Smoky Black Beans

Smoky Black Beans

Y’all, about soaking beans. Don’t do it. Don’t believe me? Please just try it anyway. Maybe some beans, big’uns like lima beans or fava beans could use a little soak. I very rarely cook with those so I haven’t tried it. But little’uns like black beans and pinto beans and navy beans? Don’t even bother.

Beans retain a lot more flavor and color without pre-soaking and they really don’t take much longer to cook. Seriously, maybe an hour more at best, but I’d estimate closer to 30 minutes longer.

And soaking doesn’t even remove one percent of the fart-inducing sugars in beans. In fact, the only guaranteed way to reduce the farts is just to hole up in your house for a week and eat beans every day until your body succumbs and figures out how to digest them right. You heard it here. Eating more beans is the best way to eat more beans. And also make sure the beans are fully cooked. They need not be splitting open, but they should be soft enough when you serve them that you can easily squish a bean between your fingers. I call it the pinch-squish test.

Try it out on this black bean recipe. For an even smokier pot of beans, swap the jalapeños for one chipotle pepper.

Smoky Black Beans


Smoky Black Beans

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5 from 4 reviews

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 8 1x


  • 1 pound (about 2 cups) dry black beans
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 12 jalapeños, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 large carrots, diced (about a cup)
  • For serving:
  • Cooked rice
  • 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro


  1. Instructions
  2. Take a look through the beans and pick out anything that isn’t a bean and give them a quick rinse in a colander.
  3. In a large pot (at least 3 quart size) saute the onion and pepper in the butter over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until the onion starts to get a little brown in places.
  4. Add the garlic, bay, salt and paprika and cumin and cook 60 seconds until you start to smell the cumin and paprika toasting.
  5. Add the beans along with 8 cups of water.
  6. Cover and bring to boil. Crack the lid, turn down the heat to low and simmer the beans for about an hour or 90 minutes or until almost fully tender.
  7. Add the carrots (and another cup of water if the beans are not still submerged) and simmer another 30 minutes until the beans are cooked and squishable.
  8. Serve over rice with lime wedges and fresh herbs on top.

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  1. Skeletronis on June 2, 2015 at 8:26 am

    This is a great post! I mean, its just about beans but I learned more about farts in this than I did in fourth grade!

  2. The Other Randy on June 2, 2015 at 9:19 am

    I just got a 5 pound shipment of beans from Rancho Gordo, including “Midnight Black” beans. So smoky midnight black beans it’s going to be.

    BTW, holing up in my apartment and eating beans every day has never worked for me. Evidently my taste buds love, love, love beans but my digestive system doesn’t and never will.

    • Hilah on June 2, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      Ooh lala, Midnight Black sounds exciting! Are they an heirloom black bean or something else entirely?

      • The Other Randy on June 3, 2015 at 1:10 am

        They are kind of nebulous about that. Their website implies that all of their beans are heirlooms, but then they go out of their way to emphasize the rarity of some of their beans, but not others. The Midnight Blacks aren’t described as being anything special. I made two batches of Smoky Black Beans today: one using the Rancho Gordo beans and one using Goya black beans. I ate some of the Rancho Gordo’s for dinner and didn’t think that they were anymore special than the Goyas that I normally use. But keep in mind that I buy the Goyas at Fiesta which seems to have a much faster turnover (thus they aren’t as old) than ones you buy at HEB. Tonight I’ll try some of both.

        Ironically, after I’d made both batches of beans, I came across an article touting the use of kombu in cooking beans. Besides adding that element of umami that I used to get from tossing a ham hock in the pot of beans while cooking (and stopped when I became a part-time vegetarian), it also makes the beans much more digestible and thereby less fart inducing. I can’t wake to check it out. I do know that adding a 4″x4″ strip of kombu makes for a vegetable stock that is amazing.

        As far as beans go with regard to canned vs home-cooked, I think the variety of beans where cooking them yourself (as opposed to using canned) results in the biggest difference in flavor is chickpeas. Even after soaking them, they take forever to cook. I actually started following one of Martha Stewart’s tips and adding baking soda to the soaking water. I’m hoping that using a pressure cooker will make a big difference.

