Unlike meat and chicken, beans turn mushy when they're overcooked.

How to Cook Beans So They Don't Turn to Mush

by M.T. Wroblewski

If you're short on time at dinner, add fresh beans to your menu. They cook up quickly , though this is a fact not all cooks have caught on to. Over cook them and you end up with a pot full of green mush. Follow a few basic guidelines about cooking beans in general and top it off with a truly shocking experience -- for the beans, at least -- and you'll have a delicious, healthy side dish the whole family will enjoy.

Boil or microwave your fresh beans by following some basic tenets: beans cook best with little water, and they don't like a crowd. In general, cook no more than 1 pound of beans at a time.

Bring some water to a boil on your stovetop. Place the fresh beans inside the pot, adding or eliminating water until the beans are just covered. Let the water come to a boil again and cook the beans for about five minutes.

Microwave fresh beans by following a general 6-to-1 ratio of beans to water. Use a microwave-safe dish that allows the beans to lay flat so that they cook evenly. Cover the dish with plastic and heat the beans on high for four minutes, stirring halfway through.

Steam your fresh beans by bringing some water to boil in a pot and setting the beans in a steamer basket or colander on top. Let the beans cook for five minutes.

Prepare a “shock bath” for your beans by loading a large bowl with ice cubes and water. When your beans are done cooking on the stovetop, in the microwave or in the steamer, scoop them up with tongs and plunge them in the water bath. Add more ice, if needed, because the beans should generally cool off in this icy bath for as long as they cooked, or about five minutes. Thel shock of the cold water stops the cooking process and prevents your beans from turning to mush.

Items you will need

  • Large bowl
  • Ice cubes


  • Stir-frying beans is an excellent way for them to remain crunchy, but only if you stir-fry on a high flame and for a short time.
  • Not all mushy beans are to be avoided at all costs. If you're cooking beans in a slow cooker -- especially dried beans for a soup -- know that many cooks assess the readiness of the dish by the disintegration of the outer layer of the bean. In this case, mushy beans can enhance the enjoyment of the dish.

About the Author

With education, health care and small business marketing as her core interests, M.T. Wroblewski has penned pieces for Woman's Day, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal and many newspapers and magazines. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images