Monday, November 5, 2018

Beans for Chili, Cooked in the Instant Pot

Hello. My name is Jan, and I'm an Instant Pot addict.

I've shared recipes done in my Instant Pot before....

For Deviled Eggs...

...and for Soups like this one...and this one... But most of all, for Chili!

A few of us were talking about our Instant Pots recently, and I realized that I had used it six times in one week.

I think this purchase was worth while!

On Saturday I cooked beans for the chili I planned to make in the slow-cooker on Sunday morning. I like making the beans ahead of time so that I know they're all set for the chili and won't turn out half-cooked and crunchy.

Is there anything worse than crunchy beans? (Unless they're dry-roasted, of course!)

One thing I learned when we moved to the Black Hills was that beans, rice, and all baked goods cook differently at higher altitudes. I had spent a lifetime - more than 50 years - ignoring those "high-altitude" directions. Suddenly, now that we live at 3500 feet, they are important!

Views like this one on the Needle's Highway in
Custer State Park makes cooking
adjustments worth while!

So, I've learned a lot about cooking beans in the last seven years. (For instance, did you know that older beans (ones you've been storing for three or four years) take longer to cook than fresher beans? And did you know that high altitudes can make it nearly impossible to cook beans the way you've always done it?)

The last time I shared a recipe using beans, I just listed "cooked beans" in the ingredients list. Today I'm going to help you actually cook those beans.

I know you're asking yourself why you would cook dry beans when you can just buy a can of beans at the grocery store.... I used to ask myself the same question. Especially after several bean-cooking failures. In fact, a few years ago, I gave up on dry beans. It was just too much work and too much time to soak and cook, and cook, and cook those beans!

Until I bought my Instant Pot.

Now I gleefully cook dry beans in an hour or so, and save big bucks at the grocery store! (Compare the prices of canned beans vs. dry beans the next time you're at the store and you'll see what I mean.)

Beans for Chili in the Instant Pot


2 cups dry beans (I use small red beans for chili, but you could use kidney beans or pintos.)
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
at least 6 cups water, maybe 8

Rinse the beans and pick through them. Sometimes stones are missed in the sorting process at the bean bagging facility, and these guys haven't been washed since the last rainstorm when they were in the field.

Put the beans, vinegar, and water in your Instant Pot. (Don't worry about the vinegar adding a sour flavor to your chili or whatever you're making - you're going to be rinsing these beans before you cook them with your other ingredients.)

Cook on high pressure until the beans are done.

Don't you hate it when a recipe gives you those directions????

But in this case, it's necessary. I cook 2 cups of small red beans for about 40 minutes, but at your elevation they might only need 25 minutes. Or 30. You just have to experiment.

After the cooking time is over, let the pressure release naturally. Open the pot and check the beans. Fish some out of the liquid with a spoon and blow on them lightly. Does the skin on the surface of the bean crack? Try squeezing one - is it soft? Then they're done.

But if they aren't done yet, go ahead and seal the pot again, cook for an additional 10 to 20 minutes (depending on how crunchy they were,) and let the pot go through the cycle, including the natural pressure release.

Once the beans are done to your liking, dump them into your colander/strainer and rinse and drain those beans! Discard the water they've been cooking in, too.

Now they're ready to use in your recipe, or to store in the fridge for a day or two until you're ready to use them.

These guys are ready for Sunday's chili lunch, or I could use them in a salad. Or bean soup. Or...

What is your favorite way to use beans?

Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing family. When she isn't writing, she loves hiking in the Hills or satisfying her cross stitch addiction.

You can find Jan on Facebook, Jan Drexler, author, or her website, Jan


  1. Good morning, Jan. I'm glad to know the Insta Pot is getting such a workout for you. Just curious, would it be worthwhile for a person who is usually only cooking for one? I know I could cook more and store it, but my freezer isn't all that large.

    I don't know why cooking beans is such a mysterious thing, but probably because, as you said, it can vary so much. My daughter always soaks and cooks her beans from dry and there have been times they just never softened. I guess those were the old ones.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. I think it's worth while when you're cooking for one. You could cut this recipe in half (only use one pound of beans), and you have enough cooked beans for two meals. Maybe soup one night and a bean salad the next.

      And even though my Instant Pot is a 6 quart size, which seems huge when you're cooking for one or two, it's versatile. I also purchased an insert (I have a 6 or 7 inch one) to use for the "pot in pot" method. With this, I can cook one or two servings of Steel Cut oats (although I can also do that without the insert,) or cook rice and chicken at the same time.

      You can also purchase a steamer basket insert, or stackable inserts...there is no end to the combinations.

      Many people also use their IP to make yogurt (I haven't tried it yet.)

      You'll have to look into it, Cate. With your working schedule, you might find that putting a nutritious meal together in 30 minutes or less is just what you need. :-)

    2. I can totally see this....

      And Cate, you're so clever about using sweet-and-savory things together. I bet you'd come up with some fun stuff!

  2. You have given me these directions before, but now I can save it! Cate there are a lot of people who cook for one making meals in the Instant Pot. We are only 2 and have an 8qt. I make meals and then we eat the leftovers for lunches at work. Or I have made some soups to freeze the leftovers. Some people use it to make chicken stock faster. I tried it and it was ok, but I find my 2 day crock pot stock is much darker.

    1. Also these beans Jan made tasted great in her chili!

    2. Another Instant Pot addict!

      I agree with your chicken broth advice. I often cook a whole chicken from frozen in the IP, then bone it and use the meat for soups, salads, etc. But then I put the leftover bones and bits of meat in the crock pot or on the stove to make the bone broth.

  3. Well, you're tempting me, absolutely! I've been asking questions about these because I get mad at myself when useless kitchen equipment comes into the house... So I'm more careful with new gadgets than when we were younger. (Dave loves gadgets, they appeal to him, but when it comes to the kitchen I can guarantee he is highly unlikely to ever use the gadget, therefore... he keeps his kitchen gadget opinions to himself.)

    You are tempting me, my friend.

    We'll see what Black Friday sales there are and I might treat myself!

    1. I'm the same way with gadgets. I have too many years of shifting unused appliances out of my way to want to clutter the kitchen again.

      This one is different.

      I think it's because I grew up on meals cooked in the pressure cooker (the old top-of-the-stove pot), and wanted to bring that kind of cooking into our menu.

      The Instant Pot is the updated version of something I already wanted to use, so I was willing to try it.

      Of course, getting a great deal on it didn't hurt!

  4. Jan, I love beans! I even just eat them plain (with lots of salt). :)

    I love buying the bags of multiple types of beans to use for soup (I shared a recipe not long ago). I need to pull the leftovers from the freezer to eat soon!

    1. Leftover bean soup is the best! I've started freezing my leftovers in round containers. That way they slip right into the Instant Pot. Add some water, set the timer (between 5 and 10 minutes), and the soup is hot and ready to eat. :-)