Spicy, Slow Cooked Butter Beans with Chorizo

Spicy, Slow Cooked Butter Beans with ChorizoNo matter what I do, when I cook meat in the slow cooker (aka the crock pot), it becomes wooly and all the delicious seasonings I have added become dull, dull, dull. On the other hand, I love the texture and flavour of meat slow cooked in the oven or braised on the stovetop. Perhaps the sealed environment of the slow cooker which is essentially slow boiling the meat over a very long period of time, relegates the proteins and the seasonings to a pappy, bland insipidness. Perhaps oxygen and evaporation play a crucial role in the flavour and texture stakes. I don’t know but what I do know is that there are millions of people out there who do make it work and work well – there are some fabulous sounding recipes out there and many a crock pot devotee as a quick search on Pinterest will confirm. Nonetheless, I cannot make it work for me. I have tried “roasting” a chicken in it, braising brisket and stewing meat. I’ve used it to make stock and flavoured legumes. I’ve adjusted cooking times, reduced liquid, increased flavourings and spices – all to no avail. Everything just tastes dull; no matter how much I try and adjust the seasoning after the cooking, I just cannot rescue the texture or the flat taste.

Spicy, Slow Cooked Butter Beans with Chorizo | Selma's TableThat being said, what I do like is how well it cooks dried legumes like chickpeas and butter beans without the need to pre-soak or watch that the pot does not boil dry. I chuck together the beans, bay leaves and water just before going to bed and in the morning, the beans are soft, juicy and plump, ready to be sauced for supper that evening.

Spicy, Slow Cooked Butter Beans with Chorizo | Selma's TableBut, I hear you say, why bother when you can get tins of the stuff in practically any corner shop and grocery store? Well, the texture and the flavour is much, much nicer when cooked from dry. I find the liquor in the tins tastes tinny and have to rinse the beans very well indeed before using them. Having said that, I always have a couple of tins in pantry as they do come in very useful for those last minute meals but if I have the time, I much prefer to cook them from dry.

Spicy, Slow Cooked Butter Beans with Chorizo | Selma's TableI would suggest that the first time you make these, you do them during the day, when you are likely to be around to check on the water in the crock. I have found that the measurements below are perfect for my crock – the beans cook and soak up just enough water, leaving perhaps a cup of thick liquid that has not been absorbed and is just perfect to thicken the sauce with.

Spicy, Slow Cooked Butter Beans with Chorizo | Selma's TableThe chorizo sauce is just delicious!! Lemony, tangy, spicy and rich – do, please take the time to caramelise the onions slowly – you can get on with something else in the kitchen for the 10 minutes or so that it will take for them to slowly turn a golden brown. They lend such a depth of flavour to the sauce. And of course you can use the contents of 2 very well rinsed cans of butter beans instead and just use water where the recipe calls for bean cooking liquid. If you don’t have a slow cooker and want to use dried beans, then cook the dried beans, according to the manufacturers instructions on the pack which usually involve soaking them for 8 hours and then simmering them for one or two hours afterwards.

Spicy, Slow Cooked Butter Beans with Chorizo


  • 250 g dried butter beans
  • 650 ml water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • salt
  • 1 cooking chorizo sliced into ½ cm rounds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ – 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp smokey paprika
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 large tomatoes diced
  • handful chopped parsley


  1. Either the day before or at least 9 hours before you wish to eat; place the dried butter beans and bay leaves in the crock, top with water cook on low heat for 7 – 8 hours. I don’t find it necessary to add any salt or baking soda. The beans will become plump and tender, having soaked up most of the water.
  2. An hour or so, before you wish to eat; heat the olive oil in a pan and stir in the finely chopped onion. Sprinkle with a little salt and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Take time to cook them slowly to get that deep flavor from the caramelised onions.
  3. Stir in the sliced chorizo and the spices. Let this cook gently until the oil turns orange from the chorizo.
  4. Add a ladle of the bean cooking liquid, stirring to deglaze the pan by scraping any sticky bits off the bottom. When it has evaporated, stir in the tomato paste and the diced tomato. Stir and add another ladle of the bean cooking liquid, when it has evaporated, add a final one. There shouldn’t be much liquid left in the beans – try and get as much of it into the chorizo mixture to evaporate. If you don’t have much liquid left in the beans then use water instead.
  5. Stir in the butter beans, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Simmer gently for half and hour to allow the flavours to blend and any excess liquid to evaporate.
  6. Just before serving, stir in the parsley.
  7. Serve with rice, a dollop of greek yoghurt and a sharp green salad.

Left overs are even better the next day!

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


49 thoughts on “Spicy, Slow Cooked Butter Beans with Chorizo

    • I got mine in the summer sales a few years back but it’s only been in the past year that I have made the effort to use it. I only ever seem to use it now, for pre cooking beans. Even chicken stock doesn’t taste as nice!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Delicious! You must have read my mind because I am craving chorizo right now. Have some in the fridge waiting to go into some Spanish rice later. This is right up my street. If I had butterbeans in the cupboard, I probably would’ve changed the menu! I’ve been missing your recipes the past few days.


    • I just love the flavour of chorizo – it’s the smokey hot paprika but also that lemony zing too! Spanish rice sounds nice…mmm!! I’ve not posted for about a week and a half so you’ve not missed much at all!! x


  2. I have never been able to figure out how to make acceptable food in the crock pot either..I don’t like how it just boils everything and makes everything taste the same. That said, I’ve never tried dried beans! We eat a lot of beans so I will definitely try your method of softening them in the slow cooker. And this recipe looks great too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, I am so glad to hear that – I really thought that it was just me either being really picky or just not getting how to cook with it! That is exactly what it does – it makes everything taste the same – but at the same time it flattens the flavours too. Do let me know what you think of pre cooking the beans in one, if you give it a go.

      Liked by 1 person

    • You are the second person to agree with me Julie – I was a bit worried putting it out there and offending lots of people who really do get good results. Let me know what you think if you try the beans in the crock pot…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Gotta try this, beautiful Selma. I have used my crock pot on many occasions, it’s a hit or miss I’ve gotta say. I’ve even cooked a whole chicken over a bed of veggies. Stews and chillis turn out beautifully, but I agree with you, you don’t always get the results you want for other dishes. I have often thought of softening the beans in the slow cooker, but have never tried it. So will give it a try during the day and just experiment with the liquid amount. Canned beans are laden with sodium, so cooking it from scratch is the way to go. I have chorizo in the refrigerator, but don’t have the butter beans, although I do have black-eyed peas, they should do fine too. Your second picture with the bay leaves and those stark white beans against the black container is a beautiful contrast.


    • I remember you mentioning that you roast chicken in yours so I gave it a go – I think my crock is just the wrong shape – it’s flowerpot shaped rather than oval – perhaps that is where I am going wrong?!. Do let me know how you get on with the beans. And thanks for your kind words about the photo – the colours do work very nicely together!


  4. I love butter beans but have never made from dry. You are right, they are a bit tinny. I don’t have a slow cooker and really do need to get one. Love the idea of doing the beans overnight. This is a beautiful recipe.


  5. I was thinking yesterday how interesting it is that each of us can get such different results from the same recipe. I’m currently trying to develop a recipe to the foolproof stage before passing it on. I’m not sure it’s possible. I have excellent results with the crockpot for nearly everything, pulled pork, stewed chicken, sliverside etc. In our hot climate it is a good thing because I can cook in it and keep the heat out of the kitchen. Your recipe sounds delicious. I know my husband would love it. I agree with you that the liquid in tinned beans is awful, tastes ‘soapy’ or something. Thanks for sharing this Selma.


    • You are quite right – look at Celia’s bread – so many of us have made it and we have all had very different results! We had such a hot summer last year which is one of the reasons I began to use the slow cooker – to keep the heat down in the kitchen! I might give it another shot if it gets too hot again this summer! Good luck with your recipe – its always a little nerve wracking to think that people might cook something you have posted and have a disaster with it!! Thanks for your insightful comments as usual Ardys. I have been really enjoying your posts on Instagram!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m with you Selma, i find food, meat especially,braised in the crockpot dull compared to the results of using a cast iron casserole in the oven. I do think it’s all about the evaporation of water and the reduction of juices which leads to a richness of flavour. On the other hand, the slow cooker is perfect for legumes, and corned silverside etc. delicious recipe!


    • Ah, maybe I should try some silverside next…with minimal spicing to begin with perhaps…I just think that the prolonged cooking period just dulls the flavours so if flavouring are added later, they might stand a chance!


  7. Interesting. Your views on slow cooker ( echoes by Sandra). I have one but have only used it for beans so far, given that I don’t eat meat, but I was hoping to cook casseroles for my mother in it- sounds like the old ways are better.
    The bean recipe looks great. I’m making this one today- without the chorizo.


  8. I break out my crock pot every so often and I usually get pretty satisfying results, but I see definitely where you’re coming from. With me, I get nervous because I hate ‘waiting’ to see how my dish turns out, whereas in the kitchen I can be there minute by minute to see and control the actual outcome.

    This dish looks amazing! Butter beans are my second favorite- they’ve got a really good texture :-)


  9. I have been contemplating your post and the other comments… wondering if you have a crock pot that cooks on low as well as high, or if it is a one temperature like the old ones. I’ve been using one for over 30 years, from the old style to the two temp one I have now. The newer ones are better, and I nearly always cook things on a long, slow setting. My chicken broth is wonderful, even without onion, since I can’t eat it! xxx


  10. Apart from my baked beans I haven’t cooked beans in the slow cooker before, so great to know you don’t even need to soak them….
    I mostly use mine for quince paste and similar, but it’s definitely getting to the weather for beans so I’ll have to give it a go :)


  11. I love this method of cooking beans. Your particular recipe sounds delicious. I agree that the slow cooker turns beans luscious and full of flavor…if I had time I would always choose the slow cooker over the ubiquitous pressure cooker…. Excellent pictures as always.


  12. This sounds like a tasty dish for me to try. I will have to use canned beans, I am unable to cook the dried ones, no matter how long i soak or cook them they just aren’t right. May be I need a slow cooker.


  13. Pingback: a freeform onion and goat cheese loaf from selma’s table | ten.times.tea

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