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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.

How to Cook Black Beans in a Pressure Cooker | Letty's Kitchen

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.

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

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

When is a pressure cooker up to pressure?

  • With the Instant Pot–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 cookers""” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener noreferrer”>stove-top 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 about 6 minutes to cook.
  • Soaked black beans with quick release, cook in about 9 minutes, once the cooker comes to pressure.
  • Beans not soaked and 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 or pressure cooker!

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4.47 from 15 votes
overhead photo for How to Cook Black Beans in a Pressure Cooker
How to Cook Black Beans in a Pressure Cooker
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

The pressure cooker or Instant Pot is your tool for perfectly tender black beans, ready for you next meal. Actual cooking time depends on whether you presoak the beans, and if you let the pressure come down naturally or quick release the pressure. This recipe makes about 4 ½ cups cooked beans and 3 cups delicious broth.

Course: Component
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Keyword: black beans, Instant Pot, pressure cooker
Servings: 4 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 pound dried black beans, about 2 ¼ cups
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion, optional
  • 1 clove minced garlic, optional
  • 1 or 2 dried red chiles like ancho or guajillo chiles, optional
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin or avocado olive oil, optional
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
Instructions
  1. Rinse and pick over the beans, looking for little stones that might be masquerading as beans.
  2. *** If you soak your beans, put them in a bowl and cover with a couple inches of water and let soak at least 4 hours. Drain and rinse again before cooking.

  3. Soak or unsoaked, put the rinsed beans into the pressure cooker or Instant Pot. Add any aromatic options.

  4. Cover the beans with hot water—about 1 1/2 inches above the level of the beans. Bring the pot to pressure and cook for the allotted time. Time will depend on whether you soaked the beans or not, and whether you quick release or let the pressure come down naturally. (see notes)

  5. Season to taste with more salt if you wish.
  6. Test a bean to make sure it’s tender to your liking. If the beans need to cook more, bring to pressure again for a minute or so. Quick release the pressure.

  7. You’re there—perfectly cooked black beans for your next recipe.

Recipe Notes
  • Once the cooker is up to pressure, soaked black beans, pressure released naturally, take about 6 minutes to cook.
  • Once the cooker is up to pressure, soaked black beans, pressure quick-released, take about 9 minutes to cook.
  • Once the cooker is up to pressure, beans not soaked and pressure quick-released, take about 20 minutes to cook.

39 comments

  • MAURA P. MARK

    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

  • 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 · 2 weeks ago

  • 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. https://www.finecooking.com/article/cooking-beans-in-salt-water 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 · 2 weeks ago

    • 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 · 2 weeks ago

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