These versatile beans can be made on the stovetop, in the slow cooker, or with an Instant Pot.

By Hayley Sugg
September 28, 2020
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Pinto beans
Credit: 4kodiak / Getty Images

If you find yourself with a bag of dried pinto beans lingering in your pantry and are unsure of how to cook them, you're in luck. These legumes are fairly easy to prepare; all you need is a little time and patience, and you'll be rewarded with the ability to make some delicious dishes, ranging from refried beans to meaty chili.

Here, we break down three ways to cook pinto beans. You pick the style that works best for you — on the stovetop, in the slow cooker, or in an Instant Pot.

How to Cook Pinto Beans on the Stovetop

This method for cooking pinto beans requires no special equipment, simply a stockpot with a lid and a stovetop. However, it's also the most time consuming route, with soaking required to create a consistent texture in the beans.

  1. Clean and Soak: Place 1 pound of dry pinto beans in a bowl, and pick out any rocks or beans that are broken. Cover with water at least two inches above the beans. Let them soak for at least 8 hours or overnight. They should double in size. Add more water if the beans begin to stick above the water line.
  2. Drain and Boil: Drain the beans and put them into a large lidded pot with 10 cups of water. At this point, you can also add any spices, except salt, or aromatics you'd like. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 2 hours.
  3. Cook Until Tender and Seasoned: After 2 hours, check the pinto beans. Their texture should be creamy and tender. If they're still not done, let them continue to simmer for another 15 to 30 minutes, or until they've reached your desired texture. Salt to taste before serving.

More: Browse Pinto Bean Recipes.

Quick Soak Method

Alternatively, you can speed up the soaking and stovetop cooking process if you're pinched for time. The texture may not be quite as tender as beans that soak for eight hours or more, but they're still great for any dish.

  1. Clean and Soak: Place 1 pound of dry pinto beans in a stockpot or Dutch oven, and pick out any broken beans or rocks. Add water to cover the beans by at least two inches.
  2. Boil: Place the lid on the pan. Bring the water to a boil. Cook 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Let Rest: Turn the stove off, and let the beans rest for one hour. The longer the beans soak, the softer they'll become.
  4. Drain: When you're ready to cook the beans, drain the beans, and rinse. These beans are ready to be used in any recipe now.

How to Cook Pinto Beans in the Slow Cooker

Set it and forget it with this easy method for cooking pinto beans. If you've planned ahead, you can soak your pinto beans for a faster cook time, or make them straight from dry by adding a few hours.

For 1 pound of soaked pinto beans

  1. Clean and Cook: Drain the beans, remove rocks and broken beans, and put the pintos into the slow cooker with 4 cups of water or broth. Add any aromatics and spices (except salt) that you desire. Cover and let the slow cooker run on low for 5 to 6 hours.
  2. Season and Enjoy: Check the pinto beans. They should be tender and creamy. If not, turn the slow cooker up to high and cook for another 30 minutes, or until desired texture is reached. Salt to taste before serving.

For 1 pound of unsoaked pinto beans

  1. Clean and Cook: Rinse the beans, remove any rocks or cracked beans. Put the pintos into the slow cooker with 8 cups of water or broth, and add any aromatics and spices (except salt) that you desire. Cover and let the slow cooker run on low for 8 to 9 hours.
  2. Season and Serve: Check the pinto beans. They should be tender and creamy. If not, turn the slow cooker up to high and cook for another 30 minutes, or until desired texture is reached. Salt to taste before serving.

How to Cook Pinto Beans With the Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is by far the easiest way to cook any type of beans, and pintos are no exception. In about an hour, you can transform unsoaked beans into a wow-worthy dish.

  1. Rinse and Clean: Rinse 1 pound of dry pinto beans, remove any rocks or cracked beans, and place the pintos in the Instant Pot. Stir in 5 cups of water and any desired aromatics and spices, except salt.
  2. Program the Pressure Cooker: Close the Instant Pot lid, and set the steam release valve to the sealing position. Set the cooking time to 30 minutes at high pressure using the Pressure Cook button.
  3. Release and Season: Once the Instant Pot has finished the cooking countdown, allow it to release pressure naturally for about 15 minutes, or until the floating safety valve has lowered to indicate that the pinto beans are at a safe pressure. Salt to taste before serving.

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