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How to Cook Pinto Beans in a Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot)

This post shows how to cook pinto beans in a pressure cooker. In 15 minutes, you can have rich, tender, creamy, ready-to-enjoy beans all soupy in a nutritious cooking broth.

Perfectly cooked Pinto Beans in bowl with wooden spoon

Cooked from scratch, dried beans have unmatched flavor and texture–and cooking beans in the Instant Pot or stovetop pressure cooker happens fast!

There’s more than one way to go about pressure cooking beans from scratch, some faster than others. You can put the washed beans in the pot, cover with water and cook them like that, or you can soak the beans beforehand. Then, either way, after cooking, you can opt to turn off the heat and let the pressure come down naturally, or you can “quick-release” the pressure.

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Whichever way you cook your beans, be sure to budget the time for the pressure to come up and begin the actual pressure cooking, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on your pressure cooker.

So, including the time it takes to come to pressure, you can have tender pinto beans in about 15 minutes. That’s with soaked beans and pressure naturally released. Unsoaked dried beans, the pressure quick-released, yield tender pinto beans in about 35 minutes.

The deep-down with pressure cooking beans is you save time and you get superior quality beans. Dried beans—keep them in your pantry. And give your pressure cooker a big hug!

 dried pinto beans in orange colander

About Pressure Cooking Pinto Beans:

  • When cooking dried beans do you salt before or after cooking? There’s plenty of discussion about that. I come from the salt-after-cooking school. Salt with good quality salt.
  • Looking for answers, author Michael Ruhlman found more than one food “expert” with differing thoughts about soaking and salting beans.
  • On his blog, Rancho Gordo’s Steve Sando has written more than once about soaking and when to salt. Shop for superior quality fresh dried beans on Rancho Gordo’s website.
  • It has been said that soaking dried beans before cooking makes them more digestible. Mexican cooks add epazote, a pungent green herb with “gas-relieving” properties, to their beans.
  • For the record, we do have an assortment of canned beans in our pantry, right next to the jars of dried beans. For sure canned beans in salty liquid are no match for freshly cooked beans and their resulting liquid, but sometimes you just want to open a can, ya know?
  • Since Robbie and I mostly use pinto beans in tacos and other Mexican foods, I season the dried beans with a mild dried chile, garlic cloves, and maybe some chopped onions.
  • 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, they’re awesome tools!

in bowl ready to eat pinto beans cooked in a Pressure Cooker

Pressure Cooker Pinto Beans timing details:

When is a pressure cooker is 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 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?

  • Pinto beans, not soaked and pressure quick-released, take about 25 minutes to cook, after the cooker comes to pressure.
  • Soaked pinto beans, pressure released naturally, take about 3 minutes to cook. Plan on 10 minutes for the pressure cooker to release naturally.
  • Soaked pinto beans with the pressure “quick released” take 5 to 6 minutes to cook.
  • Without a pressure cooker it takes at least 2 ½ hours to cook pinto beans to tenderness.
  • 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, it doesn’t take much time.
  • Add 25% more time if pressure cooking at altitudes more than 4000 feet above sea level.
  • My Swiss made Kuhn-Rikon stovetop pressure cooker comes to pressure and quick-releases pressure faster than my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker. I don’t change the cooking time.
  • Smaller dried beans like navy, cannellini, and black beans cook just a little faster.
  • For altitudes more than 5000 feet above sea level, add 15% more cooking time.

Pinto Beans cooked in a Pressure Cooker | Letty's Kitchen

What can you do with your pressure cooked pinto beans?

*** Here’s how to cook garbanzo beans in the pressure cooker.

*** You might also find this recipe for cooking black beans in the pressure cooker helpful.

Make it a fabulous week–get in the kitchen and play with your pressure cooker!


