Great Northern Beans | Instant Pot recipe

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Use this how-to guide to make Instant Pot Great Northern Beans from dry using three methods: overnight soak, quick soak, and no-soak when you’re short on time. 

Overhead picture of Instant Pot great northern beans in a beige serving bowl with a brown rim, with fresh parsley and white bowls in the background.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe: Cooking dried beans, including black, pinto, and kidney beans, in an Instant Pot is the best way to ensure they come out fluffy and tender every time, with no guesswork necessary. And with these three methods, you can do an overnight soak, a quick soak, or skip soaking altogether. 

We always cook dried beans for burritos, salads, tacos, and side dishes in the Instant Pot. Great northern beans are more mild, creamy, and buttery than darker-colored beans, which makes them great for summer cooking. 

We have step-by-step how-to posts for cooking dried black beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans in the Instant Pot. Once you try pressure cooker beans, you’ll never buy canned again!

Ingredients for making great northern beans in an Instant Pot, including dried great northern beans, salt, and water.

INGREDIENTS YOU NEED

Here’s what you need to make foolproof Instant Pot dry beans:

  • Beans: Great northern beans are a variety of white beans that’s smaller than broad or butter beans and more mild-tasting than black and pinto beans.
  • Salt: it’s essential to season dried beans throughout the cooking process, otherwise they’ll taste bland and uninspired. 
  • Baking soda: This is a secret ingredient we started using after a tip from America’s Test Kitchen about how to help beans soften up. 
  • Seasonings: you can add garlic, onion, and other flavor enhancers if you’d like during the cooking process. 
Dried great northern beans added to an Instant Pot.

How to Make Great Northern Beans in an Instant Pot

This easy recipe will work in any brand of electric pressure cooker, including the Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, or Power Pressure Cooker XL.

This recipe includes instructions for three different methods to cooking dried beans from scratch:

Rinsing off great northing beans using a fine mesh strainer in the sink.

Overnight Soak

If you have the foresight, soaking the dried white beans overnight will speed up the pressure cooking process. Simply cover the beans with four cups of cold water, the salt, and the baking soda in the pressure cooking pot. Let them soak for at least 8 hours and up to 12. 

After soaking, pick off any floating beans and rinse them well, discarding the soaking water. Now you’re ready to cook. Return the beans to the pressure cooking pot with 1 1/4 cups of water, a teaspoon of salt, and any seasonings you’d like. Cook for just 5 to 7 minutes on high pressure, then do a 10-minute natural pressure release. Finish with a quick pressure release and remove the lid. 

You’ll have to check the beans for doneness at this point. If they’re not quite as tender as you’d like, cook for another few minutes on high pressure. 

Scooping out cooked great northern beans with a ladle from inside an Instant Pot.

Quick Soak Method

For a shorter soak, cook the beans in 4 cups of water with a tablespoon of salt on hgh pressure for 1 minute. Then turn off the Instant Pot and let the beans soak for an hour, no need to remove the lid 

After the quick soak is over, drain and rinse the beans well and return them to the pressure cooking pot with 1 1/4 cups of water, the salt, and any seasonings you’re using. Cook the beans on high pressure for 5 to 7 minutes, let the pressure release naturally for 10, then finish with a quick pressure release. 

Again, if the beans aren’t quite as cooked as you’d like, cook them on high pressure for another couple of minutes. 

Overhead picture of Instant Pot great northern beans in a beige serving bowl with a brown rim.

No-Soak Great Northern Beans

If you’re cooking your beans more last minute, you can still get it done using the no-soak method in your Instant Pot. Combine the beans with 3 cups of water, a teaspoon of salt, and your seasonings. Cook them on high pressure for 30 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally for 20 minutes and finish with a quick pressure release. 

Check your beans for doneness and if necessary, cook them on high pressure for another few minutes. 

Overhead picture of Instant Pot great northern beans in a beige serving bowl with a brown rim, with fresh parsley and white bowls in the background.

Important Tips for Making Great Northern Beans

  • Be sure to drain and rinse the beans well after soaking. That water will be full of starch and other debris on the outside of the dried beans that you don’t want to eat. 
  • You can double the recipe as long as you don’t fill your Instant Pot past halfway, as the beans produce foam as they cook, which could overflow. 
  • You can cook the beans in a mix of water and broth for added flavor. 
  • Elevation matters when pressure cooking dried beans. At our higher elevation in the Salt Lake valley, we’ve had good results cooking the soaked beans for 5 minutes, but we tend to like the softer texture of a 7-minute cook time. Once you find your ideal cooking time, you won’t have to experiment again. 
A beige serving bowl with a brown rim filled with great northern beans topped with fresh parsley and placed in front of an Instant Pot.

