Learning how to cook beans in the Instant Pot was a game changer for me. It took my meal prep and batch cooking game from slow and clunky to effortless and quick.
Before getting an Instant Pot, I relied exclusively on canned beans. I always found them to be somewhat lacking in taste, but I figured it was the only quick option. I had no interest in babysitting a pot of beans on the stove for 2 hours. And I really didn’t enjoy periodically piercing the beans for doneness.
Luckily, it could not be easier to cook beans in the Instant Pot. Just toss the beans in the Instant Pot with some liquid and seasonings and walk away!
I hope you find this guide on How to Cook Beans in the Instant Pot useful! Along with this guide, you’ll find two easy recipes for beans in the Instant Pot that require zero hands-on cooking.
For video step-by-step instructions, be sure to check out the Youtube video.
And if you’re hungry for more Instant Pot beans, check out my cookbook, The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook! It’s jam-packed with delicious, indulgent yet wholesome bean-based recipes!
Watch! How to Cook Beans in the Instant Pot
1. How to Cook Beans in the Instant Pot
Do I need to soak my beans when cooking them in the Instant Pot?
Unlike cooking beans on the stove, cooking beans in the Instant Pot does not require soaking. Simply rinse your beans and then add them to the Instant Pot with your cooking liquid and start pressure cooking.
However, I want to mention a few caveats that might make you want to soak your beans even though it’s not necessary.
Do beans make you toot?
Yes: If beans make you toot (totes natural), you might want to consider soaking them. Soaking beans helps remove the oligosaccharides. That’s a fancy word for a type of fiber found in beans that some people have trouble digesting.
No: If you have no problem digesting beans, you can skip soaking.
To soak beans, you have a few options.
Traditional Soak Method
Cover the beans with enough cold water and soak for 8 hours or overnight. Leave the beans on your counter. If it is very warm in your kitchen, you can refrigerate them. Drain the beans and rinse.
Quick Soak Instant Pot Method
Place the beans in the Instant Pot and cover with plenty of cold water (6-8 cups for 1 pound of beans). Select the Pressure Cook setting at high pressure for 5 minutes.
When the timer is done, allow a natural pressure release for 10 minutes. Then, switch the valve from Sealing to Venting to release any remaining steam. Drain the beans and rinse.
Do you want perfect beans that are evenly cooked?
Yes: Okay, fine is a leading question. But, one reason you might want to soak your beans is that it yields beans with a more even, smoother texture. In my experience, unsoaked beans sometimes have an uneven texture. Some end up soft, some stay firm, and some have split skins.
Certain bean varieties are particularly bad offenders when it comes to uneven cooking (ahem, kidney beans). But with other beans, such as chickpeas, I don’t notice a big difference.
Also, if you are cooking a simple pot of just beans (beans + water + salt), the even texture of the beans will be more important than if you are cooking a full dish (e.g., a chili, stew, saucy beans, etc.). In the latter type of dish, it’s okay if some of the beans are firm and some are mushy.
Even if you don’t do a full overnight soak, even a quick soak of beans (15-30 minutes on the counter) can yield a better texture.
No: Does anyone say no to this question?? In all seriousness, if you are cooking beans for a chili, soup, stew, etc., the even texture of the beans is not as important.
Do you want to reduce the cook time?
Yes: When you soak beans, you dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to pressure cook them. For instance, unsoaked chickpeas take 35-40 minutes to cook, but soaked chickpeas take just 10 minutes to cook.
No: I don’t think anyone says no to this question per se, but there is a bit of a tradeoff. If you don’t want to worry about remembering to soak beans, the tradeoff is a longer cook time. But if you do soak the chickpeas (which takes 1 minute), you’ll be rewarded with a much shorter cook time.
2. Use Your Instant Pot to Soak Beans
If after reading Tip #1, you’ve decided to soak your beans, this section is very handy. The Instant Pot has a nifty “Delay Start” function that will save time (it’s called the “Timer” on old models).
- Simply fill up the Instant Pot with the amount of beans you want to cook; add the appropriate amount of water and salt.
- Select the Pressure Cook setting at high pressure and the appropriate cook time for soaked beans.
