Do bean sprout need to be cooked or can they be eaten raw?

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  January 16, 2021

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Bean sprouts are highly nutritious and bring many health benefits. In Asian countries, you can find many kinds of dishes that use bean sprouts, either they are raw or cooked.

However, eating raw bean sprouts might take some precautions as they may carry bacteria. Cooked bean sprouts, on the other hand, are much safer to eat.

Let’s look a little more closely at raw bean sprouts.

Bean sprouts cooked or raw

Raw Bean Sprouts

In East Asia and South-East Asia, you might find several kinds of traditional salads with bean sprouts in them, either they are raw or cooked. In Thailand, people sometimes eat pho with raw bean sprouts.

People love the taste of raw bean sprouts because they are crunchy and have a unique fresh bitter taste that may elevate the flavor of the dish.

The raw bean sprouts themselves are okay. However, bear in mind that bean sprouts grow in a hot and humid environment, which is an ideal place for bacteria to live. Studies found that bean sprouts are one of the most effective places for bacteria to grow.

The statistic shows that raw bean sprouts are linked to food-poisoning issues caused by salmonella and E.coli. Hence, eating raw bean sprouts is not advisable for people with a vulnerable immune system such as toddlers and pregnant women.

How to Safely Eat Raw Bean Sprouts

6 tips for safely eating bean sprouts

Washing the bean sprouts is not enough to kill the bacteria they carry. However, if you want to eat raw food, you can try these tips to minimize the risk of food poisoning:

  1. If possible, buy the bean sprouts that are labeled “ready to eat”. These kinds of bean sprouts have been specially treated to make sure they don’t carry harmful bacteria.
  2. Make sure your immune system is good. Children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with immunity disorders are better off avoiding raw bean sprouts.
  3. Wash your hands properly when handling the bean sprouts.
  4. Only buy fresh bean sprouts that are properly refrigerated to minimize the risk of bacteria growth.
  5. Keep your bean sprouts in the fridge until you are ready to eat them. But don’t keep them for too long. The fresher the bean sprouts the more tasty and safe they are to eat.
  6. Do not eat bean sprouts if they smell awful, look slimy, or mushy. Do not even cook such bean sprouts because they have gone bad.

Also read: can you boil dashi or does that ruin the taste?

How to Properly Cook Bean Sprouts

Health experts recommend for properly cooking your bean sprouts to make sure all the bacteria are dead when you eat the dish.

Because apparently, lightly cooking them is not enough to kill all the bacteria. But no worries, because bean sprouts do not take much time to cook.

Boiling the bean sprouts only takes about 90 seconds. Do not forget to rinse them off first with running cold water before cooking them. Drain the boiled bean sprouts using a colander to avoid them getting overcooked.

Bean sprouts and cooking them

If you want to sauté the bean sprouts, use medium heat. Lightly stir the sprouts to make them cook evenly for about 3-5 minutes. Eat them while they are still warm.

Bean sprouts are quick to be cooked. If you overcook them, they will lose their crispness and become very soggy. It is also important to stir them often while on the stove. Otherwise, you would end up with partially overcooked bean sprouts and partially undercooked bean sprouts in one serving.a bowl of vegetable soup with beansprouts in it

Also read: the right water rice ratio for in the rice cooker

Nutrition of Bean Sprouts

As mentioned above, bean sprouts are a great food to promote your health. There are many ways that bean sprouts benefit our body, such as:

Also read: delicious bean sprout recipes you can make

Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?

We now have "cooking Japanese with ease", our full recipe book and video course with step-by-step tutorials on your favorite recipes.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.