Slow Cooker Black Beans Two Ways!

No soaking required! Make dried black beans in your slow cooker for an easy vegan & gluten free side dish. Enjoy these healthy black beans whole or refried style!

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Slow Cooker Black Beans

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Years ago I was down in Puerto Vallarta at an all inclusive resort. The bar by the pool had a snack bar set up featuring a vat of black refried beans and chips. Now, I grew up in Southern California, and I’ve been to Mexico numerous times, but I had never experienced such deliciousness. I think it’s safe to say I consumed my body weight in those refried black beans and margaritas that trip! Ever since then whenever I’ve made refried beans I use black beans.

I started buying dried beans instead of canned when I realized that they are literally a quarter of the cost, and I love to save money! It seemed like such a daunting task though, having to soak the beans for an eternity and then cook them? No thanks.

That’s when I discovered how EASY it is to make dried black beans in a slow cooker, and I haven’t gone back to cans since! Generally I’ll make up a big batch and either use them for meal prep, or I’ll freeze smaller portions for future meals.

How To Make Black Beans In A Slow Cooker

Ingredients for slow cooker black beans. Dried black beans in a measuring cup. Garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, and an onion in the background.

The first thing you’ll want to do, especially if you bought from the bulk bins, is rinse your beans. I place them in a colander and run water over them while mixing them around. As you see broken beans or ones that look rotten pick them out. Also keep an eye out for rocks! I’ve never come across one but apparently it happens.

beans being rinsed in a colander.

Once the beans are rinsed, add them to your slow cooker. Sprinkle all of your spices on top and add in a quartered onion.

Black beans, onion, and spices in a Crockpot.

Finally add 6 cups of water, which should be enough to fully submerge the beans.

Black beans, spices, and onion submerged in water in a slow cooker.

Set your slow cooker to high for 6 hours, or low for 8-10 hours.

If you can, occasionally check to make sure the beans haven’t absorbed all of the liquid. If so, just add enough to reach the top of the beans.

Black beans cooked in Crockpot

Once the beans are tender, drain them using a colander. If you are making refried style, reserve the liquid in a separate bowl and proceed to the directions below.

beans draining

If you’re not making the beans refried style, they’re now ready to serve or store!

black beans made in a slow cooker

How To Make Refried Beans:

Once you’ve drained the beans, return them to the slow cooker (no need to dirty more dishes). Add one cup of the reserved cooking liquid and use an immersion blender to liquefy the beans.

I start by gently pressing the blender through the beans, lifting it back out, moving over to unmashed beans, and pressing down again; continuing until it’s smooth enough to start stirring while blending.

If the beans are too thick for your liking, add 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid at a time (fully blending it in before adding more) until you reach your desired consistency. I prefer them to be thick enough to when you lift up the blender the beans stick to it.

Black beans blended to make refried style beans in slow cooker.

At this point your beans are done! You can serve them immediately, leave them in the slow cooker to keep warm for an upcoming meal, or store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

black beans refried style

What Toppings Should I Add?

While these black beans have amazing flavor on their own, I like to dress them up a bit. Cheese is my go to, whether it be cheddar, jack, or cotija (or all 3). I also love a dollop of sour cream, or plain Greek or Icelandic yogurt for a healthier alternative. For some fresh flavor I sprinkle cilantro and green onions to finish it off.

slow cooker black refried beans topped with cheese

How Long Do Black Beans Last?

Dried beans will last years in your pantry, making them an excellent item to stock up on when they’re on sale.

Once you’ve cooked your beans, they can safely be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or the freezer for up to 8 months!

How Can I Make Beans Spicy?

If you’d like to crank up the heat on the whole batch, add some extra spices to the slow cooker. A tablespoon (or two!) of chipotle, cayenne, or chili powder adds fantastic spice and flavor.

For a personal touch of heat on an individual serving, use your favorite hot sauce like Cholula, Tapatío, or my Spicy Serrano Salsa! You can also top the beans with diced peppers like jalapeños!

Are Black Refried Beans Healthy?

Typically refried beans are made with lard, but my recipe doesn’t use any added fat making them a healthy alternative to the traditional recipe.

Additionally, I use black beans instead of pinto beans. While both beans are a wonderful healthy option, black beans are slightly healthier! Black beans pack in more nutrients, antioxidants, protein and fiber, all while containing fewer carbs than pinto beans.

What To Make With Black Beans

Black beans are an amazing side dish for any Mexican inspired meal. I love to serve the refried style with tacos, enchiladas, or my Street Taco Pizza.

I also use black beans for meal prepping to add to egg scrambles, salads, or burrito bowls.

Black Beans topped with cheese
Black refried beans topped with cheese

Slow Cooker Black Beans

Sarah Dougall Shorter
No soaking necessary for these easy Slow Cooker Black Beans. Enjoy them whole or refried style for a healthy side dish.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings 6 Cups
Calories 173 kcal


  • 1 Pound Dried Black Beans (2 Cups)
  • 2 Tablespoons Paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons Onion Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon Oregano
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Pepper
  • 1 Medium Onion (quartered)
  • 6 Cups Water


  • Rinse died black beans and pick out any broken beans.
  • Pour the beans into a 6 quart slow cooker.
  • Add all spices and onion.
  • Mix in the water.
  • Cook on high for 6 hours or low 8-10 hours.
  • Drain and serve or store in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container.

Refried Style Instructions

  • Reserve the cooking liquid when you drain the beans in a separate bowl.
  • Return the drained beans to the slow cooker and add 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
  • Use an immersion blender to start blending the beans.
  • Continue to blend until the beans are smooth.
  • If the beans are too thick, add 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid at a time and fully blend before adding more, until you reach your desired consistency.
  • Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.


Some great optional toppings are:
  • Cheese! Cheddar, Jack, Cotija!
  • Cilantro
  • Green Onion
  • Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt
  • Salsa
  • Avocado
  • Jalapeños 
Keyword Gluten Free, Meal Prep, Slow Cooker, Vegan

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