How To Cook Dried Beans Using A Pressure Cooker

by | Dec 2, 2008
Squash, Peppers and Beans

Squash, Peppers and Beans Recipe

I am not a vegetarian, but for convenience, financial and health reasons I do not cook a lot of meat. Consequently my dietary protein comes from many different sources, not the least of which is beans.

I realize that many of you have preconceived notions of beans and what goes along with eating them, but I am going to ask you to keep your mind open until I finish my explanation. If you read all the way to the bottom, you are more than welcome to unleash your fury in my comments section.

Let me begin by stating that I am not talking about canned kidney beans. I do not eat beans from a can unless I am desperately short on time. Not that there is anything wrong with canned beans: they are quick, healthy and relatively inexpensive. However, I have found canned beans to be very one dimensional in flavor and even less appealing in texture. They are also more prone to cause the digestive problems many people associate with “the musical fruit.”

Dried Beans

A little over a year ago my apartment acquired a pressure cooker that opened my eyes to the potential of dried beans. Dried beans, which are even less expensive than canned beans, can take hours to cook under normal circumstances. But a pressure cooker can cut this time to under half an hour and allows you to prepare large batches that can be stored frozen for months.

In my estimation, however, the best reasons to cook your own beans are taste, texture and variety. Home cooked beans taste worlds better than canned. First off, they do not have the characteristic slimy ooze of canned beans. (Definitely rinse your beans if you do buy canned). Dried beans also have a richer, more complex flavor without the metallic tinge you get with S&W. (Hint: Your beans will taste even more delicious when cooked in bouillon or broth.)

The mouthfeel of home cooked beans is also superior to canned. Different varietals have unique tastes and textures, so with each bean you try you embark on a new adventure. Some are silky and delicate, others rich and creamy. Larger beans tend to be heartier than smaller beans, but there is really no telling how they will taste until after you cook them.

While there are only five or six kinds of canned beans commonly available, the number of dried beans is innumerable. Rancho Gordo is an heirloom bean vendor I visit regularly at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market that has a fantastic variety of dried beans. Ever had a Black Calypso bean? Me neither, but I cannot wait to try them! Visit the Rancho Gordo website if you want to order online.

There are also fantastic bean selections at most health food stores, including Whole Foods. Check the bulk bins for the best deals.

Soaking Beans

One caveat of cooking your own beans is that they require a significant amount of soaking time. I recommended that you rinse them well and soak them overnight. All this requires is 5 minutes of planning the day before, and if you prepare large batches you do not have to soak beans very often. Be sure to pick over your beans for pebbles before cooking them.

Another bonus of rinsing and soaking beans is that it eliminates many of the sugars that your body cannot digest, thereby reducing (in my experience eliminating) unpleasant bodily byproducts. Toss out your soaking water when you are finished and add fresh water or broth for cooking.

Pressure Cooker Precautions

Pressure cookers can be dangerous if used improperly, so it is imperative that you follow the instructions carefully. In general, it is important to get a tight seal on the lid and be sure the pot is not over-filled (total volume should be less than half the volume of the pot). However, it is necessary to add sufficient liquid to the beans to prevent burning and dehydration. You also want to avoid adding salt until after your beans have cooked.

Follow the instructions on your pressure cooker to determine the appropriate amount of cooking time, usually 10-20 minutes. The contents of the pot are under a tremendous amount of pressure while cooking, so be sure to allow the pot to depressurize completely before attempting to remove the lid. This takes an additional 10-15 minutes.

Here is the pressure cooker I use.

I imagine that a slow cooker would be equally advantageous in cooking beans, but I have never tried it.

What are your favorite tricks to make beans more user friendly?

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48 Responses to “How To Cook Dried Beans Using A Pressure Cooker”

  1. Anonymous says:

    …..health reasons? You can’t deny that its completely possible to eat meat at every meal and have it still be healthy.

    • Dubs says:

      Just watch “Forks Over Knives” and see if you still think the same. An overconsumption of meat is not healthy. Unless you think cancer and heart disease are healthy.

