BEST Pressure Cooker or Instapot Pinto Beans

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Perfect Pinto Beans

I love beans, as a side dish and as a main course.  I am not in love with beans out of a can and try my best to start from dried. That said, I do use canned beans in a pinch if I don’t have time to make my own.

This recipe is my favorite way to prepare pinto beans – they are flavorful, saucy and delicious in a bowl with grated cheese and condiments. I also like to pour them over any type of rice or as part of a lunch bowl for something heartier.  Plus – they’re lickity split easy and fast – only ten minutes of prep and 22 minutes to cook. 

Right Before Cooking

Pressure Cooker or Instapot Pinto Beans 

Yields 8 large servings



  •  1 pound dry pinto beans
  • ½ large brown-skinned onion, peeled but kept whole  
  • ½  good-sized yellow or red bell pepper, seeded but kept whole 
  • Large chunks of 1 carrot + 1 celery + 1 parsnip (optional)
  • 4 large cloves peeled garlic
  • A handful of fresh cilantro if you have it (optional)
  • 3 ½  cups water with a tablespoon of chicken stock, (I like Better Than Bouillion)
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato paste (I use my always ready tube)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard (the kind you put on hamburgers)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin 
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil 
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 1 tsp neutral oil such as grapeseed or avocado

SUCH Simple Ingredients

  • Place beans in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker and add enough water to cover by 2″ to 3″. Allow to soak overnight or for at least six hours. Alternatively, bring the beans to a boil before soaking and let them simmer away for two minutes, then remove the pot from the heat and let the beans sit in the hot water, covered, for at least an hour.  After the soaking time, drain off and discard the soaking water and rinse the beans with fresh cool water, draining well. Set aside.
  • Add everything above to the soaked and rinsed beans and stir well.
  • Lock the lid in place, let the pressure cooker or Instapot come to full pressure and cook 22 minutes from when it reaches full pressure.  
  • When the time is up, allow the steam pressure to naturally release which should take 15 to 20 minutes. Sometimes I leave the beans in the pot after turning off the heat and go to do errands, returning two hours later.  Fine. After the natural release, remove the lid. Remove the onion, carrot, celery, and herbs with kitchen tongs.
  •  Stir, taste and season with salt as desired. You shouldn’t need much, or any, salt.
  • Sometimes I package the beans into smaller containers and freeze them.  And while the beans are cooking I often make some type of rice, which also freezes well.  

Notes: I usually do a quick soak rather than overnight just because when I get a hankering for beans, I don’t want to wait for the long soak  Also, as these sit after cooking they thicken up quite a bit, so don’t panic if they seem soupy.  Give them a couple of hours and you’ll be skurprised by how much the liquid becomes much less liquidy, if that is a word!

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2 Responses to BEST Pressure Cooker or Instapot Pinto Beans

  1. Bernice says:

    Do you have to have an insta pot??

    • Marilyn says:

      No, I have two pressure cookers. I prefer it not be electronic and I wouldn’t use the slow cooker or saute function. For younger cooks it might make sense but I love love love my pressure cookers. I’m not looking to add one single appliance or pot/pan to my kitchen at this stage!

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