Cooking pinto beans in the Instant Pot allows you to serve a delicious, creamy bean dish in under thirty minutes.
Let this method become a standard cooking method. Once you master it with pintos beans, you can adapt it to almost any dried beans:
- Red beans
- Black beans
- Cannelini beans
- Black-eyed peas
- Navy beans
You get the picture. You’ll use this same process for almost every dried legume, perhaps tweaking the cooking time for larger varieties.
The Story Behind Pinto Beans
The word “pinto” translates from “painted” in Spanish. The legume has a speckled red and beige look that perfectly explains the name in its dried form.
These legumes enjoy wild popularity in the United States, especially in the southwestern region. There, you will find them served up as refried beans and on the menu at many restaurants.
The prominence of this as America’s best-selling bean is indisputable.
Bean consumption in the United States
In fact, the Colorado Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence notes that the most popular beans consumed by Americans are the following, ranked by sales volume:
- Pinto beans
- Great Northern
- Red kidney
- Black beans
They also note that Americans eat a mere seven and a half pounds of beans per capita annually. That number stands in stark contrast to nations in which beans are a dietary staple.
Four Convincing Reasons to Use Dried Pinto Beans Instead of Canned
You might be wondering why you would go to the trouble of cooking dried beans instead of opening up a handy can from the grocery shelf.
There is nothing wrong with buying a can of beans. They are acceptable.
But let’s look together at some reasons why dried legumes might be a better option for you.
#1 – You will save money
In 2015, a professional bean growers’ association, The Bean Institute, compared the prices of dried beans to canned beans at the grocery store.
At that time of that survey (which has not been updated since), pinto beans cost grocery consumers as follows:
- Dried pinto beans: .15 per serving
- Generic brand: .34 per serving
- National brand pintos: .48 per serving
Even with prices adjusted to today’s market, this value holds.
But don’t believe us, look at the tags on your grocer’s shelf the next time you shop. You will agree that dried legumes will save you money.
#2 – Reduce your sodium content
People who follow a sodium-free or reduced-salt diet will benefit by cooking dried legumes instead of canned ones.
Beans are not naturally sodium-free. In their dried form, they contain marginal amounts of salt. Check the label on the product you purchase. Many will read 0 mg of sodium per serving. Others might indicate a few grams.
Before writing this article, I checked several bags on my local grocery store’s shelf and found this variation.
However, the sodium content on a varied sample of canned pinto beans told a very different story! They averaged about 500 mg of sodium per serving.
Even the reduced-sodium label indicated 140 mg.
The added salt makes sense, as food producers aim to make their canned offerings tasty to gain repeat customers–and salt definitely adds a nice flavor.
#3 – Support local farmers and growers
While legumes are very inexpensive to begin with, you might be able to save even more money if you can find them at a local farmstand or farmers’ market.
Not only do you save more of your hard-earned cash at a farmers’ market, but you also support community growers.
Farmers earn better margins on their products by cutting out the extra steps of the sales cycle and selling directly to you, their customer.
So you are supporting small businesses in your community, and that’s always a “win” for all.
4 – Decrease your carbon footprint
Are you an environmentally-conscious consumer?
If you are, then you will be pleased to know that a dried pinto bean purchase makes your carbon footprint a little bit lighter.
Every step involved in bringing goods to the consumer makes a product just a little bit less green. That increase in carbon use stems from the transportation of the foods from one processor to the next.
Dried legumes skip the “cannery” step altogether. That saves transportation and fossil fuel consumption in delivering the final product to your supermarket’s shelves.
Storage Tips for Dried Legumes
As with most grocery purchases, you will save a few cents per ounce by buying a larger package of legumes.
Here’s the good news about that.
Dried legumes have a relatively long shelf life when you store them correctly.
The Bean Institute offers the following helpful advice on how to store dried beans:
Remove the product from the plastic packaging for long-term dry storage.
Instead of keeping your purchase in the manufacturers’ plastic packaging, pour them into glass canning jars with a lid. Hand-tighten the lid firmly.
The glass jars will help keep the product free of pests and molds.
Store the beans in a darkened pantry or food storage area, as sunlight degrades the quality.
Your beans will stay fresh for approximately a year.
However, they last as long as three to five years. Note that the longer you keep dried pintos, the drier they get.
Just increase your cooking time when you’re ready to use them.
You can also add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda for every pound of beans you cook to help them soften up faster.
Creative Ways to Cook with Pinto Beans
As previously noted, the United States lags behind the rest of the world in bean consumption.
That stat is sad considering the many benefits legumes offer us in terms of health.
