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.

Prepare 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®.

Overhead view of a bowl of Black Beans, with cilantro, lime and sliced jalapeño on the side.

Black Beans

After sharing these Pinto Beans (and the subsequent recipes using them), I’m totally hooked on preparing beans in the slow cooker and/or pressure cooker. It’s my favorite way to cook for my family this new year. I love preparing 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 versus canned can be staggering!) they’re also incredibly simple to make. I’ll share some shortcuts for making Black Beans and I’ll share some of the recipes we’ve used these beans in as a part of my “cook once & enjoy meals all week long” series.

These recipes feature these from-scratch black beans:

One batch of Black Beans makes about the equivalent of three 15-ounce 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. They freeze well, too, so you can save these beans for later, as well.

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 using a can of beans!

QUICK TIP

Love this series? We did a similar series (cook once, enjoy all week!) using these homemade pinto beans in these bean and cheese burritos, pinto bean tacos, and bean tostadas.

Getting ready to prepare Black Beans: Rinse and pick through the beans, measure out peppers and adobo sauce.

Slow Cooker versus Pressure Cooker

I tested Black Beans in both machines, and they end up very similar either way.  (Note: When I use the term pressure cooker, that applies to the Instant Pot, which has a pressure cooker setting.)

The beans do end up with slightly more liquid in the pressure cooker, 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.

Process shots: Add beans to the pot; sauté onion, pepper and garlic until tender; add in seasonings; when sautéed further, add to the pot with the beans.

Black Bean Preparation Tips

  • Rinse and pick through the beans. While a little tedious, be sure to give the beans a quick rinse and look through them for any shriveled beans, 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 brings tremendous amounts of flavor. It adds layers of flavor to these beans.
  • Season to taste. Depending on how salty the chicken stock 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, we love 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 them:

  • Spread a sheet of parchment paper onto a large pan.
  • Spoon out peppers with the adobo 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, peel the peppers and sauce off the tray.
  • Add 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).

Process shots: Add chipotles, salt and pepper and seasoning to the pot; add water and chicken stock; cook until tender.

Shortcut tips

  • Preparation shortcuts. These beans are easy to make, and while the chopping can take a bit of time, you can save time by chopping all the veggies in a food processor. Save more time by using store-bought chicken stock; we’re adding loads of flavor without extra work. (By the way, why do we 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. We do not need to soak the beans before cooking–now there’s a real shortcut! 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:

Overhead view of a bowl of Black Beans, ready to eat.

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, leaving 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 of the freezer 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.

More recipes using Black Beans

Black Bean Corn Salad Ready in 15 minutes!

Turkey Taco Skillet Serve with chips!

Cowboy Caviar So much better than plain ole salsa!

Kale and Couscous Salad A vegetarian treat!

Chicken Fajita Bowls Full of Tex-Mex goodness!

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Black Beans (Instant Pot or Slow Cooker)

5 from 1 vote
No soaking required for these simple homemade Black Beans! These beans are deeply savory with a hit of spice and so much flavor.
Print Recipe

Black Beans (Instant Pot or Slow Cooker)

5 from 1 vote
No soaking required for these simple homemade Black Beans! These beans are deeply savory with a hit of spice and so much flavor.
Course Dinner, Vegetarian
Cuisine American, Healthy, Vegan, Vietnamese
Keyword black beans
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 3 cans (equivalent to 3 cans of black beans)
Calories 416kcal
Cost $3.22

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 sauté 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 sauté for 1 minute or until fragrant. Use a spatula to scrape every bit of this mixture into the pan.
  • ADD BEANS AND COOK: Rinse the beans in a strainer and pick through them, discarding any shriveled beans, debris or rocks. Add the rinsed beans, chicken or vegetable stock, and water to the pan. 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 the valve to seal, and cook on manual mode for 45 minutes (it takes about 15-20 minutes to get up 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 the lid of the pressure cooker or slow cooker and taste the bean. 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; stir through. Serve as a side dish or use in another recipe. The 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.

Video

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!

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 416kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 365mg | Potassium: 949mg | Fiber: 15g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 76IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 4mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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