Steaming beans in a pressure cooker

Beans can be steamed in the pressure cooker. I soaked 2/3 cup of kidney beans overnight. Put the steamer basket in the pressure cooker, added 2 cups of water, put the beans in, then turned on the heat. After the water started boiling I put the lid on and locked it. When it reached high pressure I cooked them for 20 minutes. After that I let the pressure come down naturally.

I tried one and it seemed fine. Possibly they could be cooked for less than 20 minutes. I had to go somewhere quick so I dumped them in a plastic resealable bowl and put it in the freezer.

I’m not sure what the advantages are for cooking them this way. Possibly fewer nutrients lost, like steaming vegetables versus boiling them. It also gives you more flexibility for how you use them; for example, you could use them in a salad, or any dish where you’d need to make the other part separately. I also suspect that they’re less likely to fall apart and get mushy, and I’ve also read that when you soak them that it’s a good idea to add some salt to the soaking water which firms their skins so that they don’t fall off when you’re cooking them.

You can also cook them with the bain marie method. I added 2 minutes to the suggested time. Less cleanup with this method at least; other than that again I’m not sure what the advantages are. Both methods seem a bit more “gentler” to me, whatever that might mean.


12 Comments on “Steaming beans in a pressure cooker”

  1. I am not sure that there is any benefit to steaming, rather than cooking beans with liquid. In fact, I think that adding some liquid (I use 1/2 cup per 1 cup dry, presoaked beans) along with a strip of kombu seaweed makes incredible beans. I am not sure why I’d want to steam them. I think that the liquid getting into them might make them more digestible.

    In any case, beans in the pressure cooker are a winner. Thanks for the post.

  2. Rusty, thank you for doing all the leg-work on this. I’ve been wondering whether it would work because I’m working on a three-bean salad recipe. So the fact that steaming takes a little longer makes sense to use in layers from longest to shortest-cooking bean. I just did an experiment today and it worked well enough to be published as a recipe. In short: Chickpeas boiling in the bottom, borlotti or cranberry beans steaming and on top of that, and frozen green beans tightly wrapped in foil on top of that. Came out perfect and the best part is that you do not need to cook each bean separately!!!

    Thanks to your prior experiment and notes of success I went today’s experiment with a little more confidence than usual pressure cooking dares.

    Thank you!!!

    making pressure cooking hip, one recipe at a time!

    • Rusty Wright says:

      After my experiments with steaming soaked brown rice I think that the thing to remember is that whatever you’re “steaming” in a pressure cooker needs to have sufficient internal moisture; it doesn’t appear to acquire any additional moisture from the surrounding steam.

      Good luck with the bean salad; I love bean salad. I need to make some more; my last batch was before I bought my pressure cooker and I used the canned ones. I also put enough pickling liquid in each jar to cover everything and processed them in a boiling water bath so that I wouldn’t need to worry about how soon I ate them.

      • Laura says:

        I promise to publish the three bean recipe in two weeks!! Now that my “vacation” is over I’m all caught-up on the recipe front. So I’m only about one week behind the recipe actually being published now – quite challenging with two kids home for the summer, too!



  3. Ciao Rusty, I just re-read your post and I noticed you said that more vitamins might be saved from steaming beans. It could be true for steaming FRESH beans, but dried beans have already been soaked. Any water-soluble vitamins that would be saved by steaming would already be lost by soaking. Actually for beans, you WANT to get rid of the water-soluble sugars that cause gas.

    Also, I wanted to pass along that I found that the right steaming time for soaked beans is about twice the recommended pressure cooking time for boiling. Some, like the cannellini in the Ligurian Bean Stew, become slightly discolored (though cooked) but they go back to their expected color when mixed-in with the boiling liquid (and presumably other beans, below).



  4. Rusty Wright says:

    Interesting; thanks.

    I’m wondering if cooking the beans bain marie would be easier, quicker, or whatever than steaming them. I don’t do that much cooking in my pressure cooker but almost everything that I do cook in it I do bain marie. Every morning I make some bran mush which is cooked in a 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup. I regularly have brown rice; either with a chicken thigh or an Italian sausage, or plain which I then mix with a can of chilli. The only time I’ve not used bain marie is when I make soup stock. I never have to worry about things getting scorched or stuck to the bottom.

    • Why not cook the beans right in the pot? When you cook foods with water like that, they don’t stick and they turn out very well.

      One of the benefits of using the pressure cooker like any other pot (but with the different lid) is that it makes the food taste even better than it normally would.

      I don’t find that it happens that way with a bain marie.

      I have not yet steamed beans and won’t likely do so because I get great results from pressure cooker as it. And I cook beans almost daily.

      • Rusty Wright says:

        I like bain marie. It works well for me.

      • The advantage of steaming , and presumably bain marie, is being able to cook two (or more) legumes that need very different cooking times at the same time while having each perfectly cooked. You don’t need to open the pressure cooker mid-cooking to add more ingredients and – with black beans – you wont turn everything that they are cooked with black.

        Another use is to boil a long-cooking grain underneath while steaming a shorter cooking bean, above (or vice a versa).

        This is particularly useful if you’re short on time… or pressure cookers! Jill, I think you will love my Ligurian Bean Stew (which pressure cooks chickpeas and cannellini at the same time) – and you will find that this technique can be a great tool for developing new recipes with combinations that weren’t previously possible!



    • You will have to compare! It may take longer for the cooker to come up to pressure (heating up the container and water) but the actual pressure cooking time might be faster.

      Usually, boiled food will cook faster than steamed food and steamed food will cook faster than baked food. The increased contact with liquid (which is a better heat conductor than air) speeds up the cooking.

      I am concerned, though, why things are sticking and burning on the bottom of your cooker. What kind, model and size pressure cooker are you using and on what kind of cooktop (if any)?



  5. […] as I was about to get experimenting, a reader published his results on pressure steaming beans.  Reading this reader’s bean dsicovery gave me a little more confidence than usual at the […]

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