Growing Bean Sprouts at Home for Pennies in Just a Week

Discover how to grow bean sprouts right in your kitchen. It will save you a bundle, plus it’s a great way to have some freshly harvested produce year round. Growing them at home is easy to do! (And a perfect activity for apartment dwellers who want to grow some of their own food.)

Be sure to try growing some organic broccoli sprouts, too!

Contributed by Chris Dalziel

bean sprouts spilling out of a jar.

 

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Changing the way we think

The grocery stores near me sell two kinds of sprouts. Alfalfa sprouts and mung bean sprouts. The alfalfa sprouts come in a plastic clam shell. The mung bean sprouts are tied together with two elastic bands and come in a plastic bag that says, “Product of China.”

bean sprouts in a wooden bowl

In the summer when my garden is vibrant I don’t even look at the packages of sprouts, but in the winter, I’m tempted. Then I remember how easy it is to grow sprouts and I wonder, “Who buys those things?” Growing your own sprouts is economical, fast, and better for the environment.

Sprouting your beans is also better for you. Growing mung beans is a good place for beginners to start. Learning how to grow bean sprouts will open the door to many tasty experiments.

Related: How to grow lettuce indoors in the winter

salad with bean sprouts and tomatoes

How to grow bean sprouts (and other sprouts!)

You can sprout mung beans on your kitchen counter in as little as four days. Sprouting lentils is just as easy. While using a fancy automatic sprouter can make the job mindless, you don’t need any special equipment to be successful. You can start growing sprouts in a mason jar or a cotton bag.

Once you’ve learned how to grow bean sprouts, you’ll be able to sprout a variety of different beans, all winter long. They are crunchy, nutritious, and rich in antioxidants. (You might also want to try growing microgreens, like these sunflower sprouts.)

Why choose lentils and mung beans?

  • Beans contain indigestible proteins that are difficult to digest. They need to be soaked and cooked in order to make them digestible.
  • Unsprouted, they are starchy and contain lectins. Lectins are implicated in food allergies, auto-immune disease, and inflammation. But lectins are removed from food through sprouting or fermentation.
  • When beans are sprouted they become as easy to digest as other vegetables. They increase in vitamins, antioxidants, and enzymes, too.
glass jar with seeds inside

Different types of legumes for sprouting

Mung beans (above) are tiny green beans. It’s amazing how big the sprouts can grow when you consider how very tiny the seed is. Two tablespoons of seed is enough to grow four cups of sprouts. Sprouting mung beans results in a powerhouse of flavor and nutrition.

Lentils come in a variety of sizes and colors. The smallest sizes are best for sprouting lentils. They seem to sprout faster than green lentils. The red lentils often used in Indian cooking are split and won’t sprout, so avoid those. (Lentils are not technically a bean, but they’re sprouted the same way.)

close up of sprouting lid

Related: Growing Lentil Sprouts

Step by step: How to grow bean sprouts in a mason jar

  1. You don’t need to buy special sprouting seeds to successfully sprout beans – but make sure your seeds are organic. Organic seeds will be chemical free, non-irradiated, and GMO-free.
  2. Wash a wide mouth mason jar and rinse it well to remove any soap residue.
  3. Prepare a piece of window screen to fit your wide mouth mason jar. I use polyester window screen on my sprouting jars, drawing a circle on the screen using the mouth of the jar as my pattern. I cut around the circle. Then my sprouting screen is ready to use. If you don’t have spare window screen laying around your kitchen, you can order them online. 
  4. Place two tablespoons of bean seeds in your one-quart mason jar.
  5. Place the screened lid on the mason jar.
  6. Fill the jar ½ full with cold water. Let the mung beans soak overnight.
  7. Rinse the mung beans in the morning and turn the jar upside down to drain.
  8. Rinse and drain the seeds twice a day for 4 to 6 days. The mung beans are ready to eat when the white sprout is at least 1.5 cm long. At this length the lectins in the bean are converted into digestible proteins. You can grow the sprouts longer if you wish. I like to grow them until they are about three inches long. It takes about five days for them to get that long.
  9. If the sprouts are exposed to light while they are growing the leaf tip will turn green on days 5 and 6. If kept in the dark, they will remain white, like the bean sprouts from China. I like my sprouts to be a bit green.
bean sprouts in a bowl

How long does each one take to produce?

