How to make flavor-packed, no-soak black beans in a fraction of the usual time, using a pressure cooker and Cuban-style spices.
If you have an Instant Pot or other brand of electric pressure cooker, you might have already discovered one of its best features — cooking dried beans from scratch in about an hour, without soaking or presoaking.
I don’t know why this is the most amazing thing ever, but after recently buying and falling in love with the Breville pot, it’s the bean cooking that turned out to be a huge revelation for my everyday cooking.
Canned beans are a pantry staple, and while they’re just a smidge less economical than dried beans, I’ve been happily using them to make quick, healthy dinners for years and years (and always will).
But have to tell you there really is a big difference between basic canned black beans and these super-tasty black beans cooked in a pressure cooker.
Because you season these beans with Latin-inspired spices and aromatics while they pressure cook (unlike canned beans which usually have no other seasoning aside from salt), they come out with tons of flavor and perfect texture.
Pressure cooker versus stovetop cooking for dried beans
I used to have a stovetop pressure cooker and I never seemed successful at cooking dried beans in it.
They would either turn out like absolute mush or so undercooked that it took additional cooking (and re-pressurizing) to get them tender.
I think the reason a stovetop pressure cooker can be trickier to use is because it’s harder to moderate a consistent pressure versus an electric one, which is calibrated and programmed to specific temperatures.
And of course, you can always cook dried beans (that you first must remember to soak overnight!) in a big heavy pot after what seems like endless simmering.
Something about that process removes the spontaneity just a tiny bit.
With an Instant Pot cooker, you really can just whip up a batch of black bean soup on a whim!
How can you not love that?
Electric pressure cookers are so great for cooking dried beans, and after making a batch or two you’ll be hooked, too.
How to cook perfectly tender, tasty black beans in a pressure cooker:
How long to cook pressure-cooked black beans:
A perfectly cooked black bean keeps its shape, but yields tenderly to the tooth and has a creamy texture inside when you take a bite.
I tested different batches of black beans, and found that 45 minutes in the pressure cooker on high was the sweet spot. (Keep in mind that depending on the freshness of the beans you use, it could take an additional 5 or 10 minutes)
For best results, buy your dried black beans at stores with a high turnover, or get them online to ensure they are really fresh.
What’s the best ratio of water to dried black beans in a pressure cooker?
Pressure cookers tend to produce extra liquid at the end of cooking time due to condensation.
Which is great when you’re making soup. Otherwise the ratio of food to added liquid is important.
This recipe for Cuban-style black beans makes a pot of flavorful beans with a little liquid left in the pot after they’re cooked.
They’re not dry, and neither are they too soupy or diluted with extra water.
I found that 4 cups of water to 1 pound of black beans was the amount that yielded winning results.
Cuban-stye Mojo seasoning for black beans:
These seasoned beans have the full flavor of a Cuban-style mojo, which is based on lots of garlic and fresh citrus like lime and orange juice.
The seasonings include other spices like cumin, paprika and chipotle pepper to give it some smoky depth.
You can use the beans in a recipe that calls for cooked or canned black beans, and they’d be also be perfect in Mexican-style dishes like tacos or burritos.
- For reference, one can of black beans yields 1 3/4 cups beans.
- This recipe makes about 7 cups cooked beans.
- The cooked beans will freeze well for up to a month.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chopped red or yellow onion
- 6 chopped garlic cloves
- 1 green jalapeño pepper, chopped
- 2 teaspoons smoked or sweet paprika
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1 or 2 canned chipotle peppers (depending on your heat preference)
- Kosher salt * see note
- 1 pound dried black beans, picked over and rinsed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 4 cups water
Suggested garnishes for serving (choose one or all!):
- Sliced avocado
- Thinly sliced sweet white onion
- Chopped scallions
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Lime wedges
- Fresh crumbled cheese such as feta, goat cheese or quest fresco
- Plain yogurt or sour cream
- Hot sauce (I love Cholula)
- Press the "saute" button on an electric pressure cooker and preheat on high heat. Once the interior pot is hot, add the olive oil and onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened, about 3 - 5 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic, jalapeño, paprika, oregano, cumin seeds, chipotle and 1 tablespoon salt (see note below) and stir until fragrant and the spices are coated in oil, about 30 seconds.
- Add the black beans, bay leaves, orange and lime juice and the water. Secure the lid of the pressure cooker and cook on high for 45 minutes, allowing the pressure to release naturally.
- Taste the beans and season with additional salt, if needed.
- Serve the beans in bowls with cooked rice, quinoa or other whole grain. Top with desired garnishes and enjoy.
- I use Diamond brand kosher salt. If you're using Morton kosher or regular table salt, reduce the amount to 2 teaspoons.
- You can use the beans in a recipe that calls for cooked or canned black beans, and they'd be also be perfect in Mexican-style dishes like tacos or burritos.
- For reference, one can of black beans yields 1 3/4 cups beans. This recipe makes about 7 cups cooked beans.
- The cooked beans will freeze well for up to a month.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 350 Total Fat: 12g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 8g Cholesterol: 10mg Sodium: 195mg Carbohydrates: 47g Fiber: 11g Sugar: 6g Protein: 17g
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Hi there! I’m Karen, a mother of two and a professionally trained cook certified in holistic nutrition.
Have a question or feedback? Get in touch or leave me a comment below — I love hearing from you!