A quart container filled with cooked chickpeas.

Canned beans are incredibly convenient, and I always have a few on hand. Nothing, however, beats the flavor and texture of cooked-from-scratch beans. Once you get into a rhythm of cooking beans/chickpeas from scratch, I think you’ll find it effortless and satisfying.

A few years ago I discovered the brining method — soaking beans in salt water as opposed to water — for cooking beans. I’ve never looked back. I wrote about it in this post for Marcella Hazan’s Stewy White Beans, and I’ve outlined the steps in more details below.

That said, I do love my slow cooker for cooking chickpeas, black beans, and other dried beans. With a slow cooker, there’s no need to soak the beans. Simply dump the ingredients in the pot, set it, and forget it. Here are two favorite recipes:

  1. Simplest Slow Cooker Chickpeas
  2. Simplest Slow Cooker Black Beans

Use the method with any bean you have on hand. You’ll want to eat the beans directly from the pot — they’re so good!

How to Cook Beans and Legumes From Scratch (Brining Method)

1. Place dried chickpeas or beans in a large bowl and cover with water by at least 3 inches. Stir in 3 tablespoons kosher salt. Stir to dissolve. Let sit overnight or at least 8 to 10 hours.

2. Drain and rinse. Place chickpeas/beans in a pot. Cover with water. Add 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt, a few sprigs thyme, a small onion, halved, and a bay leaf. (All of these aromatics are optional.)

3. Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour or till done — this may take more or less time depending on the age of your beans. Add water as needed to ensure beans are always submerged in water. 

4. Store in cooking liquid in fridge for about a week or in the freezer for many months. As you may know, I love these deli quart storage containers.

Two quart containers filled with cooked chickpeas.

Same process for beans:

A quart container filled with cooked white beans.
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Two quart containers filled with cooked chickpeas.

How to Cook Beans and Chickpeas from Scratch (Brining Method)

  • Author: Alexandra Stafford
  • Prep Time: 10 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 11 hours
  • Yield: 6 cups
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Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated’s The Science of Good Cooking

Update: I now always add some olive oil and crushed red pepper flakes to the pot while the beans cook. I love the flavor these two ingredients impart. Add if you wish.


  • 1 lb. dried chickpeas or beans
  • 3 tablespoons + 1.5 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 small onion, halved through the core
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • a few sprigs thyme, optional
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed, optional
  • 1 teaspoon, crushed red pepper flakes, optional


  1. Place the chickpeas or beans in a large bowl and cover with water by at least 3 inches. Add the 3 tablespoons of salt and stir to dissolve. Let sit at room temperature overnight or for 8 to 10 hours at least.
  2. Drain, rinse and place in a large pot with the remaining 1.5 teaspoons of salt and the remaining ingredients. Cover with water by three inches. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook at a gentle simmer for about 45 minutes or until the beans are cooked through. Note: Add water as need to ensure the beans/chickpeas are completely covered with water the entire time. Also, times will vary considerably depending on the type and age of your beans. It may take more or less than 45 minutes.
  3. Let beans cool in their cooking liquid. Discard thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and onion. Store beans in their cooking liquid for 5 to 7 days in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer.
  • Category: Beans
  • Method: Boil
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: chickpeas, beans, legumes, scratch, brining