Beans are a versatile pantry staple that you can use in multiple ways. You can use them to make various curries, hummus, dips, and various other recipes.
The typical way to cook beans is on the stovetop. But can you cook beans in a rice cooker?
Let’s find out.
- How to Cook Beans in A Rice Cooker?
- Tips to Cook Beans Better in A Rice Cooker
How to Cook Beans in A Rice Cooker?
Many people prefer to buy canned beans because it can be tricky to make them on the stovetop.
Interestingly, cooking beans in the rice cooker is easier than you think because it hardly needs any supervision. Neither is the task complex.
Let’s look at the steps to get it right.
1. Wash and Drain the Beans
Regardless of the type of beans you use for cooking, the process begins with washing them.
Measure the required amount of beans and place them in a colander or mesh vessel. Alternatively, you can use a regular bowl for washing them.
Different varieties of beans produce different outcomes when cooked. So adjust the measurements accordingly.
One cup of dry chickpeas yields three cups of cooked beans. You can use this as a reference for your measurements.
When using a mesh vessel or colander, wash the beans under running water several times.
Squish and agitate them all around to get rid of any dirt or debris stuck to the surface. You can do the same in a bowl too.
Just drain the water away and repeat with fresh water a few times to clean the beans thoroughly.
2. Soak the Beans for The Required Length of Time
Soaking is an important part of cooking beans in a rice cooker. It allows the beans to absorb water and swell up. This helps them cook better.
The soaking time depends on the type of beans.
Some beans, like kidney beans, take more time to soften. Meanwhile, chickpea absorbs water much faster.
So you should set aside the beans for the required amount of time to ensure that they soften and expand to their full size.
Here is a list of the required soaking time for different types of beans.
- Red kidney beans: 12 to 24 hours,
- Black beans: 12 hours,
- Chickpea: 8 hours,
- Lentils: 30 minutes,
- Navy beans: 8 hours,
- Pinto beans: 24 hours.
For all these varieties, a good rule is to follow a 1:3 ratio for beans-to-water.
Using warm water for soaking will speed up the absorption process.
3. Transfer the Beans to The Cooking Pot
After soaking the beans, discard any beans that rise to the top. These are usually hollow beans, and they will not cook properly.
Wash and drain the rest of the beans properly. Place them in the cooking pot of the rice cooker.
Add 3 to 4 times as much water to the cooking pot to ensure the beans cook properly.
We don’t recommend adding salt at this stage as it will prevent the beans from becoming soft.
However, you can replace water with broth or vegetable stock if you want the beans to be more flavorful.
Another option is to add herbs and seasonings to the liquid. The beans will absorb the seasonings and build a better flavor when you do this.
Depending on the recipe, you can use bay leaf, cinnamon, or garlic.
4. Turn the Rice Cooker On
Once you add all the ingredients to the cooking pot, place the lid on and turn the rice cooker on.
Depending on the type of beans, you may need one or more than one cycle for cooking.
Most rice cookers don’t have a dedicated cooking setting for beans. So you can use any regular cooking cycle.
Cooking beans on the Porridge setting is ideal. Beans don’t have to be stirred during the cooking process.
So you can wait till the rice cooker shuts off or switches to “Keep Warm” to check on them.
When you cook them well, the beans will be easy to squish between your index finger and thumb.
If it’s still hard, you must cook it for longer. Add more water if required and restart the cooking process.
5. Let the Beans Rest Covered
The cooking time for beans will depend on the variety of beans, whether they are pre-soaked or not.
It will also be different for different rice cookers. Bigger and harder varieties of beans usually take longer to cook than soft bean varieties.
So lentils will be ready in twenty-five to thirty minutes. Meanwhile, red kidney beans, black beans, and chickpeas can take forty-five minutes to cook.
When the beans are cooked, the rice cooker will automatically switch to “Keep Warm” mode or turn off.
After checking whether the beans are cooked, place the lid back on and let it rest for a few minutes. This will allow them to absorb the excess liquid.
You can open the lid after a few minutes. Remove the bay leaf and other herbs if required, drain, and rinse the beans to use them.
But if you are not going to use them immediately, enable the “Keep Warm” function on the rice cooker.
This will ensure that the beans stay at an elevated temperature.
Since beans are moisture-laden, protein-rich foods, they spoil quickly at room temperature.
Storing them at a higher temperature will slow down the process of spoiling.
You can also consider refrigerating the beans after they come to room temperature for longer storage.
Tips to Cook Beans Better in A Rice Cooker
Though it’s easy to cook beans in a rice cooker, you can improve the results by taking care of a few factors.
Let’s look at what they are.
1. Choose Fresh Beans
Dried beans last for up to two years when stored properly. However, the longer you wait, the tougher they become, and the longer they take to cook.
Fresh beans that are harvested in less than a year are easier to cook. So choose beans that were packaged within the last year for easier cooking.
2. Leave Enough Time to Soak the Beans
The longer beans soak, the faster they cook. They will also end up being softer and tastier when you soak them for enough time.
It’s best to soak beans overnight. But if you are pressed for time, consider soaking them in warm water.
Warm water speeds up the soaking process, making the beans soften much faster.
You can cover the beans with warm water and leave them to soak for an hour.
The other option is to cover the beans with water, bring them to a boil for three minutes, and let them soak in the hot water for an hour.
Another way to reduce the cooking and soaking time is to choose beans that don’t need much soaking.
Lentils soften without soaking, and you can use them for a quick fix. Similarly, adzuki beans also don’t need soaking.
3. Avoid Adding Salt to The Beans
When we cook rice and other grains in a rice cooker, it’s a common practice to add salt to the cooking pot. This allows for even seasoning of the rice.
But it’s not a good idea to add salt to beans when cooking them. Adding salt can make their texture grainy and hard.
So it’s better to wait till the beans are cooked to season them.