I never thought I’d be the type of person who cooks her own beans from scratch, but thanks to the Instant Pot, I have officially become that person. I have a feeling you might start cooking your own beans from scratch, too, once you see how easy and affordable it is.
(If you don’t have an Instant Pot, don’t worry, I’ve also included stove top directions at the bottom of this post.)
I’ve been intimidated by cooking my own beans from scratch in the past, possibly because I remember reading that red kidney beans could be toxic if cooked in a slow cooker. That’s because raw kidney beans contain a particularly high concentration of the lectin called Phytohaemagglutnin, and this concentration is greatly reduced with cooking. A slow cooker doesn’t always reach a boiling temperature needed to fully cook the beans, so some people have reported getting sick after eating kidney beans that have been cooked in the slow cooker. (You can read more about red kidney bean toxicity here.)
Luckily, that’s not a worry with the Instant Pot, as it does reach a high cooking temperature, and other types of beans, including black beans, have a much lower concentration of this lectin. There haven’t been any toxicity reports linked to consuming them. Still, you can stay on the safe side by making sure your beans are fully cooked. Since beans can withstand quite a bit of overcooking, I tend to err on the side of overcooking, so that the beans are very tender.
Do you need to soak black beans before cooking?
Also, good news! You don’t have to soak beans before cooking them. They cook plenty fast in the pressure cooker, so you don’t have to worry about a slow cooking process, and most people have reported little to no improvement when it comes to digesting beans after they’ve been soaked. Plus, beans taste better when you skip the soaking process.
Should you use salt when cooking dry beans?
I’ve made this recipe both with salt, and without, and I’ve found more consistent cooking results if I wait to add the salt AFTER the beans are tender. (When cooking other legumes, like green lentils, adding salt or acid to the cooking water totally stops the cooking process and the lentils never become tender!) The decision is up to you, but I recommend waiting for guaranteed results.
Benefits of cooking beans from scratch:
- You save money. Beans are already a relatively cheap food, with a 15 ounce can of cooked organic black beans in my midwest grocery store costing about $0.99. I bought a 16 ounce bag of dry organic black beans for $1.25 last week, and that cooked up to be 6 cups of black beans– roughly 4 cans worth! So, you get almost quadruple the amount of beans for the same price when you cook your own dry beans from scratch.
- You avoid toxins found in can linings. A recent nationwide report by the Center for Environmental Health stated that nearly 40% of cans in supermarkets still contain BPA in their can linings, which can leach into our food and wreak havoc on our bodies. (If you have my book, Everyday Detox, you can read more about how exposure to BPA can cause weight gain, regardless of your calorie intake or exercise.) Though many companies are moving away from using BPA in their can linings, there’s not adequate safety information on the materials that they are using to replace it. (19% of the cans tested contained PVC, a toxic substitute.)
- You avoid any unwanted additives. When you make your own beans from scratch, you control everything that goes into them. In the case of this recipe, you’re only cooking the in water and a touch of sea salt, so that they can be used in a variety of things– from Vegan Black Bean Brownies to Quinoa Burrito Bowls.
What are the health benefits of black beans?
- They contain a significant amount of “resistant starch,” which is a type of starch that passes through your upper digestive system without being broken down into simple sugars. This makes black beans a low-glycemic option and helps promote colon heath.
- Black beans may also help to boost fat metabolism and lower cholesterol levels in the blood.
- Black beans are loaded with fiber, folate (which is particularly important for pregnant women), and important minerals like zinc, magnesium, and iron.
I hope this easy cooking method will have you enjoying black beans more often. Be sure to check out the black bean recipes below for more ideas on how to enjoy them!
Instant Pot Black Beans
- 1 pound dry black beans (about 2 cups)
- 6 cups water
- Combine the beans and water in the bowl of the Instant Pot and give it a stir.
- Cover with the lid, and be sure to turn the vent at the top to the "sealed" position.
- Manually set the Instant Pot to cook for 25 minutes at high pressure.
- When the timer goes off, let the steam pressure naturally release for at least 20 minutes before attempting to remove the lid.
- Drain the beans and store them in an airtight container the fridge or freezer until ready to use. Store them in 1.5 cup portions so you can use them instead of canned beans for future use. These beans are intentionally NOT seasoned so that you can use them in any recipe, from Black Bean Brownies to Black Bean Soup. If you want to eat them right away, be sure to season them AFTER they are tender, as salt can interfere with cooking.
Per Serving: Calories: 257, Fat: 1g, Carbohydrates: 47g, Fiber: 11g, Protein: 16g
How to Cook Soaked Black Beans
If you prefer to soak your black beans ahead of time, simply cover them in water with about 3 extra inches of water over the top. (They will expand as they soak!) Soak 6 to 8 hours, or overnight. When you’re ready to cook them, drain the beans and discard the soaking water.
Use fresh water for cooking, about 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of beans, and cook for 9 minutes at high pressure. Let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes before moving the steam release valve to venting, to release any remaining pressure. (This avoids foam spewing out of your vent and making a mess.)
How to Cook Black Beans on the Stove Top
Since stove top cooking can be more time consuming, you may want to soak your black beans to speed the cooking time. Soak them in water for 8 hours, or overnight, then drain before cooking.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot on the stove, and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cover the pot. Let them cook for one hour before checking for doneness.
- Use a fork to press a bean against the side of the pot to check for doneness. It should easily mash when done. Black beans can take up to 2 hours to cook fully, depending on the age of the bean and if you soaked them ahead of time or not.
Black Bean Recipes:
- Vegan Burrito Bowls with Sweet Potato “Rice”
- Flourless Vegan Black Bean Brownies
- Healthy Mexican Layer Dip
- Black Bean Gingerbread Bars
- Instant Pot Quinoa Burrito Bowls
- Black Bean & Sweet Potato Enchiladas
- Black Bean Soup (Panera Copycat)
Reader Feedback: What’s your favorite way to use black beans?