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Apr 6, 2012 10:22 PM

pressure cooker beans vs. stovetop cooked beans

Hi: I am on the verge of buying my first pressure cooker. One thing I love to cook is black beans and I thought the pressure cooker would be a great tool for that. I noticed that in my favorite black bean recipe (Rick Bayless's recipe for classic Mexican pot beans from "Rick Bayless's Mexican Ktichen") he says that beans cooked in the pressure cooker won't develop as much flavor and will have a less desirable texture. Does anyone find that to be true? I usually cook the beans on a stovetop in a Le Creuset dutch oven. I love they way they come out but they take almost 2 hours sometimes, and the pot needs babysitting to keep the water level right and the simmer steady, so it is not a recipe I can make as often as I wish. Thanks!

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  1. I do not find that to be true. I do my beans in the pressure cooker almost all the time. I do not presoak, I use salt and often other flavorings (e.g. bay leaves) in the pressure cooker. I cook at desired pressure for desired time, then let the pot cool down naturally. I like the resulting texture and i like that the beans do not break up due to roiling about in a pot for several hours. Also, importantly, I don't often have the time to hang out in the kitchen for 2 hours, particular on work days. I make a pot of beans about weekly, usually pintos or blacks.

    That all said, I have garbanzo beans cooking on the stove top at the moment. I didn't use the PC because I have too much for a single load and happen to be doing some writing in the kitchen anyway. Garbanzos cook pretty fast on the stove top anyway.

    10 Replies
    1. re: tcamp

      I'm envious of your consistent results. I have found that if I don't presoak, then I"ll get a pot of beans where some are overcooked and some are undercooked.

        1. re: sherrib

          Interesting. Could it be not enough water? I use about 6 cups for a 1 lb. package of beans. I generally cook smaller beans, as opposed to kidneys or limas. Maybe that has an effect?

          Also, my pressure cooker is an ancient Mirromatic so maybe it does a harsher job than newer models.

          1. re: tcamp

            Well, after this thread, I went back and re-read the manual for my pressure cooker (Kuhn Rikon.) It also states that beans should be pre-soaked so I always pre-soak them. They have a quick soaking method if one doesn't have the time to soak overnight. Also, they advise to add salt to the soaking liquid. I haven't done this yet. Will have to give it a try.
            My recent problems have been that my beans come out way too mushy/overcooked. I think I've been using TOO much water and have been letting the pressure get a little out of hand before stabilizing. And, obviously, I may need to turn the heat off sooner.

            1. re: sherrib

              Once you get the hang of this, you'll cook beans all the time. Interesting to note that Kuhn Rikon recommends pre soaking beans.

              Here is a quote from Lorna Sass: " Always allow time for natural pressure release. Quick-release causes the beans to split, lose their shape and become mushy."

              1. re: sueatmo

                Kuhn Rikon also suggests the natural release method for the same reason. I follow their time chart, however, and end up with beans that are mushy and overcooked. This especially happens with your typical supermarket variety bean. I had better results with the organic bulk bin variety from Whole Foods.

                1. re: sherrib

                  Just curious, what time do they recommend for pinto beans? I cook those for 25 minutes, no presoaking, and they are usually perfect. A couple of times I needed to reseal and heat again for 10 minutes to get them softer. I'd rather err on the side of not enough cooking, for obvious reasons.

                  Of course, my PC is an old MirroMatic so I don't know if timing is comparable.

                  1. re: tcamp


                    I'm not sure if the pressure cookers are comparable as far as cooking times. The chart says 10-12 minutes for pinto beans. They recommend the natural release method for beans so the cooking time doesn't include the amount of time it takes the cooker to release all the pressure.

                    1. re: sherrib

                      Are you using high pressure? Or if your cooker is a "simple" cooker (like mine) are you using medium heat?

                      1. re: sueatmo


                        Yes, I'm using high pressure. My cooker has two rings of pressure. The timing for cooking the beans starts when the pressure reaches the second ring (the higher pressure.) Then, the heat has to be adjusted to maintain the pressure. I usually use the lowest burner setting.

      1. Back when Moby Dick was still a Minnow, and Pressure Cookers were in Vogue...I had two....used them both a lot...was never really pleased with the end results...Gradually went back to.. in a pot on the stove.. Have been happy ever afterwards....Today I would have to go get an 8' ladder to find them somewhere in the high reaches of the kitchen. ~~ So I guess I would have to agree with Bayless.

        Have Fun!

        1. FWIW I am new to pressure cooker cooking. I do my initial cooking of the beans and once cooked I empty the water and proceed with my recipe not under pressure. I never liked cooking the beans in a sauce from the start. I find the bean "juice" effects the taste of the end product. Also, I prefer the texture of the pressure cooked over stove top.

          1. Bayless is full of it. Pressure cooker beans are excellent.

            1. I've had a pressure cooker for almost 20 years and I only use it for cooking beans. As long as you don't over cook them, they are great. I do not agree at all that pressure cooking reduces flavor.