Mung beans and sprouting lentils grow faster than some other options. Each one is ready when the leaf sprout is about 1.5 cm or ½ an inch long. For mung beans and small lentils this takes four days. You can leave the sprouts to grow longer, but don’t stop the sprouting process too soon.

How to store your bean sprouts

Any time after day four, replace the screened lid with a normal mason jar lid and place your sprouts in the fridge. Rinse them once a day to prevent them from drying out. Eat them within a week.

Related: How to grow popcorn microgreens

bean sprouts, close up in jar and in wooden bowl

Are bean sprouts safe to eat raw?

You can eat these sprouts raw, too. The indigestible starches in beans become digestible in the sprouting process and they become as easy to digest as other vegetables. Try them raw in salads, as a topping for sandwiches, or wrap them in spring rolls. You can even add bean sprouts to your smoothies.

Bean sprouts are a nutritious and inexpensive way to increase your vegetable intake in winter, when fresh vegetables are more expensive.

Once you’ve tried growing bean sprouts you’ll never be tempted to buy those imported pale bean sprouts again.

Are bean sprouts dangerous? 

You may have heard talk of the dangers of eating sprouts. As with anything, proper storage is key to safety. Left at room temperature beyond the sprouting and rinsing process, these sprouts can harbor bacteria. Be sure to transfer rinsed sprouts to the refrigerator once they are ready to eat, and use them within a week.

Cooking with sprouts

You can enjoy your sprouts lightly steamed. Bean sprouts are perfect to add to fried rice dishes, make a bean sprout stir fry, or add some to a homemade pad Thai recipe. Add sprouts to your cooked dish just before serving. I turn off the heat, add a lid, and let the residual heat steam the beans, while I’m putting the rest of the food on the table. They will remain tender crisp and maintain their high antioxidant levels, when steamed this way.

If you’re concerned about eating the sprouts raw, this is a good way to serve them.

bean sprouts spilling out of a jar.

How to Grow Bean Sprouts

Sprouts are easy to grow inside, making them a great option for fresh greens during the winter months or for urban homesteaders.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of mung been seeds (or lentils)  

Instructions

  1. Wash a wide mouth mason jar and rinse it well to remove any soap residue.
  2. Prepare a piece of window screen to fit your wide mouth mason jar. I use polyester window screen on my sprouting jars, drawing a circle on the screen using the mouth of the jar as my pattern. I cut around the circle. Then my sprouting screen is ready to use. If you don’t have spare window screen laying around your kitchen, you can order specially made sprouting screens online. 
  3. Place bean seeds in a one-quart mason jar.
  4. Place the screened lid on the mason jar.
  5. Fill the jar ½ full with cold water. Let the mung beans soak overnight.
  6. Rinse the mung beans in the morning and turn the jar upside down to drain.
  7. Rinse and drain your bean seeds twice a day for 4 to 6 days. The mung beans are ready to eat when the white sprout is at least 1.5 cm long. At this length the lectins in the bean are converted into digestible proteins. You can grow the sprouts longer if you wish. I like to grow them until they are about three inches long. It takes about five days for them to get that long.

Notes

If the sprouts are exposed to light while they are growing the leaf tip will turn green on days 5 and 6. If the sprouts are kept in the dark, they will remain white, like the bean sprouts from China. I like my bean sprouts to be a bit green.

Mung beans and sprouting lentils grow faster than some other beans. 

Store sprouts in the fridge for up to a week. Rinse them once a day to prevent them from drying out. 

Nutrition Information:
Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g

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Originally published in January 2016; this post has been updated.

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About the author: Chris is the author of The Beeswax Workshop: How to Make Your Own Natural Candles, Cosmetics, Cleaners, Soaps, Healing Balms, and More. She is a teacher, author, gardener, and community herbalist with 30+ years of growing herbs and formulating herbal remedies, skin care products, soaps, and candles.

45 comments… add one
  • Ms Cheryl T Mehl May 2, 2022 @ 8:32

    Is there a trick to getting the sprouts to be thick like the ones in store vs. like little hairs? we have sprouted as directed but have never been able to get any width or thickness on the sprouts as we are accustomed to for pho.

    • AttainableSustainable May 3, 2022 @ 6:47

      It’s hard for me to know from here, but I’m wondering if you are growing a different variety? Otherwise, keep them growing! Good luck 🙂

      • Ms Cheryl T Mehl May 7, 2022 @ 6:40

        from the Chinese grocery labeled mung beans, we did finally get some substance on some of them just by being more patient, but also have a lot of leaves. But they worked in our pho earlier this week. Time seems to be the answer. thanks.

