It’s a “how to” day! I’m sharing the deets on how to make the best ever Instant Pot Black Beans. This easy method for making black beans in the pressure cooker requires no soaking in advance and no draining of the pot after they’re finished. I’ve included tasty ideas for ways to use your big, beautiful pot of black beans once you are finished too.
I’m quite unabashed in my love of beans, especially black beans. They’re ultra affordable, high in protein and fiber, and work well in recipes that range from Crock Pot Mexican Casserole to my favorite Instant Pot Chili to even brownies (I haven’t tried my own recipe yet—anyone interested?—but this Black Bean Brownies recipe has my eye).
For maximum weeknight ease, I usually reach for canned black beans, but I know from personal experience that when you cook the beans yourself from dried instead of using canned beans, their texture is far superior. If you are really watching your budget, dried beans are less expensive than canned beans too.
The issue with cooking black beans? TIME.
Dried beans need to be soaked overnight before cooking, a small detail I have an impressive track record of forgetting to complete before I head to bed.
Even if you use the quick-soak bean cooking method (soaking the beans in boiling water for about an hour), it still takes an additional hour to cook them from there.
My solution: Instant Pot Black Beans! (For the curious, this is the Instant Pot model I own, though any electric pressure cooker will work for this method. More recipe ideas can be found here: 15 Healthy Instant Pot Recipes!)
How Long Does It Take to Cook Black Beans in the Pressure Cooker?
My recipe testing found that, for the water-to-black-bean ratio used, 35 minutes of high pressure followed by 20 minutes of natural release yielded beans that had the perfect amount of chew. They retained their shape on the outside and were tender and creamy on the inside.
If you add the cooking time up (55 minutes of pressure + release, plus the 10 or so minutes it takes the Instant Pot to come to pressure), it’s still more than an hour, but the beauty of the method is that it’s completely hands off. It’s also about an hour faster than cooking the dried beans on the stove with the quick-soak method.
How Long Does It Take to Cook Dried Beans in the Pressure Cooker?
If you are thinking “hiiiiii, you just answered that,” I’m adding this FAQ as a word of caution: this method is intended for Instant Pot Black Beans. Larger or harder beans (such as cannellini, navy, or pinto beans) will need longer, so if you are using the method below, I’d suggest adding several minutes to the pressure cook time.
How Many Cups Is in 1 Pound of Dried Beans? (Plus Helpful Conversions)
- 1 pound dried beans = 2 cups dried beans = 5 cups cooked beans
- 1 (15-ounce) can = 1 ½ cups cooked beans <—this is good to know if you want to use your own Instant Pot Black Beans in recipes that call for canned black beans
Black Beans Instant Pot Water Ratio
I tested two different water ratios:
- 1 pound dried beans + 8 cups water: After 30 minutes of pressure and 20 minutes of natural release, my beans were perfectly cooked, BUT there was an excess of water in the Instant Pot that needed to be drained. I wouldn’t have minded for just plain old black beans, but the excess water diluted the wonderful bonus Cuban flavors I’d added. Plus, draining the beans was an extra step that I wanted to see if I could eliminate.
- 1 pound dried beans + 3 cups water: The winner! This ratio took 35 minutes of pressure cooking + 20 minutes of natural release, but no draining was required, as the beans absorbed nearly all the liquid. There was a bit of extra liquid in the Instant Pot, but I found that once I stirred the beans, I like having it there for serving, as it ensured the beans were not at all dry.
Instant Pot Black Beans: Turning Up the Flavor
While you can use this method to make regular ol’ Instant Pot Black Beans (which you can then use in any recipe that calls for canned black beans or cooked black beans), I wanted to make them extra special and flavorful.
I took inspiration from the islands and made these Instant Pot Black Beans Cuban (or Cuban-ish) by incorporating a few star ingredients in Cuban cuisine: bell pepper, onion, cumin, bay leaves, and oregano. I loved the extra depth of flavor and caught myself eating these right out of the pot.
While these black beans are Cuban inspired, you certainly don’t need a Cuban recipe to use them. The flavors and ingredients are fairly ubiquitous in Mexican cuisine too, so any Southwest style of recipe would be excellent with these seasoned black beans swapped in place of plain.
Want to make Instant Pot Black Beans Mexican? Try adding chili powder and, if you are feeling dangerous, a pinch of cayenne.
Instant Pot Black Beans: Why Should I Bother?
While I still love canned black beans for their mega convenience factor and plan to continue using them often, I’m glad to have this Instant Pot method at my disposal. The black beans cooked in the Instant Pot far outshone the canned version in both taste and texture. (I feel the same way about canned refried beans too, which lead to my recipe for Instant Pot Refried Beans!)
Where canned beans can be a little mushy, the Instant Pot Black Beans were pleasantly firm without being chewy, and the insides were tender and creamy. As odd as it sounds, I also felt that the Instant Pot Black Beans tasted more “pure” than ones I’ve had from a can.
Cooking your own black beans also means you can customize them by adding booster ingredients and spices. I opted to keep the Instant Pot Black Beans vegan, but for a special occasion, I can see incorporating black beans with bacon being a tasty adaptation. The spices are simple to edit (see “Turning Up the Flavor” above as well as the recipe notes), and at $1 to $2 per pound, black beans are a bargain.
These black beans are very freezer friendly, so you can cook a batch and portion them into 1 ½ cupfuls that you can reach for any time a recipe calls for a 15-ounce can of black beans. A few to recipes get you started: Mexican Chicken Casserole, Slow Cooker Taco Casserole, and Mexican Chicken and Rice.
More Ways to Use Instant Pot Black Beans
- Instant Pot Black Beans and Rice: CLASSIC! Mix with brown rice for a simple meal. You can also top with chicken, a fried or poached egg, and avocado or salsa.
- Add to a tofu or egg scramble.
- Mash with avocado and spread on toasted bread for next-level avocado toast (I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from adding an egg to this too).
- Fill burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, tacos…and all other good things involving tortillas and cheese.
- Make the Cuban Beans and Rice that I’m sharing later this week!
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
- Instant Pot or a similar electric pressure cooker
- Metal measuring cups (my favorite because they are sturdy)
Instant Pot Black Beans | Cuban Style or Plain
- 1 pound dried black beans about 2 cups, no need to soak
- 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 1 green bell pepper cored, seeded, and diced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cloves garlic minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 3 cups water
- Optional for serving: diced avocados jalapeno, red onion, cilantro, cherry tomatoes
- Rinse and drain the beans and pick out any stones or bad, cracked-looking beans. Set aside.
- Set the Instant Pot to SAUTE and add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the onion, bell pepper, and salt. Cook until the vegetables soften, about 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in the cumin, oregano, bay leaves, and garlic and cook until the spices are very fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the water and beans and stir. Cover and seal the Instant Pot. Cook on HIGH pressure for 35 minutes. When the timer goes off, allow the steam to release naturally for 20 additional minutes. Remove the lid. Remove the bay leaves and discard them. Enjoy warm or let cool completely and store in individual containers.
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