- Press the Delay Start button. Use the +/- buttons to adjust how many hours you want to soak the beans (e.g., 8 hours). Then press the Delay Start button again to adjust to how many minutes you want to soak (e.g., 0 minutes).
If you select 8 hours, your beans will soak in the salted water for 8 hours. When that 8 hours is over, the Instant Pot will automatically start pressure cooking the beans.
I find this function to be incredibly useful. When I had an office job, I would set the timer before leaving for work in the morning. When I came home in the evening, a pot of freshly cooked beans greeted me. Alternatively, I set the timer before bed, and in the morning, I wake up to a pot of cooked beans.
Another caveat because I like to be really thorough. If beans really make you toot (i.e., you have a really hard time digesting beans), this method may not be the best option. That’s because the beans will automatically start cooking in the water in which they’ve soaked. And when beans are soaking, they release those oligosaccharides (i.e., starches), which won’t be drained out.
Personally, I am somewhat sensitive to beans, but I can digest beans just fine using this method. And with this method, the beans are much easier for me to digest than unsoaked beans.
3. What is the proper water and salt ratio for cooking beans in the Instant Pot?
To make cooking beans in the Instant Pot a breeze, just memorize this bean:water:salt ratio for cooking basic beans:
1 pound beans + 5-6 cups of water + 2 to 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
Don’t use kosher salt? That’s the equivalent to 1 ¼ – 1 ½ teaspoons of sea salt or table salt.
Regarding the cook time for specific bean varieties, I have a few things to say. First, in my cookbook The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook, you’ll find a very handy bean chart. It includes my tested cook times for both soaked and unsoaked beans for the most popular types of beans. If that’s not reason enough to buy my book, I don’t know what is!
Since I can’t just give away the whole cook time chart from my book, here are a few general guidelines for cook times:
Unsoaked Beans: 30-40 minutes
Soaked Beans: 8-12 minutes
4. How to Add Flavor to Instant Pot Beans
If simple cooked beans in water is your jam, I am not going to hate on your game. But, if you have a little extra time, may I suggest you jazz up your beans in the following ways?
Cook beans in vegetable broth instead of water. This adds some more savory flavor. You can even use half broth-half water.
Add flavoring agents to the cooking water. I almost always add black pepper and bay leaves. And depending on the cuisine or flavor profile I want, I add some combination of the following:
- cumin seeds and coriander seeds
- halved garlic cloves
- ginger slices
- jalapeño or serrano peppers, sliced
- whole stalks of herbs such as thyme, oregano, and rosemary
- vegetable bouillon cubes
- chopped vegetables such as onions, shallots, carrots, or celery
Don’t skip the salt! Salting the beans while they cook infuses each bean from within with flavor. In contrast, waiting until the end to salt results in beans that are either over salty or lacking in flavor.
Want to take your beans to the next level? Try this:
- Sauté your favorite aromatics before adding the water and beans. Here’s an easy but tasty option for 1 pound of beans:
- Heat some olive oil on the Sauté setting. Once hot, add 1 diced yellow onion with a pinch of salt. Cook until golden and softened, but not browned. Add 3-4 finely chopped garlic cloves and cook another 1-2 minutes. Deglaze with the water or broth, scrape up any browned bits, then add the beans and pressure cook as normal.
- Finish your cooked beans with a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil. It will infuse them with richness and make them irresistible. You can also finish with a splash of lemon juice, white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar, or champagne vinegar.
5. Exercise Caution when Doubling a Pot of Beans
If you are cooking a large pot of beans in the Instant Pot, you should keep a few things in mind.
1 pound of beans, once cooked, yields roughly 7 cups of beans. If you’re feeding just 1 or 2 people, you might want to start with a smaller quantity.
If you have a lot of leftover beans, store them in 1 1/2 – 2 cup increments in the freezer. That’s the amount of beans you’ll find in a 15-ounce can of bean. That way, you can easily swap in one container of your defrosted beans for canned beans in recipes. Beans will stay good in the freezer for 6-8 months.
If you’re keen on making a large pot of beans, try not to fill the Instant Pot more than halfway. Otherwise, you might end up with a lot of foaming. If you do cross that halfway line mark, never fill your pot up past the Instant Pot’s maximum capacity line.