  3. Manjit on June 5, 2015 at 5:55 am

    As long as the recipe contains garlic try adding some asafoetida to any dish with pulses and it will help reduce the pulsy-farts. My mate’s mum who’s from Kerala swears by it to get rid of “the smell of teenage boys”, as she puts it.

    • Hilah on June 5, 2015 at 7:47 am

      Thank you!

  4. Verifiably Nobody on June 12, 2015 at 11:46 am

    – Hi Hilal! Love you. Have been a quiet stalker for years. Hope you love motherhood. So, my Grandma (Nana) use to make beans just like this in the crock. Got me thinking…

    – She used to make a dish called Hamloaf. It was her mother’s recipe. Ever hear of it? It’s Amish and native (I think) to central PA. It’s amazing. Ground pork and ham. Every Mennonite or Amish family has a different recipe. I’d gladly share ours if you are interested. Cheers!

    • Hilah on June 13, 2015 at 7:39 am

      Is ham loaf similar to scrapple? I’ve heard of scrapple, but not ever had it. Honestly, ham loaf sounds better 🙂

      • Verifiably Nobody on June 14, 2015 at 9:06 am

        Scrapple is like a combination of pig/spam/sausage. My wife likes in omelettes. I never liked it. Yes, it is native to us. Hamloaf is a proper dish! I think. My (Nana’s recipe.)

        Loaf: 1 and 1/2 lb ground ham. (Unless you are around Germans, nobody wants to ground ham. Why?) 1 lb ground pork. 2 eggs. 1 C milk. 1 C corn flakes. (Family secret. Shhhhh :)) Form into loaf. Think meatloaf.

        Sauce: 1/2 C Apple vinegar. 1/3 C water. 1 and 1/2 C light brown sugar. Tsp-Tbsp of yellow mustard. (Preference) Warm sauce on stove. Put on loaf. Baste every 20 minutes. 350. An hour and 30 minutes.

        – wish you the best.

        • Verifiably Nobody on June 14, 2015 at 9:11 am

          1 AND 1/2 C light brown sugar. Oops.

          • Verifiably Nobody on June 14, 2015 at 9:18 am

            i already said that. Yucks. Being dumb. It’s good. Central PA soul food. Not scrapple. 🙂

        • Hilah on June 15, 2015 at 9:16 am

          Thank you!

  5. Nils Breckoff on June 13, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Or you can quick soak like they do in restaurants. Bring beans and water to a rolling boil, turn the fire off and let sit for an hour. Drain, and cook as you would normally. As good as an overnight soak without texture loss.

  6. Raygan on June 29, 2016 at 9:59 am

    I’m going to have to try the non-soaking thing when I do black eye peas and rice for new years.

  7. wlatlabta on March 8, 2020 at 5:34 pm

    so i don;t get it, where does the smoke part come in?

    • Hilah on March 9, 2020 at 8:36 am

      smoked paprika

  8. Constance on January 15, 2021 at 6:16 pm

    Same for a stove top pressure cooker. Just for about 40 mins???

    • Hilah on January 15, 2021 at 6:29 pm

      Yes, that sounds about right

  9. KELLY RATCLIFF on July 9, 2021 at 7:54 pm

    Just took these off the stove and they’re the BOMB.

    Used Rancho Gordo Frijol Negro Santero beans and they’re absolutely divine.

    • Hilah on July 17, 2021 at 1:42 pm

      I love Rancho Gordo beans!

  10. Russell on January 21, 2022 at 7:21 pm

    Hey ? there Hilah! I hope you’re well—I’ve gotten out of the habit of checking the website regularly but I still use a bunch of your recipes!

    I tried this for the first time tonight & I must’ve used beans which were too old b/c after 90 mins they were still like rocks. The flavor was amazing though! I know black beans don’t normally soak as long as some others but I still think I’ll need to brine them a bit before cooking next time: a couple of hours perhaps. The smoke flavor (I used the chipotle variant) was wonderful!

    • Russell on January 21, 2022 at 7:46 pm

      Actually to continue the smoky theme I think next time if I cook them for my mother I’ll use half a poblano (my mother has gotten a bit heat-sensitive as she’s gotten older, so the jalapeño or chipotle versions might not be good choices for her).

    • Hilah on February 8, 2022 at 11:40 am

      Aw, dang yeah, sounds like you had some old beans, Russell!

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