What could be better than celebrating National Bean Day (January 6) with an inspiring Instant Pot Pinto Beans recipe? It’s a fulfilling, plant-based, and fool-proof side packed with loads of flavors.
Cooking with beans is easy territory for any chef, but making them in the Instant Pot is a gamechanger. We just can’t say no to perfectly-cooked beans that are done in under one hour.
What Are Pinto Beans?
Pinto beans are one of the most common types of bean, especially in northern Mexico and southwestern US. Owing to their earthy flavor and rich, creamy texture, they have long been cultivated in Mexican and Brazillian cuisines.
Pinto beans are small pods with a light pink shade. Nowadays, they’re readily available either dried or canned and at very affordable prices.
For this particular recipe, we strongly recommend dry beans over canned. Dry pinto beans are a more economical option and have a much better taste and texture.
Plus, they help you cut down on the total amount of sodium in the recipe.
Are Pinto Beans Healthy?
Sure, they are! Pinto beans are popular as a superfood, as you can tell from their nutritional profile:
- Rich in fiber and a good source of plant-based protein:
Fiber-rich pinto beans keep good bacteria in your digestive system to improve your gut health and regulate bowel movements.
At the same time, pinto beans can help you feel full longer and aid in weight loss. With zero cholesterol and very little sugar, they can also help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent the risk of heart diseases.
- Rich in antioxidants: They help protect the cells against free radicals and reduce the growth of cancer cells.
- Rich in vitamin B1 and minerals such as magnesium, iron, phosphorus, calcium, and potassium.
- Low in sodium: Dry beans have much less sodium than canned ones.
How to Cook Pinto Beans in the Instant Pot
Cooking beans in the Instant Pot is a gamechanger as you’ll get the machine to do almost all the necessary work. It takes no more than an hour of simmering with these 6 simple steps:
Soak the pinto beans in hot water for a few hours. Drain and rinse properly.
Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil on the “Sauté” setting.
Add pinto beans and chicken broth. Cook on the “Meat/Stew” setting.
Quick-release the remaining pressure.
Open the lid. Stir spices into the cooked beans.
Portion out the beans, sprinkle cilantro on top, and enjoy
See another recipe for beans in the instant pot to get more cooking tips.
1. Should You Pre-Soak Pinto Beans?
It’s up to you! If your schedule doesn’t allow it or you didn’t plan to soak them in advance, just skip this next step.
If using dry beans, please remember to rinse and drain them properly before cooking. You’ll need to pick over the beans to remove small stones and debris.
For your reference, here are some benefits of pre-soaking beans before cooking. Pre-soaking:
- Helps speed up the process by cutting the cooking time in half.
- Prevents the beans from splitting apart so they’ll hold in shape better during pressure cooking.
- Removes gas-causing sugars within the dry pinto beans, making them easier to digest.
Dry pinto beans normally absorb a lot of water (about 3 cups of water for 8 ounces of pinto beans). With this recipe, we soaked them in hot water for 1-2 hours or in cool water for 8 hours (or overnight).
This soaking time also means hands-off time that you can use to start working on other dishes for your meal. Or you can just sit down, take a break, and relax.
2. Can Cooked Pinto Beans Be Frozen?
Yes, they can. Please scroll down to the section about storing and reheating for more information.
You can cook pinto beans ahead of time, portion them out, and freeze the extra beans for meals later in the week. You can also enjoy them with your favorite toppings and dips.
Cooking Tips for Instant Pot Pinto Beans
For perfectly-cooked Instant Pot pinto beans, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- You should only salt pinto beans after they’re thoroughly cooked, not before. Otherwise, they won’t get tender.
- If you’re cooking a large batch of pinto beans, you may have to divide them into small portions. Dry beans will expand during cooking, so never fill your Instant Pot higher than the 1/2 mark inside of it.
- Quick-releasing the pressure of the Instant Pot is meant to rough up the beans after they’re fully cooked. Also, after you open the lid, let the beans sit for a couple of extra minutes so they can absorb some of the remaining liquid and seasonings more thoroughly.
The cooking time in this recipe will stay the same if you’re only making half the servings. The texture of the dry beans also dictates whether you should add or subtract a few minutes to the cooking time. For example, if you’ve bought aged beans, they will usually be firmer and take longer to cook.
How to Store and Reheat
Cooked pinto beans keep well in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. For longer storage (approximately 3 months), you’ll need to move them to the freezer.
Either way, it’s important to make sure they’ve cooled down completely before you put them in an airtight container or a freezer-friendly zipper bag. If pinto beans go into storage while hot, they’ll spoil much faster. This goes for most types of beans, as we learned from making Instant Pot black beans before.
When freezing pinto beans, we suggest you keep some of their juice in the storing container so they won’t get too dry during the reheating process. You can choose either the microwave, the Instant Pot, or the stovetop to rewarm/reheat them.
After reheating, if the beans still seem to be too thick, add a little more broth or water and heat them up for another minute.
You can skip the thawing if you plan on stirring them into a soup or stew. For salads, wraps, and other types of dishes, we advise to thaw the beans in the fridge overnight and reheat them the following day.
What to Serve With Instant Pot Pinto Beans
These Instant Pot pinto beans we’re making are incredibly versatile and fit well into a variety of Mexican dishes. You can enjoy them as a side dish, a wrap filling, or just as they are (just like this type of instant pot beans recipe.)
Here are some types of dishes you can pump up with our cooked pinto beans:
- Fillings for burritos, carnitas, tacos,…
- Additions to soups, stews, salads,…
- Additions to hash browns, ground meat (beef, turkey) dishes.
- Toppings on a bowl of Mexican rice or quinoa
- Toppings on scrambled eggs or veggie salads.
- Enjoy with salsa, guacamole, or queso fresco.
More Meal Prep Ideas With Bean
Switch up your diet with these tasty bean recipes. They’re tasty, easy, and comply with our healthy eating standards:
- Instant Pot Bean Soup Recipe
- Instant Pot Split Pea Soup Recipe
- Lentil Soup with Spinach and Sausage Recipe
Instant Pot Pinto Beans Recipe
A fulfilling, plant-based, and fool-proof side dish is what you'll get out of this Instant Pot pinto beans recipe. We just can't say no to perfectly-cooked beans that are done in under one hour!
- cook TIME 50 mins
- prep TIME 10 mins
- total TIME 3 hr
- INACTIVE TIME 2 hr
- COURSE Side Dish
- CUISINE American, Mexican
- SERVINGS servings
- CALORIES 234 kcal
- 8 oz pinto beans
- 3 cups water
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 oz onion (diced)
- 1 tbsp garlic (minced)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp cilantro (chopped)
- 2 cup unsalted chicken broth
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
Soak the pinto beans in 3 cups of hot water for 1-2 hours or in cool, filtered water for 8 hours or overnight.
Drain and rinse the beans properly, set aside.
Turn your Instant Pot to “Sauté” mode. Sauté 4 oz onion and 1 tbsp garlic in 1/2 tbsp olive oil for 5 minutes.
Put the pinto beans and 2 cup unsalted chicken broth in the Instant Pot. Cook for 40 minutes on the “Meat/Stew” setting.
Rotate the steam release valve out of the sealing position to quick-release the remaining pressure.
Open the lid and add 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, and 1/2 tsp chili powder to the cooked beans. Stir well.
Portion out the beans, sprinkle 2 tbsp chopped cilantro on top, and enjoy.