Dried beans are an economical source of protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Dried beans are also much cheaper then canned beans and when using dried beans instead of canned beans, you and you can control the amount of sodium you use and limit your exposure to BPA, a chemical that is sometimes still used in the lining of cans.

What you may not realize is that you can easily cook dried beans in a slow cooker and you can even make extras to freeze for later. Beans freeze beautifully so it’s easy to have an abundance on hand in the freezer for anytime you wish to make a hearty soup or casserole this winter.

You can cook many different kinds of beans in the slow cooker, and they even turn out good without soaking in many instances. However, there is one small caveat to cooking red kidney beans, which contain a natural toxin that may not be destroyed if your slow cooker doesn’t reach a high enough temperature. This can cause some serious stomach distress; so to be safe, red kidney beans should be pre-soaked, drained, and then boiled in fresh water for 10 minutes before cooking in the slow cooker.

But there is no need to pre-soak or pre-cook the dried beans when making my zippy easy slow cooker pinto bean recipe, and you’ll be surprised how yummy they are for being such a simple recipe!

Slow-cooker Pinto Bean Recipe

1 lb. or about 2½ cups dried pinto beans
7½ cups water
1 1/2 to 2 tsp. salt (I use 2)
1 tsp. crushed red pepper, or to taste
½ tsp. ground black pepper

First you’ll want to start by pouring your dried beans into a colander and remove any small rocks or debris and rinse off any dust that may have collected from when the beans were harvested. Next, pour the beans into the slow-cooker and add the water and spices. Place the slow cooker on low heat, then cover and let cook for 7 to 9 hours or until the beans are softened.

The amount of time can vary depending on how old the beans are, but it usually works good for me to place these in the slow-cooker before work to serve as a side dish or on nachos for supper. You can also cook them overnight then refrigerate or freeze until ready to use at a later date.

You can even use these to make quick and healthier refried beans by sauteing a little olive oil, onion and garlic in a frying pan and then adding some beans with the cooking liquid. Mash slightly and enjoy.