Pinto beans are one of my very favorite vegan protein sources. Not only do they have an amazing flavor and texture all on their own, they’re so versatile. I put them in soups, pasta, tacos, and on polenta or baked potatoes. This recipe gives them a savory flavor that mixes well into many different dishes.
If You Have An Electric Pressure Cooker
I make these in a stovetop pressure cooker. If you have an Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker, just follow your cooking times for soaked pinto beans. They may take a little longer than this recipe because electric pressure cookers cook at a slightly lower temperature than stovetop. The owner’s manual for the Instant Pot Duo gives a cook time of 6-9 minutes for soaked pinto beans. I would go with 9 minutes for an Instant Pot.
A Note About Cooking Times
Cooking time in a pressure cooker recipe only counts the time that the pressure cooker is “at pressure”. In a stovetop pressure cooker this means the time that the pressure regulator on the lid is rocking gently back and forth. Cooking times don’t take into account the amount of time that the pressure cooker takes to come to pressure (heat up) or the time after cooking when the pressure naturally releases (cool down). The whole cooking time for this recipe is 30-40 minutes.
A Note About Soaking
Soaking beans gives you a better result. Your beans cook more evenly, and you don’t end up with random hard beans that you sometimes get with unsoaked pressure cooker beans. They cook much more quickly, 6 minutes at pressure instead of 35, and they’re easier to digest. I soak mine for at least 6 hours, so if I plan to cook them at night, I put them in a bowl of water and leave them for the day. If I’m going to cook them during the day, I soak them the night before. I don’t worry too much about soaking them too long.. Occasionally I’ve put them on to soak at night and not gotten around to cooking them until the following afternoon. I batch cook pinto beans and keep them in the fridge to add to other recipes, so I don’t have to worry about having them ready for a particular meal.
If Your Beans Just Don’t Soften
I’ve only had this happen in one place I’ve lived. It turned out that the high mineral content in the water kept the beans from softening. If you regularly try to cook beans only to have them not soften, try cooking them in distilled store bought water instead of your regular tap or bottled water.
Also, always add your salt after cooking. Salt keeps beans from softening.
Measure out the pinto beans dry, then soak them for at least 6 hours. This will give you a better textured bean that cooks faster and is easier to digest. I just buy whatever brand is available.
You need water for soaking, then you’ll drain and rinse the beans, and then you need more water for cooking. If you normally cook your beans in a regular pot and not a pressure cooker, you’ll be surprised by how little water you need.
I use a whole medium sized onion and dice it into very small pieces. It doesn’t completely disintegrate when it’s cooked, but it does get very soft and just sortof adds to the broth that the beans are in.
I use the minced garlic in a jar. If you want to use fresh, 3-5 cloves minced should be good. If you want to use dried, try 2 teaspoons. Two tablespoons of minced garlic might seem like a lot, but this is a pretty big pot of beans, and the garlic mellows alot when cooking.
I’ve tried lots of other flavor combinations (like curry, or smoked paprika), but for my taste, there is no other spice that quite goes with the flavor of pinto beans like cumin.
I do use a little bit (a little bit more than I put in the recipe) because I like my beans a little bit spicier, but you can leave it out, or add more.
Better Than Bouillon Seasoned Vegetable Base
Honestly, you need to get some of this. It’s way better tasting than pre-made broth and way less expensive and you can use it to flavor so many recipes. I use a tablespoon in the whole pot, but I like things a little less salty. If you add it and find the beans aren’t salty enough, go ahead and add more.
Add it after cooking because it contains salt. The salt will keep the beans from cooking properly.
- 2 cups pinto beans soaked at least 6 hours, drained and rinsed
- 3 ½ cups water
- 1 onion diced
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp cayenne powder (optional)
- 1 tbsp Better Than Bouillon Seasoned Vegetable Base (or to taste)
Soak pinto beans overnight or at least 6 hours.
Drain and rinse pinto beans and set aside.
Spray the bottom of the pressure cooker with Pam Spray or another gluten free cooking spray.
Add diced onion and minced garlic to the pressure cooker and saute over medium heat until the onion starts to soften.
Stir in cumin and cayenne powder and turn off heat.
Add drained and rinsed pinto beans and 3 1/2 cups fresh water to the pressure cooker, stir gently to combine with onions and spices.
Seal the pressure cooker lid and place the pressure regulator on the vent pipe.
Cook on high until the pressure regulator starts to rock.
Start timer for 6 minutes.
Adjust heat so that the pressure regulator is rocking gently.
After 6 minutes remove from heat and let the pressure reduce naturally.
When the lid unlocks, remove it and gently stir in the Better than Bouillon Seasoned Vegetable Base.
Serve immediately or save to add to your favorite dinner recipes.
Keeps about a week in the fridge in an airtight container. Can be frozen for a few months.
Serving Size1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving Calories 45Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 152mgCarbohydrates 8gFiber 2gSugar 1gProtein 3g