This recipe for Instant Pot refried beans is destined to become a family favorite. I’ve been making a version of this recipe for years now, ever since my friend Jane shared her recipe. I’ve switched from making them on the stove top to making them in my Instant Pot, though, since it’s much faster.
There’s a lot to love about beans, but the fact that they’re so danged inexpensive is a big one. Dried beans can be purchased in bulk and store well. (And of course, they’re even less expensive this way!)
The best beans
Classic refried beans are made with pinto beans, but this recipe could technically be made with any kind of bean. Why not refried black beans?
I think it’s important to note that even though this Instant Pot refried beans recipe is our favorite, it’s not going to pass muster as “authentic” refried beans. We’ve tried a lot of recipes over the years and this is the one that my people ask for again and again, authentic or no.
Related: 6-Ingredient White Chicken Chili
To soak or not to soak
With the Instant Pot, you can easily go from hard, dry pinto beans to fully cooked beans in an hour. But soaking beans before cooking them can make them more digestible. And for many people that means fewer…side effects.
Soaking beans helps to remove the phytic acid from beans, too. Phytic acid is considered an “anti-nutrient” — you can read more about that here. If you do soak the beans, be sure to drain the soaking water off and start with clean, fresh water for cooking them. [More on cooking with dry beans.]
Instant Pot refried beans
Now that you know what kind of beans to use and whether or not you’ll soak them, you’re ready to make Instant Pot refried beans! And folks, it couldn’t be easier. Simply combine the beans, onions, and garlic with water in the bowl of the Instant Pot and push a few buttons.
Once the beans are cooked, there are several ways to prepare them. You can simply use a potato masher to achieve the desired consistency. You can use an immersion blender. Or you can use a food processor to “mash” these Instant Pot refried beans. The finished consistency of these beans is entirely up to you.
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Instant Pot Refried Beans
Build a better burrito with these Instant Pot refried beans! Homemade from dried beans, they're budget friendly and a great addition to taco night.
How to cook pinto beans in a pressure cooker
Put dry beans in the reservoir of your Instant Pot and add enough water to cover the beans by 4-5″ or so. Soak eight hours or overnight. Drain beans then add onions, garlic, and 4-1/2 cups water to the pot. (If you just need cooked pinto beans, leave out the onions and garlic.) Be sure that the ingredients don't exceed the halfway mark in the cooker as mentioned in the Instant Pot manual.
Close and lock the lid, turning the steam valve to "sealed." Using the manual setting, enter 28 minutes and walk away. When the cycle completes, use the natural release method. Simply let the pressure come down on its own until the lid unlocks. (About 20 minutes.)
Instant Pot refried beans
Transfer to a food processor and whir until beans are a creamy consistency.
Or use an immersion blender right in the pot to "mash" the ingredients to a consistency that you like. (See notes.)
If you don’t have either of these tools, get out your potato masher – that’ll work, too.
Stir in remaining ingredients.
Refrigerate or freeze for later use, or serve immediately. Makes approximately the equivalent of 5 – 16oz cans of refried beans.
With the Instant Pot, you can easily go from hard, dry pinto beans to fully cooked beans in an hour. But soaking beans before cooking them can make them more digestible. And for many people that means fewer...side effects.
If you opt not to soak your beans you'll need to use more water. In that case, I'd cover the beans by 3" of water. Just be sure that you don't exceed the halfway mark in the cooker.
Using an immersion blender
Here's the (slightly) tricky part. Depending on the hardness or dryness of the beans, sometimes there's more liquid remaining than you need. You should be able to see liquid just below the beans. If there's much more than that, use a ladle to drain some off, otherwise your final product may be a bit runny. Reserve the excess liquid, though, in case you need it to create your preferred consistency.