How to Cook Navy Beans

(c) Photo: Lisa Muhammad

Before we get started, I would like you to read what The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said in the following about navy beans (emphasis mine)...

"EAT ONLY small navy beans. They are white and pink in color. There are also large beans of the same color, but do not eat the great big beans - eat the small ones. Cook them thoroughly. Feed them to your children."  -The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, How To Eat To Live, Vol. 1

"SIMPLE NAVY BEANS is one of the best foods that we can eat. You do not have to strain the beans to eat them. Straining the beans is a real habit that we took up years ago. But, they are better if you eat them in their hull (skin)." - The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, How To Eat To Live, Vol. 2

"DO NOT PUT A LOT OF SPICES, or what you call seasonings, in such good food. Do not do this. You ruin your food. The value of the bean is taken away by your putting so much seasonings in them. Just put the beans on and cook them until they are done. LET THE BEAN STAY IN IT'S JACKET..." - The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, How To Eat To Live, Vol. 2

What did the Messenger of Allah mean when he said, "Let the bean stay in it's jacket?" 

Do not take the jacket off (skin) with a strainer, is what he meant. Cooks got into the habit of using a foley strainer to take the skin off the beans. Leave the skins on. Do not remove them. EVERYTHING he taught has significance. Even if we don't understand we will eventually. 

Now, let's get started.

What you'll need:
1lb (one pound) Navy Beans  
8 cups water
Large pot

The day before you cook the beans you will need to 
pick over the beans and remove any stones or dark discolored beans.

(c) Photo: Lisa Muhammad

Rinse the beans in a large pot. 
For every 1lb (one pound) of beans add 8 cups of cold water. 
Let the beans soak overnight or at least 8 hours in a large bowl or pot
(Soaking the beans helps to break down enzymes and lessens gas.) 
(c) Photo: Lisa Muhammad

After the beans have soaked, drain the soaked water and rinse the beans.

Place the drained beans into a large pot and cover with 6 cups of hot water for each pound (2 cups) of beans.
(c) Photo: Lisa Muhammad

Place the lid on the pot and bring to a boil, then SIMMER GENTLY until desired tenderness is reached, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. 

That's it. Your done. See how easy that was?

Now all that other stuff is up to you like; adding tomato sauce, peppers, onions garlic. I won't get into recipes here, but I share a few on the site. Look for the links. But this is the basic way to cook navy beans.

I used to add all kinds of things to my navy beans. But NOW, I'm much better. I eat them as simple as possible. It's better that way for you, just like the Messenger said. So, I add a little butter, garlic (fresh-not that powdered junk), salt and pepper and I'm in heaven. Oh and some cayenne pepper. 

Now here are a few tips.

Add 1 to 2 Tablespoons oil (to prevent boiling over). This is optional however. Just make sure you keep and eye on them.


Adding salt in the beginning will toughen beans. Add salt after or just before beans are completely cooked.

Bring beans to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Boil gently with lid tilted until beans are tender when tasted 1 - 2 hours. The FRESHER the beans the less time it take to cook them. If any of you got beans from the farm, you'll notice they only took a few minutes and were SO TENDER.

Add hot water as needed to keep beans just covered with liquid. The best rule is to test frequently during cooking, then come to your own decision when beans are tender. Most recipes will tell you to cook beans until tender. To check for tenderness, pinch or bite a few beans at a minimum suggested time, then every 10 to 15 minutes until the beans are tender). 

Check the beans occasionally to see if they are covered with the cooking liquid. If there is so much liquid absorption and evaporation that the top of the beans becomes exposed, add very hot water to the pot to cover the beans. 

When dried beans boil, a foam forms on the top of the cooking liquid. This foam is water-soluble protein released from the beans and it will be absorbed back into the bean cooking liquid. I remove the foam. I believe it helps to cut down on gas. 

To keep the foam down when cooking beans, add 1-2 Tablespoon of butter or olive oil.  And be careful with corn oil. Years ago, we didn't have the problems we have today with corn oil. Today so much corn is genetically engineered. It's practically impossible to find some that has not been tampered with.
(c) Photo: Lisa Muhammad


  1. I've read about keeping the hull on in How to Eat to Live; and I've also read that when serving soup to others outside of your family, that the beans should strained or pureed. Can you shed some light on the subject?

    Thank you.

  2. Greetings,

    It's true that The Honorable Elijah Muhammad wrote that the hull should be left on the bean. There is no reference however in his writing wherein he suggests we should serve the bean strained or pureed to others outside of our family. That would be a contradiction to what he wrote.
    Here are his words:

    "SIMPLE navy beans is one of the best foods we can eat. You do not have to strain them. Straining the beans is a real habit we took up years ago. But they are better for you if you eat them in their hull." Then further he writes:
    "Let the beans stay in its jacket. Of course I see them crush the beans, and since the cooks and the eaters like it like that, I go along with them. But I like it better when you cook them and leave them right n the jacket."
    -H.E.M. How To Eat To Live, Vol. 2, pp. 71

    So for me, my family and friends I want to eat my beans in their jacket, just like he liked them.

    Hope this was for helpful.

  3. Beans are very healthy food for all people. Thanks for giving How to Cook Navy Beans. Here new variety and colorful 3 Bean Salad recipe.

  4. It was! My lesson: Do not take on mixed instructions.:-) Thank you.

  5. Asa sister lisa I myself have a very bad condition with my hair i have tried many different medicines and i am eager to try black molasses thank you loving the website

    1. Thank you. I'm happy you like the site. Send us an email and I'll send you some tips that may possibly help you with your hair. You can email me @

      Hope to you hear from you.

      The good cook

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  6. I'm cooking navy beans right now and hope they come out as good as I remember Mom used to make them. I am using a ham hock for flavoring and will add s/p before serving. Incidentally, does anyone have a remedy for psoriasis of the scalp? I would really appreciate any good advice you can give. It is worse during dry, winter days.

  7. Greetings. I am not a health expert. So, please see a Doctor.
    However, having the knowledge that; "we are what we eat." I would eliminate pork and it's by-products completely from my diet. (See our article about the pig).
    Eliminate processed foods from your diet.
    Don't scratch. I know this difficult, but use a salt and water compress to help alleviate the itching.
    Get tested for allergies (wheat, gluten, etc.)
    Our skin eliminates poisons from our system, but can be overburdened.
    Try fasting to help eliminate the toxins we take in through food and the environment. Also try using African Black Soap. It's known for helping to eliminate acne, psoriasis and other skin irritations.

    Try not to use harsh soaps. Especially during the winter months, which can be quite dry.

  8. I've soaked 2 cups of Navy beans; and left them in the fridge for a few days as I didn't get around to cooking them. Took them out to cook them tonight, and noticed that several of them have darkened. Is there any danger or problem? They're various shades of beige to very pale brown, most of them are white.

    1. Sometimes a few beans here and there will be like that. Look at the photo above and you'll see a few beans I've picked over are brown, some spotted and even yellow.
      just pick them out.

      I recently purchased some organic beans. They had pebbles as well as some beans that were grey and beige. So, just make sure you pick over them well.

      Hope this helps.

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