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How to Pressure Cook Dry Beans/Legumes (with OR without soaking!)

Dry beans in the Instant Pot

On those days when I just didn’t plan…or I planned dinner but pulled a Mommy-brain moment or everything just went wrong and the meal was derailed…I might not have properly soaked dry beans around. What’s better in that moment – compromise and spend more money on canned beans, give up and get fast food, or pressure cook unsoaked beans in spite of the possibility of having more phytic acid?

Instant Pot and better research for the win! (This works of course with any electric pressure cooker or stovetop cooker.) Be a better steward of so many resources with this knowledge.

I’ve actually known how to cook beans in a pressure cooker without soaking for a long time, since before I came around to real, traditional foods. For years though, I wouldn’t do it.

I had read in Nourishing Traditions that quick soak or pressure cooked beans (or both!) were really unhealthy, and I believed it 100%.

That all changed with new information and people I trust emphasizing that pressure cooking really can be just as healthy, even for vegetables. It turns out it may even reduce the anti-nutrients lectin and phytic acid in beans more than long-cooking.

Considering the Instant Pot saved my beans and dinner just this week when I forgot to soak the dry beans, I am glad it’s back!

How to Pressure Cook Dry Beans – Soaked or Unsoaked

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How to Pressure Cook Dry Beans/Legumes (with OR without soaking!)

  • Author: Katie Kimball
  • Yield: 5+ cups beans 1x


  • about 1 pound dry beans (more if your cooker is over 6qt)
  • 1 Tbs oil
  • about 8 cups water
  • salt (Use the code kitchenstewardship for 15% off of your first purchase) to taste, optional

ship kroger


  1. Pour a one-pound bag or about 3 cups dry beans into a colander. (more if your pressure cooker is over 6qt)
  2. Pick through for rocks and debris.
  3. Rinse under running water.
  4. Pour into pot.
  5. Cover with twice as much water as beans, whether you’re soaking or cooking. If cooking, you could measure 4 cups water per cup dry beans.
  6. (Optional: Let soak at room temperature overnight or for 12 hours. Drain off water in a colander and rinse beans. Put back into pot and cover with double the amount of water as beans. Proceed with cooking.)
  7. Add a Tbs. of oil to the beans (I just use olive oil – the purpose is to reduce foaming.)
  8. Optional: Add up to a teaspoon of salt – this will infuse your beans with great flavor and won’t harm the cooking process at all.
  9. Check the sealing ring, lock the lid in place, and close the vent (to “Sealing” on an Instant Pot).
  10. On the stovetop, bring your cooker to high pressure and then keep it there for the time recommended in the chart below.
  11. For an Instant Pot, press “MANUAL” or “BEANS/CHILI” and adjust the time manually to fit the chart below. Note that soaked beans cook faster.
  12. When the time is up, allow 15-20 minutes for a natural pressure release. (That means that the pin will drop on a stovetop cooker and no steam will spray out when the valve is opened on any kind of pressure cooker.)
  13. Check the beans. When done, they should be soft and pleasant to eat.
  14. If they are still a little too firm or crunchy, cook a little longer using one of the methods below in the troubleshooting section.

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Instant Pot Tutorial - how to use your electric pressure cooker WELL!

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Where to Find a Pressure Cooker

If you really want an old school pressure cooker for the stovetop, you can browse them at Amazonthis is the set that I got for our wedding so very long ago. Mine is actually a 7L size (which is over 7 qts) and the one included here is only a 6-quart.

The best thing about these is that they have a glass lid for normal cooking, and they are the two pots we use MOST of all in the last 14 years! So if you have no extra space, just replace a big pot with a pressure cooker and you only need to store the lid additionally. I admit I’m not sure I ever used the pressure function with the smaller pot, but I love both sizes for normal cooking.

If I had to do it over, I’d get this set because it has an 8-quart pot and a larger steamer basket that could also do pasta or potatoes. The members of our Kids Cook Real Food eCourse often ask about how to help kids heft a heavy pot of water to the sink to drain, and this is the best solution – pulling out a basket insert rather than lifting boiling liquids around.

This is the 6-quart Instant Pot I have. They sell an 8-quart pot as well, but most people say it’s better to get a deal on the 6-quart and just have 2 rather than go big, because the 8-quart doesn’t seem to have good sales as often (or ever).

Add More Flavor: Aromatic Bean Broth (pressure cooker recipe)

This recipe from Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass will give you more flavorful beans that you can still use in any recipe, and if you like veggie broth instead of bone broth, you can use that too. Some people find that they get too much gas from bean broth, even with a soak/drain/rinse before cooking, so watch for that and discontinue if it applies to you.


