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How To Cook Black Beans in a Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot)

This post shows how to cook black beans in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot. In about 15 minutes, you can have toothy tender, rich, earthy, meaty, ready-to-enjoy beans, all soupy in a nutritious cooking broth.

bowl with black beans cooked in a pressure cooker

Cooked from scratch, dried beans become pot beans, frijoles de olla, with delicious pot “liquor.” Canned beans in salty liquid don’t even come close to freshly cooked beans and their broth. And it happens fast in the Instant Pot or stovetop pressure cooker.

Click here to PIN How to Pressure Cook Black Beans!

If you wish, when the dried beans go in the pot, season them with a mild dried chile, garlic cloves, and/or chopped onions. If you have less than perky parsley or cilantro, throw that in the pot too. Mexican cooks add epazote to their beans. Epazote is a pungent green herb with “gas-relieving” properties.

Black beans cooked in Instant Pot with whole chile seasoning for How to Cook Black Beans in a Pressure Cooker
Speaking of farts, we are sometimes advised to soak dried beans before cooking, to make them more digestible.

  • Which brings up the back and forth question—do we soak the beans before cooking or do we not? And there’s the why soak the beans if you use a pressure cooker?
  • Another question: With a pressure cooker, do we turn off the heat and let the pressure come down naturally, and for how much time, or should we “quick-release?” Both work, with slightly different cooking times.
  • Oh, and when are we supposed to add salt before or after cooking? You’ll find plenty of discussion about that too…

Author Michael Ruhlman sought out answers to these cooking questions and found more than one food “expert” with differing thoughts about soaking and salting beans.

*** Update May 17, 2019: A reader comment here alerted me to the Cook’s Illustrated article about seasoning the bean soaking water with salt. Serious Eats did some serious testing in 2016 and concluded that you will get better tasting creamier beans when you salt the soaking water. I tried with Great Northern white beans and the cooking took more time than usual. I need to test with black beans asap! (They suggest 1 tablespoon per quart of soaking water, which is what I did.)

There’s ample discussion about soaking and salting but there’s not much written about the beauty of pressure cooked beans. One thing’s for sure, pressure cookers reduce cooking time and fuel energy. For cooking beans, pressure cookers are awesome tools!

Here’s my two cents, aka humble opinion, about how to cook black beans in a pressure cooker:

  • To cut the pressure-cook time by half, soak the beans–cover dried beans with water and let them soak at least 6 hours or overnight.
  • Let the pressure release naturally. Soaking and natural pressure release rewards with best bean texture.
  • Salt when the beans are done, with good quality salt.

Now two cents is fine and dandy, but, the fact is I’m not that good at planning ahead for dinner. What about you?

*** !!! Bottom line, if you want tender black beans in about 30 minutes, skip the soaking, and quick release the pressure!

The real bottom line, the definitive word on dried beans, black beans or other? Do it. Cook your beans from scratch!!! ***

Big bowl of cooked black beans for How to Cook Black Beans in a Pressure Cooker

Just so you know, some of the links below are affiliates. When you purchase products via my links, it doesn’t cost you anything and I earn a tiny commission, which helps me continue to provide free content here on Letty’s Kitchen. Thank you!!

How to Cook Black Beans in a Pressure Cooker timing details:

When is a pressure cooker up to pressure?

  • With the Instant Pot (Affiliate link) –make sure the vent is in the sealed position, use the Manual setting and set the cooking time. When time light comes on, it’s up to pressure.
  • With a stovetop pressure cooker, heat on high flame until the steamy jiggle noise begins in earnest, then turn the heat down just so it maintains pressure, then start your kitchen timer.

What are approximate cooking times?

