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How to Fix Undercooked Beans in Chili (And Prevent It)

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Cooking a pot of dry beans is not a difficult thing to do, but there are certain tricks that will allow you to cook them perfectly every time. We can all agree that beans that never get tender and are crunchy when eaten are very unappetizing. As a lover of all kinds of dry beans, I can share some tips with you that will prevent your beans from being undercooked and even a few tips to fix the problem if they are hard and undercooked.

To fix undercooked beans in chili, add 1 or 2 cups of water or broth to the pot of chili and bring it to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for a few minutes, adding a little more liquid as needed. Stir often and taste every 15 minutes until the beans have softened and are completely done.

Ideally, you would discover that the beans are undercooked before adding them to the chili, and any additional cooking can be done without cooking your chili for an extended period of time. Keep reading to learn more about how to cook beans correctly, tips and tricks to fix undercooked beans, and things you should do to prevent the “undercooked beans” issue.

Using The Crockpot To Fix Undercooked Beans In 3 Steps

If you have a crockpot, you can use it to fix undercooked beans by following these 3 steps: 

  1. Put the chili containing the undercooked beans into the crockpot.
  2. Add a very small amount of water, not more than one cup, because a crockpot does not allow very much evaporation of liquids.
  3. Cook on low for an hour or two checking every 45 minutes to an hour to see if the beans are done.

The beans should be done after 2 to 3 hours, depending on how crunchy and undercooked they were, but continue to cook until done.

Anne-James-Crock-Pot
My trusty crockpot

Avoiding Crunchy: The Basics of Cooking Beans 

There are several possible reasons why your beans did not get done. It all boils down to following the basic steps to cooking all dry beans and not straying from those fundamentals. The following are the basic steps to cooking perfect dry beans and some of the reasons why they might not turn out perfectly. 

Here are the steps to cooking perfect dry beans:

  1. Wash and pick the beans of your choice to remove any foreign matter like dirt and small pebbles.
  2. Soak beans overnight in a Dutch oven or other large pot by covering them with at least 2 inches of water above the beans and adding a small amount (1/8th to 1/4th teaspoon depending on the amount of beans) of baking soda. I call this process “burping” the beans. Or, as an alternative to soaking overnight, cover the beans with at least 2 inches of water and add a small amount of baking soda (1/8th teaspoon) to the water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour. Drain the soda water from the beans and begin the cooking process. Discard the soda water.
  3. Add fresh water and place the pot on the stove over medium heat.
  4. Bring the beans to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and allow them to cook from 1 to 3 hours until tender. The type of beans used and the age of the beans will determine the cooking time.
  5. Do not add salt until the beans are done.
  6. To add a ham bone or other seasoning meat, put the meat into a separate pot, cover with water, and cook until the meat is done and tender. While the beans are cooking, add broth from cooking the meat to the beans, take the meat off the bones and cut into bite-size pieces, and add meat and spices of your choice and cook until the beans are tender.
  7. Use in a recipe of your choice or serve as a vegetable or over rice.

Why Didn’t My Beans Get Tender?

Large Pot of Chili With Beans Cooking on the Stove

If you soaked the dry beans overnight, or burped them by using the quick method, and then cooked them for hours and they never got tender, their failure to become tender could be caused by at least two different things:

  1. One cause would be if you added salt during the cooking process. Adding salt at the beginning of the cooking process can make the beans tough and not allow them to become tender. Salt should be added at the very end when the beans are almost done.
  2. The second cause for tough beans that never get tender is that the beans were old and were not stored properly. Even though dry beans can be stored for extended periods of time, if they are not stored properly, they will not become tender when cooked.

How to Fix Beans That Are Too Dry

If you inadvertently overcook the beans and they are too dry, they can be salvaged by adding either a little water or broth.

To fix beans that have cooked down too low, add just a small amount of liquid at a time until the beans reach the consistency you are looking for.

Pro Tip: Never cook dry beans at high temperatures as the beans will cook all to pieces and will result in a bean soup with only the husks of the beans left.  

Are Dry Beans Good for You?

Any dry beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber. Protein is essential in building muscle strength, and fiber aids in lowering cholesterol levels. But, dry beans are also high in antioxidants and supply more vitamins and minerals than red meat.

If you are on a high fiber or protein diet, dry beans are among the healthiest foods available to support your dietary efforts.

Canned-Beef-and-Bean-Chili-Ingredients
Simple, nutrient-packed ingredients make chili ultra-healthy

Is It Okay to Eat Undercooked Beans?

According to the FDA, many beans can be toxic and can cause food poisoning if consumed either raw or undercooked. Some of the beans mentioned include black, great northern, kidney, and navy beans. However, red kidney beans are the riskiest to consume if not soaked and cooked properly because they contain the highest concentration of lectins that can cause food poisoning.

If you do eat undercooked beans, some of the symptoms of food poisoning to look for are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, or abdominal pain. These symptoms usually appear within 3 hours of eating toxic foods, and it is important to seek medical assistance immediately if you exhibit severe symptoms. 

Final Bite

Cooking dry beans, whether it is to serve as a main dish like Red Beans and Rice, as a side dish such as a vegetable or carbohydrate, or to include as an ingredient in another dish like chili, is relatively easy, but there is a certain process that must be followed to produce a pot of beans that is soft and flavorful. 

Dry beans must be cooked slowly for a long period of time to prevent having a pot of beans that is undercooked or one that is mushy and tasteless with the beans cooked all to pieces. Just remember to follow the process described in this article and you can be sure your pot of beans will be tender, flavorful, and just the right texture to make your meal a success. 

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

For more, don’t miss The Four Best Ways to Thicken up Baked Beans.

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