Instant Pot Black or Pinto Beans Recipe - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Instant Pot Black or Pinto Beans Recipe


Photography by Victoria Wall Harris

Since our diet is predominantly plant-based, we focus most of our meals around vegetables and legumes.  By legumes, I mean beans, lentils and peas. This group is my go-to protein and I aim to vary the sources as much as I can.  There are so many kinds of beans out there, from the common black, pinto, garbanzo (aka chickpeas) to heirloom varieties that are less widely seen.  There are also so many different types of lentils – different colors, some split, different sizes, etc.

I stock my pantry and fridge with precooked legumes for convenience since they do take a long time to cook from a dried state.  They don’t require much effort or hands-on time, but to cook dried beans over the stove warrants a pre-soak of many hours and then at least an hour cook time.  In the slow cooker, I usually budget 6-7 hours.  Although I can’t admit to using my Instant Pot every day, or even often, I do love it for batch cooking beans. Even without soaking, I can make them in under 40 minutes (+ the time it takes for the machine to achieve pressure.)

I like to make basic beans that I can then freeze or use in soups or on salads.  But our hands-down favorite beans would be with cilantro, onion, and garlic.  I use pinto or black beans and they are the perfect beans for refried beans, burritos, tacos, enchiladas, Tex-Mex bowls and more.  We’ll eat them straight out of the pot or mashed with some of the cooking liquid.

Beans prepared this way are so tasty and really nutritious too.  They are loaded with protein, fiber and antioxidants.  There is no oil added (not that I’m opposed to oil), which makes them fairly low in calories per serving.  Let me also mention that making your own beans is very budget-friendly too!

Many of you may have stocked up on dried beans at the beginning of the pandemic and are thinking you need to chip away at your pantry.  That’s exactly how I’m feeling, so I am sharing this easy and nutritious recipe with you today!

Let me know if you make this recipe by tagging me on Instagram @pamelasalzman #pamelasalzman .  I love seeing all your creations!

Instant Pot Black or Pinto Beans
Serves: 6
  • 1 pound dried black or pinto beans, sorted for stones (they don’t need to be soaked)
  • ½ large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 10 sprigs cilantro, tied with kitchen twine
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 8 cups water (use hot water to bring the Instant Pot up to pressure more quickly)
  1. Place all ingredients in the Instant Pot insert. Secure the lid and turn the vent to “sealed.”
  2. Set the machine to manual high pressure for 35 minutes. The machine will need time to achieve pressure before it starts counting down from 35 minutes.
  3. Once the cook time has completed, do a manual/quick release. Open the lid and test the beans for tenderness.
  4. They should be tender. If so, you can eat them as is. If they're not tender enough, but they're close, switch to the saute setting and simmer the beans for a few more minutes. I like to strain the beans but save the liquid. Discard the cilantro bundle. Put the beans back in the Instant Pot and add enough reserved cooking liquid to achieve your desired consistency. You can even mash some of the beans if you like or puree them all. Save a little bean liquid in case you have leftovers and you want to reheat them.
If you have 14 ounces of beans, reduce water to 7 cups.
You can also add a small piece of jalapeno (like ½ of one) to the pot with the rest of the ingredients. Take the seeds out beforehand so the beans are not too spicy.


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    • I would reduce the time by 5 minutes if you soaked them overnight.

  1. Hi! I don’t have fresh jalapeño but do have canned, would that work on slow cooker? Should I drain them? Thanks!

    • Since canned jalapeños have more of a pickled flavor, it may give off an acidic taste to the beans. I would start with a very small amount. Drain and rinse the jalapeños before adding them to the pot.

  2. Hi Pamela,
    Could these be made in a slow cooker? My drawers are packed full so I’m trying to avoid buying an extra kitchen gadgets.

    • Totally! To make it in the slow cooker, place all ingredients, except for the salt and cook on LOW for 6-7 hours. Test for tenderness and season with salt.

  3. I love black beans – and a quick easy recipe like this is a lifesaver. However – I’m one of those that cannot stand cilantro. Any other herb you’d recommend as a replacement?

    • I would omit the cilantro. The beans will have less flavor, but still taste great. Or you can try adding a pinch of dried oregano.

  4. I notice the salt goes right in for this recipe. It doesn’t affect tenderness in the instant pot the way it can in the slow cooker? I remember you saying that about salt or using kombu. Can kombu be subbed for salt in this?

    • For some reason the salt doesn’t affect the tenderness of the beans when you cook them in a pressure cooker as opposed to stovetop or slow cooker. You can use kombu instead of salt, but I don’t find that it adds enough seasoning to the beans. An option is to soak the beans in kombu before cooking to enhance the flavor.

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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