  • Once the cooker is up to pressure, soaked black beans, with the pressure released naturally, take 5 to 6 minutes to cook.
  • Soaked black beans with quick release, cook in about 9 minutes, once the cooker comes to pressure.
  • Beans not soaked but pressure quick-released, cook in about 20 minutes, once the cooker comes to pressure.
  • Without a pressure cooker it takes about 2 ½ hours to cook black beans until the beans are tender.
  • Keep in mind that cooking times can vary a few minutes either way, depending on your pressure cooker, the size of the beans, and the age of the dried beans.
  • Sometimes you have to bring the cooker back up to pressure for another minute or two. (With the beans still very hot, this doesn’t take much time.)
  • Other smaller dried beans like navy or cannellini, cook about the same as black beans.

What can you do with your pressure-cooked black beans?

Cooked black beans--ready to dish out for How to Cook Black Beans in a Pressure Cooker

Make it a fabulous week–get in the kitchen and cook something delicious in your Instant Pot (Affiliate Link) or pressure cooker! This Kuhn-Rikon (Affiliate link) is my go-to stovetop pressure cooker.

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PS If you make this recipe and love it, please consider leaving a blog post comment. Your comments help other readers learn more about the recipe. If you’d also give the recipe a ✮✮✮✮✮ rating, I’d be delighted!



    Thanks Letty,
    I’m going today to buy an Instant Pot thanks to your inspiring articles! Reply · 12 October, 2017

    • You’re welcome Maura! You know I’ve always been a huge fan of pressure cookers! Reply · 12 October, 2017

    • Candy

      I want to cook beans and lentils in my instant pot but I am the only person in my house that will eat them. Do beans and lentils freeze well? I would love to try this recipe. Thanks! Reply · 20 May, 2019

      • Hi Candy,
        Yes, beans and lentils freeze beautifully. We are two persons. I usually cook a pound of beans and freeze what we don’t use right away, including the tasty broth. I freeze in portion size containers. If you make soup you can use the beanless broth as a base. It will need salt. Reply · 20 May, 2019

        • Eurika77

          I always cook up dry beans and freeze them to use instead of canned beans in recipes! No salt or seasonings added so they’re versatile for whatever recipe you’re using-desserts, main dishes, baby foods, salads, or sides. I’ve found that after cooking, draining them in a colander then by laying them out in a single layer briefly on a kitchen towel to absorb excess water. After that spread them out in a single layer on a silicone mat (they don’t stick, it stays flexible, and doesn’t rip when you remove them) covered cookie sheet, then freezing for a few hours or overnight works great. Then you transfer them to a gallon ziplock bag or your container of choice and pop them back in the freezer until you’re ready to use. This way they don’t all stick together and it’s easy to scoop out as many or as few as you need at one time. For me this has been easier than having a bunch of containers or bags with a specific amount in them hanging out in the freezer. Also if you only need a few it’s easy to grab just a handful and not have extras out and about. You can easily take out exactly how many you need. Super handy. 🙂 Reply · 12 November, 2019

          • Now that’s a hot tip! Love this way to hold the cooked beans. Thank you! 12 November, 2019

  • Rhini

    Making these right now, soaked them over night. Reply · 22 November, 2017

    • Awesome! I hope they came out perfect! Reply · 22 November, 2017

  • Shari

    Hi Letty! Thanks for this. I was wondering if you’re ever cooked a larger amount of beans in the instant pot, maybe 2 pounds? I know not to fill it more than halfway. What’s your thought? Reply · 30 January, 2018

  • BRE

    I soaked my beans last night for 11 hours and today I found your recipe and I cooked for 6 minutes and they came out perfect. I can’t believe that the first time I’ve ever cooked beans on my own they came out so amazingly well.
    So thank you very much for an easy-to-follow recipe that turned out so well.
    I can’t imagine how gross they would have been if I had cooked them as long as all the other places say to do for pre-soaked beans. Reply · 15 April, 2018

    • Thank you Bre! I opened the computer to find your comment and now my day is made!! I am so glad you found the post helpful! Reply · 16 April, 2018

  • Dulce

    I found this recipe very helpful and easy to follow. Reply · 7 May, 2018

    • Thank you Dulce. I’m glad the recipe is what you needed. Reply · 7 May, 2018

  • Cathie

    This was great 👍just what I was looking for. Served my needs, thanks. Reply · 12 November, 2018