      • rachel says:

        Plus, people think all you have to do is buy the organic, free-range, vegetarian fed meat. .. watch vegucated (found on Netflix) . . the more information you
        learn about meat in the United States the better able you are to truly make your decision.
        Ever try going vegan?? (no animal products at all)
        There are animal products in almost everything that comes in a package. Your soap is made of petroleum and animal lard. There’s gelatin, dried milk, stock, etc. in things you would never think of. People ingest far more animal then they realize and no it’s not the healthiest because it’s normally not in moderation.

    • Wayne Star says:

      Forks over Knives is a brilliant and entertaining starting point to educate yourself about actual nutrition. Not the fake nutrition that the world wide academic/government/industrial food factory enslavement machine has brainwashed you with. I am have a PhD in Biochemistry, masters in food science from a major usa university. It took a heart attack, triple bybass and 8 long years of suffering to convince me that there was a better way. A few months after eating whole foods, plant based my angina went away, i’m off most of the my meds including NO STATINS which were killing me softly.

      If you can force yourself to look at Nutritionfacts.org then listen to Dr. Greger, an actual physician who is not controlled by the Machine, show you the real science on meat and its role in inflammatory diseases like heart, cancer, arthritis and many others. EAT TO LIVE

  2. Katie says:

    Nice to actually see someone give the head-nod to the ever-neglected bean; theres really no way around a pressure cooker to do this effectively, is there though? How much of that special mouthfeel do you lose after freezing them?

  3. Mike says:

    beans are my bane. they don’t just give me a little gas, they give me violent green fumes that would would expect to flow from grendel’s evil lair. yeah, I said it.

    • Steph says:

      The chemical that triggers gas is water soluble. If using canned beans rinse well in a colander under water. If that fails use Beano. Generally the more your diet includes beans the less likely you will experience gas from them.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Is the pinto bean your favorite or something?

  5. MB says:

    Slow cookers are not the best way to cook beans. Even cooking on high all day, they are still crunchy. I haven’t tried overnight yet. It would be better to cook ahead of time and reheat with added ingredients in the crockpot.

    • Neal says:

      My experience as well. If I use a slow cooker/crock pot, I always end up using canned beans. But we are reducing our intake of meats for health reasons and beans are about to become a big part of our diet and a pressure cooker seems like it would make things much easier.

    • Joe says:

      I love to cook pinto beans in my crock pot. Bacon and a little jalapeno does the trick. Takes a while though. I am going to try my first pressure cooking today with some beans. Wish me luck.

  6. The Veggie Queen says:

    Slow cooker users often say that the slow cooker is the best way to cook beans. But if you’ve used a pressure cooker, you know that it can compete with the slow cooker, especially for time. You don’t have to think way in advance and can actually cook your beans from dry to done in 20 to 25 minutes for beans such as pintos or black. Big difference there. And the flavor and texture are wonderful.
    I teach pressure cooking so I am obviously an advocate.

  7. Darya Pino says:

    anon1:

    Certainly it is possible, but it is very difficult to eat meat at every meal and still be healthy. For most people that would require an entire restructuring of their diet.

    Most people, however, could add decades to their life by eating less meat.

    —–
    Katie:

    Beans hold up pretty well in the freezer. I was surprised myself.

    —–
    Mike:

    You should probably see a doctor, or at least invest in some Beano.

    —–
    Anon2:

    Good eye! No, the pinto is not my favorite bean but it was one of the key ingredients in a soup I made a couple weeks ago for Soup Night. More stories on that adventure to come.

    —–
    MB:

    Interesting, thanks for the tip! I don’t think I could give up the ease of the pressure cooker anyway.

    —–
    Veggie Queen:

    Great to know. Do your slow cooker friends have to cook their beans for more than 16 hrs?

  8. The Veggie Queen says:

    Please keep in mind that old beans take longer to cook, and sometimes they never get soft. So maybe that’s the problem.

    Most people that I’ve heard about slow cook beans all day and then they’re ready. But you just never know.

    Buy beans from a store with good turnover. Best if dated but not likely seen.

  9. Anonymous says:

    You guys knew this was coming. And who knew that beans were a staple of the israelites…..?!

  10. Greg says:

    You should do a post about how to use pressure cookers. Neither me nor my friends know what to do with them. (Should I go out and buy one?)

