Pressure Cooker Beans

Use an electric pressure cooker, an Instant Pot or any other, to cook beans easily and quickly!

Use an electric pressure cooker, an Instant Pot or any other, to cook beans easily and quickly!

This is one of those really exciting recipes!

Well… OK, no matter what I did I couldn’t make a plain bowl of Great Northern Beans look all that exciting. But knowing that I can cook beans myself without hovering over a pot to prevent it boiling over or going dry, or having to remember to start it long in advance – that’s exciting! This is the only way I have cooked beans since I started using the electric pressure cooker regularly. (And if you’re still getting used to a new electric pressure cooker or Instant Pot, here is another thing to do with it!)

The first thing I’m going to tell you is that it can be even simpler… I give you a few optional steps – soaking and draining. You can skip them, if that works for you. But if anyone you cook for ever has what are coyly referred to as digestive difficulties with beans, the soaking may mitigate them or even prevent them all together. (It prevents it for me. TMI?)  I also do think that soaked beans cook more evenly, especially if you ever get an older batch of beans…  but that’s more an impression than something I can point to as fact. Too many variables.

Blue bowl full of cooked Great Northern Beans

I just cook a full pound at a time, though you certainly can do fewer if that makes more sense for you. I may use all of them then in chili or soup, or my version of refried beans, so I have extra to freeze, but more often I use a cup here and three cups there… We typically use beans often enough that they move quickly. You can also of course freeze the beans themselves, if that makes sense – right now I actually have some chickpeas in the freezer,  I made a batch of Spinach Hummus last week, and I think I’m going to make some Tuna Chickpea salad later this week.  (And the parents have to watch their salt – cooking beans myself makes that so much easier than compensating for the salty canned ones!)

I use the Pot in Pot method – which I think is the best thing ever for beans! See – beans in a pressure cooker have always been tricky. As they cook, starch cooks out of them into the water, which makes it gloppy – and it foams up when boiled. The very high boil of pressure cooking make that foam up to the point where the starch can come up into the pressure regulator and block it – which was the cause of some of the horror stories we have all heard! Now, modern pans have fail safes built in – if the regulator is blocked they will release pressure, so you’ll just have uncooked beans and a mess, rather than uncooked beans, a mess and an accident…  but we’d still rather not go there…

The pot in pot method keeps the gloppy starchy liquid in the internal pot, while pure water boils merrily away making steam in the actual pressure cooker pot. You don’t get the mess, the regulator doesn’t get clogged, and the whole process is much easier.  I talk about this in the Pressure Cooker Brown Rice recipe – I found a stainless steel pot that fits perfectly in my Cuisinart. If you look online, people have suggestions for inserts for various brands – and of course, you may already have a steel or heat safe ceramic bowl that will work.


Optional Soak

Six to eight hours – or more – before you plan to cook them take a pound of dried beans, Pick over them carefully – yes, I have found pebbles in beans, and you don’t want to bite on one. Also remove any that look moldy or discolored. Rinse them well. Put them in a bowl (I just use the one I’ll use to cook them in) and cover the beans with water. the amount will vary some by the configuration of your bowl – I usually put enough to cover about an inch.

Bowl of beans and water, set to soak.

Classic directions tell you to soak overnight – which is fine if you plan to cook beans in the morning (and I sometimes do.) But really, most of us are more apt to cook them in the evening – or late afternoon on a weekend – in which case putting them to soak first thing in the morning makes more sense.


If you have soaked them, drain the soaking water. If you skipped that step, now is the time to pick over and rinse, as described above.

Put the beans in the pot in pot, and put it in the insert pot in your pressure cooker. (I have to be careful with terminology, here – I think of my extra pot as the “insert pot” but the removable pot in electric pressure cookers is often referred to that way, because you insert it into the appliance.)  Pour water in your bowl to cover the beans – if they have soaked, you just need a half inch or so. If not, of course you need more – I’d give them a good inch and a half. And pour half a cup of water outside your bowl into the insert pot – that’s what will boil and give you steam to raise the pressure.

Beans and water in inside pot, set in pressure cooker, erady to cook.

Close your pot and set your pressure valve.

Now – set it to High. Timing will vary by the kind of bean – I’ve done small soaked pea beans in forty five minutes, but I usually give (soaked) chickpeas fifty five  or even an hour. (Lentils will cook in fifteen minutes, but I rarely even bother with the pressure cooker for plain lentils – as long as I’m at it, I usually make soup or whatever.) You can vary by a few minutes by how soft you want them, as well. I gave black beans fifty five minutes the other day, but I then pureed them for soup – I’d do fifty if I wanted them firm and individual for, say, salad.

All right, one of these days I need to make up a chart for  you… I need to take better notes, though, first!

But anyhow – set it, hit Start, and let it happily cook without your attention!

When it rings to tell you it’s cooked, let it drop pressure naturally. Do not release it manually – even with the pot in pot, there is still some risk of foaming, and manual release risks getting that into the valve… just give it the ten or so minutes it needs. And once the pressure is released, you have a big bowl of cooked beans! Be careful – they are still boiling hot… I usually let them cool a while before trying to handle them. (And –  either if digestion is an issue or if you are going to use them cold, drain and rinse them yet again.  Chickpeas especially can give you a very soggy product later if you do not.)

It’s one of those tasks that sounds more complicated than it is, once you’ve done it a few times… I just check my menu plans after dinner every night, and (since I’m around in the morning) if I’m going to want beans I soak them. In the morning I cook them and they’re ready to make soup by lunchtime!

