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. Pressure cooked beans are fast, easy, and delicious, and there's no need to soak the beans!
Today we’re taking a deep dive into cooking Instant Pot 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 or Instant Pot Kidney Beans 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 can eat 'em as is, or use them to make Refried Beans from scratch!
Ingredients for Instant Pot Pinto Beans
Just a few ingredients to make delicious pinto beans in Instant Pot, my friends:
- Dried pinto beans –> I used a full pound of dry beans 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 Instant Pot 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. If you're looking for just basic beans, check out our post on How to Cook Pinto Beans.
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 dry 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 pot of beans. 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 Instant Pot Pinto Beans like I did (related: Batch Cooking for Beginners) you may want to divide them up for storage.
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.
Can you freeze cooked beans? You bet you can!
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.
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. Souper Cubes are great for freezing these portions.
If you’d prefer to have a bag of loose frozen 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.
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.
Hard water can also cause firm beans, so if you know you have hard water you may want to add a tiny bit of baking soda, which we'll discuss below.
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.
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.
Nope! Although some folks prefer to soak their beans overnight and discard the water, it only actually saves a few minutes of cooking time in the Instant Pot (or about 10 mins when cooking on the stovetop).
If you find beans hard on your digestive system, there may be some benefit to soaking and discarding the water as it will eliminate some of flatulance-causing compounds. Having said that, it is not necessary to soak the beans for this recipe.
No, canned beans won't work in this recipe as they have already been cooked. We're starting with dry beans as we can build flavour into them by cooking them in the instant pot together with aromatics.
I use 1 cup of water for every 100 grams of dried beans. Since this recipe calls for a pound (454 grams) of dried beans, I use 4.5 cups of water.
Salt beans before cooking
It's a myth that salting beans before cooking will make them tough. What it does, in fact, is leave you with a much more flavourful and smoother bean. Check the science that busts this bean myth at Serious Eats.
Adding baking soda tenderizes old beans
If you have old beans or very hard water, adding a touch of baking soda can help tenderize them by enabling the pectin to soften during cooking. The magic number is ¼ teaspoon baking soda per pound (454g) of beans.
For thicker bean broth, let your beans simmer after cooking
If you prefer a thicker bean broth, all you need to do is simmer those beans. You can keep them right in your Instant Pot and use the sauté function, with the lid off. Give the beans an occasional stir, and remove from the heat when the bean broth is just slightly runnier than you'd like - it will continue to thicken as the beans cool.
Don't overfill your Instant Pot
Overfilling your Instant Pot will not only cause the beans to take much longer to cook, but presents a safety issue as well. Regardless of what size Instant Pot you have, be sure not to go over the fill line for your model.
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.1 pound dried pinto beans
- 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).1 pound dried pinto beans, 4.5 cups water, 1 small yellow onion, 2 cloves garlic, 2 medium bay leaves, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 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.
This recipe was first posted September 29, 2020. It was edited, updated, and republished on November 6, 2022.