling is to loosen the skins before draining and rinsing; after this, you can cook the beans as you like.

How do you soften beans quickly?

The trick to quickly softening your beans is using hot water. The next time you cook legumes or other dried beans, don’t fret about pre-soaking them overnight. Just add the beans to the pot with enough hot water to cover them by 2 inches and bring them to a boil. Turn off the stove heat and let the beans stay for 1 hour.

Will baking soda soften beans?

The carbonic acid in baking soda is the secret to its ability to soften beans. This chemical reaction occurs during the soak, not after. The baking soda penetrates the bean and reacts with the protein and starch; this will cause the hard structure of the bean to break down.

Will baking soda soften beans?

You can add baking soda to beans while cooking, but baking soda will not significantly affect how soft or firm they are. Conventionally dried beans from the grocery store contain moisture that they do not need additional water to cook.


Some dried beans, such as black-eyed peas, are eaten boiled or cooked into sauces. Not because they are inferior in flavor to other beans but rather because of their thick skins. If you know how to soften beans after cooking, then it will all be easy.

You only need to soften dried beans by soaking them with water and then using a pressure cooker for cooking them. When you know the right thing to do, you won’t have any difficulties softening your cooked beans.

Lima Bean Soup Recipe

Limas have long been recognized as being one of the most nutritious legumes, high in protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and polyphenols.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Lima Bean Soup Recipe
Servings: 2
Calories: 1106kcal


  • The pot


  • 1 pound dry large lima beans
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 carrots
  • 2 leeks
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • Salt & pepper


  • 8 cups of water should come to a boil. Boiled lima beans for 5 to 10 minutes after addition. Discard the heat and cover. Give beans a two to five hour soak. Return the rinsed and drained beans to the pot.
  • All the vegetables should be sauteed in hot olive oil until the celery and carrots are crisp-tender.
  • The beans in the pot should have 8 cups of chicken stock added. the vegetables, please. After combining, simmer for 1.5 hours on low heat while stirring frequently. As desired, add salt and pepper to the dish.



Calories: 1106kcal | Carbohydrates: 155g | Protein: 53g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 38mg | Sodium: 7292mg | Potassium: 3832mg | Fiber: 43g | Sugar: 41g | Vitamin A: 43804IU | Vitamin C: 38mg | Calcium: 406mg | Iron: 17mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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