Instant Pot Refried Beans

One of the reasons why people love their Instant Pots is for making things that usually take lots of time in a relatively short amount of time. Like dry beans. (Sidenote: there was a time when my oldest was tiny when I legitimately didn’t think people ever cooked dry beans and that they were just for making bean bags for your kid to play with. Now I cook dry beans and let my kids watch Netflix.)

People love their Instant Pots for dry beans. Sara has a recipe for Brazilian Black Beans that people are crazy for. But I cannot, cannot get beans to work in my Instant P0t (and before anyone claims it’s my elevation, I live basically at sea level, so that’s not it. We’ve gotten a lot of requests for a pressure cooker version of our Red Beans and Rice and I have come to the conclusion that it can’t be done without soaking the beans first, and if I have to soak them, I feel like it negates the benefits of the pressure cooker and I would just rather cook them in my slow cooker.

This is a lot of bean talk. Basically, what I’m saying is that I suck at dry beans in my pressure cooker, but homemade refried beans is one of my favorite foods in the world and I wanted to make this happen. I also feel like of all the dry beans, pintos are the most forgiving and easiest to not mess up, so if I could successfully pressure cook them, perhaps there was hope for me.

I successfully cooked them. There is hope.

You’re going to need a pound of dry pinto beans (rinsed and sorted for stones, debris, or shriveled beans), 6 cups of water, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 cup of vinegar or the liquid from banana peppers or pickled jalapeños, 1 seeded jalapeño, 1 1/2 onions, some kind of flavorful fat (I like rendered bacon fat), and lots of garlic.

 

Place the rinsed beans in the Instant Pot. Add an onion that’s been cut in half, 6 smashed, peeled garlic cloves, the seeded jalapeño, 2 tablespoons of vinegar (or liquid from pickled peppers), 6 cups of water, and a teaspoon of kosher salt. Use your manual setting to cook for 50 minutes, then allow a natural pressure release (when it’s done cooking, leave the vent closed and allow the pressure to come down naturally–it will take about 15-20 minutes and you’ll know it’s done when, if you try to open the vent, no steam hisses out.) If you live at a high elevation, cook for 60-65 minutes before allowing the pressure to release naturally.

When the beans are tender, remove the lid and ladle out 1/3-1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the remaining vinegar or liquid from the jarred peppers to the reserved liquid. Drain the beans, discarding the rest of the liquid. Place the beans (and cooked vegetables) in the jar of your blender. Add 1/3 cup of liquid and blend until the desired consistency is reached (I like mine pretty smooth), adding more liquid if necessary.

Mince the remaining 1/2 onion and 2-4 cloves of garlic. Heat the bacon drippings in a large cast iron skillet (if you have one) over medium heat. When the drippings are hot, add the onions and garlic and cook until tender. Add the bean puree and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently until the drippings and beans are incorporated and are light, fluffy, and hot. Salt to taste. Serve alongside Mexican food, wrapped in tortillas with cheese, or by themselves.

Instant Pot Refried Beans
These Instant Pot Refried Beans are a great place to start if you're nervous about making dry beans in a pressure cooker! Plus, they taste a million times better than canned refried beans. If you have any extras, they freeze beautifully.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 pound pinto beans, sorted for rocks, debris, and shriveled beans and rinsed
  2. 6 cups water
  3. 1/4 cup vinegar or liquid from jarred banana or jalapeno peppers, divided
  4. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  5. 1 1/2 onions, divided
  6. 8-10 cloves garlic
  7. 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded
  8. 5-6 tablespoons flavorful fat (I use bacon grease, but lard or your vegetarian oil of choice will work)
Instructions
  1. Place the rinsed beans in the Instant Pot. Add an onion that's been peeled and cut in half, 6 smashed, peeled garlic cloves, the seeded jalapeño, 2 tablespoons of vinegar (or liquid from pickled peppers), 6 cups of water, and a teaspoon of kosher salt. Use your manual setting to cook for 50 minutes, then allow a natural pressure release (when it's done cooking, leave the vent closed and allow the pressure to come down naturally--it will take about 15-20 minutes and you'll know it's done when, if you try to open the vent, no steam hisses out.) If you live at a high elevation, cook for 60-65 minutes before allowing the pressure to release naturally.
  2. When the beans are tender, remove the lid and ladle out 1/3-1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the remaining vinegar or liquid from the jarred peppers to the reserved liquid. Drain the beans, discarding the rest of the liquid. Place the beans (and cooked vegetables) in the jar of your blender. Add 1/3 cup of liquid and blend until the desired consistency is reached (I like mine pretty smooth), adding more liquid if necessary.
  3. Mince the remaining 1/2 onion and 2-4 cloves of garlic. Heat the bacon drippings in a large cast iron skillet (if you have one) over medium heat. When the drippings are hot, add the onions and garlic and cook until tender. Add the bean puree and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently until the drippings and beans are incorporated and are light, fluffy, and hot. Salt to taste. Serve alongside Mexican food, wrapped in tortillas with cheese, or by themselves.
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21 comments