Frequently Asked Questions about Instant Pot Great Northern Beans

How should I store cooked beans?

You can store leftover cooked white beans in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. 

Can I freeze cooked great northern beans?

Yes, you can freeze cooled cooked beans in airtight containers in the freezer for up to six months. We like to freeze them in single-serving containers so they can be quickly defrosted to add to soups, burritos, salads, and more. 

However, keep in mind that beans can have a slightly different texture after thawing.

How should I serve cooked great northern beans?

These white beans are soft, creamy, and highly versatile. You can serve them in burritos and tacos like black and pinto beans. Or let them cool a bit after cooking and add them to a salad or grain bowl. 

What are some good ways to enhance the flavor of dried beans?

Adding seasonings directly to your cooking liquid is a great way to build delicious flavors in your cooked beans. We like to add a halved head of garlic or onion, celery, carrots, or dried or fresh herbs. 

A small white dish or great northern beans with a small silver spoon on a creme and mustard-striped napkin

More Instant Pot Bean Recipes

Try these hearty pressure cooker recipes starring beans next:


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A small white dish or great northern beans with a small silver spoon on a creme and mustard-striped napkin

Great Northern Beans

Servings: 3 cups, prepared
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Additional: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Course: Beans
This is the best way to cook creamy and tender Great Northern Beans in the Instant Pot with three methods: overnight soak, quick soak, and no-soak.
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup great northern beans cleaned of debris and rinsed well

!Overnight Soak

  • 4 cups cold water plus 1¼ cups water, divided
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt optional
  • Additional seasonings if desired (garlic, onion, oil, etc)

!Quick Soak

  • 4 cups water plus 1¼ cups water divided
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon salt optional

!No Soak

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

!OVERNIGHT SOAK METHOD:

  • Place 4 cups cold water into a large pot. (I used the pressure cooking pot). Add the salt and baking soda, stirring briefly to combine. Add the black beans, then cover loosely and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 12 hours.
  • Remove any beans that may have floated to the top, then gently drain the remaining beans into a colander. Rinse well under cold running water. (If you used the cooking pot to soak the beans, be sure to clean it here.)
  • Add 1 1/4 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt (if using), any additional seasonings, and the soaked beans. Select High Pressure and 5 to 7 minutes cook time.**
  • When the cook time ends, turn the pressure cooker off and allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then finish with a quick pressure release. Carefully remove the lid.
  • Discard any beans that are floating, and check several beans to make sure they're tender. If not, return to high pressure for a few more minutes.

!QUICK SOAK METHOD:

  • Add 4 cups of water and 1 tablespoon kosher salt to the pressure cooking pot. Then add the rinsed beans to the cooking pot.
  • Seal the lid in place and select High Pressure and a 1 minute cook time. When the cook time ends, turn the pressure cooker off and let the beans soak for 1 hour.
  • After soaking, drain and rinse the beans, and discard the soaking liquid. Rinse out the cooking pot.
  • Add 1 1/4 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt (if using), any additional seasonings, and the soaked beans. Select High Pressure and 5 to 7 minutes cook time.**
  • When the cook time ends, turn the pressure cooker off and allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then finish with a quick pressure release. Carefully remove the lid.
  • Discard any beans that are floating, and check several beans to make sure they’re tender. If not, return to high pressure for a few more minutes.

!NO SOAK METHOD:

  • Remove any beans that may have floated to the top, then gently drain the remaining beans into a colander. Rinse well under cold running water. (If you used the cooking pot to soak the beans, be sure to clean it here.)
  • Add 3 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt, any additional seasonings, and the beans. Select High Pressure and 30 minutes cook time.
  • When the cook time ends, turn the pressure cooker off and allow the pressure to release naturally for 20 minutes, then finish with a quick pressure release. Carefully remove the lid.
  • Discard any beans that are floating, and check several beans to make sure they're tender. If not, return to high pressure for a few more minutes.

Notes

* You can cook more than 1 cup at a time, but be careful not to fill your cooking pot above halfway, since beans can foam.
** This is another recipe where elevation matters. We live at 4500 feet and we’ve had good results with 5 minutes, but we’re much happier with 7 minutes cook time at our altitude.

Nutrition

Calories: 51kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Potassium: 250mg | Fiber: 2g | Vitamin A: 3IU | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 1mg

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