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Recipe: Easy slow cooker beans

Posted July 24, 2014

I'm always on the lookout for an easy recipe that requires just dumping a bunch of ingredients in the slower cooker, turning it on and opening it up to a delicious meal at six to eight hours later.

I'm also always on the lookout for meat-less slow cooker recipes as, other than stews and soups, I haven't had much luck cooking a variety of meat in the pot. With a few exceptions, it comes out dry or rubbery or in a texture that my family doesn't find appealing.

Cue the email from my husband a month or so ago with this recipe for very easy slow cooker beans. It comes from Michael Ruhlman, the cook, book author, TV show guest, eating enthusiast.

Ruhlman shared this recipe as part of an interview with Dr. Roxanne Sukol, Cleveland Clinic preventative medicine physician, who has her own blog called Your Health is On Your Plate. She has some really interesting thoughts on the food we eat today and how we need to focus on eating "nutritious food," not "healthy food." I recommend both Ruhlman's original blog post and Sukol's site.

But that brings us back to this slow cooker recipe for beans. It couldn't be easier and, for what little work is required, tastier.

Slow Cooker Bean Stew
Adapted from

1 cup white beans (I used navy beans)
1 quart of water (I had an open container of vegetable stock so used that instead)
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (I had a 26.75-ounce box of petite diced tomatoes that worked just fine)
1 onion, chopped
Kosher salt and pepper

Put everything except the salt and pepper in your slow cooker and turn it on low for six to eight hours. The recipe suggests a bay leaf, which I added. Add the salt and pepper once the cooking is done. I added very little as my family isn't big on seasoning. Check Ruhlman's blog post for instructions if you don't have a slow cooker.

The beans come out pretty soupy. To thicken it up, we used a hand mixer to puree some, but not all, of the beans.

This made about eight servings for my family (of light eaters). 

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  • Sarah Hall Jul 25, 2014
    user avatar

    Good point. I used dry beans that were not soaked and they came out perfectly. There are various schools of thought on soaking beans, but if you cook them long enough (like in a slow cooker), you don't need to soak them. I have soaked and not soaked and really don't find much of a difference in the consistency and the um ... digestive effects.


  • snowl Jul 25, 2014

    From my experience, I assume that you are using pre-soaked dry beans, or canned beans? This might be helpful to some, as I always thought dry beans needed to be soaked over-night before cooking them with other ingredients?