Instant-Pot Pinto Beans

These quick and easy Instant Pot pinto beans offer a subtle heat from dried chiles, with scallions and garlic bumping up the savory flavor. Enjoy them on their own or as part of a taco or topping for nachos.

a recipe photo of the Instant Pot Pinto Beans
Photo: Photographer: Jen Causey, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall
Active Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 15 mins

Nutrition Notes

Are Pinto Beans Healthy?

Like other legumes, pinto beans offer a wealth of health benefits. Here is the nutritional breakdown for ½ cup of cooked pinto beans, without salt, per the USDA:

Calories: 123

Protein: 8g

Total Fat: 0.5g

Carbohydrates: 22g

Sugars: 0g

Dietary Fiber: 8g (29% DV)

Sodium: 1mg

Iron: 2mg

Folate: 147mcg (37% DV)

Pinto beans are high in fiber, providing almost a third of your daily fiber needs in just a half-cup. They are also an excellent source of folate, a B vitamin that is essential for the formation of healthy cells. Folate is especially important for pregnant women, as it helps prevent severe birth disorders, including neural tube defects. For this reason, it's imperative that women of childbearing age get enough folate in their diet. Beans can be an excellent—and tasty—way to accomplish this.

If you're looking for a plant protein to add to your plate, pinto beans have you covered. They are also low in fat and sodium and will contribute to your daily intake of other essential nutrients, including magnesium, potassium and choline.

What Are Pinto Beans Good For?

Thanks in part to their high fiber content, beans, including pinto beans, may help protect against cardiovascular disease. This cardiometabolic protection comes in the form of lowering cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, heart rate and inflammation.

Pinto beans are also high in antioxidants, further adding to their cardiovascular protection. And if you're looking for a food that won't send your blood sugar soaring, beans have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar. The dietary fiber in beans also helps keep things moving through your gut, and may even help improve your gut's microbiome.

Tips from the Test Kitchen

Wait, Don't I Need to Soak the Beans?

There's no need to soak dried beans when you're cooking them in an Instant Pot. They become fully cooked and tender when you cook them under High pressure for 40 minutes. If you want to reduce the cooking time, soak the beans overnight with enough water to cover them by 2 inches. Drain and follow the recipe as instructed, then select High pressure for 15 minutes.

Help, I Don't Have Dried Pinto Beans. Can I Use a Different Dried Bean or Use Canned Beans?

Yes, you can use any type of dried beans, such as black beans, cannellini beans, chickpeas, lima beans or black-eyed peas. Follow our guide to cooking beans in a pressure cooker, which includes cook times for soaked and unsoaked dried beans. Do not use canned beans, as they are already fully cooked.

Can I Make Substitutions in This Recipe?

Yes, you can! You can swap the scallions for 2 medium shallots, halved lengthwise. If you can't find dried chile de arbol, feel free to use dried ancho chile or dried guajillo chile.

How Should I Serve These Beans?

These pinto beans are perfect in tacos, enchiladas and burrito bowls. Try them as a topping for Stuffed Potatoes with Salsa & Beans, add them to Taco Soup or make these Easy Chicken Tinga Rice Bowls.

How Long Do These Beans Last in the Fridge? Can I Freeze Them?

Refrigerate the cooked beans in an airtight container for up to 3 days. To freeze the beans, cool them completely, store in vacuum-sealed bags or freezer bags and label them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Ratio of Beans to Water in an Instant Pot?

The ratio of beans to water in an Instant Pot will vary depending on the type of beans you're using. For pinto beans, we use 1 1/2 cups of dried beans to 4 cups of water, which yields fully cooked and tender beans. For other varieties of beans, a general ratio of 1-to-3, which is 1 cup of beans to 3 cups of water, will work well.

Why Are My Beans Not Getting Soft in an Instant Pot?

There might be a few reasons why your beans aren't getting soft in an Instant Pot. Factors such as the type of bean you're using, the amount of water and the cooking time can affect the consistency of the beans. Certain types of beans require longer cooking times and more water. If you find that your beans aren't soft, try cooking them at High pressure for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

Additional reporting by Carrie Myers and Jan Valdez


  • 4 cups water

  • 1 ½ cups dried pinto beans, rinsed

  • 2 large scallions, cut into 4-inch pieces

  • 1 (3-inch) dried chile de arbol, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper

  • 1 bay leaf

  • Lime wedges for garnish (optional)


  1. Combine water, pinto beans, scallions, chile, lime juice, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper and bay leaf in a programmable pressure multicooker (such as Instant Pot; times, instructions and settings may vary according to cooker brand or model). Cover the cooker and lock the lid in place. Turn steam release handle to Sealing position. Select Pressure Cook setting. Select High pressure for 40 minutes. (It will take about 8 minutes for the cooker to come up to pressure before cooking begins.)

  2. Let the pressure release naturally (float valve will drop; this will take 10 to 15 minutes). Remove the lid from the cooker.

  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to a serving bowl (discard scallions, garlic, bay leaf, chile pieces and any remaining liquid). Garnish with lime wedges, if desired.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

128 Calories
1g Fat
23g Carbs
8g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Serving Size 1/2 cup
Calories 128
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 6g 21%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 8g 16%
Total Fat 1g 1%
Vitamin A 3IU 0%
Vitamin C 3mg 3%
Folate 190mcg 48%
Vitamin K 2mcg 2%
Sodium 154mg 7%
Calcium 49mg 4%
Iron 2mg 11%
Magnesium 65mg 15%
Potassium 518mg 11%
Zinc 1mg 9%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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