Soaking & Cooking Dried Beans & Pulses

From the Vegan recipe club website

The following chart gives approximate times in rough order of size, from small or split to large. Cooking times also depend on the age of the beans. Properly cooked beans should be tender but not too mushy.

Type of Pulse                    Soaking Time                                                               Cooking Time

Split lentils                          No soaking required                                                        15-20 minutes

Split peas                           2 hours minimum                                                             30-35 minutes

Whole lentils                      2 hours minimum                                                               20-30 minutes

Whole lentils                      Unsoaked – but see note re digestibility                             25-40 minutes

Mung/aduki beans              2 hours minimum                                                             25-40 minutes

Black-eyed beans              6-8 hours or overnight                                                      30-60 minutes

Flageolet /kidney/              6-8 hours or overnight                                                      1-1¼ hours



Chickpeas and other        6-8 hours or overnight                                                     1-1½ hours

large beans                                                        

Soya beans                        12 hours minimum                                                          1½-3 hours

Pressure cooking method

Times will vary slightly, depending on the brand, so check your cooker's handbook beforehand. For example, kidney beans take 15-20 minutes at a high setting, chickpeas around 15 minutes. Some high-pressure cookers take less time.  Smaller beans like adukis need only about 8 minutes or so if pre-soaked - take care not to let them go mushy. However, you can pressure cook smaller beans as part of a soup or other dish with a soft texture.

Home freezing 

If you cook one portion of pulses you might as well cook more. So, if you have the space, cook bigger batches and freeze in meal-size portions – use clean small plastic bags or boxes with lids. To freeze the equivalent of a tin of drained pulses, use a 400g/14oz clean empty tin as a guide, fill about three-quarters full, then transfer the contents to a bag or box. Defrost as usual, or in a microwave.

IMPORTANT: Pulse Safety!

While pulses are one of the most healthy and unprocessed foods available, there are a few important guidelines to follow.

  • Rinse beans and change the water if soaking longer than overnight
  • Cook beans thoroughly, especially kidney beans. Most large dried beans contain a naturally occurring toxin called lectin or phytohaemagglutinin. This is naturally destroyed in cooking, but if not done so, is likely to trigger nasty food poisoning. Lectin is contained in: kidney beans, cannelini beans, black beans, haricot beans and butter beans. Soya beans don’t contain lectin, but do need to be soaked and cooked thoroughly.
  • Boil such beans vigorously for 15 minutes before you reduce to a simmer. However, pressure cooking or ordinary boiling is fine
  • Do NOT cook raw beans in a crock pot/slow cooker as this increases their toxicity! However, it IS safe to add pre-cooked beans to a crock pot or oven casserole, stew etc
  • Do not sprout these type of beans

 NB Whole or split lentils, chickpeas, mung beans and aduki beans are safe to sprout.