Have you ever made mung beans before? Chances are you're here because you found a bag of the cute little legumes at the back of your cupboard and are wondering what the heck to do with them. Welcome! I'm going to walk you through several different methods for cooking mung beans that will leave you with perfectly cooked beans every time.
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There are a lot of different instructions for how to cook mung beans on the internet, and I've tried them all. Woah, you guys, is it ever a jungle out there. So how do you know who to trust? The lady with 18 cups of mushy mung beans in her freezer, that's who.
What are mung beans?
Mung beans are small legumes, in the same family as beans and lentils. Today mung beans are cultivated in China, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Korea, and Southeast Asia (among other places, but the legume is believed to have originated in the Middle East.
Mung beans refer to the whole, intact bean that’s encased in a green husk. This is what we're working with today. Mung beans are also referred to as green gram, or moong, and probably other regional names that I'm missing as well.
You can also find mung beans split in half with the husk removed, which is referred to as moong dal (so moong dal and split mung beans are the same thing). Moong dal will have slightly less dietary fiber, and will cook faster than whole mung beans.
You may also be familliar with sprouted mung beans, which are frequently found in sandwiches and salads. It's simple (and safe!) to sprout mung beans at home.
Are mung beans healthy?
They sure are!
Mung beans are a good source of folate, dietary fiber, protein, phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium and vitamin K. The protein-plus-fiber combination in beans is one of the things that makes them special.
A one cup serving of mung beans contains around 15g of fiber (over half of the daily recommended intake), and 15g of protein. Much of the fiber is indigestible, which supports digestive health, particularly in the lower part of our digestive tract.
The protein-fiber combination is also key in stabilizing blood sugar levels, as both protein and fiber move through our digestive systems at a moderate pace. Beans are also rich in soluble fiber, which is helpful for lowering blood cholesterol levels and supporting cardiovascular health.
Do you need to soak mung beans?
No! Mung beans are small and quick to cook compared to other beans like black beans or chickpeas, so no soaking is required before cooking them.
Of course you can soak your mung beans if you prefer. Many people swear by soaking beans, discarding the soaking water, and then cooking them in fresh water to remove flatulence-causing compounds and make them easier to digest.
Please note that all of the cooking times in this post are for unsoaked mung beans.
We're going to go through a few different cooking techniques, but regardless of which one you choose the first thing you need to do is put your beans into a mesh strainer and give them a good rinse. Sift through the beans with your fingers and check for any small stones or anything else that might be hiding with the beans that you wouldn't want to bite into.
Cooking mung beans stovetop
Cooking your mung beans on the stove top is the most simple and straightforward method. It doesn't require any soaking in advance, and the beans are nicely cooked in about 30 minutes.
The stovetop is also my preferred method as you can keep an eye on your beans as they cook and pull from the heat when they're perfectly tender. If you're making a salad with mung beans, for example, you may want a more "al dente" bean than if you were making soup or veggie burgers.
To cook mung beans on the stove top, place in a pot and cover with plenty of water (I usually go with one part mung beans to three parts water). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the beans are tender.
Instant Pot Mung Beans
Guys, I'm not going to lie, cooking mung beans in the Instant Pot is kinda tricky. This is why I have 18 cups of mushy mung beans in my freezer right now ????????
I tested several of the most popular recipes on the internet before FINALLY figuring out what actually works.
One big and reputable website recommended cooking the beans for 6 minutes on high pressure and then naturally releasing for 20 minutes. This was the only batch of beans I actually threw away as it was so overcooked it was absolutely unusable mush. Trust me when I say this is too much.
I then tested a variety of cook times with quick releasing. In the photo below the beans on the left were cooked for 6 minutes on high pressure and the beans on the right were cooked for 9 minutes on high pressure, both with an immediate quick release.
It's hard to tell from the photo, but even the beans on the left are really soft. Way too soft to use in a salad, but they'd be fine in soup, for rice and beans, or made into hummus.
The beans on the right are quite mushy, and I'd only use them in veggie burgers, a blended soup, or something along those lines.
What I didn't know before embarking on this megathon for learning how to perfectly cook mung beans, is that using the quick release function on the Instant Pot actually increases the temperature to way above boiling. I consistently found quick-released mung beans were too mushy, no matter how short the cooking time was.
This lead me to experimenting with natural release cook times. I first tried 5 minutes at high pressure with a 10 minute natural release, and the beans were over cooked mush. Those got thrown in the compost.
Finally, I made a batch where I set the Instant Pot to 0 minutes at high pressure and a 10 minute natural release, and ladies and gentlemen we have a winner!!!
In the photo below we have uncooked mung beans on the left, and perfectly al dente salad worthy mung beans on the right.
That's right, the perfect instant pot mung beans are cooked for zero minutes at high pressure. But this doesn't actually mean they're cooked for zero minutes. Keep in mind that it will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure and then there is a 10 minute natural release period before you flip the valve to release the remaining pressure.
The total cook time for zero-minute mung beans in the Instant Pot is actually about 20 minutes.
Slow Cooker Mung Beans
I tend to not cook beans in the slow cooker these days since the Instant Pot is so much faster, but for those of you who want to "set it and forget it" you can certainly use your slow cooker for mung beans.
Just as cooking mung beans on the stove top, you'll want to add one part beans to three parts water. You can set your slow cooker on high for 3 hours, or low for about 6 hours.
Cooking times will vary from slow cooker to slow cooker, but the advantage of this method is being able to take the lid off and test the beans when they are close to done.
The best way to cook mung beans
If you ask me what the best way to cook literally any other bean is, I'll tell you it's the Instant Pot. But man oh man are mung beans tricky to get right this way!
Since these are quick cooking beans that don't require soaking, my recommendation is to cook them on the stovetop so you can monitor them to see when they are perfectly done.
How to store mung beans.
If you cook up a big batch (or five) of mung beans, they'll last about 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge. You can also freeze mung beans (which is what I've done with all my excess mung).
To freeze mung beans, simply portion them into freezer bags (I love these reusable silicon freezer bags), squeeze the air out, label them, and pop into the freezer. Your beans will be good for about 3 months in the freezer.
Ways to use mung beans
My absolute favourite mung bean recipe is this Mung Bean and Coconut Curry (note - this recipe calls for dried beans, not pre-cooked). If you have softer mung beans on hand, try making Mung Bean Hummus or try these Mung Bean Burgers. This Spicy Mung Bean Salad is a favourite of mine too!
How to Cook Mung Beans
- 1 cup mung beans
- Rinse your mung beans well, and check over for any stones.
- Place 1 cup mung beans and 3 cups water in a large pot.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the beans are tender. This will take about 30 minutes.
Instant Pot instructions
- Place 1 cup mung beans and 3 cups of water into the insert of an Instant Pot.
- Seal the lid and ensure that it is set to "sealing".
- Set to high pressure for 0 (zero) minutes.
- Once the Instant Pot has reached pressure it will beep and start naturally releasing the pressure. Allow to natural release for 10 minutes, and then flip the valve to "venting" and release the remaining pressure.
Slow Cooker instructions
- Place 1 cup of beans and 3 cups of water in the slow cooker.
- Set to HIGH for 3 hours, or LOW for 6 hours. Check beans towards the end of the cooking time.
- You can scale the quantity of beans up or down, but it should always be one part beans to three parts of water for cooking.
- Drain any remaining water when the beans are cooked.
- Cooked mung beans can be stored for up to 5 days in the fridge, or 3 months in the freezer.