  • 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 large bay leaves
  • 1 large carrot, halved
  • 1 celery rib, halved


  1. In a 6-qt or larger cooker, combine the beans, water, salt and oil.
  2. Add the garlic, bay leaves, carrot, celery and leek greens.
  3. Lock lid in place. Over high heat bring to high pressure (or use appropriate timing according to chart below in an Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker).
  4. on the stovetop: Reduce heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for the length of time indicated on Bean Timing Chart (below). Turn off heat.
  5. Allow pressure to come down naturally, 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow steam to escape. Test the beans for doneness.
  7. 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.)
  8. Drain in batches in a large colander, preferably stainless steel (found on Amazon) because of the hot water.
  9. Reserve the broth for making soup (like this three bean soup) or stew (like this Tuscan beef and bean). Discard bay leaves and veggies.
  10. 1 ½ cups cooked beans will equal a 15-oz can in recipes.

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

How To Pressure Cook Dry Beans And Legumes

Bean Timing Chart for Pressure Cookers (Soaked and Unsoaked)

How long does it take to cook beans in a pressure cooker? NOT all day! Score! Each type of bean has a different length for cooking time, so be sure to check the time chart for your dry bean:

  • 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,
  • 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. That includes the water! About 3 cups dried beans is the max for the 6-quart Instant Pot Duo that I have because they expand so much. A one-pound bag is fine but two pounds is too much. I have done 4 cups beans but under-measured the water a little so it didn’t go past the half-full line.
  • If soaking beans: Subtract minutes as follows for the Instant Pot: 20 minutes on the chart = 10 minutes needed, 25 minutes = 20 minutes needed, 35 minutes = 20 minutes needed. All times refer to the first, or shortest, time listed in the chart for the Instant Pot. For a stovetop cooker, I’m going to refer you to Hip Pressure Cooking’s time chart because the minutes are exceptionally low!
1 cup dried beans, UNSOAKED
Stovetop Cooker: Minutes at High Pressure w/ natural release
Instant Pot: Minutes at High Pressure w/natural release
Yield in Cups
Adzuki (Azuki)16-2120-252
Black (Turtle)22-2520-252
Black-Eyed Peas6-820-252 ¼
Chickpeas (Garbanzos)32-3535-402 ½
Cranberry (Borlotti)28-3435-402 ¼
Great Northern25-3025-302 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.)15-202
Lentils (red)5 (red lentils do not hold their shape, so you can use quick-release method)15-18 (don’t soak)2
Lima beans13-1520-252 ½
Navy (pea)22-2525-302
Peas (split, green or yellow)10-1215-202
Pinto19-2225-302 ¼
Red Kidney25-3025-302
Romano (Roman)25-3025-302
Small Red Beans26-3025-302
Soybeans (beige)*28-3525-302 ¼
Soybeans (black)*32-37?2 ½

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

Sources: Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass and Instant Pot’s online bean timing chart

What if the Beans Aren’t Done at First?

Black bean avocado starter salad

Although I love that Instant Pot, it does bug me that I can’t check doneness until it’s all done! And sometimes they’re not done. Know what I mean? Winking smile

If you wait the 15-20 minutes for a natural pressure release, then check the beans and they’re too firm, you can still save dinner within 20 minutes or so, typically. You have a few options:

Manually Boil the Beans

If you like to feel more in charge and the beans are just slightly underdone:

  • Add a pinch of baking soda to the water, hit the CANCEL button (on an Instant Pot)
  • Then hit SAUTE. The beans will start bubbling away fairly quickly (make sure there’s enough water so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the insert pot).
  • On the stove top, just turn the burner to HIGH and then simmer on medium low once a boil is reached, which will be quick.
  • Try to keep some bubbles going.
  • Stir and check every 5-10 minutes until you’re satisfied with the texture. I tend to run some cold water over a bean and simply eat it, or press one under a spoon to make sure it flattens.

Bring the Beans Back to Pressure

If the beans are quite crunchy or you don’t have 30-60 minutes, don’t despair. You can pressure cook them a few more minutes:

  • On an Instant Pot, press CANCEL.
  • On either kind of pressure cooker, check the lid for foam blocking the valve.
  • Check the water level to make sure it’s fully covering the beans.
  • Turn the valve to SEALING (or closed on a stovetop pressure cooker).
  • Lock the lid in place.
  • Bring back to pressure over the stovetop for 1-5 minutes or set the Instant Pot to MANUAL for 3-5 minutes. (It won’t take as long to get up to pressure because everything should still be pretty hot.) Choose the number of minutes depending on how crunchy the beans were.
  • Release the pressure quickly if you’re in a hurry and hope you succeeded! If you have the time and aren’t worried about the shape of the beans, let the pressure release naturally.

Why Should You Still Soak the Beans Before Pressure Cooking?

