Pressure Cooking Dry Beans/Legumes

I include this information because it was an important step in my journey to including more beans. You don’t have to plan ahead very much:  no overnight soak, no hour in advance plus cooking. I loved making dry beans in my pressure cooker. I have since read that they’re not as nutritious this way because they really need the long soak, and you’re cooking them too fast at too high pressure. (Isn’t that the point??)  Anyway…I don’t use this method anymore, but I absolutely would in a pinch. I still use the basic concept of adding veggies and garlic to make a “broth” when I need a vegetable broth for a soup, especially for meatless meals during Lent.

Basic Beans in Aromatic Broth (pressure cooker recipe)

1 lb. (about 2 ½ cups) dried beans, picked over and rinsed
9 c. water
¾ tsp salt (add right at the start – enhances flavor and helps beans hold onto delicate skins and keep their shape)
1 Tbs oil (needed to control foaming)
2-4 unpeeled cloves garlic
2 lg bay leaves
1 lg carrot, halved
1 celery rib, halved
a few leek greens (optional)

In a 6-qt or larger cooker, combine the beans, water, salt and oil. Add the garlic, bay leaves, carrot, celery and leek greens.

Lock lid in place. Over high heat bring to high pressure. Reduce heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for the length of time indicated on Bean Timing Chart (below). Turn off heat. Allow pressure to come down naturally, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow steam to escape.

Test the beans for doneness. They should mash easily and have a creamy texture. If just short of tender, replace (but do not lock) the lid and simmer until done. If still quite hard, return to high pressure for another minute (if they have just a bit of crunch) to 5 minutes (if they are quite hard) and again allow the pressure to come down naturally.

If time permits, allow the beans to cool in the cooking liquid, uncovered. (During this time, beans will firm up and any slightly underdone beans will complete cooking.)  Drain in batches in a large colander. Avoid crushing the beans by piling them in a big heap. Reserve the broth for making soup or stew. Discard bay leaves and veggies. Refrigerate beans for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 4 months. 1 ½ cups cooked beans will equal a 15-oz can in recipes.


*Reduce water to 8 cups. Add a small, meaty pork bone.
*Omit salt and add a ham hock.


*Smashed Beans:  Drain beans while they are still hot. Return beans to cooker and mash with olive oil, roasted garlic, chopped fresh herbs, and lots of salt and pepper. Smashed Beans make a nice alternative to mashed potatoes.

*Multi-Bean Soup: Instead of one type of bean, use a variety. (This is a good way to use up leftover beans in your pantry.)  Reduce water to 4 cups and use 4 cups chicken broth. Peel garlic cloves and chop carrots, celery and leek greens. Use timing for longest cooking bean. After pressure release, season with salt, pepper, and chopped fresh herbs.

Note:  if using a 4-qt cooker, divide recipe in half but use a full Tbs oil.

Bean Timing Chart

For firm beans, to be served on their own or in salads, cook for the minimum suggested time. Allow 15-20 minutes for the natural pressure release, which is essential to completing the job properly. Allow extra time for any additional cooking that may be needed. Always add 1 Tbs oil to control foaming; 2 Tbs oil for limas and soybeans. Do not fill the cooker more than halfway when cooking beans.

1 cup dried beans Minutes High Pressure w/ natural release Yield in Cups
Adzuki (Azuki) 16-21 2
Black (Turtle) 22-25 2
Black-Eyed Peas 6-8 2 ¼
Cannellini 28-32 2
Chickpeas (Garbanzos) 32-35 2 ½
Cranberry (Borlotti) 28-34 2 ¼
Flageolet 28-34 2
Great Northern 25-30 2 ¼
Lentils (brown or French green) 1 to 5  (after 1 minute high pressure, allow pressure to release naturally for 8 mins, then quick release any remaining.) 2
Lentils (red) 5 (red lentils do not hold their shape, so you can use quick-release method) 2
Lima (large)* 9-10 2 ½
Lima (baby) 13-15 2 ½
Navy (pea) 22-25 2
Peas (split, green or yellow) 10-12 2
Pinto 19-22 2 ¼
Red Kidney 25-30 2
Romano (Roman) 25-30 2
Small Red Beans 26-30 2
Soybeans (beige)* 28-35 2 ¼
Soybeans (black)* 32-37 2 ½

*Use 2 Tbs oil per 1 cup beans to control foaming.

Source:  Pressure Perfect, a book I checked out from the library a few years back. My apologies for the lack of author credit!