Especially when you are making a large pot of beans, never use the Quick Release Method. This will result in bean foam being sprayed all of your kitchen and face. Instead, allow the Instant Pot to naturally release pressure for at least 10 minutes (or 15-20 minutes). Only then switch the valve from Sealing to Venting to release any remaining steam.
I hope you found this guide on How to Cook Beans in the Instant Pot useful! If you did, please leave a comment below or on my Youtube video, and if you found it really useful, then consider ordering my cookbook, The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook :)
How to Cook Beans in the Instant Pot
- 1 pound beans of choice (such as chickpeas, cannellini beans, pinto beans, black beans)
- 5-6 cups water or vegetable broth
- 2 - 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt)
- Other seasonings as desired (bay leaves, black pepper, fresh or dried herbs, whole spices, chopped onions, garlic cloves, etc.)
- Optional: add the beans to a large bowl or the Instant Pot inner pot and cover with cold water (about 6 cups). Soak for 8 hours or overnight. Then drain and rinse.
- Add the beans and water or broth to the inner pot of the Instant Pot. Add salt any other seasonings of choice. Stir to combine.
- Secure the lid and select the Pressure Cook setting. For soaked beans, cook for 7-9 minutes for cooked but firm beans, or 10-12 minutes for softer beans. For unsoaked beans, cook for 30 to 40 minutes.
- When the timer beeps, allow a natural pressure release for at least 10 minutes (or 15-20 minutes). Perform a manual pressure release to vent any remaining steam. Open the pot, discard any aromatics, and transfer the beans to your glass tupperware. I like to store the beans in the cooking liquid, as it keeps them moist and is flavorful.
- Store cooked beans in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze in 1 1/2 to 2 cup increments for 6 to 8 months.
Spicy Mexican Kidney Beans
- 8 ounces (227g) dried kidney beans, preferably soaked for 8 hours or overnight*
- 1/2 cup (75g) finely diced red onion
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, minced (omit the seeds & membranes for mild heat; for a spicier heat, use a serrano pepper)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 (4-ounce) (115g) can of diced green chiles (I recommend a “mild” version” unless you like very spicy food)
- 1 1/4 cups (300 mL) low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 (16-ounce) (454g) jar of salsa (I use salsa verde)
- 1/2 cup (10g) chopped cilantro
- Soak the beans in plenty of cold water to cover for 8 hours (or overnight). Drain and rinse the beans.
- Add the beans to the Instant Pot and top them with the remaining ingredients except for the cilantro: onion, garlic, jalapeño, salt, chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, cayenne, bay leaf, canned chiles, vegetable broth, and salsa). Stir to combine
- Select the Pressure Cook (Manual) setting at high pressure and set the cook time to 8 minutes. If you did not soak your beans, set the cook time to 30 minutes.
- Once the timer has elapsed, allow a natural pressure release for at least 10 minutes before switching the valve from Sealing to Venting to release any remaining steam. If the beans are too liquidy for your taste, drain some of the liquid off, or transfer the beans to a serving dish using a slotted spoon, leaving behind excess liquid.
- Stir in the cilantro and serve warm. Once cooled, store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for 6-8 months.
Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
- 8 ounces (227g) dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)*
- 3 cups (720 mL) water or low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1 small handful of fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (use 1/2 teaspoon for a more subtle flavor)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (or whole black peppercorns)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil*
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup (10g) chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
- Add the chickpeas, water or broth, salt, thyme, garlic, bay leaves, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, salt, and pepper to the Instant Pot and stir to combine.
- Select the Pressure Cook setting at high pressure and set the cook time to 35 minutes. If you soaked your beans for ~8 hours or overnight, set the cook time to 10 minutes.
- Once the timer has elapsed, allow a natural pressure release for at least 10 minutes before switching the valve from Sealing to Venting to release any remaining steam.
- Stir in the olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, and taste for seasonings, adding additional olive oil for more richness, more lemon juice for more acidity, or more salt and pepper to taste.
- I typically don’t soak chickpeas because they cook evenly even when unsoaked (and don’t give me digestive trouble).
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