Easy Instant Pot Black Beans/ Soaked and Unsoaked
Whenever someone asks me how to eat healthy on a budget, I always think of beans. They’re filling, nutritious, tasty, and dirt cheap. They can be the foundation for so many meals, which is why they’re a staple in diets the world over. Preparing them, however, can be a turnoff to a lot of home cooks, since they take a while on the stove. Enter the Instant Pot, which is one of the quickest routes to a reliably tasty bowl of beans.
Should I Soak Dried Beans?
The first consideration in cooking beans, no matter what method you’re using, is whether or not to soak them first. That means immersing them in a generous bowl of water for about eight hours or overnight, during which time they expand. Soaking cuts down on cooking time and some believe it improves digestibility (which is thought to decrease the pesky gas that can accompany eating beans). Others say soaking is unnecessary and that the improved digestion (ahem, fewer farts) is an old wives tale. I found this to be an enlightening write up on the topic, but overall recommend you do what works best for you.
Seasoning Instant Pot Black Beans
Once you’re ready to cook your beans, pile them in the pot along with the other ingredients. The recipe includes whole garlic cloves, oregano, cumin, chili flakes, and salt. Once cooked, the beans are mildly spiced and pleasingly salted. You can tinker with the seasonings however you like. The options are endless. Add a ham bone or a few strips of bacon for added smoke to the flavor. Turn up the heat by adding more chiles. Or cut the salt in half and skip the seasonings altogether, so your beans can be used in both savory and sweet dishes (see black bean brownie recipe below!).
Cooking Time for Instant Pot Black Beans
I made so many batches of beans in the process of developing this recipe, my family has since hidden my Instant Pot. I tried them soaked and unsoaked, in large batches and small, and with different brands of beans. One thing I know for sure is that black beans do differ, largely depending on how long they’ve been shelved at the store or in your pantry. In general, I got the best results cooking soaked beans on high for 11 minutes and unsoaked beans for 30 minutes, with about 15 minutes of natural release time.
Black Bean Nutrition
As I said up front, beans are an excellent source of good, solid, affordable nutrition. One cup of black beans is a powerhouse of good health with more than 14 grams of protein, more than a quarter of your daily needs for iron and magnesium, more than a third of your daily needs for folate and thiamin, and as much fiber as most Americans get in an entire day , all at a little over 200 calories. That’s some bean!
Ideas for Using Black Beans
This recipe is for a full pound of beans, which is a little over two cups dried and about six cups cooked. You can absolutely cut the recipe in half or do as I do and freeze some of the cooked beans for another day. As for what to do with those beans, here are a slew of simple ideas:
- Use as the main event for a DIY taco bar, along with bowls of salsa, grated cheese, cooked vegetables, salsa, and guacamole
- Toss with cooked brown rice and top with salsa, diced avocado, and a little grated cheese
- Add to your favorite taco salad
- Make into a salsa with equal parts cooked corn, diced avocado, and a squeeze of lime with tortilla chips for scooping
- Tuck into tortillas along with Jack cheese, spinach, and salsa to make nourishing quesadillas
- Blend with some of the bean cooking liquid, salsa, and lime juice to turn into a warm Tex Mex dip
- Scatter over a tray of nachos
- Spoon onto a warm corn tortilla and top with a fried egg
For recipes using Instant Pot Black Beans, check out:
Deep Dish Black Bean Enchilada Casserole by Hola Jalapeno
Black Bean Brownies by Liz’s Healthy Table (use just 1 teaspoon salt and no other seasonings for the beans if you’re doing this recipe)
Easy Instant Pot Black Beans
The Instant Pot makes effortless work of cooking a pot of black beans. This recipe offers the method for both soaked and unsoaked beans. Feel free to cut the recipe in half, using three instead of six cups of water and half of all the seasonings.
- 1 pound dried black beans
- 3 large cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 6 cups water
Put the beans in a colander, pick through them to remove any debris or tiny stones, and rinse. If you’re soaking your beans, put them in a large bowl and cover by several inches with water. Leave to soak for 8 hours or overnight.
When you are ready to cook, put the drained beans (soaked or unsoaked) into the Instant Pot and add the remaining ingredients. Secure the lid, close the vent, and set the IP on high for 11 minutes for soaked beans or 30 minutes for unsoaked.
When the time is up, allow for a natural release for 15 minutes. Open the vent to release any remaining steam, and remove the lid.
Transfer the beans and some of the cooking liquid (it’s good to keep them moist and the cooking liquid can be great for bean soup) to a covered container. Store in the refrigerator, where they will keep for up to 5 days, or in the freezer in a tightly sealed container or freezer bag.
To serve, use a slotted spoon to lift them from the liquid.