Should You Freeze Kidney Beans? (Dry vs Cooked vs Canned)

You like to plan ahead, and having ingredients cooked and portioned in the freezer makes dinner time easy to manage.

Rather than opening a new can of kidney beans every time and only using half of it, you can prepare different portion sizes of cooked kidney beans and freeze them. 

You can keep cooked kidney beans in the freezer for up to 6 months. Be sure that the beans are cooked thoroughly and cooled to room temperature.

You can freeze the beans in the liquid you cooked them in or after draining them. Either way, leave a little room in the bag or container you freeze them in because the liquid in them will expand as it freezes. The beans must be frozen within two hours of being cooked to prevent the growth of bacteria.

Continue reading for specifics on freezing kidney beans from different preparations, instructions for cooking kidney beans, how to reheat frozen kidney beans, and recipes for using frozen kidney beans.

How To Freeze Kidney Beans After Cooking

A distinct advantage of cooking dried kidney beans and freezing them is how inexpensive they are.

You can also avoid food waste by freezing the beans in the portions you plan to use for various recipes. 

After cooking your dried kidney beans, drain and rinse them (optional), then let them return to room temperature.

Next, measure your kidney beans into the portions you plan on using in recipes. Use 1 cup for small recipes or 2 cups to replace one can of beans. 

You can freeze the beans in plastic or glass storage containers or heavy-duty freezer bags.

While you want to use containers that fit the volume of beans you are freezing to reduce the amount of air that the beans are exposed to, you also need to leave a little space in the container because the beans will expand a bit as they freeze.

Be sure to write the date on the bags or containers and use your kidney beans within 6 months.

How To Defrost Frozen Kidney Beans

Consider how you will use the kidney beans to choose the best method for defrosting or reheating.

If you add the beans to a soup or stew, you can put them directly in from frozen without defrosting them.

For a recipe like a bean salad, which is served cold, you will defrost the beans rather than heat them.

The best method is to place them in the refrigerator a day ahead of time and let them defrost slowly.

However, if you need to speed up the process a bit, place the container of frozen kidney beans in a bowl of cool water to encourage the thawing process.

Why Use Dry Kidney Beans

Save Money 

You may wonder why you should bother starting with dried beans when you can purchase canned beans, and they are already cooked and ready to go.

Although canned kidney beans are not expensive, a bag of dried beans is even less expensive.

One can of kidney beans costs about 75 cents and contains 3 servings. One pound of dry kidney beans costs about $1.50 (in 2021) and will produce about 13 servings.

Taking the time to cook dried kidney beans will double your value for your money. 

Control Your Sodium Intake

kidney beans

Canned vegetables have hidden sodium to improve their taste. Depending on the brand and formulation, canned kidney beans may have as much as 390 mg of sodium per serving.

When you prepare dry kidney beans, you control the amount of salt that goes into the recipe, and therefore you can better manage your health.

How To Cook Dry Kidney Beans

Before you can freeze your cooked beans, you will need to cook them. When you open the bag of dried beans, you will need to sort through them and remove any bad ones.

There may also be small rocks or sand in the bag, so you should carefully sort out just the good beans into a colander. Then rinse the beans thoroughly until the water runs clear.

There are two common methods for cooking dried kidney beans. Either way will work, so choose whichever method fits your time frame the best.

Long-Soaking Method

After you sort and rinse the beans, put them in a large pot and cover them with water. Let them soak for at least 6 hours or overnight.

You can change the water halfway through the soaking time if you choose to, although this is not necessary. 

After soaking, drain and rinse the beans and return them to the pot. cover the beans with water and an additional 2-3 inches.

Bring the beans to a boil for 10 minutes, then simmer for 30-60 minutes. Start checking the beans at 30 minutes, then check every 10 minutes to see if they have finished cooking. 

Shorter Soaking Method

Sort and rinse the beans, then cover them with water in a large pat. Use 5 cups of water for every cup of beans. Bring the pot to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.

Then remove from the heat and the beans soak for 1-2 hours. Return the beans to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until tender.

Start checking the beans after 30 minutes to see if they are thoroughly cooking.

Always Fully Cook Kidney Beans

Kidney beans must be cooked completely so that they are safe to eat. Raw and undercooked kidney beans contain a chemical called phytohaemagglutinin, which can cause food poisoning symptoms.

