How to Cook Red Kidney Beans

Updated February 21, 2017

Red kidney beans are so named because of their shape, which is very similar to that of the human kidney. They have an earthy flavour and solid texture, and are common in soups, stews, chilli, and rice dishes. This method for cooking red kidney beans will allow you to prepare any size portion necessary, and may be modified to suit individual tastes.

Spread the dried red kidney beans out onto a clean baking tray. Sift through them with your hands to remove any dirt, small pebbles or other debris. Transfer the beans to a colander and rinse them under cold running water.

Place the rinsed beans into a large stock pot. Add 3 cups of cold water for every one cup of beans, or about 10 cups of water for a 0.454kg. package of dried red kidney beans. Allow the beans to soak overnight, uncovered.

Drain the water from the beans by pouring the contents of the pot through a colander. Rinse them under cold running water and then return to the pot. Cover the beans with fresh water and place on the stove.

Bring the beans and water to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for approximately 1 ½ hours. Remove one of the beans to check for doneness by biting or pinching.

Continue simmering the beans for another 15 minutes, if necessary. Check again for doneness and repeat every 15 minutes until the desired tenderness is reached. Red kidney beans typically need around 2 hours cooking time, as a general rule.

Remove the red kidney beans from the heat, add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately. Store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to four days before discarding any unused portion.


Herbs, spices, and seasonings may be added to the beans any time during cooking for more flavour. Try using parsley, thyme, onions or garlic to compliment the taste of the red kidney beans. Onions added to the cooking water will also improve the taste of the beans. One pound of dried beans will equal approximately 6 cups of cooked beans, and 1 cup of dried beans is equivalent to 3 cups of cooked beans. They will expand in size while being rinsed and again during cooking.

Things You'll Need

  • Dried kidney beans
  • Baking tray
  • Colander
  • Large stock pot
  • Salt and pepper
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including