These Instant Pot baked beans are easy to make with no soaking or long cooking required. The sauce is made with bourbon and molasses which gives the beans a deep and intense smoky flavor. An amazing side dish for your next cookout or family dinner!
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These Instant Pot baked beans are a delicious side dish that is perfect for serving at your next summer cookout. The pressure cooker cooks the beans quickly to a soft and creamy texture.
Then bourbon, brown sugar and molasses combine make a sticky sauce that gives these beans a deep, sweet flavor. This is an easy and tasty take on traditional baked beans.
Why Cook Beans in a Pressure Cooker?
The big advantage of making baked beans, or any bean recipe, in the Instant Pot is how much quicker it is. There is no soaking the beans overnight or having a slow cooker simmering all day long.
But even though the Instant Pot cuts the time it takes to make baked beans this is still not a 30 minute recipe. It will take 1 1/2 – 2 hours to make these beans.
It is worth the time to make homemade baked beans though, because they taste amazing! If you are looking for other Instant Pot bean recipes check out my Instant Pot Black Beans or Instant Pot Refried Beans.
What Kind of Beans Should You Use?
Navy beans are probably the most traditional type of beans used for baked beans. But you can use different types of beans, which results in slightly different flavors.
I used a mixture of beans for this recipe, including equal parts navy beans, black beans and kidney beans. You could simplify the recipe and just use one of those types of beans.
The only issue with the type of beans you use is that if you are combining beans, like I did, make sure the beans you pick all have similar cooking times!
Here is a chart from Instant Pot showing the different cooking times for beans in case you want to try a completely different kind of bean. But you won’t go wrong if you use some combination of navy beans, black beans and kidney beans.
Other Key Ingredients
In addition to the beans the ingredients used to make the sauce are:
- Bacon – I used maple cured bacon, which added even more flavor to the beans.
- Onion, garlic – These aromatics enhance and flavor the beans.
- Tomato sauce – The tomato sauce adds a little bit of acidity to balance out the sweetness of the sauce.
- Molasses – The sweet and smoky taste of molasses is essential to give baked beans their distinctive taste.
- Bourbon – The bourbon adds a depth of flavor to the beans. You can replace it with water if you are avoiding alcohol.
- Brown sugar – The sugar combines with the bourbon and molasses to create a delicious and intense flavor.
- Seasonings – I used Worcestershire sauce, paprika, mustard powder, salt, pepper to season the sauce.
These beans are sweet, not spicy. If you want more heat in your baked beans you can always vary the spicing and use chili powder instead of paprika.
How to Make Instant Pot Baked Beans
The key to this recipe is to use the pressure cooker twice, first to cook the dried beans and then to make the sauce and combine the flavors. If you try to make the sauce and cook the beans all in one step the flavor of the sauce will be lost.
1. Prepare the Beans
Rinse the beans in a colander and pick out any broken ones. Then put all the beans in the Instant Pot, along with the water and salt.
2. Cook the Beans
It will take about 10 minutes for the Instant Pot to reach pressure. Once it finishes cooking let the pressure release naturally, which will take another 20 minutes.
3. Drain the Beans
Once the pressure is released naturally remove the lid from the pressure cooker and drain the beans in a colander. Let the beans sit while you make the sauce.
You don’t need to wash the Instant Pot inner pot, but you should wipe it out. Get rid of any beans left behind and make sure it is dry before you proceed.
4. Cook the Bacon, Onions & Garlic
Put the Instant Pot on Saute and dice the bacon into pieces about 1 inch long. Spray a little cooking spray into the Instant Pot so the bacon is less likely to stick.
Add the bacon and let it cook for about 5 minutes, until the edges start to brown. You can stir it or toss it with tongs.
After 5 minutes add the onion to the pot and let it cook with the bacon for about 3 minutes. Then add the garlic and saute it for 1 minute more.
Stir to make sure everything is mixed together and turn off the Instant Pot.
6. Deglaze the Instant Pot
Add 1 cup of water to the Instant Pot and stir it to remove any bits of bacon or onion that are stuck to the bottom. Doing this makes it much less likely that you will encounter a Burn error.
