Easy NO SOAK Instant Pot Pinto Beans in less than an hour! Save time and money by making your own pressure cooker pinto beans at home, with better flavour and less salt than canned.
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If you’re someone who likes cooking dried beans from scratch but often forgets to soak them in advance, then the Instant Pot is a total game-changer in the bean cooking department.
Today we’re taking a deep dive into cooking Pinto Beans where I’ll let you in on everything I’ve learned about cooking pinto beans in an electric pressure cooker.
Unlike my Instant Pot Chickpeas which come out like a blank canvas for whatever you want to do with them, these Pinto Beans are a closer cousin to my Spicy Instant Pot Black Beans, which come out totally seasoned and saucy and ready to serve.
You also may want to check out my post on How to Cook Mung Beans if you’re looking to switch things up in the bean department!
I’ll talk you through different cooking times for a slightly firmer bean, like you’d want to use in a salad, or a softer bean if you’re aiming to make something like a batch of vegetarian refried beans. If I’m cooking up a big batch of pinto beans that I’ll use in a few different recipes, I usually aim for a happy medium, so that’s totally fine too.
WHAT GOES INTO INSTANT POT Pinto Beans?
Just a few ingredients, my friends:
- Dried pinto beans –> I used a full pound here.
- Water –> Or a low-sodium vegetable broth is fine as well.
- Diced onion –> Building in some flavour here.
- Garlic –> More flavour.
- Chili powder –> Bringing some heat.
- Bay leaves –> For that subtleness.
- Salt –> Just a bit.
Depending on what you’re using your cooked pinto beans for, you may or may not want to add the aromatics for a bit of flavour. If you use them, you’ve got ready-to-eat beans that are just as good as a side dish as they are as an ingredient in another dish.
If you don’t use them, you’re going to have a plain bean, which is also just fine. The cooking instructions are the same whether you add the aromatics or not.
You’re going to need an Instant Pot or other kind of electric pressure cooker in order to make these Instant Pot Pinto Beans. This is the model that I have (<– Amazon link) and the only model I have personally tested these instructions with.
No Instant Pot? Please refer to my (very ancient) general post about How to Cook Dried Beans for stove top or slow cooker instructions.
HOW TO MAKE INSTANT POT Pinto Beans
Step 1: Start by giving your dried beans a good rinse. Check for any stones and discard broken pinto beans
Step 2: Place the UNSOAKED dried pinto beans into the insert of your instant pot, along with diced onion, garlic, chili powder, and bay leaves.
Step 3: Pour cold water over top. The formula I use is one cup of water per every 100 grams of dried beans. I used one pound (454 grams) of pinto beans together with 4.5 cups of water.
Step 4: Seal the lid on your Instant Pot and ensure the vent is flipped to “Sealing”.
Step 5: Set to Manual / High pressure for 40 minutes (for slightly firmer beans) or 45 minutes (for softer beans). Sometimes I aim for the middle and do 42 minutes.
Step 6: After the pressure cooking cycle is complete, allow the beans to naturally release for 15-20 minutes. At that point, flip the vent to “Venting” to release the remaining pressure.
Step 7: Sir the beans, season with salt, and enjoy!
STORING COOKED Pinto Beans
If you cook up a big batch of pinto beans like I did (related: Batch Cooking for Beginners) you may want to divide them up for storage.
OPTION 1: STORING COOKED Beans IN THE FRIDGE
Personally, I like to store cooked beans with a bit of the cooking liquid poured over top, as it prevents them from drying out. Your beans will last for about 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
OPTION 2: FREEZING Beans
Can you freeze cooked beans? You bet you can! This is a great option for having cooked beans on hand and ready to use, fast.
To freeze pinto beans, simply spoon them into freezer bags or other freezer-proof container. I love these resuable silicon bags for freezing cooked beans (and other things!). You can also use glass jars – just be sure you leave adequate space at the top for expansion.
I totally also freeze my cooked beans in empty yogurt containers when I’ve got them on hand. You do you. Your beans will last 3-6 months in the freezer.
Pro tip: freeze your beans in commonly used portions so you don’t have to chip apart a block of frozen beans. Many recipes call for 14-ounce cans, which are equivalent to about one and a half cups of cooked beans. If you’re making a soup or stew, you can just toss the whole frozen block in at once.
If you’d prefer to have a bag of frozen loose pinto beans that you can reach in and grab a handful from, then start by flash freezing them in a single layer on a sheet pan, then transfer the frozen beans to a freezer bag.
There are some great tips on how to freeze pretty much anything on this post on How to Freeze Fresh Produce from Sustainable Cooks.
HELP! MY BEANS ARE TOO FIRM!
The thing about cooking dried beans is that newer beans cook MUCH faster than old beans… but it’s hard to know what you’ve got. If you’ve had a bag kicking around the back of your cupboard since who knows when, it’s a pretty safe bet they’ll need extra time.
My advice is to try different brands of dried beans (or buy bulk, where they tend to be fresher) and once you’ve got one you like you can use that as your benchmark.
If you finish your cooking cycle and find that your beans are undercooked, you can pressure cook for an additional 3-5 minutes for softer beans.
My beans are mushy!
Sigh. I’m sorry.
One of the drawbacks of the Instant Pot (and other pressure cookers) is that you can’t check as you go. I’ve been through a lot of mushy beans while testing the perfect cooking times, and they’re usually good for using in things like refried beans, hummus, or soup.
My best tip is to err on the side of caution and aim for the cooking time with a firmer bean. Once you get to know your machine and your beans a bit better, you’ll start getting good results on the reg.
Other recipes you might enjoy:
Instant Pot Pinto Beans
- 1 pound dried pinto beans
- 4.5 cups water
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 medium bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Place your dried pinto beans into a mesh strainer and rinse well. Check for any stones or broken beans, and discard those.
- Place the rinsed beans into the insert of your Instant Pot, together with 4.5 cups of water and any aromatics (diced onion, garlic, bay leaves, and chili powder).
- Seal the lid on the Instant Pot and make sure the vent is set to "sealing". Set to Manual / High Pressure for 40 minutes (for firmer beans) or 45 minutes (for softer beans). It will take about 20 minutes to come up to pressure.
- Once the pressure cooking cycle is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 15-20 minutes. Then, flip the vent to "venting" to release the remaining pressure.
- Open the lid and stir the beans. Season with salt, and use as you wish.
- Nutrition values are an estimate only and are based on 8 servings of cooked pinto beans.
- If the beans are too firm when the cooking cycle is complete, you can pressure cook for an additional 3 minutes.
- Cooked beans can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for 3-6 months.