So, you’ve been trying out new Instant Pot bean recipes and need some help? We’ve got answers to the most common issues.
If you are new to beans, cooking in an electric pressure cooker, or just putting the two things together, there is a bit of a learning curve. But once you know a few tricks you will be an Instant Pot bean expert in your own right!
The most common issue is that you may have old beans that don’t cook in the amount of time you planned. But if you have fresh beans from a local farmer they may cook in much less time. Just keep reading to find the answer that fits the problem you have.
Beans Are The Variable
You may not have ever thought about how long food is on your supermarket shelves before you buy it, but it’s not always the same amount and your food may have had a long journey to get there.
Before it was on the shelf, it was in your local supermarket’s storage, in the area warehouse, in a national holding area, in a distributors’ holding facility, and all of that doesn’t even count the farmer’s harvest, storage, and transport!
As you can see, you could get pinto beans that are a month old or a year old. And that will affect how long the beans take to cook.
If you get beans from Rancho Gordo, they are grown seasonally and often much fresher than beans you can get at the store. That means that they often cook in less time. So again, the actual bean you get can change the cooking time.
How Do I Know If My Beans Are Cooked Enough?
Take 2 teaspoons, place a bean from the Instant Pot in between them, then place the other spoon on top and twist the top spoon over the bean while pressing down.
If the bean is cooked enough it will smush, if not it will just separate into 2 halves. Next test is to bite one. If it’s not soft then cook longer.
I usually start with an additional 5 minutes for longer cooking beans. You can add extra water if needed. Remember that undercooked beans are harder to digest and can cause stomach discomfort.
My Beans Are Still Hard After Cooking – What Do I Do?
This is actually my favorite issue to fix because it’s so easy! You find this out after you release the pressure from your Instant Pot and test the beans for doneness. I use the spoon method mentioned above, but you could just bite a bean too.
Notice if there is enough liquid to come back up to pressure. If you are making a soup you may not need to add extra water, but in many recipes you will need to add 1/2 cup for a 6 quart IP or 3/4 cup for an 8-quart.
This is because without enough liquid your Instant Pot will not come back up to pressure and that causes a whole new set of issues. To solve it, add some liquid and try again.
If the beans are extremely hard or barely cooked, I might set it for 8 or 9 minutes. But generally, if it’s a little under done I cook for 5 minutes on high pressure.
Not sure where to start? Pick 5 minutes, then test again. You can always repeat this until your beans are just the way you like them. But once they are over cooked there’s no going back.
I Got A Burn Error Message On My Instant Pot!
Don’t fret, but do release the pressure and then add more water or the liquid that’s called for in the recipe. Set it to cook for the remainder of minutes needed, or even a little less, because your recipe was cooking while you were releasing the pressure or even before you saw the message.
The burn message doesn’t necessarily mean that your food is actually burnt. But it does tell you the bottom of the pot is too dry.
The two times that you should NOT cook on pressure cook mode after a burn message are:
- The food really is burned or smells burned. You can try and salvage the top and middle, then soak the burnt bottom overnight to make cleaning easier.
- You are cooking something like red lentils or split peas. They completely lose their shape and turn to mush which creates wonderful textures in soups. But something that thick cannot come back up to pressure once they have broken down. Instead, you will add water, turn to high sauté, and cover with a stove-top pan lid to keep the splatters to a minimum.
Help! I Overcooked My Beans. Now What?
I know it seems like all is lost, but take a deep breath and prepare to pivot dinner. You’ve got this and you will be able to make something with soupy or even cooked-down-to-a-puree beans.
What do I mean by pivot dinner? Maybe you had envisioned a beautiful cassoulet, but opened up your Instant Pot to find complete mush. First, congratulations on finding a source for super fresh beans, and make a mental note to cook the rest of that batch for less time.
Now let’s turn that frown upside down! If you made a stew with beautiful flavors, put it in a blender and now you have a wonderful dip or pate for bread, crackers, or veggies.
If they are too runny for dips you have two choices. First, turn on the sauté on your Instant Pot, cover mostly with a lid to prevent splatters, and cook until the consistency you want or, at least the one that you can work with.
The second is to use this water beanie goodness as a broth. Add more spices because I suspect they aren’t coming through at this point, throw in some veggies and cook on the sauté setting on low until done, or pressure cook for the longest cooking veggie you threw in. Everyone loves soup and not wasting food!
For overcooked plain beans you have all the options open to you. Make those mushy black beans into refried beans by adding cumin and chili powder or reach farther and mix in some vanilla or almond extract with your favorite sweetener and turn it into dessert hummus. Or make those soupy beans a base for my Slow Cooker Creamy Indian Lentils and Kidney Beans in place of the water or broth.