These are the Best Black Beans. They are versatile, inexpensive, no fuss, and almost completely hands-off. Throw these beans in the Instant Pot on a Sunday afternoon while you do other things and get ready to thank your Sunday-self all week long!
If you eat a lot of beans (like me!), want to save some money (like me!), or if you’re worried about BPA and BPA-alternatives in canned goods (also like me!), then this recipe is for you.
Making your own beans from scratch allows you to make YOUR perfect batch of homemade beans each time. They won’t be mushy or al dente like some canned beans are, and they’ll be full of flavor and healthy aromatics, rather than just salt!
Why Make Your Own Homemade Beans
If you’ve never made your own beans from scratch, please keep reading. I was intimidated before I made my first batch of homemade beans. It was just after college and I was, naturally, trying to save money.
Unfortunately, I let the beans soak on the counter for so long that they smelled horrible, had a white cloud over them, and were split open and peeling. I have come a long way since then, and I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned!
Cooking dried beans from scratch is actually super EASY and super ECONOMICAL. It’s a great way to save some money, control exactly what goes in your body, and feed a crowd. They also taste better! When you make your own homemade beans, you can make them to your exact tenderness preference too. If you want the beans for a salad, you might reduce the cooking time by a minute or two. Conversely, if you want to make refried beans, you might increase the time by a few minutes to ensure they’re as creamy as can be!
I’ve probably made this simple black bean recipe a hundred times. I’ve experimented and done all of the troubleshooting for you so that you won’t go through what I went through when I was first getting started. Give this delicious, easy, pantry-friendly recipe a try and make your own black beans from scratch today! (Love beans as much as I do? Check out all of my bean recipes!)
Why Are these the Best Black Beans?
Put simply, they are redolent of garlic and onions and are SO creamy. I eat them by the spoonful directly from the Instant Pot, they are THAT good.
The key to these black beans is the Instant Pot, which makes this recipe extremely easy and fast compared to other cooking methods. (Years ago, I cooked my black beans in the slow cooker, which meant an all-day affair!) The Instant Pot reduces the cooking time substantially and makes delicious beans. In fact, it allows you to make perfectly tender beans every time!
The best part of this recipe is that there is no soaking required. You don’t need to plan ahead and you don’t have to worry about your beans accidentally fermenting on the counter like mine did all those years ago. Unsoaked beans also taste better and richer than beans that are soaked prior to cooking.
This recipe will save you time and money. I like to make a big batch of Instant Pot black beans on a Sunday and use the beans in a variety of different meals throughout the week. It’s such an easy, lazy way to meal prep and it helps ensure that you’re eating well throughout the week.
These beans are just plain delicious. With plenty of garlic and onions, these beans are tasty enough to eat on their own, but versatile enough to eat in a variety of dishes. Try them and see for yourself why I call them the best black beans!
Should You Salt Beans Before or After Cooking?
This is the million dollar question, it seems! Many online articles and resources say that you shouldn’t salt beans until the end because it keeps them from becoming tender.
The truth is that the beans just won’t have the same flavor if you only add salt at the end. The salt and aromatics that you add at the beginning of the cooking time make it INSIDE the beans and flavor them from the inside. When you only add salt at the end, you’re left with salty cooking liquid and lackluster beans.
If you’re worried that the beans will be hard or won’t soften fully because of the salt, don’t be! The benefit of the Instant Pot is that it cooks food under pressure. Using pressure to cook these beans ensures that they will become tender, even with the salt added at the beginning!
How to Use Homemade Black Beans
- Make taco bowls, burritos, quesadillas, and loaded nachos. These beans are perfect for a “make your own taco night” with these crispy vegan tofu crumbles!
- Add black beans (with their cooking liquid) to a variety of soups and chilis.
- Mash them up with some chili powder and seasonings to make faux refried black beans.
- Add them to your tofu scramble to make your meal stretch a little further.
- Eat them as a side dish with almost any meal, including scrambled “eggs”.
- Make a crowd-pleasing bean salad, such as a hearty sweet potato, quinoa, and black bean salad.
- Mix them up with your favorite binder and some spices to make black bean burgers.
