Instant Pot Magic: Let’s Cook Dried White Beans & Smoked Cajun Tasso

I love my Instant Pot for many reasons. One is speed. Some foods, such as dried beans, cook much faster when using the pressure setting on an Instant Pot. Now I can cook healthy dried beans in a reasonable amount of time (rather than all day). Although there are differences between types of beans, I have developed a “template” recipe for cooking white beans –Navy, Great Northern, cannellini or lima beans. This is a one-pot recipe; everything is done in the Instant Pot. No need to soak the beans overnight. The Instant Pot does that function. Then add seasonings, smoked Cajun Tasso or other smoked meat, the soaked beans and let the Instant Pot finish the job. No need to keep checking on the beans as the Instant Pot regulates the temperature and keeps track of the cooking time. In addition to being a tasty meal, dried beans are full of healthy fiber and other nutritional benefits. So, let’s start the New Year with some healthy dried beans cooked in an Instant Pot. Here is a bowl of white beans and ham (made with Navy beans).

Types of Dried Beans

You can cook several types of beans with my “template” recipe. Navy beans and Great Northern beans work well as well as both baby and large dried lima beans. Dried cannellini beans are not quite as common here in the South, but you could also use this variety. And I have cooked red kidney beans with this method. If you are not used to cooking dried beans, I find that small baby lima beans have a mild flavor and taste great when seasoned with ham or Tasso (Cajun smoked/seasoned pork). Most people are familiar with the flavor of fresh or frozen lima beans; dried baby lima beans are similar in taste, size and texture.


I like to season the beans with smoked meat and vegetables — onions, bell peppers, garlic — as well as thyme and black pepper. Don’t forget the black pepper, it really perks up this recipe. I use chicken broth in the recipe in addition to water, also, for flavor. However, vegetable broth could be substituted.

In comparison to the baby lima beans, here are Navy beans.

For additional seasoning, I add meat such as smoked ham or Cajun Tasso. Cajun Tasso is a seasoned and smoked pork product. It works well to blend in and flavor the dried beans. Alternately, smoked ham or smoked turkey, cut in cubes or diced is tasty when cooked with dried beans.

Soaking the beans

Dried beans are notorious for causing intestinal “gas.” Soaking the beans removes the gassy components of the beans and helps with this problem. Traditionally, dried white beans (as well as red beans, blackeye peas) are soaked overnight. Soaking softens the beans and allows the beans to swell. It also shortens the cooking time. Draining this water prior to cooking and rinsing the beans is important. This process removes the component from the beans which causes intestinal gas. Many recipes for cooking dried beans in an Instant Pot skip the step of soaking the beans. Although it adds an hour of time, I leave it in the cooking process and in my recipe.

Using the Instant Pot to soak the beans

All the steps of my recipe are done in the Instant Pot. I use my Instant Pot to “quick soak” the beans rather than letting the beans soak overnight. To “quick soak” the beans, add water to cover the beans by at least 2 inches. Boil the beans for 10 minutes in the Instant Pot using the Sauté function. (The lid of the Instant Pot is removed in this step.) Next let the beans set on the “Warm” setting for an hour. Then drain and rinse the beans in a colander.

This is a large recipe. Dried beans swell and either double or triple in size as they are soaked. It is surprising to see that one pound (or two cups) of dried beans will increase to five or six cups of beans after soaking.

Finishing the dried bean recipe

Wipe out the Instant Pot liner bowl and return it to the Instant Pot. Add a little oil. On the Sauté function, add the onions, bell pepper, garlic and cubed smoked meat and sauté until the onions are translucent. Stir frequently. The “Sauté” setting is a “high” heat on the Instant Pot and the vegetables will burn if you aren’t careful. Cancel the “Sauté” setting when the seasonings are cooked.