5. Mix the Sauce
Mix all the remaining ingredients – tomato sauce, molasses, bourbon, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, mustard powder, salt and pepper. Stir it well.
6. Combine Everything and Cook
Put the drained beans back in the Instant Pot. Pour the sauce over the top of them and mix them gently, being careful not to mash the beans.
Put the lid back on the Instant Pot and close the pressure valve. Set it on Manual, High pressure for 10 minutes. It should reach pressure a little more quickly this time, since the beans are still warm.
Once it has finished cooking let the pressure release naturally for at least 10 minutes. Then take the lid off and ladle up a generous serving of baked beans!
If your beans are still a little hard there are a couple possible reasons. First they could just need to cook a little longer.
Cooking time can vary based on altitude and the age of the beans. So put the lid back on and let them cook under high pressure for an extra 15-20 minutes, and hopefully that will work.
If that doesn’t work then you probably have beans that are just too old. After a certain point beans just won’t absorb liquid, which means they won’t soften.
The first time I tried to make Instant Pot baked beans I used a bag that I found in the back of my pantry. I don’t know how old the beans were, but they never softened.
I kept adding cooking time and bringing the Instant Pot back to pressure and nothing worked. Of course I was hosting a cookout with my in-laws and hadn’t planned other side dishes!
So if the bag of beans has been in the pantry so long you don’t remember buying it – throw it out!
Can I Use Canned Beans?
Yes, you can make this with canned beans if you prefer. Using canned beans makes for a much quicker recipe. If you want homemade baked beans ready to eat in 30 minutes use canned beans.
With canned beans you can skip the initial cooking the beans steps and just start right off with cooking the bacon. You will only need to bring the Instant Pot to pressure once for canned beans.
Can I Make This Ahead of Time?
You can make baked beans a few days ahead of time if you prefer. The beans can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
Reheat the beans by cooking on low heat for about 15 minutes until they are hot and bubbly. I find that these beans thicken after storing, so you will probably need to add water to the beans when you reheat them.
What to Serve with Baked Beans
Of course they are also great served with hot dogs and hamburgers. With this recipe you will have a lot of baked beans. So if you aren’t hosting a cookout you will have a side dish for multiple nights!
Find More Summer Cookout Ideas
- 3 cups beans, some combination of black beans, navy beans or kidney beans
- 6 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 slices thick cut bacon
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup water
- 8 ounces tomato sauce (or ketchup)
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Rinse the beans and pick out any broken ones.
- Put the beans in the pressure cooker along with the 6 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Put the lid on, make sure the seal is in place and set the pressure cooker for Manual, high pressure for 25 minutes.
- It will take about 10 minutes for the beans to reach pressure. Once they are done let the pressure release naturally, which will take another 20 minutes.
- Take the lid off the pressure cooker and drain the beans. Wipe out and dry the inner pot of the pressure cooker.
- Put the Instant Pot on Saute. Dice the bacon into pieces about 1 inch long and put the Instant Pot. Cook, tossing the bacon every few minutes to brown it.
- After 5 minutes add the diced onion to the pressure cooker. Cook, stirring for 3 minutes. Then add the minced garlic and cook for another 1 minute before turning off the Instant Pot.
- Add the 1 cup of water to the Instant Pot and stir to deglaze. Use a wooden spoon to scrape off any bits of browned bacon and onion from the bottom. This reduces the chance of getting an Instant Pot Burn error.
- Mix the tomato sauce, molasses, bourbon, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, mustard powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
- Return the drained beans to the pressure cooker and pour the sauce mixture over the beans. Stir gently to mix everything together.
- Put the lid on, with the seal in place and the valve closed. Set the Instant Pot on Manual, High pressure for 10 minutes.
- It will take another 10 minutes to reach pressure again. Once it is done cooking let the pressure naturally release for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid and serve.
For an alcohol free dish replace the bourbon with water.
If you want to use canned beans with this recipe just drain and rinse the beans in a colander. Then skip steps 1-5 and start with step #6.
I make and test my recipes in a 6 quart Instant Pot. You might need to make modifications if you are using a different brand or larger model. I think that for a larger pressure cooker you'd need to add more water, but I haven't test this.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 202Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 792mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 7gSugar: 15gProtein: 9g
Nutrition facts are estimates.