  • Brenda Apr 26, 2022 @ 8:50

    Hi. I bought mung beans from Asian grocery store. They said yes, yes they will sprout. It was $5 for bag half size of loaf of bread. But they don’t sprout. I want bean sprouts like I get in the store. Where do I get mung bean and lentil that will sprout? I live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada

    • AttainableSustainable Apr 28, 2022 @ 6:42

      I don’t know where in your area, I’m sorry. You will want the bean seeds, I recommend organic. Good luck!

  • Darron Sanderson Apr 15, 2022 @ 21:11

    Hi I’ve got some mustard seeds I use for cooking can they be sprouted ?
    Cheers
    Darron

    • AttainableSustainable Apr 19, 2022 @ 6:35

      Yes, that should work!

  • Molly Mar 23, 2022 @ 4:34

    In pictures 1, 3, 4 and 5, some of the sprout heads are brown / purple, but the sprout heads in the final pictures are yellow or green. Is the brown / purple color normal and not a sign of infection?

    • AttainableSustainable Mar 24, 2022 @ 6:54

      Yes, it’s a normal color variation and nothing to worry about. Good luck sprouting! 🙂

  • Susan Neves Jan 31, 2022 @ 13:12

    I’m looking for the best and affordable seeds for growing fodder in a wood frame for my chickens.
    Can you suggest where to buy? I’ve looked of course on amazon, but don’t see anything less than 15-20 $ for a lb which I know I need more than a lb.

  • Lisa Jan 25, 2022 @ 12:27

    I know the longer you wait the more sprout, but about how much final product do you get with 2 Tablespoons of dry bean?

    • AttainableSustainable Jan 27, 2022 @ 7:54

      It really depends on how long you let them sprout, and how much you want! They grow quickly, but if you find yourself wanting more you could always do 2 jars at once a few days apart. 🙂

  • Alex Zaidi Sep 3, 2021 @ 15:22

    Step 5. How do I add water half way in the jar if on
    Step 4. I already Place the screened lid on the mason jar

    Is step 4 & 5 reversed or backwards?

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 10, 2021 @ 10:06

      They’re kind of interchangeable. You can run water into the jar through the screen.

  • Diana Wolf May 19, 2021 @ 10:37

    Hi, I have a hard time growing sprouts any bigger than about 1,5-2 cm .. they developed strong roots and I really don’t like them with the roots – do you cut them?

  • Marcus Apr 12, 2021 @ 7:42

    Any thoughts on eating bean sprouts if you’ve forgotten them for more than a week? I now have small plants, about 4″ long, with leaves on – what should I do with them?

    • Kris Bordessa Apr 24, 2021 @ 15:30

      They really need to be managed daily (as I think you figured out!). I’d compost them.

  • Jocelyn Feb 24, 2021 @ 18:10

    I’m trying this for the first time with lentils! Does it matter that my tap water is chlorinated?
    Thanks!

    • Kris Bordessa Mar 11, 2021 @ 8:18

      It shouldn’t, but you could always set the water out uncovered overnight to let the chlorine dissipate.

  • Ruth Jan 30, 2021 @ 11:18

    Do you keep the bean sprouts in water after the first 12 hrs or just rinse and drain everyday?

    • Kris Bordessa Mar 11, 2021 @ 8:14

      Not in water, no. Drain every day.

  • Carol Cuevas Jan 5, 2021 @ 4:10

    I received a large sprouting package as a gift from a friend. The thing is, I wasn’t a big fan of raw sprouts. The texture is nice, but the flavor never appealed to me…….But, being the nerd I am, I decided to try your method. It worked beautifully. I used cheesecloth because I have an abundance of it, but changed it once a day, carefully, to avoid any issues.

    The sprouts grew so well that I decided to try flavoring them. So, I went the pickling route using different recipes. Some spicy, some Asian, some in the garlic kosher style……Now I put the sprouts on almost everything or just as a small side dish……. A favorite at family gatherings is my Korean sprout pan-fried dumplings. Just add an equal amount of pickled sprouts and appropriately spiced cooked protein (garlic and onion never fail), and just let them fry a couple minutes on each side.