If you don’t want or need to soak them, it’s even faster – add about ten minutes to the cooking time, and start to finish (allowing for pressure to rise and fall) you have cooked beans in about an hour and a half. Either way, with the electric pot they cook while you change clothes, supervise homework, fix and even eat dinner (and plan the beans for the next day) or just relax…

And then use them in a recipe that is more exciting! Creamy Tomato and Navy Bean Soup, for instance (if you want something fast and easy) or Blizzard Beans (if you have time and feel like playing…) Beans are an empty canvas – you can do almost anything with them!

Use an electric pressure cooker, an Instant Pot or any other, to cook beans easily and quickly!


Blue bowl full of cooked Great Northern Beans

Pressure Cooker Beans

Anne Murphy
Use an electric pressure cooker, an Instant Pot or any other, to cook beans easily and quickly!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Basic technique


  • One pound dried Great Northern beans
  • Water as needed
  • Salt opt.


  • Pick over beans, Rinse well

Optional Soak

  • Put in a bowl and cover by at least an inch with water. Let soak 6 or more hours. Drain


  • Put beans in a pot you can use in your electric pressure cooker. Place that, on a rack if needed, in the insert pot in your cooker. Add enough water to cover - with about half an inch more if soaked, an inch and a half if not.
  • Add half a cup of water in the insert pot of the cooker.
  • Cover and set the valve. Set the pressure to High. Set the timer to 50 minutes for soaked beans, 60 for dry. Start.
  • When cooked, allow pressure to release naturally.


This is the timing that works for me for Great Northern Beans. You will want to vary by the type of bean - less for smaller ones (such as black beans,) longer for larger or harder ones (such as kidney beans or chickpeas.) The technique, however, remains the same.
Note the optional step of pre-soaking, which will add time to the prep (though you don't have to be there) and subtract time from the cooking time.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


25 thoughts on “Pressure Cooker Beans”

  • Great post! I recently got an Instant Pot, and the thing I’ve been loving it most for is cooking dried beans. It really does cut down on the time and the texture of the pressure-cooked beans is great!

    • I use my electric pressure cooker for beans and brown rice on a regular basis. Other things, too – I have chicken stock in it right now, and I do make actual dinner recipes, but those are my staples.

      And thank you! I call for beans in so many recipes, I like to make sure people know all the options, from canned to this!

  • I’m all for doing whatever it takes to reduce or eliminate the effects of beans on the digestive system. . .especially where the hubby is concerned. And such a great idea to prepare them in the Instant Pot to eliminate boil over. I was just making a syrup on my stove top. . .and let’s just say we are still trying to get used to each other. Well, that syrup boiled over and made one huge mess. Not fun!

    • LOL – I always wonder when I say that what people will think… I’ve seen many directions that either assure you that you can skip the soak (and many people can) or faithfully recommend it (with no clue why.) I like to know why I take extra steps – and I have found this one makes a difference.

      And oh, dear… Yes, I’m still getting used to the stove in the new house as well – I have used electric stoves before, but I’m not fond of them. I hope you figure yours out soon!

  • Pressure cooker beans are one of my favorite ways to cook them for all of the reasons you listed above. I’ve never done the bowl in a bowl method, so I’m going to have to try it. Have you ever thrown a leftover ham bone into the pressure cooker with your beans? If not, you need to try it. (Uncured, smoked hams don’t have all the nitrates and are getting easier to find.)

    • The bowl in bowl does help with foaming, if that’s ever been an issue.

      Hmmm… done that in a slow cooker, but not the pressure cooker. I’m not sure it would fit, to be honest – but I”ll have to see! Thanks for reminding me. Often what I do, though, is just cook that in the slow cooker for the stock – and then use that in the recipes when I use the cooked beans.

    • LOL – same here! I always have canned on hand, because there are just days… but I’m using them less often, now. Hope you like it, and thank you!

  • Yum! I love beans – and the fact that they can be cooked so easily is awesome! I will use this next time instead of using canned beans!

    • Oh, perfect!

      When I got the pressure cooker, I have to admit it sat around for a long time while I figured out what I wanted to do with it – but now I use it regularly. Hope you like this method as much as I do.

  • Well, I still don’t have an insta-pot. I used to have two pressure cookers — really old and gave them away. The only thing I did with them was to can veggies and soups. And it must be wonderful to be able to cook the beans in just no time. I’d buy the dry beans more often if I had an insta pot.

    • I had a stovetop one many years ago, and really almost never used it – it took too much fuss. Yes, it was fast, but I seemed to have to totally concentrate on it – and I needed to fix the rest of the meal! The electric pressure cooker (mine isn’t an Instant Pot but they do the same things and more, I understand) is a whole other story, though. I don’t have to pay any attention to it at all!

  • I just got my instant pot and need advice on adjusting an old bean recipe from a stovetop pressure cooker to my IP. For a pound of navy beans with diced potatoes and a ham hock, it would cook for one hour at 15 pounds. Water to cover would be 1 in. With an IP only using 10 pounds of pressure, how much longer should it cook? Please and thank you.

    • I must admit I’m not the one to ask this… I never did use a stovetop pressure cooker, and I’m new to the Instant Pot myself. (This recipe was made in a Cuisinart electric pressure cooker.)

      I recommend the site Hip Pressure Cooking, which discusses all types. And – well – experimenting…

      For what it’s worth, the primary difference I’ve found is that the instant Pot comes up to pressure much more quickly than my old pot, so quick recipes sometimes take a few minutes longer. I do still cook beans the same way, though.

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