    • Thank you Cathie! Love to help readers discover the benefits of pressure cooked homemade from scratch beans! Reply · 12 November, 2018

  • Maria

    If you soak the beans, do you use the water you soaked the beans in to pressure the beans? Reply · 5 January, 2019

    • Ahh good question. I rinse the soaked beans and cook the with fresh water. Thank you–I will go back and clarify that in the recipe! Reply · 6 January, 2019

  • Lynn

    Wonderful, easy to follow recipe. Just want is needed to inspire & promote healthy eating in a busy world. Delightful writing style to boot! Reply · 10 April, 2019

  • Lauren

    Made your recipe this morning for my daughter who loves black beans. I didn’t soak the beans and found 22 minutes with quick pressure release gave the beans a slightly softer (but not mushy) texture. Delicious! Reply · 14 April, 2019

    • Thank you Lauren! Tell your daughter I love black beans too! Reply · 14 April, 2019

  • Paul Sussman

    You really should salt the soaking water – you will get taster, plumper beans. Not salting beans before cooking is a myth. Reply · 14 May, 2019

    • Paul, thank you! I had never run across that info. I did a litte research and found the posts from Cook’s Illustrated and Serious Eats concurring that salted bean soaking water does indeed give tastier, creamier beans. You’ve all convinced me–I updated my post. Thanks again. Reply · 14 May, 2019

  • Patricia Gilson

    Great pressure cooker for black beans. How do you store any leftovers and serve them. How long can you keep them. Thanks in advance. Thanks for sharing as well Reply · 2 July, 2019

    • Thank You Patricia! I put leftover black beans in the freezer, 1 3/4 cup each, so what I have is the same amount as a can of beans, rinsed. I freeze the broth in a separate container, for soup later. Reply · 2 July, 2019

      • Mark

        Great idea to store them in 1 3/4 cup serving size so they can be easily substituted for a can of beans! Reply · 4 September, 2019

        • I’m running with that idea! Thanks Mark. Reply · 4 September, 2019

  • This is very useful. Thank you. What I’m looking for is how long to cook un-soaked black beans with natural slow release. I’m curious to know why you didn’t include that scenario in your recommended cooking times given you have been so wonderfully thorough otherwise. I will experiment on my own. I have found with unsoaked black beans that 20 minutes with a slow-release results in a bean that is a little mushier than I like. I’m going to try 17 minutes and will let you know how they work out. I can always cook them a little longer if needed. Reply · 27 July, 2019

    • Hi Craig,
      Thanks for writing. That’s been bugging me too– I need to test that no-soak natural release scenario for cooking time. I’ve never tried unsoaked with natural release because when I want to get those beans done fast, I go with no-soak quick release. 😉 I’ll try the 17 minutes as well and let you know too. (Keep in mind the cooking times depend on how fresh your beans are. If they’ve been packaged and sitting in a warehouse or store shelf for a while, they’ll likely need more cooking time. The fresher the dried beans, the less cooking time.) Reply · 27 July, 2019

      • Hello Letty. I’m getting back to you to let you know that 17 minutes without pre-soaking worked just fine. Even 15 or 16 minutes might work. One stipulation I’ll add is that I left them warming without opening fater the natural release for quite awhile. Close to 2 hours. However., I have done this 4 times now and I opened them in less than an hours after the pressure cooking completed. Reply · 14 August, 2019

        • Thank you Craig! I’ll follow your testing and try your timing tonight. I’ll also add the times for unsoaked natural release to the recipe. I appreciate your interest! PS are you using an Instant Pot or a stovetop pressure cooker? Reply · 14 August, 2019

          • Another thought I had, in addition to the problem of cooking with old beans, is to wonder if water hardness impacts cooking time. I’ve given up trying to cook beans on the stovetop at my mother’s place. They just won’t get soft, even after more than 3 hours. My “possible” theory is that her water has a lot more minerals in it than mine and that this might impact the beans’ ability to absorb the water. Have you ever encountered this? I just did a google search and I think my theory might be correct. This article cites the problem. 14 August, 2019

