Southern Baked Beans with the Instant Pot

I have vague dreams (or nightmares) of celebrity chefs visiting on late night talk shows and cooking an entire meal using four Instant Pots. Now, where in my kitchen can I put four Instant Pots to cook at the same time and still have counter space to prep the ingredients? I think these television shows were aired prior to or during the Covid pandemic. I guess my vision will remain a memory as I hear from the media that the original Instant Pot company has filed for bankruptcy. Not that it matters. If we all take care of our four Instant Pots, we will be cooking in them for many years to come. I still use my one and only Instant Pot from time to time for several select dishes such as this delicious “Southern Baked Beans” recipe.

Instant Pot Benefit

Many foods cook much quicker in some sort of pressure cooker. For an impatient cook like myself, the Instant Pot — whith its pressure cooker settings — is a dream come true. Not only do you have a pressure cooker; the Instant Pot does all the work. And that is the value of this new-fangled cooking appliance — it shouldn’t explode. Just program the settings and then leave the Instant Pot alone. No need to worry if the valve on your pressure cooker is going to “pop” and knock a hole in your ceiling when you forget to turn down the heat on the stove. The Instant Pot monitors the pressure and adjusts the temperature automatically. The Instant Pot has many other cooking modes, but it is the pressure setting which makes this appliance worth keeping around.

I especially use my Instant Pot to “fast track” cooking dried beans. The beans cook in a fraction of the time compared to stove top cooking. I made one of my favorite recipes, “Southern Baked Beans”, using my Instant Pot to cook the navy beans. I added a tasty homemade barbecue sauce and then let the beans finish baking in the oven. The dish turned out perfectly and the recipe is just right for a large crowd!

Dried beans are healthy!

We all need to get lots of fiber in our diets, and dried beans, when cooked properly, fulfills this nutrient requirement. Plus, dried beans add valuable vitamins and minerals which are missing in highly processed foods. The risks of colon cancer, heart disease and diabetes are all reduced with high fiber diets. In my “baked beans” dish, I substantially cut down on the sodium which is rather high in canned beans. The next time you go grocery shopping, take a stop at the healthy dried bean isle. Then get our your trusty Instant Pot to cook the beans.

Instant Pot, Dried Beans Recipe

Most types of dried beans are hard as rocks and can take three to hours hours to cook and soften on the stove top or in the oven — even with soaking overnight. (The soaking also helps eliminate annoying oligosaccharide compounds which can contribute to intestinal gas and flatulence.)

With the Instant Pot, these dried navy beans cooked in 20 minutes on the pressure setting. The total cooking time was 50 minutes by adding in 15 minutes for the Instant Pot to reach the pressure stage and 15 minutes to slowly release the pressure. Amazing.

After cooking in the Instant Pot, the navy beans are ready to use in recipes — such as in a soup or “Southern Baked Beans.” Although I would always soak dried red/kidney beans, these navy beans cooked perfectly without soaking them. Guess they don’t have as many of the annoying oligosaccharide compounds. My husband liked eating the beans right out of the Ins tant Pot. Stop, stop, I need to make this recipe.

Pressure Cooking Tips with an Instant Pot

Just a couple of tips when using the pressure setting mode of an Instant Pot to cook dried beans.

First, add alot of water when cooking the beans. The pressure in the Instant Pot is created by steam which builds up as the pressure cooker heats. So, you must add a lot of water to the pot so the Instant Pot will cook properly. Otherwise, the Instant Pot will beep at you and it will never reach a pressurized setting. Beans expand when cooking — don’t underestimate how much water you need.

Secondly, don’t cook more than one pound of dried beans at a time. Dried beans bubble and foam as they cook and the beans double in size. Don’t fill the Instant Pot past the maximun fill line or the foam might clog up the pressure release valve. One pound of beans is the maximum amount that you should ever try to cook in a 6-quart Instant Pot. The water should cover the beans by two inches. Here are my navy beans before and after cooking. Look carefully. You can see that the beans have doubled in size!

Third, use a high quality brand of beans and not beans which are old. One disadvantage of cooking dried beans in a pressure cooker is that they tend to crack. Then the beans can become mushy. Use a high quality brand of beans, plus use beans which haven’t “expired” to help with cracked beans.

Last, don’t add salt when cooking the beans. It is recommended that you don’t add salt to the beans during this initial cooking stage, as this may harden the skin of the beans.


When cooked dried or canned beans are mixed with a flavorful homemade barbecue sauce, this is a scrumptious dish. I may be biased, but my recipe is the best. I have posted several recipes for “Southern Baked Beans” on this blog. I use the same basic recipe and “tweak” it as I go along. In this version, I added molasses for flavor and dry mustard powder rather than prepared mustard. Dry mustard powder has “kick”; you only a need a small amount but it definately contributes to the flavor of the sauce. Chopped onion and bacon (not shown in this photo) also add flavor to this bean recipe. The other ingredients — ketchup, brown sugar, Worchestershire sauce, salt and pepper — finish the barbecue sauce.