  11. The Veggie Queen says:

    Sorry to butt in here but Greg, if you want to learn about pressure cookers you can take a look at my website http://www.pressurecookingonline.com or my blog at http://pressurecooking.blogspot.com. If you cook real food — beans, grains and vegetables, a pressure cooker rocks. If you cook meat, I hear that it’s also great (from my friends) but I don’t do it.

    • Carla says:

      I was reading your post about cooking dry beans in pressure cooker and what I’d really like to know is how much liquid to use in a pressure cooker as oppose to the package directions. More, less or the same amount? I have a Wolfgang puck pressure cooker I’ve not used yet. Thanks

  12. Darya Pino says:

    Greg:

    I agree with the Veggie Queen, she’s the pressure cooker expert! I just learned by following the instructions that came in the box.

    I am a huge fan of beans, so I don’t think I could live without one.

    So do I think you should buy one? Yes. Do I think it would make your life easier? Yes. Do I think you could live without it? Sure. Definitely a good investment though.

  13. Greg says:

    Thanks Veggiequeen, maybe Santa will visit our apartment this christmas with a pressure cooker.

  14. Connie (Ariel Manx) says:

    Here I am replying to another old post *blush* but I had to chime in and say that I use my slow cooker for beans. (I admit I’m a little scared of pressure cookers, but more importantly, I don’t have one, and I do have a crockpot!) Just today I made a pot full of great northern white beans. I soaked them overnight, then put them in the crockpot with fresh water and put it on high. About 4 or 5 hours later I had perfect beans for tomorrow’s chili and a bunch to put in the freezer.

    • Darya Pino says:

      Don’t blame you for your fear of pressure cookers. I’ll do a video demo soon to demystify. I’m scared of slow cookers. So slow!! (or maybe I just don’t have one). LOL

      • Bonnie Kaake says:

        Fear pressure cookers no more! I purchased the Instant Pot IP-LUX60 and love it. It is electric and there is no possibility of exploding. Not only that but you can actually brown/saute in it and then close and pressure cook. They are available on Amazon.

  15. Rob says:

    Ok, what am I doing “wrong”? I do pinto, adzuki and soybeans on a regular basis in my crockpot.

    Usually 1 cup beans, 3 cups water, in my 4qt crock pot on high for about 4-5 hours. Soy and Adzuki are still semi firm at this point. Sometimes I’ll cook longer depending on planned use. Pinto tho.. they get nice and soft and I usually use them for refritos.

    I usually check after a couple hours to make sure the water hasn’t cooked off too much and add more as needed.

    • Darya Pino says:

      Doesn’t sound like you’re doing anything wrong. What is the problem? In this article I talk about a pressure cooker and you’re using a crock pot (aka slow cooker). Pressure cookers cook fast, crock pots cook slow. Very different.

      • Rob says:

        heh, thanks. I was joking about it cause with so many people seeming to say you “can’t” cook beans in a crockpot, and I’ve had nothing but success…

  16. Bret Aldridge says:

    First, I really love your website!! Second, regarding beans, I discovered heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo about a year ago and my family is hooked! My favorites are the Good Mother Stallards, which taste fabulous with just a little onion and garlic seasoning. They also hold up well with any baked bean recipe you may want to try.

  17. Nate says:

    I just came across your website and find it excellent.

    I teach pressure cooking classes and run across the “fear factor” in every class. It just isn’t true. “A pressure cooker didn’t blow up the cook: A careless cook blew up the pressure cooker.”(R)

    While there are cheap PCs on the market, most are extremely safe. A frying pan is dangerous, if your careless.

    The Fagor brand, that you use, is very good. It is very a reasonable priced piece of equipment. Presto still make very good PCs. I have tried some of the more expensive brands, but find Fagor performs just as well at a better price.