          • I follow the logic that minerals in the water can slow down the cooking times. I’ve not encountered that but I’ve had beans take longer to cook that I attributed it to the age of the beans. There’s another article by Serious Eats that dicusses salting the water for soaking. (See my reply to comment by reader Jodi.) We live in an old mining town and filter all of our water via a full house filter and water softener in the basement. For drinking water, we go a step further and have an R/O filter at the kitchen sink. I looked at the water quality report for our neighborhood and water from town does have levels of calcium and manganese, which vary from quarter to quarter. It’s all interesting. 14 August, 2019

  • My first time cooking dry beans was made simple with this instructional. I thank you. Reply · 28 July, 2019

    • You’re welcome. I’m glad you found it helpful! Reply · 28 July, 2019

  • Jodi

    Hello! Going to try this recipe tomorrow. Quick question as I am still unclear: do I salt my water when pre-soaking the black beans and if so, how much? I have 1 pound. Or if I don’t add salt to pre-soaking, do I add salt when they are cooking in the instant pot or after they are done? Thank you for your help! Reply · 14 August, 2019

    • I always salt after cooking. That said, there is information out there that says to salt the water when pre-soaking the beans– 1 tablespoon per quart of water. Rinse the beans before cooking and then add a pinch of salt to the cooking water as well. It makes some sense, but I tried it and really didn’t see a difference in the cooked bean texture. I think the bottom line is you can go either way–no rule set in stone. Have fun! Reply · 14 August, 2019

  • Raul

    I’m sorry. I’m confused. Soaked beans I set the timer on IP for 6 minutes on Manual and then natural release?

    Or set timer for 9 minutes and then quick release?

    I have the beans soaking overnight. Please advise 🙂 Reply · 16 August, 2019

    • Hi Raul. You can do either one. I think the beans come out nicer if you let the cooker pressure come down naturally. In that case, set the timer for 6 minutes. If you have an Instant Pot it will stop pressure and release naturally after those 6 minutes. If you don’t want to wait for the pressure to come down naturally, (which could take longer than 3 minutes) set the timer for 9 minutes and quick release by turning the dial to vent after 9 minutes. With a stovetop pressure cooker, you run the pressure cooker under cold water to quick release. Reply · 16 August, 2019

  • Tsippi

    Thank you so much for this excellent article and for the link to the Cook’s Illustrated piece on salting the soaking water. I salted the water as recommended in the CI article, soaked the beans about 12 hours, rinsed them, then cooked them for 6 minutes, as you suggest. They came out a little soft for my taste and with a lot more broth than I expected. I put 1.5 inches of water over the beans, and there is still 1.5 inches of water over the beans after cooking, so I may use a little less water next time. I added a few squares of Dorot frozen garlic and frozen ginger before cooking; the beans smell and taste wonderful. Thank you again for this article. If I had cooked the beans as long as some other people recommend, they would have turned to mush! Reply · 1 September, 2019

    • You are welcome. Thank you for the note–you made my day! I think if the beans are soaked like you did, you can safely reduce the water to 1-inch. If the beans have not been soaked, they need the water for cooking. I love the broth and save it in the freezer (for soup or chili) if I don’t use the broth right away. Love the addition of ginger! Reply · 1 September, 2019

  • Soaked ones typically cook in just 9 to 10 minutes. Just make sure you don t add any salt or acid to the water until after they are tender, or they will take longer. Hi, gonna make today the black beans, although I have an 8 qt. Instapot. Is that ok? or should i double or triple the recipe and add more time?Ill post when i make them. Reply · 12 April, 2020

    • Hi, Thanks for the comment. An 8 qt instant pot will be fine. That’s the capacity I have too. Though when pressure cooking we should never fill more than half full.  Reply · 12 April, 2020