To make the recipe, first cook the navy beans in an Instant Pot. Then drain the cooked beans and rinse. Add the beans to an oiled 2-quart casserole dish. Add two cups of fresh water. (The beans continue to absorb liquid and will become too dry if you omit extra water.)

Cut up several bacon slices and fry them in a small skillet. Drain. (Or, omit it to make a vegetarian version.)

Chop up an onion and add to the casserole dish along with the cooked bacon.

Mix all the ingredients for the barbecue sauce and add to the beans.

Stir everything together.

Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for one hour at 325 degrees. The beans should be bubbly and cooked thoughout. This cooking time allows the flavors of the homemade barbecue sauce to blend into the beans. Time for a picnic.

Is the Instant Pot an appliance of our past?

Is the Instant Pot an appliance of the past? I hope not, as I love pressure cooking with my Instant Pot. However, I’m not surprised that the original brand met its demise. Introduced in 2010, the Instant Pot brand may have reached its saturation point. Unlike cell phones, which become obsolete in several years, Instant Pots can last for a long time. I don’t use my Instant Pot every day. Plus, this craze may be past us as we are going out to eat again after the pandemic rather than cooking at home. I guess it is a product of the 2010s. Meanwhile, I’ll still be using my Instant Pot as long as it lasts! Beans, chili, roast beef, chicken dishes all are Instant Pot winners. And I love the Instant Pot to proof bread dough.

I am so glad that my cell phone rang at the dried bean isle. I added a couple of dried beans packages to my shopping cart, came home and made this recipe. I can’t remember which celebrity chef was on the Steven Colbert talk show, but I clearly remember the four Instant Pots just cooking away. Martha Stewart?? I’ll just get out my single Instant Pot for this recipe.

Enjoy my tasty “Southern Baked Beans” recipe along with the health benefits of dried beans.

Southern Baked Beans with the Instant Pot

  • Servings: 8 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 cups (1 lb) dried, small navy beans
  • 8 cups water, divided
  • 6 thin slices bacon, cut into slices
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup ketsup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder

Method and Steps:

  1. Rinse and sort the dried navy beans removing any debris.
  2. Add beans to a 6-quart Instant Pot along with 6 cups water.
  3. Lock lid, make sure pressure valve is depressed. Turn settings to Pressure Cook. Turn the time to 20 minutes and hit the Start button.
  4. It will take about 15 minutes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure. After the 20 minutes of cooking time, the Instant Pot will beep once and switch to the “Warm” setting. Let the pressure naturally release for 15 minutes. (Time this with your cell phone.) Then manually release the remaining pressure.
  5. Using cooking mitts, carefully remove the lid. (There is plenty of steam which can burn  your arms, also the beans may bubble and foam.) Drain the beans in a colander. 
  6. Meanwhile, turn oven to 325 degrees. Oil a 2-quart casserole dish.
  7. Pour the beans into the oiled casserole dish.
  8. Add two cups of water to the beans, gently stir to combine.
  9. Brown the chopoped bacon in a small skillet. Drain on paper towels.
  10. Sprinkle the cooked bacon and chopped onion over the beans and stir in.
  11. In a medium-size bowl, make the sauce by combining ketsup, brown sugar, molasses, Worchestershire sauce, salt, pepper and dry mustard powder. .
  12. Stir the sauce into the beans.
  13. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  14. Bake in 325 degree oven for 1 hour.

7 thoughts on “Southern Baked Beans with the Instant Pot

  1. I never met a baked bean that I didn’t like, so I’m sure these are great! I’m one of the rare cooks who did not buy an Instant Pot while they were the rage. I probably only would have used it for the pressure cooker purpose, and it is pretty impressive that you can make a batch of beans in such a short time in yours. Am I reading correctly that you did not have to do an overnight soak??

    • Hello, Actually my Instant Pot was a Christmas present — otherwise I wouldn’t have one either! But, now that I have one, I like to use it for just a few select recipes — dried beans included. No, I didn’t pre-soak these small Navy beans — either overnight or by quick soaking. I pondered that step quite a bit; however, I did rinse them gently after they were cooked. They didn’t seem to have the flatulence properties of other dried beans such as red/kidney beans. I remember that my mother used to cook a whole chicken in her pressure cooker — haven’t got quite the nerve to do that yet! I love baked beans, this is an easy way to cook a large recipe of them.

  2. Pingback: Southern Baked Beans with the Instant Pot – beyondgumbo | My Meals are on Wheels

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