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How to Cook Pinto Beans in a Pressure Cooker | Letty's Kitchen
How to Cook Pinto Beans in a Pressure Cooker
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
3 mins
soaking time
4 hrs
Total Time
15 mins
 

The pressure cooker or Instant Pot is your tool for perfectly tender pinto beans, ready for your next meal. This recipe makes about 4 ½ cups cooked beans and 3 cups delicious broth. (Serving size 1/2 cup.) Time estimate below is for soaked, natural pressure released. 

Course: Component
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Keyword: Instant Pot, pressure cooker, pinto beans
Servings: 9 (1/2 cup) servings.
Calories: 194 kcal
Ingredients
  • 1 pound dried pinto beans about 2 ¼ cups
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin or avocado olive oil
Optional aromatic seasonings:
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 or 2 dried red chiles like ancho or guajillo chies
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, and more 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 amply covered with water. Let soak at least 4 hours.)

  3. Soak or unsoaked, put the rinsed beans into the pressure cooker or Instant Pot. Especially with the Instant Pot, add the olive oil to prevent foaming. If you wish, add onion, garlic, dried chiles, and a spring of fresh parsley, cilantro, or epazote. Cover with hot water—3 inches above the level of the beans.

  4. Bring the pot to pressure and cook for the allotted time, depending on whether the beans were soaked or not, and whether the pressure is “quick-released” or left to come down naturally. (see notes)
  5. Season to taste with more salt.

  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.
  7. You’re there—perfectly cooked pinto beans for you next recipe.
Recipe Notes
  • Once the cooker is up to pressure, soaked pinto beans, pressure released naturally, take about 3 minutes to cook.
  • Once the cooker is up to pressure, soaked pinto beans, pressure quick-released, take 4-6 minutes to cook.
  • Once the cooker is up to pressure, beans not soaked and pressure quick-released, take 20 to 25 minutes to cook.
  • To quick release in the Instant Pot, turn the dial from Sealed to Vent. In a regular stovetop pressure cooker, quick-release the pressure by running water over the top.
  • 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.
  • If the beans are not quite done, bring the cooker back up to pressure for another minute or two. With the beans still very hot, it doesn’t take much time.
Nutrition Facts
How to Cook Pinto Beans in a Pressure Cooker
Amount Per Serving
Calories 194 Calories from Fat 18
% Daily Value*
Fat 2g3%
Sodium 135mg6%
Potassium 721mg21%
Carbohydrates 32g11%
Fiber 8g33%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 10g20%
Vitamin A 15IU0%
Vitamin C 4.3mg5%
Calcium 60mg6%
Iron 2.6mg14%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

25 comments

  • John Davies

    Great simple me recipe. Just watched the documentary “Forks over Knives”; I’m going more plant based in my diet. Thanks for your help and creative ideas. Reply · 14 December, 2018

    • Thank you John! May you enjoy exploring new recipes! Reply · 14 December, 2018

  • Hank

    What is the serving size for the 32 grams of carbs. Nutritional labels without serving size are useless Reply · 19 February, 2019

    • Thank you Hank for alerting me to this. I edited the recipe to reflect the serving size of 1/2 cup. Reply · 19 February, 2019

      • April whittier

        Gonna make my boyfriend some soup beans. He grew up on them and loves them. I myself was raised on them and don’t like them lol. I only have dry spices. How much should be used? Reply · 6 September, 2019

        • April whittier

          Also I am gonna use 2 pounds of beans. They are soaking now. So are cooking times the same? Reply · 6 September, 2019

          • Cooking times are the same. Do not fill your pressure cooker more than half full! Depending on the volume of your pressure cooker, 2 pounds may be too much.
            Letty 6 September, 2019

        • Hi April,
          The spices are totally optional. (You mean onion, garlic and chile, right?) Letty you think they need more flavor when done, start seasoning with 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Add more of those to you or your boyfriend’s taste.
          Letty Reply · 6 September, 2019

  • Susie

    Great recipe and very informative. Thanks for including high altitude cooking. Reply · 21 February, 2019

