make/FOOD – The Best Slow Cooker Beans EVER

beans beans beansWelcome to make/FOOD!

Each Monday I’ll be providing a new recipe for you to step away from the screen and make. For the first installation, I’m excited to introduce you to your new favorite Mindless Monday Meal. Beans.

I know I know. Beans in the slow cooker taste like chalk, right? WRONG! I have cracked the code people. I have figured out how to take a $1.00 bag of beans, add a few simple ingredients (most of which you already have in your pantry), and slow cook them into a ridiculously tasty base for a fantastic dinner. Ready to go?

Best Slow Cooker Beans Ever

Serves: 4
Time: 10 minutes active; 5-11 hours inactive.


  • 1 cup of dried black beans (they’re my favorites, but others work too.)
  • 1 square of dried Kombu
  • 1 TBSP soy sauce
  • 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 bay leaf
  • dash salt (I like celtic gray salt for the earthiness)
  • 3 cups water


  1. Combine everything in your slow cooker.
  2. Give it a little stir.
  3. Cook on low for 9-11 hours or on high for 5-7 hours. I give mine a stir or two during the cook time, but that’s just because I’m home. Don’t worry if you can’t — they’ll still be delicious. Red kidney beans need the full 7 or 11 hours.

Note: For those who aren’t familiar with Kombu, it is a type of seaweed that adds umami flavor to any recipe. This is one of the reasons these beans taste so good. Additionally, Kombu helps soften beans and make them more digestible. Win win! You can find dried Kombu at health food stores and also at Asian markets. You may even be able to find it in your grocery store if they have a decent Asian food section.

Note: If you’re making red kidney beans, be sure to boil them for at least 10 minutes before putting them in the slow cooker. This neutralizes a toxin called phytohemagglutinin (a mouthful that you don’t want in your mouth) that can cause severe GI distress. Red beans also take longer to cook, so they do well to be soaked overnight if you have the time. This is one of the reasons I tend to stick with black beans — much less work.

When the beans are done, you can serve them any number of ways. Here are a few of my family’s favorites:


Place beans, rice, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sliced avocado, jalapeños, a squeeze of lime, and more! across the middle of steamed 10″ flour tortillas.

Fold left and right sides in, over the stuff. Then roll burrito away from you, tucking sides in as necessary, until you get to the end. Steamed tortillas should stay closed on their own.

(To steam tortillas, place a wire rack over a 12″ skillet of boiling water, place one tortilla on rack and cover for a minute til soft.)


1. Make refried beans (place beans in a skillet with some olive oil, mash/fry them til they’re a little crispy).

2. Make crispy tortillas (rub soft corn tortillas with a little oil, place in 400° oven for about 4 min per side).

Add lettuce, tomato, sliced avocado, jalapeños, a squeeze of lime, some shredded cheese, and anything else you’d like to add.

Beans and Rice

Slice and sauté 4 or 5 sausages in a pan (use chorizo if you like it spicy). Mix sausage with beans. Serve in bowls with rice, red wine vinegar, jalapeños, cheese, etc.

We often mix raw kale or collards in with the beans, too. The heat from the beans softens the greens.

Do you have a favorite way to serve beans? Share below in the comments.

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