How to Cook Beans in the Instant Pot | Perfect Instant Pot Beans

How to make perfect lentils and beans in the instant pot

Have you ever tried making Instant Pot beans before? They are so easy to make, quite delicious and can be added to a variety of different dishes such as Texas Caviar, Hummus or Moong Dal to name a few.

Beans and Lentils in bowls and spoons

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Beans, Pulses, and Legumes

Did you know that there are three different types of lentils? There are beans, pulses and legumes and each of them have their own differences. 

I grew up eating lentils and beans and when I came to this country, I was surprised to discover that people used the term lentils to ONLY refer to green lentils!

Legumes vs. Pulses

Legumes come in a wide variety and include fruit that is enclosed inside the pod which includes fresh soy beans, peanuts or peas for example.

Pulses, on the other hand, are completely different in that they are the dried seeds of the legumes such as dried soybeans or kidney beans.

One thing to keep in mind is that all pulses are legumes but all legumes are not pulses.

Last but not least there is Dal, which is usually a pulse cut in half.

Watch my Video on Lots of Lovely Lentils to learn more about them.

Cooking Whole Beans In a Pressure Cooker

Most beans can be found in four different ways, which include the following – whole, split with skin, split without skin and ground. Each have their own individualized cook times.

Whole beans in an Instant Pot will need to cook for around 20 to 40 minutes. A split pulse needs roughly 3 to 10 minutes. Ground flours generally are used in batters.

Can I Substitute Whole and Split Beans?

What does this mean when it comes to making different recipes?

Well, the nice thing is that you can usually substitute whole beans for other whole beans if you are looking to change things up.

For example, if you want to substitute pinto beans for kidney beans, it will not affect the cook times.

However, if you try to substitute a red kidney bean that usually needs to cook for 30 minutes, with red lentils that can cook in as little as 3 minutes, your recipe will be an utter disaster.

What is an Heirloom Bean?

Heirloom beans are not genetically altered because they have not been crossbred with any other species of beans.

The thing about heirloom beans is that they have a bit more flavor on the taste buds and I find them to be quite pretty.

Even though they are more pretty to look at, it doesn’t change their amazing nutritional value or their amazing sources of protein and fiber. So do not let that interfere with your bean preferences.

To Soak Or Not Soak Beans?

A good rule of thumb is is to soak your large, whole beans. Avoid not soaking your split dals, or any small beans such as black-eyed peas, whole urad or whole moong.

For all of my beans recipes, I use a technique called hybrid soaking. It is super effective and a method I trust.

Fast Soaking Beans

In a hurry to soak some of your large beans or running short on time and need to get them soaked quickly?

Just simply soak them in hot water, preferably boiling water, for an hour and it will be equivalent to the legumes soaking overnight.

The thing is, older beans really do need soaking. But I barely can remember what I did yesterday, let alone remember how long the black beans have been sitting in the pantry!

I use this method to ensure all of the recipes are made to their best quality possible. No matter what bean you use or how old they are, soaking in hot water is fast and reliable.

Five Ways To Soak Your Beans

Not about the hybrid method? No worries, here are five different ways to soak your beans to prepare them for cooking in an Instant Pot.

  • Overnight: You may feel most comfortable with letting your beans soak overnight. If that’s the case, for every one cup of beans simply soak them in 3-4 cups of water overnight.
    • When you wake up in the morning, just drain the beans and use as directed in your recipe.
    • As a caution, you will want to be sure to place the beans in the refrigerator after 8 hours. Otherwise, they are going to be semi-fermented.
  • Overnight-Freezer Method: This method may seem a bit weird. My husband Roger made the suggestion and it actually worked really well.
    • When you soak the beans overnight as mentioned above, just soak twice as many beans as the recipe asks for.
    • Then, in the morning, put half the soaked beans into a zip lock bag and place it inside the freezer.
    • With this method, I found that I didn’t even have to defrost the beans. I could just throw them into the recipe and cook as normal. How much more efficient can you get?!
  • Hot Water Method: This is the same method as the Hybrid Soaking method as mentioned above.
    • There are two main positives to this method, the beans cook consistently with very little breaking. Plus it’s an exceptional last-minute method.
  • Pressure Cooker Soaking: This is where your Instant Pot comes into play. Like the other methods listed above, you will want to place 1 cup of beans with 3-4 cups of water into your Instant Pot.
    • You will then close the lid and press “Pressure Cook” on “High” for 0 minutes. If you aren’t quite familiar with the settings on your Instant Pot yet, trust me. I promise 0 minutes is actually a thing.
    • You will then leave the pot alone for 15 minutes without any interruptions. After 15 minutes, you can release any remaining pressure. Then drain the beans and carry on with your delicious recipe.
    • While this may be the most convenient method, the beans are more likely to split open.
  • Don’t Soak: Yes, you read that correctly. Every chef has their own dos and don’ts and if you are one that prefers to not soak your legumes that is perfectly okay.
    • However, I do suggest that you add around 5-10 minutes to the cooking time under pressure and possibly may have to add a little more water as well.
    • A few things to keep in mind with this method include the beans are more likely to split open and cause gastric distress to individuals.
    • While these may not seem like overly serious concerns to some, I suggest you only use this method once you are really comfortable working with all varieties of beans.

Should I Salt The Beans?

Before you combine the beans and the water, you may be wondering if you should add some salt.

When you add salt, especially if you are planning on using the Instant pot method, it helps prevent the beans from splitting.

I find salted beans to be a lot more flavorful so I do add salt. Keep in mind much of that salted water will be drained after cooking. So, you’re getting a lot less salt than you add.

How Long Should I Cook The Beans In The Instant Pot?

You can download a printable here on different cooking times.

So this totally depends on the bean–both the type of bean, and the age of the bean.

You can mix and match beans in respect to cooking times. This makes it fun to experiment when you have some extra time on your hands.

However, I do have a rule of thumb that I follow throughout all of my recipes based on the type of beans that are required.

  • 2-5 minute for Split legumes or smaller lentils such as split green peas, red lentils, black puy lentils, and urad dal, should cook for approximately 2-5 minutes.
  • 10 minutes for softer split garbanzos. If you are wanting your split garbanzos, also known as chana dal, to mash up and spread throughout your dish, they can be cooked up to 10 minutes.
  • 10 minutes for Small Beans such as navy beans, whole green mung beans, and black-eyed peas, they only need to be cooked under pressure for 10 minutes
  • 30-40 minutes for large whole beans such as kidney beans, black beans, and pinto beans need to be cooked from anywhere between 30-40 minutes. I
  • 30 minutes for Tender whole beans If the recipe is requesting tender but whole beans, 30 minutes should do the trick.
  • 40-50 minutes for mushy whole beans. However, if you are wanting a creamy consistency, you will want to consider cooking them anywhere from 40 to 50 minutes.

Get to cookin’ those beans!

The thing I enjoy most about cooking beans is there is really no right or wrong way to do it.

You can soak them or you don’t have, and you can make Instpot beans or just cook them on the stovetop until done.

Take some time and experiment when you aren’t in a hurry to get dinner on the table. This will help to figure out which method you like most. Also what gives you the results you are craving.

Any other tips and tricks you want to share? Leave us a comment so others can read and learn from you!

Don’t forget to check out my other Best-selling Instant Pot Cookbooks!

Indian Instant Pot, Keto Instant Pot, Instant Pot Fast and Easy, Healthy Instant Pot & Vegetarian Instant Pot.