Meatless Veggie and Bean Burritos

Even though you can cook unsoaked beans in your pressure cooker, it may be best to plan ahead and save that info for when you’re in a pinch. Here’s why:

  1. Soaking may make the beans more digestible (but honestly, that’s up for discussion as some research shows that pressure cooking is better!).
  2. Pre-soaked beans should produce less flatulence! (gas)
  3. Soaking helps to avoid split beans, which can be important if you’re using them for a cold bean salad (although not as much if you’re mashing them into refried beans or hummus anyway).
  4. The presoak will still speed up your cook time, even with a pressure cooker, usually by at least 10 minutes.

Storing Cooked Beans

Your home-cooked beans will be much more frugal than cans, and it saves a ton of time to make extra and freeze for later. They’re very quick to thaw by plopping into some soup or covering with warm water in the sink.

Cooked beans will last 5-7 days in the fridge (you’ll KNOW when they turn!) or at least a year in the freezer, although as with anything the quality goes down if they get freezer burned.

To freeze, measure 2 or 4-cup portions, which will be like 1 or 2 “cans” worth as you’re following recipes.

If you have the space, I find that reusing old cottage cheese and sour cream containers is great and about 2 cups fits in the 16-ounce size without measuring.

To conserve space, measure into a quart zippered bag. These will also thaw faster. Be sure to LABEL the outside with the type of bean and date, and if you’re smart, you’ll keep a list on the outside of your freezer so you know what’s in there.

Do you make home-cooked beans? What’s your fav use for them?

Find all the Kitchen Stewardship® Instant Pot tips and recipes HERE.

Other Instant Pot Tutorials:

=Traditional Cooking School Instant Pot Sourdough Cornbread Pressure Cooker Recipe

My dear friend Wardee at Traditional Cooking School can do just about anything with her Instant Pot – cakes, bread, main dishes, veggies, even “stacking” multiple kinds of food at once!

She’s offering a free sourdough cornbread Instant Pot recipe!

This cornbread is delicious, nutritious, super easy to make, and it only needs 12 minutes of cook time.

Other Pressure Cooker Bean Recipes:

How To Pressure Cook Dry Beans And Legumes
Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

About The Author

22 thoughts on “How to Pressure Cook Dry Beans/Legumes (with OR without soaking!)”

  1. I soaked my adzuki beans over night. I used the entire 15 ounce bag. I have an IP and it has a beans/chili setting. If I cook ALL the presoaked beans how long should I time it for? I’m super excited to try this recipe. Adzuki beans came up on my bio scan and my body really
    Needs them. I usually don’t eat beans. Thanks in advance for your help.

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hi Joy, the cooking time on the chart for 1 cup will stay the same regardless of the amount, just make sure you don’t fill the pot past the 1/2 way mark with the beans and water.

  2. Hi, Katie!!! This is a great post, and I sure appreciate the bean chart! I’m going to “punt,” here with a 15-bean soup mix that it’s 7:40 p.m., and I have to have done by 9 p.m.-ish when my husband will be back from work!!!

    As an aside, with the cost of meat rising, I went to Aldi and Dollar Tree, invested in about 10 pounds (2-pound bags x5) of red beans, black beans, pinto beans, and Great Northern beans. In multiple large bowls, in MULTIPLE batches over about a week, I soaked each kind of bean in salted water (the guide I was using said to use boiling water and cover x2), overnight. Then rinse. I scooped the beans into sterile quart jars, added about 1 tsp of salt to the jars, and topped off with more boiling water, leaving 1″ headspace. I have a pressure canner that will do 7 quarts at a time, so following directions for beans/altitude, etc, I canned each batch of beans – each batch took about 90 minutes at pressure, so PLENTY of time to go do something else. And then I just let it cool down overnight. I was doing this in the evenings, so I shut off the stove before heading off to bed, and brought jars out to cool on counter in the mornings.

    Sure, it was a process, but it was EASY TO DO!!! Soak, drain, pack, can according to directions! I now have jars and jars of cooked beans, ready to make refried pinto and/or black beans, chili, chicken chili (that’s where I use the Northerns!), etc., ready to go any time I need a quick dinner!!! It really didn’t take time away from anything else; soaking took no “work,” bringing canner to pressure took no “work,” and aside from adjusting burner to maintain pressure, the canning, proper, took no “work.” Your guide is a superb go-to… I would encourage folks to go maybe one step further, stock up on dried beans (absolutely, pound for pound the least expensive protein out there!!!), and get them ready for back-to-school quick evening meals!!! Fabulous post!!! ~Chrissie

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      You’d want to use double the amount of water as beans. So if you have 3 cups of beans use 6 cups of water for example.

  3. I made mine in the IP one day and, let’s just say they made us go to the bathroom an hour or so after eating them. (Sorry if tmi.) We don’t usually have that effect. Any idea what we can do (what we did do or didn’t do) to make them less… problematic? Thanks so much!!