- Spoon them over rice for a cheap and comforting meal.
- Eat them plain (or with their delicious cooking liquid).
- Top them simply with salsa, hot sauce, avocado, or sauerkraut (try it, it’s delicious! :)).
How to Store Instant Pot Black Beans
I like to keep these black beans (with their cooking liquid) in a large glass container in the fridge for use throughout the week. I retain the cooking liquid for serving over rice, incorporating into chili, etc. It’s tasty, free, and zero-waste!
If you prefer, you can drain the beans prior to storage and divide into small, airtight containers. I have kept beans in the fridge successfully for 7 days, as long as the containers are well sealed.
Are your beans too firm? The most likely culprit here is beans that are old. Maybe you’ve had that bag of beans in your cabinet for longer than you’d care to admit. Or maybe the store where you bought the beans had them on the shelf for a long while. Unfortunately, it happens sometimes. At the end of your cook time, if the beans are still a bit firmer than you would like, you can close the Instant Pot and pressure cook for an additional “0” minutes to help them soften up. The Instant Pot will come back up to pressure and cook for 0 minutes, before beginning to release pressure naturally one more time. Please don’t quick release a pot of beans!
Do your beans need more flavor? Check your bay leaves! If you’re using fresh bay leaves, you can double up. (Fresh bay leaves are more mild than dried.) If you’re using dried bay leaves, make sure that you bought them (somewhat) recently and have kept them tightly sealed.
How to ensure perfect beans every time: If you have a preferred brand of beans that you buy frequently, then I suggest finding their perfect cooking time. Each time you make a pot of your preferred beans, add or subtract a minute from this base recipe (only if necessary), and use the rest of this recipe as-is.
I hope you love these simple but delicious black beans!
- 1 pound black beans, picked over and sorted
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 cups water
- Rinse your beans thoroughly under running water and place them in the Instant Pot.
- Add bay leaf, onion, garlic, salt, and water to the Instant Pot. Stir well.
- Close your Instant Pot and set the steam release valve to "Sealing". Select the "Pressure Cook" button and set to cook for 30 minutes at High Pressure.
- Once the cook time is up, allow the Instant Pot to release pressure naturally.
- Begin checking the Instant Pot after 22 minutes to see if the float valve has gone down. Once it has, turn the steam release valve to "Venting" and open the Instant Pot.
- Stir well, remove the bay leaf, and taste for salt and tenderness. Add an optional 1/4 tsp of salt, only if necessary, and stir again.
- Serve your beans warm with your preferred toppings or allow to cool slightly before storing in glass containers. Leftovers will keep for up to a week in the fridge, making this recipe perfect for a variety of meals throughout the week.
Sorting beans: This is an important step. If you’ve ever had a meal ruined because you experienced a “crunch” or “ouch” when eating beans, it was probably the result of insufficient sorting. To sort beans, look for broken beans, stones, and anything else that looks off. (Every few weeks, I like to sort multiple pounds of beans at once while watching TV.)
Salt: Everyone’s salt preference is different, and certain types of salt are "saltier" than others. Feel free to adjust salt at the end to your taste.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: half cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 130Total Fat: .4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 121.8mgCarbohydrates: 24.4gFiber: 6gSugar: 1.1gProtein: 8.5g
Nutrition information is an estimate only, based on the recipe as written. Data was obtained through MyFitnessPal's recipe creator.
The Background And Science Behind These Ingredients
- An overview of the benefits of beans and a recommendation to eat beans or whole grains at every meal
- Reasons to choose beans over red meat: Reduced risk of prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, pre-cancerous colon polyps, and cardiovascular disease in men
- “The Hispanic Paradox“: Latinos live longer, and it may be because of their higher intake of beans
- Beans are a great source of fiber, and “fiber is the key to good health“
- A good overview of fiber and easy ways to ramp up your fiber intake
- A scientific description of garlic’s health benefits, including anticancer and antimicrobial properties
What do you think?
Thanks so much for stopping by! If you make this recipe, then please leave a comment and rating. I would love to hear what you think and how it worked out for you!
Don’t forget to check out my other Instant Pot recipes as well!