Instant Pot Beans & Lentils

Cooking beans and lentils in the Instant Pot is such a timesaver! Learn the foolproof way Beans and Lentils in your Instant Pot in 6 easy steps.

A few weeks ago, I shared a post about cooking all sorts of different Rice in the Instant Pot.  You all loved it so much, I wanted to share another Instant Pot 101 post, but this time, about Beans and Lentils.  In this post, you will learn how to cook 9 different types of beans and lentils, and how to freeze them to use later.

These are 9 of the most popular beans and lentils seen in recipes:

  • black beans
  • pinto beans
  • white beans
  • kidney beans
  • chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • red lentils
  • green lentils
  • yellow split peas
  • green split peas

Beans and legumes have a bunch of health benefits.  They contain amino acids, which are the chemicals that combine to form protein and help build muscle, are high in essential electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals such as folate, a B vitamin that is needed to convert carbohydrates into energy and is extremely important in pregnant women, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin K, and more. Beans are low in fat, high in fiber, help stabilize blood sugar and act as an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory which fight off free radicals.  And as if beans didn’t already have so many great benefits, they also enhance your gut health, especially black beans,  by improving the intestinal barrier function, increasing the number of healthy bacteria.

Before we get started and learn how to cook different types of beans and lentils, let’s start by answering a few questions.

Why make homemade beans?

Simply put, they are better and will save you money!   Dried beans are cheap.  At least once a month, our local Kroger has dried beans on sale, and you can get a one-pound bag for $1. There are about 2 cups of dried beans in each a one-pound bag, and when cooked is about 6 cups.  This is equal to about 6 cans of beans.  Homemade beans are also a lot healthier for you than their canned counterparts since they are naturally preservative free.  Canned beans contain preservatives to extend their shelf life.

How long do I need to cook the beans for?

Cooking times will vary depending on the variety of bean or lentil and the texture you want.  For softer beans, like you’d make Refried Beans with, use less liquid.  If you want to make beans to use later, add extra liquid.  Scroll down for a free, printable Cooking Time Chart.

Do I really need to soak the beans?

Yes and no. There are a few benefits to soaking your beans; they cook quicker, they look better, and it eases digestion.  Beans should be soaked in filtered water for 8-12 hours in a large bowl.  Beans will double in size when soaked.  If the container you soak them in is too small, your beans will get stuck.  Also, when beans are soaked, it cuts the cooking time in half.  As for the appearance, beans that have been soaked will not crack when cooked, giving them a smoother appearance.

I wanted to soak my beans and I forgot!  What do I do?

Quick Soak! Add 1 cup of rinsed and sorted beans to Instant Pot and cover with water to the 1/2 full line.  Cook on HIGH pressure for 3 minutes.  Let naturally release for 1 minute, and then quick release.  Drain beans.  Finish cooking quick-soaked beans by following the proper time on the chart below. You can always just cook your beans by following the “not soaked” times on the chart below.  The beans will be just as delicious, they will just take a little bit longer to cook, and won’t look as pretty as beans that have been soaked.

Why are my beans still hard and undercooked?

There are a couple different reasons as to why your beans might not quite be cooked how you’d like.

  1. The valve isn’t sealed properly.  Be sure the valve is set to seal.  If it’s not, the water will evaporate, the beans will stick to the bottom of the pot and become hard and crunchy.
  2. The lid isn’t sealed properly.  If the lid isn’t sealed properly, the pressure in the Instant Pot cannot build up properly, leaving you with undercooked beans or lentils.
  3. InstantPot is set to wrong setting.  Double check that the InstantPot is set on Manual HIGH.  A lower pressure setting will not cook the beans properly.

What happens if I release the pressure too early?

Be patient and wait for the Instant Pot to naturally release the pressure.  If pressure is released too early, the beans will be undercooked and can crack.

How To Cook Beans & Lentils

Beans and lentils will double in volume when cooked, so be sure not to fill Instant Pot more than halfway. To prevent the BURN notice, beans must be fully submerged in water.  Unless otherwise stated, use a ratio of 4-6 cups water to 1 cup beans or lentils.  Using less water for a mushier bean or lentil, and more for a firmer bean.

For a full list of cooking times and ratios, scroll down and grab your FREE, printable copy.

  1. Sort through and rinse beans
    Dried beans can contain rocks, debris, or old, shriveled beans that won’t soften well when cooked. Pick through beans and rinse in cold water.  Lentils just need to be rinsed.
  2. Soak beans
    Soak beans for 8-12 hours in a large container to allow beans to expand.  You can skip this step, just note that the beans will take longer to cook.
  3. Add beans to Instant Pot
    Add beans or lentils to Instant Pot with enough water to completely submerge.  Add 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper per cup of beans. Substitute chicken or vegetable stock for the water when cooking to add even more flavor.  This is also a good time to add any flavor or spices to the beans.
  4. Set timer and seal pressure valve 
    Set the Instant Pot to Manual HIGH Pressure for appropriate time, according to chart below.  Make sure that the pressure valve is closed.
  5. Let pressure Naturally Release
    Naturally releasing the pressure on most beans is essential making sure that they are properly cooked.  When you release the pressure too early, the beans are undercooked and can crack.  Remove lid, and stir beans.  Strain any excess liquid.
  6. Enjoy 
    Eat beans or lentils as is, or use in your favorite recipes.

How To Store and Freeze Beans & Lentils

This is the easy part.  Once the beans or lentils are completely cooled to room temperature, transfer them to a labeled ziplock bag.  Freeze flat.

Cooking Times

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