Perhaps we assume that they are dull or boring, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Once you master Instant Pot Pinto Beans, using the no-soak, no-fuss method that we’ll share today, you can get creative with menu ideas.
Here are ten inspiring ways to serve pinto beans:
- Add pinto beans along with other vegetables in your soups. Whether you are going vegan or adding meat, you will enjoy the creamy texture and a healthy protein boost.
- Smash the cooked pintos, add binders, and form healthy, inexpensive bean burgers. Season and sautee them with olive oil in a skillet. Yum!
- Make refried beans. Serve them as a side dish with any entree on your dinner menu.
- Use them as the basis of a scrumptious bean dip, layered with cheese and topped with sour cream. Serve with chips and your favorite salsa.
- Make a less-fattening chicken and pinto bean chili instead of your usual beef chili.
- Move over, garbanzos. These legumes make a delicious hummus for pita bread or chips.
- Add a nice handful of them to a tossed salad for an interesting textural element and protein. This turns a salad into a meat-free entree.
- Make your family’s favorite baked beans recipe with this bean for an interesting twist.
- Season them and stir them into a bowl of seasoned brown rice to enjoy a healthy burrito or taco filling.
- Finally, make delicious refried beans to serve alongside any entree you serve.
Instant Pot Pinto Beans, No Soak Method
Now that you know all about the benefits of the humble pinto bean, let’s move on to a basic how-to guide on cooking Instant Pot Pinto Beans, using a no-soak preparation.
The no-soak method means you’ll cut down your prep time.
That is directly opposite from stove-top cooking or slow cooker methods that require soaking to soften the outer layer of the bean.
The pressure cooker does all that hard work for you, making prepping your beans a breeze!
Speaking of Instant Pot, rest assured that this method works for all electric pressure cooker models, including InstaPot, Power Pressure XL, Cook’s Essentials, Bella, and others.
The cycle name might vary. Some will have a “chili” versus a “bean” setting, but rest assured you will get the same yummy outcome.
A note about pre-rinsing your pinto beans
Don’t confuse no-soak with no-rinse.
Every time you use dried beans, you must give them a quick rinse in a colander and look them over for foreign objects.
Agricultural processes, especially during harvesting, kick up much dust and debris. That includes tiny pebbles.
You want to rinse any dirt that might remain from processing and spot for pebbles, sticks, or other debris that you might need to remove from the batch.
After you do this, you can proceed with cooking the pinto beans without additional soaking time.
Here is how you can get these comforting beans on the table in no time flat.
Make pinto beans in your Instant Pot (or any electric pressure cooker) using this fuss-free, no-soak method. You'll go from dried beans to serving in under forty minutes.
- 2 cups of dry pinto beans
- water to cover beans by 2 inches
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 packet of Goya Sazon dry seasoning
- Place the dry pinto beans into the inner liner of your Instant Pot. Cover with cold water; water should be about 2" above the beans.
- Add the Goya Sazon dry seasoning packet. It adds a nice, savory, balanced flavor to the beans. This packet eliminates the need to grab multiple spice jars from the rack.
- Pour in the tablespoon of olive oil or your favorite cooking oil. This step helps to reduce the amount of foam that builds up in the pot. Don't skip this, as excess foam can clog the steam release valve when you cook legumes.
- Set the Instant Pot to the beans/chili setting. It defaults to 30 minutes, so tap the more setting to bump it up to 40 minutes of cooking time. This step varies, according to your pressure cooker manufacturer, so follow your manual. The beans will take five minutes or more to pressurize. Then they will flip over to the cooking process.
- At the end of the cooking time, your cooker will beep. Carefully release the steam and remove the lid when it is safe to do so.
- Enjoy your scratch-cooked, comforting bowl of beans.
If you eat a salt-restricted diet, skip the Goya Sazon seasoning packet and add a nice spoonful of your favorite salt substitute seasoning blend, instead.
The Bottom Line: Mastering the Instant Pot Pinto Beans Opens up a World of Creative Cooking
Once you learn this no-soak pinto beans technique, you step into a new world where you can serve beans in so many different ways.
The same cooking method applies to all dry legumes. Add five extra minutes of time to the pressure cooker for larger kidney beans and decrease the time for tiny lentils.
You may also change up the seasoning to suit your own taste.
The choice is yours from adding rosemary and garlic seasoning for Italian-inspired or kicking up the heat on the Mexican food theme.
After you make a batch of Instant Pot Pinto Beans, please rate the recipe and comment to tell us how much you enjoyed them! We are confident you’ll fall in love and rarely purchase canned beans ever again.