  18. Melissa B says:

    I am originally from Brazil so beans and rice are a necessity for me. I do not own a pressure cooker (I am terrified of them since I have seen two of them explode), so I cook my beans in a slow cooker. I just soak them overnight and then cook them in water on high for about 4-5 hours depending on the type of bean. Once that is done, I rinse them well and then I get to cooking. Add some olive oil in a large pot, then add diced onions and after a couple of minutes add serrano peppers (I use 2-3 depending on how spicy I want the dish), once the onions are translucent add garlic (i use lots of it because I love it), then a couple of diced tomatoes. After all of it has sauteed well in the olive oil, I add the beans and mix everything together along with lots of cilantro. Then I add a broth (chicken, meat, veggie…) until it covers everything and season with salt, pepper, and cumin to taste. Oh sometimes I also add a couple of dried bay leaves. I usually let it cook for about 15-20 min. It is great as a soup or if you let the liquid evaporate you can eat it with rice like we do in Brazil. :)

  19. Walt says:

    I know this is an older article, but I’m wondering how or whether the same principles apply when using an electric pressure cooker. We bought one several months ago and have used it to make barbecue (which tastes wonderful, by the way), but we’re looking to maybe use it to make some bean dishes, like soups, now that the weather here in Idaho is turning cooler.

    Any differences I should be aware of or anything I should do differently over using a regular pressure cooker? Thanks.

  20. Nate says:

    Hi Walt. Well, you don’t want to use the cold water release method. That’s a joke!

    The principle is about the same but some of the tempertures, do not calebrate the same.

    I think”miss vickie’s” web site is the place to go to get the info you are looking for. I believe it is under “pressure settings”.

    With everyone trying to get in on the new interest in pressure cooking we are getting some very mixed and confusing signals.

    Read the information, that came with your cooker, very carefully.
    Test it.
    Start with a small amount and build up to your comfort level.
    I would be careful of the numbers involved with the electrics.

    These are strictly my thoughts.

    Nate

  21. Kathy Norfleet says:

    I have used a pressure cooker since I was 12 years old, I am now 57 and own 3 of them. I cook about everything in them. You do not loose the nutrients cooking this way. A cheap cut of meat becomes fork tender. I am still amazed at the people who still say ” they are scared to cook with a pressure cooker” Believe me, they are very safe and the food is just wonderful.

  22. rachel says:

    so, most of my problems are now solved since I started soaking and pressure cooking batches of beans and freezing them(THANK YOU!) but I read some where about being able to throw them from the freezer straight into the pan. . . which does work fine except I have the hardest time getting the frozen beans out of the tuperware. . any short cut around defrosting them ahead of time?? I just end up not preparing enough in advance or defrosting them and not using them soon enough.

  23. Pr James says:

    If your not squeamish on eating a little meat with your beans… try making a Brazilian Feijoada. You can use the smoked meats that are available in your area… IN San Fran you probably have lots of exotic choices. Serve with Rice and a side dish with slices of Orange. The Orange helps to cut the gas… it is a bean dish… Enjoy.

    By the way.. Thanks for the Article.. ;-)

  24. Laurie says:

    I love Summer Tomato and was inspired by you to buy a pressure cooker and do some freezing. When you cook beans and lentils to freeze, do you season / flavor them before freezing or do you add flavor after defrosting, when creating a meal? Thanks for sharing all you do with your newsletter!

  25. Diane says:

    I bought a pressure cooker to cook beans in, but when i read the directions, it said I needed to put the beans in aluminum foil. I didn’t want to cook them in aluminum foil, because I don’t like to eat food that is in aluminum, so i returned the pressure cooker. Can you cook beans in a PC without the aluminum? If I can, I will be out buying one real soon!

  26. Shan says:

    You may want to look into an Instant Pot. My parents’ have one, and it is on my list of wants. It is an electric pressure cooker with a stainless steel inner pot. They run between $115-135

  27. Diane says:

    Thanks Darya, I will give it a try that way!

  28. Dave says:

    Darya, thanks for all of the great info. Thanks to you I purchased a pressure cooker about a year ago and dried beans are a regular part of my diet. I currently have at least 10 different kinds of dried beans in my pantry and cannot name my favorite. If I am at a loss for something to make tomorrow I will just soak 1/4 cup each of whatever beans I happen to have at the time and make a large pot of bean soup the next day. I have even taken up planting beans for drying in my garden. Thanks again.

  29. Yvonne says:

    The slow cooker will cook your beans perfectly, but nothing overrules the need to soak overnight first. That’s why your beans are crunchy

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