  • Maybe it’s the softer water I have here, but since cooking beans as instructed here, I have been gradually reducing the cooking time. I cook a 900g bag of unsoaked beans for 12 minutes and they are cooked just fine. I’ve gradually reduced the time each time I’ve tried it and it’s even looking like I can get away with 10 or 11 minutes. One thing I do, that is perhaps different, is I tend to let them slow release and then continue warming for quite a while (like an hour or more) before I unseal the lid. I’ll make a point of opening them up after 15 to minutes of slow-release next time to see if that is a factor. Reply · 12 April, 2020

    • Hi Craig, I don’t have experience comparing beans cooked in soft-water vs hard water. I’ll stick my neck out here and say it likely doesn’t make a difference. I think you are right in surmising that letting the pressure come down naturally will make a difference in times. As the pressure comes down, the beans are still cooking. Reply · 12 April, 2020

      • I’m pretty sure that water hardness is a factor. I learned this from experiences visiting my parents and attempting to cook beans on my mom’s stovetop. Do you think I could get a tender cooked bean? -No. I’m talking cooking for 4 to 5 hours and the beans still wouldn’t cook. I now simply don’t even try when I go there and buy canned beans instead. I do not have that problem at all here when I cook them on the stovetop and the water is much softer. To be truly objective, I would need to buy a batch of beans at the same source and cook half of them at my place and half at my mom’s place. This would rule out the potential issue of the beans purchase at my mom’s place being too old and dry. But the problem has been so consistent and persistent that I really think it is the water. I did do some research about the issue and did find confirmation that water hardness is a factor. Reply · 12 April, 2020

        • Thank you Craig and Paul. This is very good information! I appreciate your sharing in the discussion. Reply · 13 April, 2020

      • Effect of water hardness on cooking characteristics of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp) seeds

        Cowpeas were cooked in water made hard (or soft) by the separate addition of similar concentrations of certain salts (CaCl2, MgCl2, or NaHCO3). The beans were also cooked in hard tap water and in double distilled water before and after soaking in water. Hard water caused a significant decrease in softness, led to reduced water absorption, and also decreased solids loss in the cooked product, but it increased the cooking time and discolouration of the beans. Hard water also gave rise to a significant (P<0.05) increase in mineral content, but it had less effect on the proximate composition of the cooked products.

        PS: I had never heard of cowpeas. Black-eyed peas are cowpeas Reply · 12 April, 2020

        • Paul Sussman

          yes, it makes a difference, because of PH and that is why adding a little baking soda helps beans cook faster and softer. Reply · 12 April, 2020

  • Michael Pasqua

    This recipe seems great, but its currently taking me more than twice as long to cook. Any tips on what I could be doing wrong?

    Dried beans, rinsed not soaked, cooked for 20 and hardly any change. Another 20 minutes still not ready. Cooking another 10 and giving up. Quick release everyt time Reply · 14 April, 2020

    • Michael. I’m sorry you’re having this problem. So frustrating.
      A few questions:
      What kind of pressure cooker are you using? Instant Pot or stovetop or… ? I wonder if your pressure cooker is working correctly.
      Are your beans relatively new, or have they been hanging in the pantry a while?
      In light of a discussion this week with other readers, is the water you’re using hard or soft water? Reply · 14 April, 2020

  • KD

    Hi Letty,
    Used your recipe and made such and amazing meal that the whole family agreed that we can’t go back to canned. Now it’s part of the regular rotation. Thank you! Reply · 28 December, 2020

    • Thank you! Yes, those canned ones are no match for beans made from scratch! Reply · 28 December, 2020

  • Ben

    Good explanation of options: soaked or unsoaked. Reply · 13 January, 2022

  • Debbie

    This is a good basic recipe. I am going to freeze some for my recipes that call for canned black beans. It took a little longer in a small instant pot. It is a win for me. Reply · 31 December, 2022

    • Thank you Debbie. Black beans are so delicious! Reply · 1 January, 2023

4.23 from 35 votes (25 ratings without comment)

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