Beans can be notoriously tricky to cook, especially if you have dried beans. Because of this, people look for easier solutions. They look at their rice cooker and think that because their rice cooker can cook white rice and brown rice, it may also be able to handle beans. Can it?
You can cook beans in a rice cooker. Although, do bear in mind that you will essentially be steaming or boiling them. If you prefer your beans cooked in any other way (e.g. fried), then using a rice cooker may not necessarily be for you.
Can You Cook Beans in a Rice Cooker?
You can cook beans in a rice cooker. It doesn’t matter which variety of beans you want to cook in there either. A rice cooker can handle all sorts of hydrated beans e.g. black beans, white beans, pinto beans, etc.
However, do bear in mind that if you want to cook dried beans in a rice cooker, you will have to do a bit of extra preparation. You can’t just throw the beans in there and hope for the best.
Can You Cook Dried Beans in a Rice Cooker?
You can cook dried beans in a rice cooker, sort of. You will have to hydrate them before you place them into the rice cooker.
If your dried beans are hydrated beans, then cooking them in the rice cooker should be fairly simple. However, I do want to point out that there are better methods for cooking dried beans if you really don’t want to go through the hydration process.
A rice cooker is your best choice if you have beans that have already been hydrated, or fresh out of the can. For example, you can pour your pinto beans, red kidney beans, or even green beans directly into the rice cooker, add a dash of water, and then cook away. It is going to be as effortless as cooking rice.
Slow Cooker v Pressure Cooker v Rice Cooker For Cooking Beans
As we said, there may be better options for dry beans, although there may be better options, depending on what you want to cook.
A rice cooker is great for the hassle-free cooking of hydrated beans. Add the beans to the rice cooker, throw in some rice, press some buttons, and you can forget about it. Your beans should cook nicely.
The rice cooker will do the hard work for you. Things are made easier by the fact that there are now rice cookers that offer bean cooking settings. This means that you don’t have to constantly pay attention to your beans.
Some rice cookers on the market also offer a steaming option, which can be great if you want steamed beans. However, for the most part, your beans will be cooked in the same way as rice. This means that you throw them into the rice cooker, and wait for it
Both slow cookers and pressure cookers can also cook beans, albeit in a slightly different way.
As the name suggests, a slow cooker is all about cooking nice and slowly. It can take several hours for the beans to cook properly.
Due to the way in which slow cookers work, we wouldn’t really recommend that you use them to just cook beans. They are more for making stews and the like which may have beans added to them.
You can use slow cookers to cook dried beans without having the hydrate them first, which is a major advantage over a rice cooker.
That being said, with slow cookers, there is always the risk that the beans could be overcooked. This means that if you are not a fan of potentially mushy beans, then a slow cooker may not be for you.
Pressure cookers have a distinct advantage over rice cookers. Actually, two distinct advantages.
The first is that they tend to work a bit quicker. This means that if you want to cook your beans quickly, then a pressure cooker is the best option. In fact, a pressure cooker can cook beans in about half the time that a rice cooker is able to cook them.
The second is that you do not have to hydrate the beans before you put them in the pressure cooker.
Due to the way that pressure cookers work, they also do a better job at locking in the flavor of the beans.
Of course, they do have their disadvantages over rice cookers when it comes to bean cooking, namely the fact that many of them are quite bulky pieces of equipment, and unless you are purchasing an electric pressure cooker they can be tough, and sometimes dangerous, to use.
Pro tip: When I soak my beans I like to use cups of filtered water, this is a personal choice. I just don’t want my soaked beans sitting in contaminated water while using the overnight soaking method.
How Do You Cook Beans in a Rice Cooker?
As we mentioned before, if you have dried beans, you are going to need to rehydrate them before you add them to a rice cooker. You can leave them in cups of clean water for between 8 and 24 hours, depending on the bean. You want the beans to be fully hydrated.
If you are using a can of beans from a carton, make sure that you rinse them off. The liquid that they are transported in isn’t too pleasant. Rinse the beans until the water runs clear.
Once you have your freshly cleaned or rehydrated beans, you can add them to the rice cooker. For every cup of beans you add, you should add three cups of water. You can also add a bit of flavoring if you wish. It isn’t necessary, a dash of salt may be all that is required.
How long you cook the beans will be dependent on the bean. The following is a rough time frame for the most common bean types.
However, always check the cooked beans at the end of the cooking cycle, just to ensure that they have been cooked properly, and check the water level:
|Varieties of Beans||Cooking Time|
|Red Kidney Beans||45 minutes|
|Black Beans||45 minutes|
|Navy Beans||30 minutes|
|Pinto Beans||45 minutes|
|White Kidney Beans||20-30 minutes|
It is worth noting that there are some rice cookers out there that will allow you to select the type of bean that you are cooking. If that is the case, then you don’t need to time anything during the cooking process. Your beans are ready when the machine beeps.
Once your beans are cooked, drain off the excess water.
Flavors to Add to Your Rice Cooker Beans
Here are a couple of suggestions that are a great way to bring a unique flavor by seasoning your beans, especially if you are preparing the beans as a quick meal or as a side dish;
- Bay leaf
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Chili powder
- Olive oil
- Lemon Juice
- Bell pepper
- Tsp of cumin
- Tsp salt
- Garnish with hot sauce
How long does it take to cook beans in a rice cooker?
It will be dependent on the bean. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, although the latter case is very rare. Smaller beans tend to cook much faster in a rice cooker.
Do you have to soak beans before cooking in a rice cooker?
Yes. You cannot cook dried beans in a rice cooker. You can only use a rice cooker to cook dried rice. Dried beans in a rice cooker wouldn’t absorb enough water in the cooking cycle of the rice cooker.
Can you fry beans in a rice cooker?
To an extent, yes. However, it is not recommended. If you want to fry your beans, then your best bet is to use a frying pan. You would need to tend to it for about the same amount of time as using a rice cooker, so there is no advantage to using a rice cooker here.
Verdict: Can You Cook Beans In a Rice Cooker?
The answer is yes – with a few simple steps, dried or canned beans can be cooked perfectly in your rice cooker. I’ve outlined the process for you, as well as some tips on how to add flavor to your finished product.
Whether you’re cooking black beans, beans, lentils, or chickpeas, a rice cooker is a great option for those who want perfect bean dishes every time.
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