  1. Were these from your insta story!? I love me some *good* refried beans. Adding these to my list of things to make. Or maybe you can somehow work them into an upcoming meal plan. 😉

  2. I found a recipe for red beans and rice for my instant pot that has worked for me. I basically combined their cooking directions/liquid quantities and your seasoning ingredients (because, lets face it, your recipe is my favorite of all time!). It’s a little more on the watery side, so I need to fiddle with the liquid content, but it’s been a great jumping-off point.

  3. HA! I’m so happy you posted this. I got an instapot for my birthday and I bought dried pinto beans specifically to make refried beans as my first attempt! I’m so happy I now have a OBB recipe to make sure they are good. Thank you!

  4. I make your red beans and rice in the Instant Pot regularly! Without soaking. It turns out good every time!

    1. Interesting! I’ve tried it so many times! I’m not exactly sure what the problem is–when I increase the time, the beans burn, but they’re not cooked on the inside.

      1. Maybe I add more water. The next time I make them, I’ll keep track! They’re a regular recipe in our house, thanks to you!

      2. The only thing I can do to make the black bean recipe is cook them like the recipe says, then after the natural release, stir and cook them again for 15 minutes. So it takes a bit longer, but it seems to work.

  5. When you say to use the manual cook, is that high or low? My instapot had manual high and manual low, so I’m always stressing when recipes don’t specify which. I’m excited to try these!

  6. These look amazing, thanks! I make beans 1-2x a month in the instant pot and I cover with water and microwave for 5 mins and drain, then cook. It could be worth trying to solve your problem with the red beans and rice recipe.

  7. I am fairly new to successful bean cooking, so I just have a question. I was told to avoid acidic ingredients until the beans are all or mostly cooked. Is this not true or negated by the use of a pressure cooker?

  8. I am so glad to hear you’ve had problems with beans in your pressure cooker, because none of mine have worked, and I keep wondering why everyone loves their pressure cooker so much. I’ll have to try these; although I’m pretty happy with the way they work in my slow cooker, so we’ll see.

  9. Could different Insta pot type cookers be the reason for differences? Often we think everyone is on the same page in a discussion and it’s not so. Seems that ‘insta pot’ has become generic the same way ‘kleenex’ has for facial tissues.

  10. Adding a pinch of baking soda to the beans toward the end of cooking time is a great trick to get beans to soften as they should. It has saved dinner for me several times!

  11. The vinegar is left off the recipe at the end, but I have them cooking in my pot at the moment and can’t wait to try them. Thanks for another great recipe!

  12. In the instructions it says to add the remaining liquid (vinegar) but you do not have the total amount listed under the ingredients. How much more vinegar do you add after they cook?

  13. I always have to cook my dried beans for 120 minutes in the Instant Pot if I haven’t soaked them first in order to get them tender. This is true for me no matter how fresh the dried beans are, and I’m only at 1100 ft elevation. Once my sister gave me this tip, I’ve been able to cook dried beans just fine. I just ignore a recipe’s timing and go with 120 minutes on manual at high pressure. It’s still faster than the crockpot. Hope that helps you in your quest to cook dried beans!

  14. I’m not usually one to comment, but I made these last night and they are sublime. The flavors are spot-on and addictive. I was skeptical about the vinegar, but it worked. I also used bacon fat and wouldn’t have it any other way. This is probably my favorite recipe from the site (and I’ve made a lot!).

  15. I wonder if this recipe can be doubled. I use to double it in the crockpot using your recipe a snack freeze a lot of it. Also, I don’t re fry the beans at the end, I use an immersion blender and add bacon grease. It makes them some creamy and tasty! Easier, too!

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