    The rinsing regimen came easy. First rinsing when I’m making the coffee—second when I’m done doing the dinner dishes.

    • Kris Bordessa Mar 11, 2021 @ 8:17

      I’m glad you found a way to love them!

  • Holly Dec 17, 2020 @ 8:54

    Hi Kris, thank you for creating this post. I’m new to sprouting. What happens if you forget to change the water for the 1st 12hrs? Is it unsafe to eat them? Thank you for any guidance you can provide.

    • Kris Bordessa Jan 1, 2021 @ 15:54

      It shouldn’t be unsafe if you miss the exact timing. Just be mindful (hello, calendar reminders!) to change regularly to prevent sliminess and potential bacterial growth.

  • Gail Head Jun 26, 2020 @ 7:12

    Can you still eat them if they grow little green leaves?

    • Kris Bordessa Jul 1, 2020 @ 8:22

      Yes, though they might be a bit tougher.

  • Janice Klassen Dec 22, 2019 @ 6:42

    Love your ideas and I’d like to try growing sprouts! Is there a reason you need screening not cheesecloth in the top?

    • Kris Bordessa Dec 23, 2019 @ 11:08

      Cheesecloth can work, but in certain climates may tend to mildew. It’s also not as easily reusable.

  • Janice Johnson Dec 3, 2019 @ 1:07

    I love your article. I’ve been growing sprouts and microgreens for a few months. So exciting. Just thought I should say that I grow red lentils. They are really easy. I main,y grow them a microgreens but have also grown them as sprouts. I just got them from the supermarket.

  • Brenda Mar 18, 2017 @ 9:53

    Where is the easiest place to find these seeds? Home Depot nurseries? Where? I’ve sprouted for years, but never considered the organic and GMO free aspects. Thanks for your article!

    • Kris Bordessa Mar 23, 2017 @ 8:01

      Natural food stores usually have them, if you have one near you. Or Amazon has a big selection: https://amzn.to/2nMYRAe #ad

  • Arlene Hogan Dec 23, 2015 @ 12:21

    I bought barley at Winco,,it has been over a week..no sprouting.Either Barley doesn’t sprout or the seeds I bought (in the bulk food dept) were GMO

    • Kris Bordessa Dec 23, 2015 @ 16:30

      It might be a leap to say it’s GMO. To my knowledge, barley is not transgenically altered. Was it organic? Sometimes grains are treated to prevent insect damage/spoilage (organic ones shouldn’t be). Did you get *whole barley, not the kind you’d put in soup? Like this: https://sproutpeople.org/barley-grass/

    • Bridget Aug 22, 2019 @ 12:10

      They are not normally GMO but unless they were organic they were probably killed with glyphosates on the stem to make harvesting easier.

  • Diana Auerhammer Dec 2, 2015 @ 19:47

    This pictures in your article are wonderful! And, I have always thought of sprouts as the ultimate easy source of year round mega nutrition there is.

    • Kris Bordessa Dec 9, 2015 @ 17:51

      Those pictures are from Chris! Inspiring, no?

  • Helena Nov 30, 2015 @ 19:10

    This is probably a silly question, but do you leave the jar upside-down (over a bowl or something) to continue to drain constantly, or do you turn it back upright once it’s well-drained?

    • Chris Nov 30, 2015 @ 20:55

      I do both. If I have room on my dish draining rack, I leave it upside down on the rack until I need it again. But if I don’t have room I leave the jar upright on the counter. I have a friend who leaves her jars on their sides, on the back of the kitchen counter, so that the sprouts grow up on the side of the jar. But I have a smaller kitchen and not as much counter space.
      The main concern about draining them is that you don’t want them sitting in a puddle of warm water, because of the possibility of bacterial growth.

  • Kathy Nov 29, 2015 @ 15:39

    Ive grown Broccoli sprouts in jars at my place, it was an interesting exercise but not something I found sustainable… https://bit.ly/1t8VHkI

  • Renee Nov 26, 2015 @ 5:18

    Where do you buy the seeds to sprout?

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 30, 2015 @ 19:16

      You can get them at the health food store, if you have one. You can also order them online. Here’s just one collection: https://amzn.to/1SteO3K

    • Bebygirl May 8, 2020 @ 15:18

      I buy them at either an oriental store or an Halal/Kosher store i.e. Pakistani or Indian store, I get 2 pounds for $3.99 in my area.

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