18 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. Michelle says

    I use my pressure canner to make my own home canned beans. I soak them as long as I possibly can (from what I understand now I will add some whey too) . Like I start them in the morning and process them the next afternoon. Change the water one more time and bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Get quart canning jars clean and ready. Fill the jar with about 3 cups of drained beans, add about 1/2 -1 tsp salt, cumin and chili powder more to taste. Fill to 1″ below lid with cooking water. Process according to your caners directions. I did about 15 lbs of beans which made like 27 quarts of beans. I did black beans also. Now when I want beans for dinner or chili I can simply pop open a jar. Heat on the stove and mash with my potato masher to have delicious fat free refried beans. It takes a day to do while I am at home but then I don’t have to fuss with it nightly and it is cheap!!!

    • Katie says

      I totally have to do this someday! Recommendations for soaking beans changes often; I believe currently they do not need the acidic medium, and don’t add salt until after the boil, so you’re probably doing fine! Slower cooking is best, so maybe cook them longer than 30 minutes before processing in the pressure cooker. Would that turn them into total mush, or not?

      Thanks for this tip – I hadn’t considered canning my own beans, but what a great way to (a) reduce waste from cans and (b) avoid the BPA lining of cans!
      :) Katie

      • says

        I can my own beans, but I am still unsure about how to do it “right”…. I canned pintos last night and the jars ended up “leaking” during the canning time… Maybe I need to leave more head space next time…

        anyway, I soaked the beans in warm water for two days (changing the water often) and then canned them without cooking… pressure canning at 10 lbs of pressure for 90 mins cooks the beans REALLY well.

        I have read that if you add baking soda to soaking beans, it will help with digestion later, but I am not sure if it is true, do you know anything about it?

        • Katie says

          I’ve never pressure canned beans before, and I guess I’ve also never heard of the baking soda thing. Hmmm. Sorry I’m clueless on that one! :) Katie

          • Toni Jones says

            I don’t know anything about canning pinto beans, but I do know that if you put a pinch of baking soda in the soaking water it will make a difference. Be sure to rinse the beans before cooking or processing. Good Luck!

  2. Joyce says

    I have canned dried beans like was mentioned for many years. Except I just soaked the beans and didn’t cook before processing. I grew up eating pressure cooked pinto beans on a weekly basis. We always soak them overnight. Never heard that they might not be as healthy that way. I am concerned about eating canned foods because of the controversy of cancer risks. I also live at a high altitude where cooking beans without a pressure cooker would take all day. Interesting blog and post!

  3. Will says

    I don’t use the oil. You’d be surprised what spitting a few times into the cooker will do. No kidding. Yes, it’s a little odd at first. But seriously, juts spit about 4 times into the broth and it will not get so foamy during cooking. This is the way we did it when I was a kid. It was kind of a treat to get to spit in the pan. We’d always want to be the ones chosen.

    • says

      lol. You were a really tight-knit people. In which region might one find this culinary technique? I’ve read a lot of opinions on beans lately and have yet to hear of this.

  4. Laura says

    Thank you so much for this info! I was wondering tho: the time chart specifies for one cup of beans, do you have to increase the time for more beans?

  5. Stephie says

    I’m new to using a pressure cooker. I make pinto beans all the time in my crock pot. I’d like to make them in my pressure cooker but all the recipes I am finding list 2 to 2 1/2 cups of dry beans. I have a family of four and 2 of them are growing teenage boys. 2 1/2 cups beans is not enough when we make burritos. So my question is how many beans is ok and not too many to do in the pressure cooker? Thank you for any input.

    • says

      Sorry I missed your comment for 2 weeks! The pressure cooker book for beans that I read did caution about not putting too many beans in – I think no more than half full of water, maybe? So it all depends on how big your cooker is! Ah, teenage boys…I’m a little bit afraid of that time coming for my food budget!!

      :) Katie

  6. Andy says

    I’m retired in Mexico and cook nearly everything in my 7L pressure cooker. I cook a pound of peruano beans 2-3 times a week seasoned with chile de arbol. I cook the pre-soaked beans half-an-hour and check the water level. I then add two chicken leg quarters and a small bag of frozen mixed veggies. When in season I’ll add an avocado from my backyard. I’ll then keep cooking until everything is done. After I eat the leg quarters, I’ll fill my blender half-full, add salt and puree the beans and veggies to make delicious soup and enjoy it until it is all gone.

  7. Thaddeus says

    I do not presoak beans and I do not throw away any rinse water. When the beans are soaked, the process of osmosis has the water going into the beans and then the nutrients can go out into the water. I keep it all, just washing the beans prior to cooking. Add some olive oil and bay leaf. No salt and 3/4 of the way through cooking, add the other stuff such as veggies. I do not see any point in canning beans or other things that can be cooked in under an hour. Fresh cooked is better IMHO.

    • CJ Wilkerson says

      Thank you Thaddeus. I KNEW there had to be a way before presoaking. I normally use the crock pot overnight and they come out DELICIOUS, but wanted to try my pressure cooker. I just wasn’t sure how long to cook them but with all of the comments, I have a better idea of what to do.
      Thanks again!

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