Black Beans (Instant Pot or Slow Cooker)

Black Beans (Instant Pot or Slow Cooker)

No soaking required for these simple homemade Black Beans! These beans are deeply savory with a hit of spice and so much flavor.

Prepare these black beans as a delicious side dish and then re-purpose leftovers in a number of ways outlined below — this recipe has so many possibilities. This recipe was tested in both a slow cooker and Instant Pot.

Black Beans

After sharing these pinto beans (and the subsequent recipes using them), I have been totally hooked on preparing beans in the slow cooker and/or pressure cooker. It’s been my favorite way to cook for my family this new year since I can prepare the beans as a way of meal prepping at the beginning of the week and then use those beans in meals all week long. While canned beans are convenient, nothing compares to the flavors and textures you’ll get from these from-scratch black beans. 

Not only are they economical (the cost of dried beans verses canned can be staggering!) they’re also incredibly simple to make! I’ll share some short-cuts for when making these black beans and I’ll share some of the recipes we’ve used these black beans in as a part of my “cook once & enjoy meals all week long” series.

These are the recipes that feature these from scratch black beans:

One batch of these black beans makes about the equivalent of 3 cans of black beans and each of the recipes above uses about 1 can (or slightly less). So if you prepare the beans at the beginning of the week, your family can enjoy them as a side dish that first day and then the rest can be stored and used in those three recipes throughout the week.

With the seasoned beans prepared, the remaining prep during the week on those other three recipes listed above is so much quicker! Additionally, as the beans sit, they only get more flavorful! So those recipes will have so much more flavor than a using a can of black beans!

Slow Cooker versus Pressure Cooker

These black beans were tested in both machines and they end up very similar either way. 

The beans do end up with slightly more liquid in the Instant Pot, but it’s very easy to get these beans to your ideal liquid-to-bean ratio. Simply drain off as much of the liquid as you’d like. I typically leave all (or most) of the liquid because I like these beans pretty saucy when serving over rice or in a grain bowl. However, if they’re going in burritos or a bake, I do drain them before adding.

Whichever machine you choose to use, it may take a bit of experimenting your first time. All slow cookers and pressure cookers cook slightly differently, but once you’ve figured out the time for your specific machine, you’ll no longer have any guesswork.

Black Bean Preparation Tips

  • Rinse the beans and pick through them. While a little tedious, be sure to give the beans a quick rinse and look through them for any debris or rocks that may have snuck into your bag.
  • It may be tempting to throw everything in the slow cooker and let it go, but sautéing the veggies in the olive oil is where we get tremendous amounts of flavor. It adds layers of flavor to these beans.
  • Season to taste. Depending on how salty the chicken stock used is, and the actual type of salt you’re using (not all salts season the same!) you’ll want to adjust the amount of salt to personal preference. If the beans taste flat, it’s probably as easy a fix as adding in some more salt! Also note that the beans do get more and more flavorful as they sit. The first night, they’re great, but you’ll love them even more the next day!
  • Add in some freshness. We love these black beans with some fresh herbs (like parsley, cilantro, or green onions) and fresh lime juice. It’s amazing the life those two ingredients bring to the black beans.
  • Freeze leftover chipotle peppers. See “quick tip” below.

QUICK TIP

There’s nothing worse than using only one or two peppers (like in this recipe) and not being able to use the rest of the can before it goes bad. Luckily, canned chipotle peppers freeze beautifully! Here’s how to freeze leftover chipotles:

  • Spread a sheet of parchment paper onto a large pan.
  • Spoon out peppers with sauce, 1/2 inch apart, on to the pan. Place the pan in the freezer until peppers and sauce are frozen solid, about 1 hour.
  • Once frozen, the peppers and sauce will easily peel off the tray.
  • Add all the frozen peppers to a freezer-safe plastic bag, seal while pressing out any air, and store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
  • To thaw, take as many peppers as needed out of the bag and let stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes or until thawed through (or pop individual peppers in the microwave for 10-15 seconds).

