How to Freeze Cooked Beans

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Beans are a great healthy food that can help stretch your food budget while eating healthy. But canned beans are expensive, and you don’t always have time to cook beans from scratch.

These simple tips will teach you how to freeze beans so you can have them available for meals or snacks anytime.

cooked beans in bowl with title saying how to freeze cooked beans.
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Why Store or Freeze Cooked Beans?

Freezing cooked beans is a great time and money saver and a nutrition booster as well.

  • You avoid the added expense of canned beans.
  • You also have beans ready whenever you need them for a recipe. I will, in the future, post the recipe for a very flexible curried grain and bean dish that you can adapt to any grain and bean. In truth, almost all recipes work this way. In fact, flexibility in the kitchen is one of the greatest ways to save time and money.
  • You also save on salt intake, though I think it is fine to consume salt as long as it is the healthy kind, not the kind in most processed foods and on most dinner tables.
  • The beans, when prepared with ajwain or epazote by you, will be soaked and cooked properly and so much more easily digestible and nutritious.
  • One final benefit of preparing and storing your beans this way is that you will be preserving the nutrients in your beans.  Canning reduces nutrients whereas freezing only does so minimally.

How to Freeze Cooked Beans

Cook a Large Pot of Beans

I typically use a pressure cooker and cook up to 10 cups (about 3 1/3 pounds) at one time. Of course, you can cook any amount you like, but you can store up a lot of beans at once this way.

Drain the Beans

You can save the cooking water if you like, but it’s part of the de-gassing process so you might not want to use it.

Portion the Beans

Put the cooked beans in portions so they’re easy to add to recipes.

As mentioned below, 1 3/4 cups is the amount of beans in 1 can. You could put that amount in each bag or double that, or you could put 1-2 cups in each bag — whatever makes sense for the way you use beans.

Label the Beans

Make sure to label with type of beans and the date of freezing so you don’t end up with freezer burned wasted food.

How to Use Frozen Cooked Beans

Simply take a bag out of the freezer when you need them.

If you take them out the night before and let them thaw in the fridge, they’ll probably be usable the next day.

If not, you can empty the bag into a warm pan and heat them up until they are ready to go into your dish. If the dish that you’re making combines beans with other items that are already warm, then the heat from the dish will thaw out the beans the rest of the way.

Store cooked beans

Bag Tips

Of course standard freezer zipper bags work well, but I don’t like that the zippers break and how expensive they are.

The bags that I use are the smallest ones available through Country Life Natural Foods, and I secure them with those great Twixit Clips that I mentioned in my post on How to Store Nuts and Seeds

There are small plastic bags available through Amazon, but I have not tested those.  They have a zip-top but I think these should work pretty well.  I just really prefer the Twixit Clips for ease of use.  (anyone else gets frustrated with those zipper top closures :-(?))

The portion that I find most helpful is 3 1/2 cups per bag as this is the amount of beans in 2 typical cans of beans.

cooked beans in bowl with title saying how to freeze cooked beans.

It’s not often that one can save time, money, and nutrition all at the same time, but when you can, what a deal!

Let me know how it turns out for you!

Now that you know How to Store Cooked Beans, will you try it?

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  1. Thanks?The instant pot makes it so easy but I wasn’t sure if I could make ahead for the holidays, so white bean chili here I come,

    1. You are welcome! Sorry I didn’t understand your comment. You mean you are making the beans ahead of time now? Merry Christmas!

      1. Made 2 pounds of white beans in the Instant Pot and froze them ahead of Christmas Eve – Cha’s Cha’s White Chili (google it) is a Christmas Eve tradition, but when the recipe calls for 3 cans of beans and you have to quadruple the recipe, well that’s a lot of cans! Dried beans have always been a little challenging for me, but just made two batches, perfecto, they are in the deep freeze until needed! Thanks for the tip.

  2. Do you freeze with any liquid? I am doing black beans right now. I typically use some of the liquid but wonder if it’s necessary as beans are typically drained and rinsed before using in recipe.

  3. I have also started dehydrating them and then they just need to be added to hot liquid for about 40 minutes and are good to go. It is especially nice not to have to take up freezer space and very handy.

    1. Hi Shirley – I don’t know how long. I know they do go quickly – sometimes I sprinkle salt on them to help with that.

  4. I have tried finding the spices epazote and ajwain in Kroger, Tom Thumb, and Whole Foods, with no luck. Short of ordering on line, any ideas? Maybe Fiesta or Carnival? Also, is the epazote in a powder form?

    1. I have never heard of those stores – maybe an ethic grocer nearby? The epazote is kind of like a chopped leaf.

  5. Once you’ve frozen or dehydrated the cooked beans, how long after you’ve done so can you use them? Does it differ depending on whether you froze or dehydrated them?

    If I want to purchase 6 months worth of black beans, should I cook 6 months worth and freeze or dehydrate all of it? Or, is there another way to store them before cooking closer to the time of use?

    On an unrelated note, which grain do you think is the most nutritious and tasty by itself? Which can be stored for the longest amount of time?

    1. Hi Daniel. I am not a food storage expert at all. And I tend to “push the envelope” with food storage. There are recommendations for freezer storage and other kinds of storage all over the internet and I just can’t make a recommendation and then be in trouble if someone gets sick. That being said, my understanding is that dried foods (properly dried) last an indefinite amount of time, but they will take longer to rehydrate if you are talking beans. Frozen foods have a limit, but it seems to me that is to preserve taste and depends on the kind of freezer. Deep freeze is best.

