Beyond Easy Slow Cooker ‘Down Home’ Beans

Beyond Easy Slow Cooker 'Down Home' Beans

These are some beans I made for a southern food party. Someone else made cornbread, and together you have a traditional southern dish. The type of beans change state to state or what you have in your pantry, but they all are delicious. If you have extras freeze them for another time.

If you don’t have access to liquid smoke see if you can find smoked salt or paprika. It works in a pinch. If you are going to cook them often it’s well worth ordering some off the internet.

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As always, customize to suit your personal taste and traditions. The most important part is that you enjoy them, but it doesn’t hurt that this is a super cheap dish to make either.

You can cook any bean in the slow cooker but be aware that kidney beans can have a toxin called phytohaemagglutnin and need to be brought up to a boiling temperature. So boil them for 10 minutes before cooking in the slow cooker. This step is not necessary for other types of beans.


Slow Cooker Down Home Beans (Gluten-free Recipe)

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

  • 1 lb. dried pinto beans, white will work fine too
  • (You can use kidney beans but boil them for a full 10 minutes on the stove before adding to the slow cooker. This is because kidney beans contain a toxic agent, Phytohaemagglutnin also known as Kidney Bean Lectin.)
  • Approx. 8 cups filtered water
  • 1 Tb. Liquid Smoke
  • 1 tsp. Tabasco (garlic if you can find it) or Texas Pete
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tb olive oil or Earth Balance (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
The night before:
  1. Put dry beans, garlic, liquid smoke, and Tabasco in the slow cooker and cover plus two inches with filtered water (about 8 cups).
  2. Cook on high all night.
In the morning:
  1. Add some water if needed and continue to cook on low. Smash a few of the softer beans with the back of a spoon to make a thick gravy.
  2. Add in oil if you want to make it creamier.
  3. Before serving add more hot sauce and liquid smoke if needed. Salt and pepper to taste and serve over fresh made cornbread.
Remember that the water will not evaporate in a slow cooker like it will on the stove, so don’t add a whole lot. Add enough that it will not dry out before you come home for dinner.


  1. alison says

    Hello there, do you see the need for pre-boiling (see below) – thanks al

    Raw kidney beans, and some other beans, contain the toxin phytohaemagglutinin, which is destroyed by boiling for at least ten minutes, but not by the lower temperatures of a slow cooker, so dry beans must be boiled prior to slow cooking to avoid poisoning. Even a few beans can be toxic, and beans can be as much as five times more toxic if cooked at 175°F (80°C) than if eaten raw, so adequate pre-boiling is vital. Cases of poisoning by slow-cooked beans have been published in the UK; poisoning has occurred in the USA but has not been formally reported.[8]

  2. Kathy Hester (geekypoet) says

    Alison – They do say that is the case with kidney beans and I have added that warning to my book. So I will also add it here.

    I will say I have eaten them cooked in the slow cooker without boiling them first with no ill effect on myself, but maybe I’m immune or something. Certainly I don’t want encourage anyone else to do it.

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