How to Cook Dried Black Beans in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker
Pressure Cooking Dried Beans
The Instant Pot is one of those kitchen appliances that really delivers on its promises. (That's a statement coming from someone who doesn't like to try new kitchen appliances in general.) It's simple to use, as long as you learn just a few key set-up steps and a few key settings.
The Instant Pot is also known as a "multi-cooker". It's become very popular in just a few years, and I finally understand why. It's very versatile: you can saute, you can pressure cook, you can warm up food, and more. It's easy to use, once you learn some basic features.
In this recipe, I'm using the pressure cooking function. There are a lot of different foods you can cook using pressure cooking, so this is a great technique to learn.
Cooking dried beans in the Instant Pot requires minimal hands-on time
I like to break everything down, so that’s why I’ve divided this process into four stages. But the beauty of the Instant Pot (IP) is that each of the stages requires minimal hands-on work from you.
In fact, each of these stages requires less than one minute of your time. The IP does most of its work completely unsupervised.
Cooking Dried Beans: Multiple Variations
There are multiple recipe variations when you're cooking dried beans. If you soak them first, you'll reduce the cooking time. You can also add salt, vinegar, garlic, or other ingredients to your dried beans, depending on what flavor profile you're aiming for.
Personally, I prefer to add salt after the beans are cooked. For this recipe, I'm just cooking the beans in water.
RECIPE FOR COOKING DRIED BLACK BEANS IN THE INSTANT POT PRESSURE COOKER
2 cups dried black beans (no need to soak)
5 cups of water
Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes, with a natural release
Breakdown of Directions
Stage 1: Prepare the Instant Pot
Stage 2: Adjust the settings
Stage 3: Pressure building and pressure cooking
Stage 4: Pressure releasing
Stage 1: Getting the instant pot ready
Add ingredients to pot
Position gasket into lid
Rotate lid into place
Turn valve to "sealing"
These steps are all important, but this whole process should take you less than one minute.
Plug in your appliance (pretty self-explanatory)
Add your ingredients to the stainless steel pot that fits in the Instant Pot
Position your gasket into the lid: The gasket is the silicone ring that fits in the grid on the underside of the lid. Since you need pressure to build up, you need a tight seal. That makes this gasket critical! To position it, you just push it into place. Although it’s such an important step, as you’re pushing it in place you’ll notice that it doesn’t feel like a tight fit. That’s fine.
Rotate the lid into place: The back of the lid fits into a "ledge" on the back of the IP. Once the lid is in the ledge, rotate to lock into place. You'll hear a beep when it's locked in place. You can double-check the front of the pot: the arrow on the lid should line up with the arrow on the pot.
Turn valve to "sealing" position: On the top of the lid you'll see a small lever. Just move that lever to the "sealing" position. You need the pot to be "sealed" so that pressure can build up inside. One point that surprised me: this is such an important step, yet there's no click to let you know that you’ve successfully positioned this small lever. It just moves between the two settings really easily.
Stage 2: Adjust the Settings
Your recipe will tell you which settings to use. To adjust the settings, you basically just push the buttons on the keypad.
For this recipe, push the manual button.
Make sure the pot is set on high pressure. If not, use the plus/minus button to adjust.
Then set your timer for 30 minutes. Again, use your plus/minus button to set your timer.
Now just give it a minute, and you'll then see the display read "on". The first time I used this, I was confused, because I thought I would immediately see the countdown timer. Instead, the display reads "on" to let you know that the process has started. At this point, your IP is heating and building up steam inside the pot.
Stage 3: Pressure Building and Pressure Cooking
When the display reads "on", the heating has started. That means that the pressure inside the pot is slowly building. Once it's reached the right level of pressure, you'll see the countdown timer begin. For this quantity of beans, it takes about 12 minutes before you'll start to see the timer begin its countdown.
Once the timer begins, it will count down as it’s cooking. For this recipe, you have 30 minutes of pressure cooking.
Stage 4: Pressure Releasing
As you’re reading IP recipes, you'll notice instructions for either “natural release“ or “quick release“.
For natural release, you don’t need to do anything at all. The steam that has built up in the IP will start to slowly escape through the valve. Natural release is also called "slow release", because it takes a while for all of that steam to slowly release.
For "quick release", you turn the lever to "venting" and the steam will release all at once. As you can imagine, that steam is really hot! Don’t ever use your bare fingers to turn the lever if you’re doing a quick release. I always use my oven mitt, and I’m always surprised by how much steam escapes right away.
Another caution at this step. Again, that steam is hot! You don’t want to set your IP right under the kitchen cabinet, because that steam over time can start to damage wood. I have my IP positioned on my kitchen island.
Using Freshly Cooked Beans
I used to be a big fan of canned beans, and I still am in certain situations. They don’t require any planning, and they’re ready to go whenever you need them.
But I’m a much bigger fan of freshly cooked beans. There’s no added salt or preservatives. I don't have to be concerned about any potential chemicals from cans leaching into my beans. It’s also cheaper. And if you don’t mind planning ahead a little bit, it’s also easier: one less can to open.
I throw these beans into taco recipes, as fillings for quesadillas, as toppings on salads, as the key ingredient in black bean brownies, and more. If I don’t think we’re going to finish this quantity of beans in a week, no problem: they freeze beautifully. I freeze these in about 1 1/2 cup serving sizes, which is equivalent to about one can of beans.
Dr. Rajani Katta is the author of Glow: The Dermatologist's Guide to a Whole Foods Younger Skin Diet. To receive future updates on preventive dermatology and the role of diet, sign up here.