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The BEST Instant Pot Pinto Beans (Soaked or Unsoaked!)

Warning: once you start making these Instant Pot pinto beans, you might never go back to canned. They have a flavor and texture that’s miles away from canned and they take only minutes to prepare. Plus, they’re a huge cost saver! The beans are a healthy, flavor-packed foundation for countless different meals (see above for suggestions). These beans don’t require pre-soaking, although you have the option to soak them overnight, which will cut the cooking time in half (I include instructions below). Different multi-cookers cook at different rates so be sure to give the beans a taste after cooking—see the notes below. For a vegetarian pinto beans, simply omit the bacon (they will still be delicious!). You can also use this recipe for other bean varieties, such as black beans.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to cooke beans in instant pot, instant pot beans, instant pot pinto beans
Servings: 6 cups beans
Author: Nicki Sizemore

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pinto beans, picked over, rinsed and drained
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 head garlic, halved crosswise (unpeeled)
  • 1 large shallot, halved lengthwise and peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 strips bacon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  • If you’re soaking the beans (this is optional), place them in a large bowl and cover them with 3-4 inches of cool water. Let sit overnight. Drain and rinse before cooking. Reduce the water to 5 cups.
  • Place the drained beans in the instant pot and add the water (*if you soaked the beans, reduce the water to 5 cups), garlic, shallot, bay leaf, salt and bacon (if using). Lock on the lid and cook on high pressure (“pressure cook mode”) for 35 minutes for un-soaked beans, and 15 minutes for soaked beans. Release the pressure valve and let the steam release. Unlock and carefully remove the lid. Taste a bean—if it’s still slightly chalky re-lock the lid and cook on high pressure for 5-10 minutes longer (see the notes below).
  • Discard the shallot and bay leaf. You can leave the bacon in the pot or remove it as well (same for the garlic—I usually leave it in the beans because it’s so damn delicious). Add the vinegar, and season with additional salt to taste. Let the beans cool in their liquid. Eat the beans just as they are, or check out my serving suggestions above!

Notes

Do Ahead: The beans can be refrigerated (in their broth) for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months.
Tips:
  • Different multi-cooker models cook at different rates so you might need to modify the cooking times accordingly. I use the Zavor LUX Edge Multi-Cooker, which takes 35 minutes (which is longer than the "bean" setting, btw), but other multi-cookers can take up to 50 minutes. Give the beans a taste after cooking - if they're still a bit crunchy, re-cover the pot and cook on high pressure for 10 more minutes. If they're just a bit chalky (not silky on the inside), cover and cook on high pressure for 5 more minutes.
  • The freshness of the dried beans also can affect the cooking time. Buy your beans at a store with a high turnover or buy them online—I use these organic pinto beans.
  • You can use dried black beans in place of the pinto beans in this recipe.
  • If you don't have a shallot you can use 1/2 small onion (or 1/4 large onion). Also, you can swap out the apple cider vinegar for red or white wine vinegar. 
  • For vegan pinto beans, simply omit the bacon! 
  • If you'd like, you can add a 3-5-inch strip of kombu to the pot (whether you're using bacon or not). Kombu is an edible kelp (seaweed) that helps soften beans as they cook. It also contains enzymes that help with the digestibility of beans. Remove the kombu once the beans are cooked.