These Instant Pot “Baked” Beans are smoky, thick, tangy and sweet. Perfect as an easy side dish for any meal, and easy to make vegetarian if you prefer!
This is one of my Instant Pot recipes I know you’ll want to keep on hand!
Ever since I shared these Easy Baked Beans, I’ve had my eye on developing a from scratch version.
Add that to the fact that I’ve received numerous requests for an Instant Pot baked bean recipe… and this beautiful recipe was born!
These beans start with dried navy beans and are so packed full of smoky/sweet flavors! Every mouthful is a treat for your tastebuds.
Making them in the Instant Pot is genius since you don’t have to heat up your whole house by having the oven on, or if you do have it on already, it frees oven space up for other delicious recipes, like Corn Pudding, or Mac and Cheese!
Plus, since they’re cooked in a pressure cooker, these beans have a great texture, and are ready in about an hour or so (not including the time it takes the pot to come to pressure – that varies from person to person). One hour of nearly hands off time… what could be better?!
How to make baked beans in the Instant Pot?
This is just an overview; the full ingredients and directions are in the recipe card toward the bottom of this post.
- Soak beans.
- Cook bacon/onion. Right in the Instant Pot on saute mode. Add garlic the last minute or so.
- Deglaze the pot. Add the water and scrape up in any browned bits.
- Add all ingredients. Stir well to combine.
- Pressure Cook. 30 minutes on high pressure.
- NPR. Let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes, then release any remaining pressure.
- Saute to cook down. Cooking the beans on saute mode will allow the liquid to cook down, into a consistency you like.
Some beans just won’t soften up; so if after cooking, some are just hard and won’t get nice and soft, don’t panic. It’s not your fault, and it’s actually a common issue with dried beans. The main culprits for rock hard beans are the age of the dried beans and improper storage. So for best results, use beans that are recently purchased, and be sure to check the sell by dates on the package before buying. I also like to take my bags of dried beans and add them to airtight food storage containers to make sure they’re kept fresh.
Variations of this recipe
- Different beans – navy beans are the traditional type of beans used in this kind of recipe, but pinto or Great northern would be a great substitute.
- Canned beans – if you are pressed for time, or only have canned beans, you can use those in this recipe if you prefer. Please see the “Chef Tips” section for all the details.
- Add-ins – some of my favorite things to add in (aside from the ones in the recipe), are a bell pepper, poblano pepper, jalapeno pepper, extra bacon for the topping, and sliced up summer or andouille sausage.
- Vegetarian – even though we love adding the smoky bacon in these beans, if you’re a vegetarian, or cooking for someone who is, feel free to leave out the bacon.
- Other cooking methods – if you don’t have an Instant Pot, this recipe can be made using a slow cooker instead. Please see the “Chef Tips” section for all the details.
During testing, I found that we enjoyed the texture more when the dried beans were soaked overnight then cooked according to the recipe. However, there is a way to cook these beans without soaking first. I have those instructions detailed down in the “Chef Tips” section below the recipe.
The traditional type of beans that are used are navy beans, but pinto or Great northern beans could be used as well. The good news is, dried beans are very inexpensive and easy to find!
Not specifically, no. From what I can gather, Boston baked beans are made from navy beans, salt pork, onions, and a sweet molasses-based sauce. This recipe shares a lot of the same flavor profiles, but not all of them.
Making baked beans ahead of time
As written, this recipe is naturally made ahead, since you soak the dried beans overnight. However, you can make them completely ahead of time.
Just cool them completely after cooking, then place in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
The next day, add them either back to your Instant Pot or to a saucepan on the stove, and stir in a splash of water or chicken broth. The little bit of extra liquid keeps your beans from being dried out.
Heat them low and slow until hot throughout.
Leftover baked beans should be refrigerated in an airtight container and eaten within 3-5 days.
I love this model’s features like a completely flat bottom insert, as well as a locking insert, making stirring super easy. Plus, it automatically switches to sealing when you lock the lid!
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @the_chunky_chef on Facebook and Instagram!
- 1 lb. dried navy beans
- 1/3 lb. bacon sliced into bite sized pieces
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 2/3 cups water
- 2 tsp dried mustard powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika regular paprika can be substituted
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/2 cup barbecue sauce we like to use a hickory smoke flavored variety
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp liquid smoke optional but recommended if you have it on hand
- Add dried beans to a large mixing bowl and cover with 7-8 cups of water. Let sit overnight at room temperature.
- Drain soaked beans, then set aside.
- Select “saute”, and cook bacon, until mostly cooked, about 4 minutes or so. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook, stirring often, for about 1 minute.
- Add water and scrape the bottom of the pot, removing any browned bits that remain.
- Add drained beans, mustard powder, salt, pepper, paprika, brown sugar, ketchup, molasses, bbq sauce, vinegar and liquid smoke (if using).
- Stir well. Cancel the “saute” function, secure lid, and make sure the pot is in the sealing position.
- Select “manual” or “pressure cook” and adjust time to 30 minutes.
- When time is up, let the pot naturally release any pressure by not touching it, for 15 minutes. Then release any remaining pressure.
- Stir, and check for tenderness. If not tender enough, replace lid and cook another 10-15 minutes or so, with another 15 minutes NPR.
- If beans are tender, select “saute” and cook, stirring often, for several minutes, or until the beans are cooked down and not too liquid-y.
- Beans will thicken more as they cool a bit. Serve hot/warm.
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- Recipe prep/cook time does not include the time needed for the pot to come up to pressure, as this will vary from individual to individual.
- If beans aren’t thickening up as much as you’d like, whisk about 2 tsp of cornstarch into 1 1/2 Tbsp of cold water until mixture is smooth, then whisk that into the beans. Cook on “saute” mode until desired consistency is reached.
Making Baked Beans with Canned Beans
- Reduce water amount to 3/4 cup.
- Replace 1 lb of dried navy beans with 3 (15.5 oz each) cans of Great Northern beans. Drain and rinse canned beans.
- Cook bacon/onion/garlic as directed.
- In step 6, add the drained and rinsed beans and other ingredients listed, including the 3/4 cup water.
- Secure lid and pressure cook for 8 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally for 10-15 minutes, then release any remaining pressure.
- Stir and check for tenderness. Proceed with recipe in step 10.
Making Baked Beans without Soaking
- Add beans and 8 cups of water to Instant Pot and pressure cook on high for 25 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes.
- Drain beans.
- Continue with step 3 as directed.
- In step 6, add the cooked and drained beans along with everything else directed.
- Pressure cook for 20 minutes, then release the pressure naturally for 15 minutes.
- Stir and check for tenderness. Proceed with recipe in step 10.
Cooking Baked Beans in a Slow Cooker
- Soak and drain beans as directed.
- The water should be increased to 3 cups for this version.
- In a small skillet over MED heat, saute bacon, onion and garlic as directed.
- Add 1 cup of the water to the skillet and scrape the bottom of the skillet to loosen any browned bits.
- To the insert of a slow cooker, add the contents of the skillet, and all the other ingredients, including the remaining 2 cups of water and drained beans.
- Cover and cook on LOW for about 8-9 hours, or HIGH for 4-5 hours.
- To thicken beans at the end of cooking, remove the lid and increase heat to HIGH. Simmer beans until desired consistency is reached.