      I store my beans in a bucket like this. Soaked and dehydrated beans (I don’t have many) I store in the fridge, but just bc I am being extra cautious.

      Grains…hmm…are you gluten free? I don’t really have an opinion, but if you are GF then teff and quinoa tend to be more highly regarded in the nutrition category. Speaking of which, we haven’t had teff in soooo long. I have a great recipe for Teff Pancakes but no photo yet :).

  6. Do you drain your beans when you freeze them or leave some water in the bag? I have tried drying cooked Pinto Beans but when I take them out they seem so dry.


  7. The link must have changed; the bags via the Amazon link appear to be flat and do not say they are for food storage/freezing. I can get qt Ziplocs at Costco, though might be worth it to pay the “non-U.S. mainland” shipping fees and order from Country Life. I’d probably still save money over buying canned beans. 😉
    Does anyone have another source for bulk freezer food storage bags?

    1. I just changed the link to be something that should work better – but I do think the Twixit Clip option is better. Hope that helps!

      1. I use the clips that are on the ends of plastic clothing hangers. I just cut them off with an electric saw borrowed from my husbands work shop and they make great clips for chip or any other type of bags.. They work in the pantry or freezer and cost me nothing extra.

          1. Yes, you would have to melt or file the ends to get rid of any rough stuff, but if you have little kids you could use them as hangers for their tiny clothes. OR you could use them to hang neck ties or scarves. If anyone has any ideas of how to use the hanger parts I would love to hear them.

    2. I’ve purchased Mylar gallon size bags that I can suction seal with my Cuisinart for longer shelf life. I also purchased anti-desiccant packets, safe for foods, to go into into each bag individually to preserve the food longer and safer. You may not care for those products but I’m looking for extended shelf life. I didn’t research issues of allergies et cetera as our entire family is food allergy free.

    1. Hi. Sorry for the delay – mine appear to be 8 x 4 x 2. What is the 3rd dimension of the amazon ones? It’s possible it changed since I linked. Thanks.

    2. Thank you, Miranda. I’ve been avidly reading this blog. It’s very good for someone just getting into dehydrating, preserving and freezing foods. You explained why cooking then dehydrating the beans for shelf storage (in a cool, dry, darker place would probably be preferable) is good, to cut down the time of rehydrating and cooking for a future meal. It just wasn’t clicking initially!

    1. I shop Country Life Natural Foods. Anyone else have a good source? We have a local shop here w/ bulk options. Where do you live?

  8. I’ve never cooked beans ahead and frozen them, but I will now, thanks for the tip! It will help so much in food prep for my family of 7!

    I am surprised though, that you use the pressure cooker for anything. I have read enough of your blog to know you are all for whole foods and against microwaves. I am a midwife and we say all that a pressure cooker should be used for is to sterilize our instruments! 🙂 The high heat of a pressure cooker kills a lot of the nutrients in food. When I cook beans I just throw them in the crock pot overnight after soaking them for a day (8-12 hrs).

    I appreciate your blog!

    1. Hi Rebecca. I have read very mixed things on pressure cookers. One of the things that I have read is that they preserve nutrients and that the Europeans love them for that. I would love to read more if you have info.

  9. just one little question because I want to be sure I understand..are you saying freeze the FRESH or COOKED beans? thanks

    1. I am saying to freeze the cooked (make sure you cook them w/ the de-gassing spices) beans. Freezing dried beans won’t do anything. They keep really well dry but might take longer to cook if they are really old. 🙂

  10. Dehydrating your cooked beans are also a great way to store them without using a freezer. They will now be considered instant beans. When you use them, you just rehydrate with equal portions of hot water.

    1. HOW do you dehydrate cooked beans? I’ve never heard of dehydrating cooked beans. That is very interesting…I like the fact that I wouldn’t have to take up freezer room to store them.

      1. Hello Priscilla, You just put them on your dehydrator trays and dry them until they are really dry. That way you can use them in a regular bean dish, or what I would most likely do with them – grind them for flour and use them in baked goods. The GF flours in the store have been made w/ beans that haven’t been cooked properly and so they are probably rough on digestion. Hope that helps!

    2. Thank you, Petra. I’ve been avidly reading this blog. It’s very good for someone just getting into dehydrating, preserving and freezing foods. You explained why cooking then dehydrating the beans for shelf storage (in a cool, dry, darker place would probably be preferable) is good, to cut down the time of rehydrating and cooking for a future meal. It just wasn’t clicking initially!

  11. Just wanted to jump in here and mention that if you decide to can your own beans please use the pressure canner method (as opposed to water bath canning). Beans are low acid foods and therefore must be processed at a higher temperature.

    I make black beans using the slow cooker about once a month and can testify that freezing them really works well. Actually, they come out of the freezer better than they went in I think.

  12. Wow, I never really looked into bean prep before but it seems like it would save a lot.

    Good stuff here!

  13. Thanks so much for sharing this tip today! I haven’t looked too much at bean prep yet, so this post is very helpful! Thank you.

  14. Wow!! Yes again! I use a lot of beans and sometimes cook then up and sometimes use canned but I am not a canner either. I never thought of cooking a huge batch in the slow-cooker. Yay!! Definite for this week. Thank you so much for your wonderful and helpful tips. love,Karyn