How to Cook Pinto Beans in an Instant Pot

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Here’s everything you need to know to cook dried pinto beans in an Instant Pot pressure cooker! We’ve included instructions for overnight soak, quick soak, and no-soak cooking methods—so you can choose what works best for you whenever you need a batch of perfectly tender pinto beans. 

A green bowl with Instant Pot pinto beans, topped with diced onion and cilantro, with chip, a bowl of diced onions, and cilantro in the background.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Dried beans are a great, easy protein to keep on hand, and the Instant Pot is the best tool for cooking perfectly tender, creamy beans—every time. Follow any of these three methods, and you’ll nail it.

We’ve been making beans since we started pressure cooking years ago. Over the years, we’ve tested all three methods we’ve included here, and we’ve perfected the steps to produce pinto beans with the right texture for any dish. 

Whether you’re planning to soak your beans the night before or have just an hour to throw together dinner with dried beans, we have you covered with this easy how-to guide all about pinto beans!

Be sure to check out our guides to making Instant Pot Kidney Beans too! 

Overhead picture of dried pinto beans with water in an Instant Pot.

INGREDIENTS YOU NEED

Here’s everything you need to make a quick pot of beans in an electric pressure cooker:

  • Dried pinto beans. We start with 1 cup for this recipe, which will result in between 2 and 3 cups of cooked pinto beans. 
  • Water. The amount of water you’ll need depends on whether you do an overnight, a quick soak, or use the no-soak method.
  • Baking soda. This is a handy trick for the overnight soak to soften the beans and help the skin stretch without breaking.
  • Salt. We use kosher salt for the overnight and quick soak methods. Then, if you desire, you can add regular table salt to the short pressure cook time.
Rinsing dried pinto beans in a wire mesh strainer in a sink.

How to Make Pinto 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.

Before starting the cooking process, make sure to pick any debris out of the beans and rinse them well.

There are three ways to cook tender beans in the Instant Pot:

  1. Using an overnight soak, then a short pressure cooking time to cook the beans.
  2. Using a short pressure cook time to quick soak the beans, followed by a second short pressure cooking time to cook the beans.
  3. Cooking the beans without soaking at all, which requires a longer pressure cook time to soften and cook the beans from dry. 

The main difference among the three methods is the amount of advanced planning required. 🙂

An overhead picture of cooked pinto beans in an Instant Pot with cilantro to the side.

Overnight-Soaked Beans

If you have the time and foresight, many people prefer an overnight soak for the texture it produces. This method has the fewest broken beans and a nice creamy texture, and it’s the method I use when I really want the finished dish to turn out well. 

An overnight soak submerges the beans in four cups of cold water with salt and baking soda for at least 8 hours and up to 12. After soaking, discard any beans that have floated to the surface and drain the remaining beans. Rinse them well and return the beans to the pressure cooking pot. 

Next, add 1 1/4 cups of water and a teaspoon of salt to the pot of beans. Cook them on high pressure for 7 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes and finish with a quick pressure release. Remove the lid, get rid of any floating beans, and check to ensure they’re cooked to your liking. If not, you can continue to cook on high pressure for another few minutes. 

Rinsing soaked pinto beans in a wire mesh strainer in a sink.

Quick-Soaked Pinto Beans

The quick-soak method for beans is a nice compromise between speed and convenience. This is the method we use most often in our everyday cooking.

The quick soak method requires two pressure cook times: one in place of an overnight soak and one to cook the beans completely.

To quick soak, first place the beans, 4 cups of water, and a tablespoon of salt in the pressure cooking pot. Cook on high pressure for a minute, then turn off the Instant Pot and let the pressure release for an hour without removing the lid. After an hour, drain the beans and rinse them well.

Then Return the beans to the clean pressure cooking pot with 1 1/4 cups of water and a teaspoon of salt. Cook them on high pressure for 7 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes and finish with a quick pressure release. 

When you remove the lid, discard any floating beans and check for doneness. If they’re undercooked, continue to cook on high pressure for another few minutes. 

A green bowl with Instant Pot pinto beans, topped with diced onion and cilantro, with chips and a bowl of diced onions in the background.

