Spicy Black Beans in the Instant Pot

I realize most people don’t have a pressure cooker — and if they do, they might not use it because it seems kind of scary.

But listen here: an electronic pressure cooker can SAVE YOUR LIFE if you’re short on time but love the flavor of slow-cooked meals. Move over slow-cooker, there’s a new sheriff in town!

I use my Instant Pot several times a week because you can cook dried, unsoaked beans in less than an hour, and many one-pot meals such as soups and stews can be made even more quickly.

To improve the digestibility of the beans, soak them overnight and discard the soak water. You can also add a strip of dried kombu, a sea vegetable you can find in the Asian foods aisle or online. Kombu contains certain amino acids that can help break down the starch found in legumes and pulses.

Electronic pressure cookers such as the Instant Pot have some great safety features to keep you from burning yourself. However, be sure to read all of the instructions before using. For example, always face the lid away from you when removing the lid.

I usually use half the batch to make a soup, and save the rest for bowls and burritos.

Fun health tip: lentils, chickpeas and other legumes — collectively known as pulses — have been shown to reduce cholesterol, reduce risk of stroke, reduce colon cancer risk, stabilize blood sugar levels, feed “good” gut bacteria, reduce bone loss, and support greater bone mineral density. So enjoy often — ideally daily!

  • black beans - monica metz

Serves 6-8.


  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil (for high heat use)
  • 1 pound dried black beans. You can soak overnight, or skip it. Either way, rinse the beans and discard any broken beans or dirt clods.
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 orange, cut in half (don’t peel)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 quarts homemade or store-bought low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 piece of dried kombu (look for this in the Asian aisle)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • For garnish: chopped fresh cilantro, avocado, hot sauce, etc.


  • Step 1

    Set pressure cooker to sauté mode. Heat oil in pressure cooker until shimmering. Add the onion, and sauté until it starts to brown, stirring frequently. Then, toss in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, paprika, and oregano. Sauté for a minute, stirring so the spices and garlic don’t burn.

  • Step 2

    Add beans, orange, bay leaves, low-sodium vegetable stock, and 1 teaspoon salt. Turn the Instant Pot, and turn it back on, putting it in manual mode. Set for 40 minutes (on the basic models like mine, the only setting is for high pressure). Cover, and cook at high pressure for 40 minutes.

  • Step 3

    For extra-tender and creamy beans, allow pressure to release naturally. For firmer beans, use quick-release valve on the electric pressure cooker, or run a stovetop pressure cooker under cold running water until pressure dissipates.

  • Step 4

    Remove lid (always face the lid away from you when opening the pressure cooker). Discard the orange and bay leaves.

  • Step 5

    Season to taste with salt and serve. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro, hot sauce, and other condiments of choice.

  • Step 6

    If you have leftover beans, you can use them to make a soup later in the week.


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