  • Shannon

    Susie – I’m cooking for only two of us. If I halve this recipe are cook times the same? Reply · 22 March, 2019

    • Hi Shannon,
      Yes you can cut the recipe in half. Cooking times will be the same. I cook for two as well. I freeze what I don’t use right away in 2 cup containers. When I want to make something with pinto beans–tacos, risotto, soup, refried beans–I just thaw from the freezer. The cooking broth is so delicious a followup recipe is often soup. Reply · 22 March, 2019

  • Maria

    I just got the insignia 6 qt pressure cooker. I have 2lbs of soaked beans I want to cook. With the two lbs of beans withe sausage and ham how many cups of water is needed and is it safe to cook 2lbs of red beans in the pressure cooker at one time. I need help. I read the booklet and it’s overwhelming. I am confused. Thank you. Reply · 13 July, 2019

    • Hi Maria,
      For a 6-quart pressure cooker I would cook no more than 1 pound of beans at a time. If the beans have been soaked, I would put water in the cooker 2 inches above the ingredients.
      Have fun! Reply · 14 July, 2019

  • I don’t even know how I ended up right here, but I thought this post was once good.
    I do not realize who you’re however certainly you’re going to a famous blogger in the event you aren’t already.
    Cheers! Reply · 23 July, 2019

  • Mini

    I like my pinto beans to come out with a thick soup. Is this possible in the Instant Pot? Also, I have always seasoned my beans with salt pork or ham. Are there are alternatives to these that make the beans just as tasty? Or is there a brand of salt pork or ham without the nitrates & nitrites? Reply · 16 September, 2019

    • Hi Mini, Thanks for writing. If your beans have been soaked, you can add water to the pot so it is only 1 inch above the beans instead of 3 inches. That will give you less broth. *** Don’t do this if your beans have not been soaked–they need the water in order to cook to a nice soft bean. You can season your beans as you wish with salt pork or ham, no problem. I follow a meatless diet (and my blog is vegetarian recipes) so I’m not familiar with salt pork or ham without the nitrates. (I just Googled ham without nitrates and nitrites and yes there is. They mention brands.)
      Thanks again. Let me know how it goes. Reply · 17 September, 2019

  • Nora ISAACSgoogle

    Hi I just found your site, LOVE it!
    how ever IF you LIVE at HIGH ALTITUDE as I do, 5800 FT 1 # pinto beans unsoaked cooked in 6 qrt. stove top pressure cooker takes me 45- 50 minutes . Thought you might like to know ! GREAT SITE! < Nora Reply · 7 October, 2019

    • Thank you Nora. I live at 6800 feet above sea level. Yes beans take longer to cook at higher altitudes. I just added a note to the cooking times to reflect that–15% more time. Thanks for your input. I appreciate it! Reply · 7 October, 2019

  • Betty

    Thanks for all the info. I’m trying to cook pinto beans for the first time in my pressure cooker. They are my husbands favorite food. Hope I don’t mess up. Let you know later. Reply · 4 weeks ago

    • Betty, I hope your beans turn out perfectly. They should. Enjoy your pressure cooker! Reply · 4 weeks ago

  • myusrn

    Would you consider this instapot look alike device by hamilton beach a pressure cooker given their is not pressure release valve that you operate, i’m guessing it manages pressure release as needed? Would one follow your natural pressure release instructions if using this device to cook beans? Could one cook beans and brown rice at the same time in one of these steam [ pressure ] cookers? Reply · 3 weeks ago

    • myusrn

      . . . forgot to include link to instapot look alike device by hamilton beach that i was referring to https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0752VWV65/ Reply · 3 weeks ago

      • Thank you for the link. No that is not a pressure cooker. It’s definitely just a rice cooker.
        Letty Reply · 3 weeks ago

    • You are right in thinking that Instant Pot look-alike might not be a pressure cooker. I am guessing it won’t cook beans very well because it is really meant to be a steamer. Do you already own the rice cooker?
      Letty Reply · 3 weeks ago

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