Add the chicken broth and more water along with black pepper. Don’t stir, you want the liquid on the top. When cooking in an Instant Pot, the liquid must cover the beans, with some to spare. It is this liquid which creates steam and allows the Instant Pot to pressurize. If you don’t include enough liquid, the Instant Pot will just beep at you and it will refuse to cook the beans. However, the ingredients must not exceed the upper volume allowed in your Instant Pot. I use a 6-quart Instant Pot and this pushes the volume to it’s full limit.

Place on the lid, twist to lock, place the pressure release valve to seal. On the “Pressure” setting mode, add 30 minutes. (It will take between 5 and 10 minutes for the Instant Pot to pressurize.) The beans should cook completely in this amount of time, plus about 15 minutes to naturally cool down. Then quick release any remaining pressure.

Traditional New Orleans Red Beans

New Orleans red beans and sausage can also be cooked using this method. Traditionally in New Orleans, a large pot of red beans and sausage is placed on the fire early in the morning on Mondays. This is wash day and the beans simmer on the stove throughout the day as laundry is in progress. The red beans are cooked just in time for supper. If you wonder why red beans and rice with sausage are always listed as a “special” menu item on Mondays in restaurants in Southern Louisiana, this is the reason why. The tradition of Monday “Wash Day” beans still holds true in Louisiana.

“Template” Recipe

You can cook a variety of dried beans with this recipe in the Instant Pot. The actual cooking time of the beans (after “quick soaking”) is 5 to 10 minutes to pressurize plus 30 minutes at full pressure plus 10 minutes of natural release time. This is greatly decreased from the two to three hours that it traditionally takes to cook beans. Plus, I like the idea that I don’t have to keep checking on the beans — adjusting the stove temperature or checking to see if the pot still had enough cooking liquid and is not burning. Just set the time on the Instant Pot (make sure you have added broth/water) and let the beans cook. So simple. This is another handy use for the Instant Pot. Enjoy!

White Beans and Smoked Cajun Tasso

  • Servings: 6 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 (1 lb) bag of dried baby lima beans or Navy beans*, (sorted to remove any non-bean particles)
  • 8 cups water (for soaking) plus 3 additional cups for cooking the beans
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 8 oz smoked Cajun Tasso or smoked ham, cubed (about 2 cups cubed)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp salt (optional)
  • 1 tsp thyme

  • 14 tsp black pepper
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can reduced-salt chicken broth

Instructions and Steps:

  1. Place dried baby lima beans (or Navy beans) in 6-quart Instant Pot along with 8 cups of water (or enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches). Leave the beans uncovered; do not place the Instant Pot lid on the beans. On the “Sauté” setting, add 10 minutes. The beans should gently boil on this setting.
  2. After the 10 minutes, the timer will beep and the beans will continue to soak on the “Warm” setting.
  3. After 60 minutes, cancel the “Warm” setting. Pour the beans into a colander and rinse and drain the beans. Set aside.
  4. Rinse and wipe the inner lining bowl so that it is clean and dry. Place back in the Instant Pot.
  5. Add the oil, Cajun Tasso or ham cubes, chopped onions and minced garlic. Set the “Sauté” setting to 10 minutes. Sauté these ingredients, stirring frequently. When the onion is translucent and the meat is seared, cancel the “Sauté” setting.
  6. Stir in the salt (optional) and black pepper.
  7. Add the chicken broth and 3 cups additional water to cover the beans. Do not stir, this should be enough liquid to cover the beans. If not, add additional water.
  8. Place the lid back on the Instant Pot and twist to lock. Turn the pressure vent to “Seal.” Set the “Pressure” setting for 30 minutes. (It may take about 5 to 10 minutes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure before cooking begins.)
  9. When the timer rings after 30 minutes, let the steam naturally release for 10 minutes. Then manually release any remaining pressure. Remove lid and stir the beans.
  10. Ladle into soup bowls. Alternately, strain of excess cooking liquid and serve as a side dish.
  11. Refrigerate and/or freeze leftover beans.
  12. *NOTE: Dried Great Northern beans, cannelloni beans, large lima beans, red beans may be substituted in this recipe.

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