You should always boil kidney beans for at least 10 minutes (although some food scientists recommend 30 minutes) to destroy this chemical.

Do not use a slow cooker to initially cook kidney beans because it will not be hot enough to destroy the chemical.

Freezing Canned Kidney Beans

If you have used a partial can of kidney beans in a recipe, you can freeze the rest for use in a later meal.

Drain and rinse the beans and place them in a plastic container or freezer bag, leaving a little space for them to expand as they freeze.

Note the date on the bag. You can keep frozen, canned beans for up to 1 month.

Freezing Dry Kidney Beans

Dried kidney beans can be stored in your pantry in an airtight container for many years, so long as they are cool and dry. Older dry beans take longer to cook than newer dry beans.

If you need to freeze dry beans, you should sort through them to remove any bad beans or small rocks.

Rinse the beans and let them dry thoroughly on paper towels or a dishtowel.

When they are thoroughly dry, place them in an airtight container and put them in the freezer. The rinsed and dried kidney beans will keep upwards of 3 years in the freezer.

Freezing Soaked Kidney Beans

Another option is to soak the kidney beans and then freeze them before cooking them.

Sort and rinse the dried beans, then soak them overnight. Pour out the soaking water and rinse the beans.

kidney beans

Then freeze the soaked kidney beans in airtight containers or freezer bags for up to 4 months.

Be sure to cook these thoroughly upon thawing to avoid food poisoning symptoms.

Health Benefits Of Kidney Beans

Kidney beans are a member of the legume family. The kidney bean is a source of protein and nutrition throughout the world.

They are high in protein, making them a good choice for vegetarian and vegan diets.

Though kidney beans are high in carbohydrates, they are a slow-release carb, so they rank low on the glycemic index and do not cause a spike in blood sugar levels.

Kidney beans are high in fiber and support a healthy colon. These beans are high in folate, iron, and potassium and contain trace minerals like molybdenum and vitamin K1.

Yummy Recipes For Kidney Beans

1. Three Bean Pasta Salad

Thaw 2 cups of cooked, frozen kidney beans to use in this cold salad. Cook 8 ounces of small shell pasta according to the package instructions.

Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain again thoroughly.

Cut 8 ounces of fresh green beans into 1-inch pieces. Cut 1-2 celery stalks into thin slices. Boil water with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and blanch the green beans and celery.

Cook for two minutes, then drain and plunge the green beans and celery into ice water to stop the cooking. 

In a large bowl, combine the shell pasta, green beans, celery, thawed kidney beans, and one can of drained and rinsed pinto beans. 

Salad Dressing

In a medium bowl, combine one small minced shallot and 3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar and let it stand for 5 minutes.

Whisk in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, and 1 teaspoon of honey. Slowly whisk in ¾ cups of olive oil until everything is combined. 

Toss the salad with the dressing and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

2. Instant Pot Taco Soup

Here’s a hot dish you can make in your instant pot. Use the frozen kidney beans directly from the freezer without thawing for this quick and delicious favorite.

Set your instant pot to saute and brown 1 pound of ground beef with 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Add 1 cup of chopped yellow onion and continue to cook until the onion softens.

Stir in 2 tablespoons of ranch dressing mix (from a 1-ounce packet) and 1 packet of taco seasoning mix.

Add in 3 cups of beef stock, 1 cup frozen corn kernels, 1 can of diced tomatoes and green chiles, 2 cups of frozen kidney beans, and 1 can of black beans drained and rinsed.

Change the settings on the instant pot to high pressure and seal the lid. Set the timer for 2 minutes and start it cooking.

It will take a few minutes to build up pressure then the timer will start.

When it is finished, carefully release the pressure and remove the lid. Serve with tortilla chips and top with sour cream and shredded cheese.

Concluding Thoughts

Cooked kidney beans will stay good in the freezer for up to 6 months. You can save a bundle and make your dinner time prep easier by freezing cooked kidney beans in small portions for your favorite recipes.

While cooking the beans does take some time, most of that time is unattended, so you can accomplish other things while the beans soak or simmer.

You can also freeze partial cans of kidney beans for 1 month or dry beans for 3 years or more if you need to. 

Save money and plan ahead to add this healthy food to your meal rotation with ease.

  • Can you freeze cooked black beans?
  • Can you freeze cheese?
  • Can you freeze squash and zucchini?
  • Can you freeze wine for sauces?

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