Short cut tips

  • Preparation short-cuts. These beans should be simple to make, and while the chopping can take a good amount of time, you can save time by chopping all the veggies in a food processor. Using store-bought chicken stock is also a time-saving shortcut; we’re adding loads of flavor without extra work. (By the way, why use both chicken stock and water? We tested all different ratios of water to chicken stock and found 1:1 to be the perfect complement to the beans without overpowering the flavor.)
  • Don’t soak the black beans. Another shortcut with this recipe is that we do not need to soak the beans before cooking. The amount of liquid in this recipe is ideal to get the beans ultra-tender, without spending hours soaking ahead of time. 

Repurposing Black Beans into meals for the week

Beyond the three recipes I linked to above, you can use these from scratch black beans in so many recipes! Here are some additional ideas:

Freezing leftover Black Beans

  • Begin by labeling air-tight freezer bags. Let beans cool completely and then scoop 1-1/2 cups of the beans into prepared freezer bags. Leave plenty of space in the bags for expansion. Seal and transfer to the freezer until you need them. Beans keep in the freezer for about 6 months.
  • Thawing: You can add frozen beans directly to recipes like chili or beans and rice. (They thaw quickly in the pot.) For recipes where you need to start with thawed black beans, pull them out the night before and let them thaw in the fridge, or for a quicker thaw, add the sealed bag to a large bowl of cool water until thawed through.

Black Beans (Instant Pot or Slow Cooker)

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No soaking required for these simple homemade Black Beans! These beans are deeply savory with a hit of spice and so much flavor.

Black Beans (Instant Pot or Slow Cooker)

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No soaking required for these simple homemade Black Beans! These beans are deeply savory with a hit of spice and so much flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (125g) finely diced yellow onion (~1 onion)
  • 1 (1 cup; 135g) finely diced red pepper (1 pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons (19g) minced garlic (~4-6 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons EACH: paprika, garlic powder, ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Fine sea salt and cracked pepper
  • 1 pound (16 ounces) dry black beans
  • 3 cups (660g) water
  • 3 cups (660g) chicken stock or vegetable stock (I recommend Swanson)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (measure the peppers and surrounding sauce) Note 1
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Optional: 1/3 cup chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice

Instructions

  • PREP: For a quicker prep, give the onion and pepper a quick coarse chop and add along with the garlic cloves to a food processor and pulse to chop.

  • VEGGIES: Add olive oil to a large cast iron skillet (OR set to saute in the instant pot) and heat to high. Add in the diced onion, pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7-9 minutes. Add in all the seasonings (the paprika, garlic powder, cumin, and oregano and saute for 1 minute or until fragrant. Use a spatula to scrape every bit of this mixture into the instant pot or slow cooker.

  • ADD BEANS & COOK: Rinse the beans in a strainer and pick through them discarding any debris or rocks. Add the rinsed beans, chicken or vegetable stock, and water to the slow cooker or instant pot. Add in the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and the bay leaf. Finally, season (to taste) with salt and pepper. (I add 2 teaspoons fine sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, but add to preference.) Stir everything together. Cover and cook on high for 7-9 hours in the slow cooker or until beans are very tender (this is 8 hours in my crockpot). INSTANT POT: seal the instant pot, turn valve to sealing, and cook on manual mode for 45 minutes (it takes about 15-20 minutes to get to pressure). Once finished, allow for a natural release for 25 minutes (I recommend setting a timer so you don’t forget!) before releasing the rest of the pressure manually.

  • FINISHING: Remove lid of instant pot or slow cooker and taste beans to adjust seasonings, I typically add another 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt here (really just depends on how salty the chicken/vegetable stock used is; add slowly until flavors sing). Remove chipotle peppers (they will continue to increase in heat and make the beans hotter if they are left in) and remove bay leaf and discard. Add chopped cilantro if desired and squeeze in fresh lime then stir through. Serve as a side dish or use in another recipe! (Beans will continue to thicken as they sit and become more flavorful as they’re stored in the fridge overnight). I store the beans in the liquid and drain as needed to use in other recipes.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: if you’re worried about heat, add just the peppers and remove them promptly after beans have cooked. Check out the post for how to save/store the rest of the can of chipotles!

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