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Did you soak them? Soaking and pressure cooking beans is usually a good way to reduce any digestive issues. I’d try soaking too if you didn’t this time and see if that makes a difference.

  4. A question – on the chart the first column is titled “1 cup dried beans.” Is that supposed to be 1 pound?

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      No, it’s supposed to be cups. If you look at the right column you’ll see the output measurements correspond with 1 cup of dried beans as the correct measurement. Katie mentions earlier that her 6-qt IP will only cook a max of 3 cups of dried beans at a time, so a pound would be too much for that size to do at once.

      1. Thank you for the explanation. Does the cooking time remain the same then, no matter how many cups of beans?

        1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

          Yes, it stays the same. The pot will take longer to come to pressure the more full it is, but you set it for the same cooking time.

  5. Even though it’s now just my husband and I myself, I’ve very much gotten into meal prep, partly to make sure we eat healthy and partly because once you’re retired you find yourself getting lazier by the day and you need all the help you can get staying ahead of your tasks. Now that we have not only two refrigerators, both with pretty good sized freezer compartments, but a chest freezer in the garage, I’m finding out how important it is to label EVERYTHING, even when you’re 100% sure you’ll remember the contents of that freezer bag. I wound up with too many of what I call UFO’s (Unidentified Frozen Objects) before I learned that lesson. Thanks for the tips on pressure cooking beans. I’ve added this to my Instant Pot printouts.

  6. Thank you so much for this–I literally just went through all my IP booklets today trying to find some useful information like this (there’s none in the booklets that come with it, btw).

    I do have to ask if anyone has cooked lentils in the IP for the recommended time of 15-20 minutes on high pressure? I tried lentils last week and only set it to 10 minutes and they were total mush! It seems the Stovetop Cooker time of 1-5 mins may be a safer bet for the IP also? Any thoughts?

  7. This was the perfect post because I had *accidentally* soaked my beans overnight and didn’t know how much liquid to add or how long to cook in my Instapot. Still crossing my fingers it turns out, because I *think* I had three cups of dry beans, but maybe four, lol. Definitely an experiment, but I am not in any rush so I figure I can fix them if needed. Thank you!!

  8. Is 40 years enough experience? Here what I do to make Great Northern or Small white beans with Ham hocks, a most favored meal in s stove Top PC.: Measure, rinse pick and pit into PC with 2 -2.5 x water.
    Add ham hocks.
    Bring to pressure (15 psi), remove from heat and let stand for 60″, including natural release.
    Open, drain, reserve pork, rinse beans X1 and add chicken both to cover.
    Return pork and heat to 15 psi, reduce heat and cook 25′ – 30′ with natural release.
    Serve into bowls with slotted spoon and some meat, per taste.

    While soaking/cooking, fine dice white onion and soak in white vinegar. Some also like a little ketchup on the edge, but not me. scope drained onions to taste and enjoy. Comfort food for 40+ years.

  9. Katie, I never met a bean I didn’t like. I grew up with red beans and rice on Mondays. I LOVE red beans and rice–ANY day of the week. I am always eager and happy to read more about beans. Thank you so much for this informative and dinner-inspiring post.

    More importantly, thank you for the reminder (in the email) that God is in control and that MY part in the days that don’t go as planned is to offer it up.

  10. Hi Katie! I’ve recently been reading some of your older posts related to soaking whole grains. I’ve been experimenting/wrestling with this whole soaking thing for about a year now. If there are differences in our health, they are subtle ones. I am wondering if you are still soaking grains now (the posts are from 2010)? Thank you for sharing the research you’ve done!

    1. Hi Stacy – this is something I’ve been pondering writing an update on for a long time and just haven’t done it – I think because I’m not sure 100% where I land either. Our family doesn’t generally show different reactions to soaked or unsoaked grains, BUT we eat so few grains at all nowadays that it hasn’t been an issue at the forefront of my consciousness as much. My hunch is that the benefit is as you said – subtle – and the real benefit is to skip them altogether, but that’s much harder. I find that I try to do it but don’t stress if I don’t, lately. Not much hard info but a little window into our progression! 🙂 Katie

      1. Thanks for responding! And please do post more if you have any new information or insights about it. I appreciate that you’re not just parroting one person’s opinion, but looking at it from a couple of different angles.

      2. Can I ask what has kept you motivated to continue soaking grains? What value do you see in it?

        1. Stacy, There’s a part of me that still thinks my original research may be true, that getting the seeds thinking that they’ll grow may release minerals, and also it CAN make things faster the day you are baking so that’s always a plus, a little built-in prep work! I just don’t flip out about it or do it 100% anymore… 🙂 Katie

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