No-Soak Instant Pot Pinto Beans

Finally, for the quickest cooking method, you can skip soaking altogether. Combine the beans with three cups of water and a teaspoon of salt in the pressure cooking pot. Then cook on high pressure for half an hour, and let the pressure release naturally for 20 minutes. Finish with a quick pressure release and remove the lid. 

Discard any beans that are floating and check the beans for doneness. If they’re not fully tender, cook for another few minutes on high pressure. 

Important Tips for Making Perfect Instant Pot Pinto Beans from Dry

  • Elevation matters when cooking beans in a pressure cooker. We’ve had good results with 5 minutes, but we’re much happier with a 7-minute cook time. If you’re at a lower elevation, feel free to check your beans earlier. 
  • Adding salt is a nice way to season the beans while they cook, but it’s optional. You can also season them after they’re done. 
An overhead picture of a green bowl with Instant Pot pinto beans, topped with diced onion and cilantro, with chips and a bowl of diced onions in the background.

Frequently Asked Questions about Instant Pot Pinto Beans

How many cups of beans can I cook in my Instant Pot at once?

We usually cook one cup of beans at a time, but you can cook more. Just be sure not to fill your pressure cooking pot beyond halfway, as they produce a lot of foam as they cook. 

How should I store cooked beans?

Beans will last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. 

Can I freeze cooked beans?

Yes, as long as you don’t mind that defrosted beans have a slightly different texture and are more likely to split or crack. Once the pinto beans have cooled, you can freeze them for up to six months. I particularly like adding them to soups right from frozen, since it helps cool the soup. 

What’s the best way to use cooked pinto beans?

Refried beans is an easy and popular way to use pinto beans. However, pinto beans are great in so many things! You can add cooked beans to salads and grain bowls, make a quick bean dip in the blender, serve them alongside tacos and burritos, or add them to soups for extra fiber and protein. 

A close up picture of a green bowl with Instant Pot pinto beans, topped with diced onion and cilantro, with chips and a bowl of diced onions in the background.

MORE Instant Pot Bean Recipes

Need some inspiration? Here are some of our favorite Pinto Bean recipes:

Here are even more healthy recipes featuring legumes:


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A green bowl with Instant Pot pinto beans, topped with diced onion and cilantro, with chips and a bowl of diced onions in the background.

How to Cook Pinto Beans from Dry | Instant Pot recipe

Yield: between 2 and 3 cups, cooked
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Additional Time: 13 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Your Instant Pot is the best way to cook pinto beans from dry. We've included directions for the overnight soak, quick-soak, and no-soak methods.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried pinto beans
  • Additional seasonings, if desired (add acidic ingredients like tomato, vinegar, and lemon juice until after the pressure cook)

Overnight Soak

  • 4 cups cold water, plus 1¼ cups water, divided
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt, optional

Quick Soak

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

No Soak

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil, optional

Instructions

OVERNIGHT SOAK METHOD: 

  1. Place 4 cups cold water into a large pot. (I used the pressure cooking pot). Add the kosher salt and baking soda, stirring briefly to combine. Add the pinto beans, then cover loosely and soak for at least 8 hours and up to 12 hours.
  2. 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.)
  3. Add 1 1/4 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt (if desired), and the soaked beans. Select High Pressure and 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. 
  4. 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.
  5. If desired, drain the excess cooking liquid. Serve immediately or use in your favorite recipe.

QUICK SOAK METHOD: 

  1. Add 4 cups of water and 1 tablespoon kosher salt to the pressure cooking pot. Then add the rinsed beans to the cooking pot. 
  2. 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. 
  3. After soaking, drain and rinse the beans, and discard the soaking liquid. Rinse out the cooking pot. 
  4. Add 1 1/4 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt (if desired), and the soaked beans. Select High Pressure and 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. 
  5. 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.
  6. If desired, drain the excess cooking liquid. Serve immediately or use in your favorite recipe.

NO SOAK METHOD: 

  1. Add 3 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt, and the beans to the pressure cooking pot. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. If desired, drain the excess cooking liquid. Serve immediately or use in your favorite recipe.

Notes

* 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 for the cook time. For the Overnight and Quick Soak methods, at our altitude we’ve had decent results with a 5 minute cook time, but we’re much happier with the results after a 7 minute cook time.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 61Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 629mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 3gSugar: 0gProtein: 3g

Nutrition information is calculated by Nutritionix and may not always be accurate.

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