How To Soften Beans In Chili?

How To Soften Beans In Chili
  • Save
How To Soften Beans In Chili

Chili is a spicy dish made of ground beef, peppers, chillis, and usually beans. The beans used are usually black beans, kidney beans, or pinto beans. They are usually pre-cooked before adding them to the rest of the chili ingredients.

Some people even use canned beans, which are certainly the most convenient as you don’t have to worry about soaking, cooking, or softening them.

Canned beans
  • Save

However, you may wish to cook your own beans for chili. If you do, it is important to make sure they are properly soft without a trace of graininess before adding them to your dish.

This is because the sugar and salt in the chili can cause the skin around the beans to toughen and become difficult to soften.

Keep reading and we will tell you how to soften your beans perfectly so that they enhance your next chili with their creaminess.

How To Soften Beans In Chili?

1. Choose beans that are not old

Fresh Beans
  • Save


While you don’t need to buy fresh dried beans every time, try not to use beans that have been lying at the back of your grandmother’s cupboard for the last ten years.

Old beans become tough and very hard, and almost impossible to cook soft. While beans are something one can buy in bulk, try not to buy more than you can use up within a year or so.

Also, check the dates on the bag next time you purchase beans and try to buy the freshest ones you can.

2. Soaking them is the key

Soaking beans reduces the cooking time by a lot and prevents dry, hard, undercooked beans.

Soaking beans
  • Save

Start by washing the beans in a colander to remove any dust and debris. Then, pick over them, looking for any stones or sticks.

Put them into a bowl and cover them with a generous amount of water. Set aside to soak for at least 8 hourspreferably overnight. The bigger the beans, the longer you should soak and rehydrate them.

Do not add anything to the soaking water like salt as this may toughen the skins.

3. Rinse and boil

Give the beans a final rinse in clean, cool water. Put them into a large pot. Remember that beans expand a lot as they cook so you will need a generously sized saucepan.

Cover with a lot of water and bring it to a boil. Put the lid on, turn the flame down, and simmer slowly until the beans are soft. This can take anywhere from half an hour to three hours.

Boiling beans
  • Save

Do not rush the process. You don’t want undercooked beans in your chili.

4. Finishing Off

Once you’re satisfied that your beans are properly soft, you can add a little salt to the water for flavor and boil them for another five minutes. Then drain them and use them as needed in your chili.

What if the Undercooked Beans Are Already in My Chili?

You may be in the unfortunate situation of having already added undercooked beans to your chili. This makes things a little more difficult but all is not lost. Here’s our solution:

  • Add a cup or two of extra water to your chili then put the whole thing into the fridge overnight. This will give the beans time to soak and hopefully rehydrate a bit more while keeping your chili safe from going off.
  • The next day, put the chili on the stove again and bring it to a boil. Simmer it gently with the lid off to cook the beans further and evaporate the extra water you added. You will need to stir everything now and again so that the bottom doesn’t burn.

Lid off chili con carne
  • Save

  • An alternative to this is to put everything into the slow cooker and let the chili cook for several hours. In this case, try not to add too much extra water as it won’t evaporate in the slow cooker.

What to Do With Extra Beans

Because beans take so much time to soak, boil soft, and prepare, it’s a good idea to make extra ones. Simply soak and boil as many as you like then portion them once cooked into Ziploc bags or freezer containers.

When cool, store them in the freezer until the next time you make chili. This is as easy (and cheaper) as having canned beans on hand.

Chili Recipe with Beans

Here’s a delicious chili recipe for you to try that takes uses up some of those soft beans you’ve cooked.


  • 1 kg  ground beef
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato puree
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 can beer
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 500 g cooked kidney beans
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste


  1. Use a big saucepan. Brown the beef, onion, jalapeno, and garlic together. Sprinkle in the chili powder and cumin.
  2. Add the green pepper, tomatoes, tomato puree, broth, beer, sugar, and salt.
  3. Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened and looking done. This takes about an hour.
  4. Add the beans and cook for another 15 minutes or so. Taste and make sure the beans are soft and the seasoning is right.
  5. Serve with your favorite toppings such as cheese, sour cream, cilantro, or avocado.

Chili serving
  • Save


We hope this article has shown you how to soften beans for chili. Enjoy!

  • Save
Categories Cooking
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap