How to Sprout Beans and Seeds

When you think of sprouting beans or hear the word, bean sprouts you may think of elementary school science experiments when you placed beans in bowls with water to watch and learn how they grew. Or if you lived through the 1960’s you may be reminded of hippie culture. “Real Groovy Man!

But bean sprouts and seed sprouts are so much more. They are crunchy, tasty, and nutritious little nuggets filled with vitamins and minerals that you can add to sandwiches and wraps, sprinkle over salads and soups, stir into pasta dishes and stir fries and other dishes to ramp up the healthy goodness of your meal.

Read on to learn the bean sprouting process and don’t forget to print the step-by-step bean sprouting process card to keep in your recipe files.

Dinner table set up with a plate of chopped salad with roasted chickpeas, sprouted mung beans, lentils and broccoli sprouts on top.
Roasted Chickpeas, Mung Bean Sprouts, Lentils and Broccoli Sprouts on my Salad.

Since beginning my WFPB – no oil journey, one of the best things I learned to do was how to sprout beans and seeds to add to my meals. They have become a staple in my diet. Making my own bean sprouts not only adds a crunchy texture to my salads, soups and sandwiches, but are fun to grow, delicious and healthy.

I love the crunchy texture “sprouts” add to my meals. I eat them by the handful. I even like them better than the Energy Balls I make.

What are the Benefits of Sprouting Beans and Seeds?

Sprouting beans and seeds is one of the easiest WFPB foods you can eat and grow right on your kitchen counter with no special equipment or a lot of space needed.

Sprouted Mung Beans on a Plate with a sprouting jar in the background.

Sprouting beans, seeds and even grains like wheat berries have nutritional benefits and makes the beans much easier to digest by breaking down the problem causing substances beans can sometimes do some digestive systems.

How to: The Bean Sprouting Process

What you need to sprout beans and seeds in a jar - no fancy equipment needed.

All you need to start sprouting beans is a clean jar or bowl.

Wide Mouth Mason jars with inexpensive sprouting lids.

A sprouting lid for the jar or a breathable cheesecloth secured over the jar or bowl with a rubber band. You will also need the dried beans or seeds.

Time needed: 2 hours

How to Sprout Beans and Seeds in Your Kitchen Without Any Fancy Equipment

  1. Soak your Beans or Seeds


    Different seeds will soak up different amounts of water, but just make sure the beans are covered with water while they are in the soaking stage.

    Rinse the beans first in a colander or strainer to remove any debris. Once throughly rinsed, place the beans in a clean Mason jar and then cover with cool water. You can leave the bowl/jar open or you can cover it with either a sprouter lid on top of the jar or a piece of breathable fabric (like cheesecloth or muslin) secured with a rubber band.

    Let the beans/seeds soak overnight or for 8-12 hours.

    Mung beans and lentils being rinsed and soaked to ready for sprouting.

  2. Drain and Rinse the Beans


    Once the soaking time is up, you need to drain the soaked beans. If you have a sprouter lid on the jar, just tip the whole jar in the sink and let the water flow out.

    If you used the cloth method, remove the rubber band and cloth, and pour the beans into a strainer or colander to drain.

    Then add more fresh, cool water to the jar, swirl it around a little bit, and rinse out that water. Make sure to remove all the water that you can. Give the jar a gentle shake if needed to remove any excess water.

    Rinsing sprouts growing in jar in a kitchen sink to start the sprouting beans process.

  3. Prop Upside Down in a Bowl


    Once the sprouts are rinsed, rotate the jar so the seeds spread out inside the jar. Next – prop the jar, upside-down, in a bowl or tray.

    Mung beans and lentils in sprouting jars propped upside down in tray.

  4. Cover and Place in a Dark Room


    Cover with a towel and set in a dark room or simply covered loosely with a cloth on your kitchen counter as you want to allow airflow to get to them.

    Dishtowel cover over sprouting jars.

  5. Drain, Rinse & Repeat


    When sprouting beans and seeds you need to drain and rinse them a few times a day. Simply drain the water from the jar, fill it back up with clean water, swirl it around, drain again and then prop up in your tray or bowl again and loosely cover.

    For most beans and seeds you will start to see the white sprouts showing up in a day or two. Keep repeating the process of rinsing and draining until you get the length of sprout you want. I like mine about 1/4″ – 1/2″ but let them grow longer up to 1-1/2″ if you want.

    Close up of mung bean sprouts in sprouting jar.

  6. Place On an Angle in a Bowl

    Tray with propped sprouting jar with sprouted mung beans and lentils inside them.

  7. Place On Towel Covered Plate


    Bean sprouts are ready to harvest when you like the length of the sprouts coming from the beans or seeds which should be at least 1/2″ inch, but better when they are 1″ or longer.

    Rinse them with cool water and drain them one more time. Then pour the sprouts onto a clean, absorbent kitchen towel lining a dinner plate. If they are very wet, gently pat them dry with a clean towel.

    Spread them all out onto one layer and let them air dry for about an hour in a sunny window before storing in the refrigerator.

    If you put a jar of sprouted alfalfa or broccoli sprouts in a sunny window for a couple of hours, the tiny leaves will develop a bit of chlorophyll and will turn green. After sunning, rinse in a large bowl of clean, cool water. Remove the hulls that float to the top and let dry, then store in the refrigerator.

    Sprouted Mung Beans and lentils on white plates lined with white towels.

  8. Store in Refrigerator


    I store my sprouts in clean mason jars with a lid. I place a piece of paper towel in the bottom and place the sprouts in.

    Store in the refrigerator for up a week.

    Below are broccoli sprouts that have been stored in the fridge. If you see moisture building up in the container, replace the paper towel and place back in fridge.

    Broccoli sprouts in a wide mouth Mason jar on kitchen counter.

  9. Add to Salads, Soups, Sandwiches and More


    You can now use your sprouts to add crunch and protein to a salad, as a topping for a bowl of soup. As a layer in sandwiches and wraps or mixed into just about anything.

    Close up shot of a chopped salad with roasted chickpeas, sprouted mung beans, lentils and broccoli sprouts on top.

What Type of Bean for Sprouting Can You Use?

Mung beans and lentils are the easiest and fastest beans to sprout. Alfalfa, chickpeas, adzuki beans and broccoli seeds are also good for beginners, but need an extra day or two.

Do not sprout kidney, lima, or broad beans. These beans have a toxin in them and need to be cooked.

Do I Need to Use Organic Sprouting Beans or Seeds?

When shopping for beans and seeds to sprout, make sure to purchase them through a reputable health food store or online catalog like sproutpeople.org or sproutman.com.

The”sprouting seeds” you buy at these stores are all tested and verified to be free of e.coli and salmonella. Growers of “sprouting-specific” seeds make sure their beans and seeds have no harmful bacteria that can thrive in the sprouting environment.

Know that dried bean from your local grocery store will sprout, but there are a few reasons that you should not use them:

  • Manufacturers that sell basic bags of dried beans bought at the grocery store figure you are going to boil them—which would kill any pathogens so they may not be the best to eat raw.
  • Beans and seeds sold in gardening packets at gardening stores for sprouting should not be used as they may have been chemically treated.

Where Do I Buy Organic Sprouting Beans and Seeds?

I buy my beans and seeds at Whole Foods in the bulk bin section and at my local health food store. I have even bought organic broccoli sprouting seeds on Amazon and sites like The Sprout People.

How to Sprout Beans and Seeds

Learn how easy it is to sprout beans and seeds using a Mason jars with sprouting lids will make the entire sprouting process easier.
Sprouts have a crunchy texture and can be added to salads, layered on a sandwich, used as soup toppings, added to bread dough, hummus, stews and more. The best way to eat them ithough is as a snack, raw.
Prep Time8 minutes
Total Time2 days 8 minutes
Course: Dinner, Salad, vegan, WFPB

Equipment

  • Wide mouth Mason jars with sprouting lids or any glass jar and a piece of cheesecloth and a rubber band

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried beans – mung, chickpeas, black beans, green peas or any bean except kidney, lima, and broad beans. These beans have a toxin in them and need to be cooked. if sprouting seeds, only use a 1/2 cup

Instructions

  • CLEAN: Place the beans in a colander and rinse them well to remove small debris and damaged beans. Rinse under cool running water.
  • SOAK: Place beans in a Mason jar or bowl and cover with cool water. The water should be a few inches above the beans or seeds as they will expand. If you see them expanding past the water level, add more water.
    Let them soak overnight or for at least 8-12 hours.
  • RINSE: Rinse the beans well with cool tap water until the water runs clear.
  • DRAIN: If using a sprouting lid, turn the jar upside down to drain the water from the jar. Then roll the jar around to spread out the beans within the jar. Once they are spread out in the jar, prop the jar upside down at an angle in a bowl. This will allow excess water to drip out.
  • Cover the bowl and jar with a clean dishtowel and place in a dark area like inside a cabinet or a dark room. I place mine in a dark powder room near my kitchen.
  • REPEAT: About 2 – 3 times a day, rinse and drain the sprouts again. Continue this process until your sprouts have reached the length you prefer. This can be anywhere between 1/2" – 1-1/2" long and take 1 – 3 days.
  • Some beans take longer than others. Mung beans sprout very fast.
  • Optional: Once your sprouts have sprouted to the length you want, you can pour them out on an absorbent towel covered plate and place near a sunny window so they develop some chlorophyll. I do this for a few hours.
  • How To Store Sprouted Beans & Seeds: Place the sprouts in a jar with a piece of paper towel on the bottom to absorb moisture and secure the lid to keep them airtight.
    They need to be refrigerated and will last about 3 – 5 days in the fridge.

Are Raw Sprouted Beans and Seeds Safe to Eat?

If you remember your classroom bean sprouting experiments when you were a kid in school, you may remember that earthy moldy smell. :-)

When you buy sprouts from the grocery store, there is a chance that they could be moldy. You want to avoid these as they can make you sick. The reason they get moldy is the warm and humid environment where they grow. It is a climate for bacteria to breed.

In large-scale commercial sprouting farms, it’s hard to keep this from happening. When you buy them you may not know how old they are or the origins of the beans/seeds themselves. This is not so when you sprout your own beans and seeds.

When you sprout at home, the chance of getting ill when eating sprouts goes down immensely since you control the environment, the beans/seeds you use, how clean your jars are, and how many times a day you rinse them.

I have been sprouting beads and seeds for a few years now and have never had a problem. If you want to be sure, use your nose. If they smell off, then don’t eat them. Again, I have not had this problem as I eat them in a few days time, they never sit around long.

Start Sprouting at Home

I can’t imagine a day going by without eating sprouts as a snack, on a salad or used in a recipe. They have become one of my favorite foods. When eating as a snack they have the crunch of nuts, but without the fat and calories. Plus they are filled with good for you nutrients.

If you have never sprouted beans or seeds before and want to give it a try, I would start with mung beans, whole green peas or lentils. These sprout fast and ready to enjoy and added beneficial nutrition to your meals in about 2 days.

Bean & Seed Sprouting Resources

where to get plant based eating kitchen essentials

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6 Comments

  1. I have truly enjoyed your posts regarding your plant based diet. I’m not ready to give up meat yet, but do want more ways to get veggies into my diet. This is a timely article for me, because I’ve been thinking about making sprouts again to add to our plates. Back in my college days in the 70’s, I did just that, and I still have one of my plastic ball jar lids for making sprouts. Your post was just the boost I needed to get going on this. Thank you!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Linda – I am happy to hear that my post has inspired you to get your sprouter lids back out. I love them and have the process down now. I usually sprout mung beans, lentils and broccoli sprouts the most, but have begun to venture out to others. I love their crunchy goodness.

  2. Susanne Marie Luchetti says:

    Hi Diane,
    I am exhausted just looking at this process of sprouting beans. If I didn’t work, I would take it on for sure because they are yummy. Here is a good link with some good tips especially for high risk groups:
    https://foodandnutrition.org/blogs/stone-soup/7-tips-growing-safe-sprouted-grains/

    https://www.vndpg.org/vn/vegetarian-diet/sprouts-nutrition

    https://www.eatright.org/homefoodsafety/safety-tips/food/are-sprouts-safe-to-eat

    Susanne Luchetti, MS, RD, LDN

  3. Even tho we have eaten this way for over three years now, I have never tried sprouting beans. I like crunch in my salads and usually use pumpkin seeds. Maybe I will try this because I do like sprouts. Thanks for posting.

  4. This is so very helpful. Thank you.

  5. Great post! I saw in an earlier post the link to those round place mats you show. Can you remind me which one that was in? Love them, so versatile!