How Long are Cooked Beans Good For?

Beans are full of protein, fiber, and other nutrients, they’re a great source of vegetarian protein, and they’re also pretty affordable (especially if you buy dried beans in bulk). 

From classic red kidney beans with ham to vegetarian black bean burgers to vegan refried pinto beans with rice—there are so many ways to cook up these amazing legumes. As a matter of fact, a favorite go-to meal is chicken enchiladas with pinto beans instead of meat filling. 

Of course, there are some downsides to cooking your own beans at home. For example, cooked beans have a short shelf life because they spoil easily after being cooked but before being eaten. 

This means that it’s important for you to know how long do cooked beans last before purchasing them at the store or making them at home…and then how long will they last once they’re safely in your fridge? 

Your cooked beans are safe in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 6 months. 

Let’s explore everything below!

Do Cooked Beans Spoil Easily?

They can. Much like meats, the protein in beans provides a fiesta for bacterial growth. The USDA states that beans shouldn’t be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours due to the risk of bacterial growth. 

Cooked beans have added moisture that encourages bacterial and mold growth. Those bacteria can release toxins into your beans like Staphylococcus aureus which are heat resistant. This means that even re-heating the beans to kill the bacteria won’t necessarily make them safe to eat. 

How Long Do Cooked Beans Last?

The answer depends on what kind of beans you’re talking about, but generally speaking, they should be good for 3-5 days after cooking them. This is the average. The exact length will depend largely on how much protein is in the bean you’re cooking. 

This is assuming that you store them properly and keep them out of direct sunlight and heat sources like hot ovens or microwaves. 

If you have any doubt about whether your refrigerated food items have gone bad or not, it’s always best just to throw them out rather than risk getting sick from eating spoiled food!

Room Temperature

Just like meat (it’s the protein) cooked beans can sit at room temperature for up to 2 hours. The USDA states that after 2 hours, bacteria have been given ample enough time to multiply to a level that will most likely make you sick. 

If your surroundings are over 90 degrees F, you can knock that time down to 1 hour unrefrigerated. Any beans left out in temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees F are considered to be in the ‘danger zone’ per the USDA. At these temperatures, bacteria multiply very quickly and will become a danger to you within 1 to 2 hours. 


Once cooked, beans should be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated. In general, cooked beans will last for about five days in the refrigerator.

Even better, your cooked beans become even more flavorful after about two days!

It’s not recommended that you freeze your cooked beans–they tend to lose flavor when frozen and thawed again later on.


If you freeze your cooked beans immediately after cooking them, you have about 6 months before you should consider them out of prime, 8 months maximum. 

In general, most freezer goods have the best flavor and texture if they’re consumed within 3 months. By 6 months they will have lost some of their flavor and texture and are considered out of prime consumption time. 

How Do You Know When Cooked Beans Have Gone Bad?

You don’t want to accidentally ingest beans that are past their prime. Not only will they not taste as amazing as you expect, but they could make you quite sick. 

Check these three things before consuming your cooked beans.


The appearance of cooked beans is a good indicator of their freshness, especially if you cooked them yourself. The best-looking beans will be dry and firm, with no sign of shriveling or sliminess. If they’re not quite as dry as you remember them being when they were first cooked, that’s okay–just make sure there are no signs of mold growth.

If your beans have been stored for more than a few days in the fridge, some may have broken during cooking or storage. This isn’t necessarily cause for alarm; however, if you notice an unusually high number of broken pieces in any given batch (or every batch) then it might be time to toss out those particular beans before they start getting moldy.

White liquid surrounding the beans is another red flag. If you see white liquid, it’s time to throw them out.


The taste of your beans is the best indicator of their freshness. If they taste bad or off, they’re probably bad. If they taste fine and you think they might be going bad soon, toss them. 

The same goes for canned beans–if you don’t like how they taste when you open up a can of kidney beans or black beans (or any other kind), throw them out and try another brand next time!


The smell is the first sign of spoilage, so if your beans smell bad, they are bad. If you can’t smell them (or if you can’t tell whether or not they smell good), then they might be fine.

Trust us, you’ll know the smell when your beans have gone bad! It’s really unpleasant.

What Happens If You Eat Cooked Beans that Have Gone Bad?

More than 240,000 people per year get food poisoning from food that’s been left out for too long.

Bad beans can lead to food poisoning, which is a serious condition that can be fatal. Symptoms include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. If you are experiencing these symptoms after eating cooked beans that have gone bad then it’s important that you seek medical attention immediately.

Symptoms can develop anywhere from 4 hours after eating to 48 hours. You’re looking at at least 2 days to fully recover and the potential for needing serious medical attention. 

Tips for Storing Your Cooked Beans

  • Store your cooked beans in an airtight container. This will prevent them from becoming stale or moldy, and it can also help to maintain the flavor of the cooked beans.
  • Keep your cooked beans in the fridge or freezer if you don’t plan on using them right away. This will extend their shelf life by several weeks, depending on how long they’ve been cooked for and how old they are when you cook them (older beans tend to go bad faster).
  • Never store raw beans next to cooked ones; this could cause bacteria from one type of food item to spread onto another type during storage time. Similarly, don’t store raw meats next to cooked meats–this increases the risk of cross-contamination as well! 
  • Never store eggs near any kind of legume product because they’ll get gross really fast!
  • Store your cooked beans with some of the cooking water. It keeps the flavor longer.
  • Always defrost your frozen beans in the fridge. This will make sure they last longer.
  • Store cooked beans in the freezer in batches. Try 1, 2, or 3 cup batches depending on the number of people in your family. This way you’re only thawing what you’ll use right away.
  • Let the beans cool completely before putting them in the fridge or freezer. One, you’re risking bacterial growth, and two, you’ll increase the temperature inside your fridge. 


Hopefully, this article has given you some insight into how long cooked beans are good for. 

Remember that there are many factors that can affect the longevity of your cooked beans–the main ones being temperature and how well they’re stored. But don’t let these details discourage you from enjoying a healthy meal! 

If you follow these guidelines, then there’s no reason why your next pot of chili shouldn’t last for weeks on end.