Most home cooks would agree that an Instant Pot is a kitchen necessity these days. Thus, having an arsenal of Instant Pot recipes at the ready is likewise key in surviving as a modern day culinary maven. To that end, Mashed worked with Kristen Carli, R.D., of Camelback Nutrition & Wellness to create a recipe for baked beans that is as easy to pull off as releasing the pressure valve on your Instant Pot.
As the Scottsdale, Arizona native told Mashed, this recipe is incredibly versatile. "I like making these for a barbecue, football party, or other casual gatherings," Carli noted, adding she tends to serve the beans with burgers. Another perfect main to complement this savory side? "Buffalo shredded chicken," recommends Carli.
All you will need — other than an Instant Pot, of course — are a few ingredients common to many kitchens. So, a trip to the market may not even be necessary before you can enjoy smoky, slightly spicy baked beans at home, or to bring to a party.
Gather your Instant Pot baked beans ingredients
Carli advised Mashed that for this baked beans recipe, "You can use great Northern beans, pinto beans, or navy beans with the same result." So, whichever one of these types of dry beans you have on hand, go for it! You’ll also need salt, bacon, yellow onion, a green bell pepper, your favorite barbecue sauce, ketchup, spicy brown mustard — or, regular mustard if spice isn’t your thing — as well as apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and liquid smoke.
Wait, what was that last ingredient, you say? You can find this cool-sounding condiment in the barbecue sauce aisle, and basically what it does is add a smoky flavor to food. Carli’s Instant Pot baked beans recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of the stuff, so as you might have guessed, a little liquid smoke goes a long way! If you like the effect, you can always add a tad more next time.
Cook your beans in the Instant Pot
The first thing to do is to go ahead and add your beans of choice to the Instant Pot, along with 8 full cups of water, and some salt. Set the Instant Pot to the "pressure cook" setting on high, and let those babies cook away for about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, you can dice up your onion and green pepper — and a jalapeño too if you are a serious spice fan. More on that secret ingredient to turn up the heat on this recipe in a minute. For now, keep an eye on the timer, and when 25 minutes is up, you will naturally release the pressure valve on your Instant Pot.
Now, remove the lid on your pot, and strain and rinse the beans. We are going to set them aside for a moment and turn our attention to what many people would say is their favorite food on Earth. Of course, we speak of bacon.
Prep your bacon for the Instant Pot baked beans
Although bacon is beloved by countless hordes of devotees, we had to ask Carli if her Instant Pot baked beans would stand alone sans this pork product on a pedestal. You know — because not everyone loves bacon. As she told Mashed, "Yes, you can make this without bacon. Simply omit, and it will be delicious!" Good to know — if perhaps you are fixing this dish for a crowd and some among you are not meat eaters.
That said, at this stage if you are using bacon, you will switch your Instant Pot setting to "sauté." Add your bacon, which should be diced beforehand. Carli advises home cooks to stir and cook the bacon for several minutes until it is nice and crispy. At that point, things get super easy, because you just leave the bacon in the Instant Pot, and go about adding your other ingredients to the mix.
Add in your veggies to the Instant Pot baked beans recipe
Next, pop the chopped onion and bell pepper into your Instant Pot and cook the veggies with the bacon for several minutes, until they are tender. Meanwhile, Carli told us, "This is not a spicy recipe." But it can be! The healthy eating advocate offered up a great tip for turning up the heat on your baked beans. "If you want to add some spice, I recommend sautéing a jalapeño pepper in with the bell pepper," she noted. And, if that still doesn’t offer you enough burn for your taste buds, Carli advises "adding a few dashes of cayenne pepper."
Those added boosts of flavor ought to do the trick to make your mouth sing! Next up, we are going to turn up the flavor of the baked beans even more with the liquid ingredients, as well as the brown sugar, which lends a special hint of sweetness to this savory dish.
Add in barbecue sauce and other ingredients to the Instant Pot baked beans recipe
"Brown sugar is a key ingredient in baked beans," Carli told Mashed, adding, "This contributes to the sweetness of the dish." She also explained about the sugary kick and how it "pairs well with the smoky flavor of the liquid smoke and barbecue sauce."
Indeed at this step, you will go ahead and add your barbecue sauce, the ketchup, spicy brown mustard, vinegar, a dollop of liquid smoke, and the brown sugar to your Instant Pot where those veggies and bacon are simmering away. Stop and admire the colorful palette you are about to enjoy. Then, smell and watch as the flavors beautifully combine with the bacon and veggies.
Next up, grab those beans you set aside from earlier. They are about to hit the Instant Pot so everything can come together and produce a delicious side for a picnic, or family dinner.
Finish cooking your Instant Pot baked beans
Yup, those beans go back in the Instant Pot along with a half cup of water. Stir everything up to combine the ingredients. Then, you can close the lid of your Instant Pot and turn off the sauté setting. You will pressure cook the bean mixture on high for another 15 minutes. Finally, allow the pressure valve to naturally release — open the lid, and stir everything up one more time.
Now your flavor-packed Instant Pot baked beans are ready to serve with those burgers or Buffalo shredded chicken. But if you have extra, Carli says you can "store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days." We are betting as the flavors combine over the next day or so, this dish is going to taste even better. Yum! We are also betting this will not be the last time you prepare this comforting, smoky dish that is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
- 2 pounds dry great Northern beans
- 8-½ cups water, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 10 slices bacon, diced
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- ⅔ cup barbecue sauce
- ½ cup ketchup
- 3 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 1 diced jalapeno pepper
- dash of cayenne pepper
- Add beans, 8 cups of water, and salt to Instant Pot. Pressure cook on high for 25 minutes. Naturally release the pressure valve.
- Remove lid. Strain and rinse beans. Set aside.
- Turn on sauté setting on Instant Pot. Add bacon. Stir and cook for several minutes, until crispy.
- Add onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno (if you want spice) and cook for several minutes, until tender.
- Add barbecue sauce, ketchup, spicy brown mustard, vinegar, liquid smoke, cayenne pepper (if you want even more spice), and brown sugar to Instant Pot.
- Add beans and ½ cup water. Stir to combine.
- Close lid and turn off sauce setting. Pressure cook on high for 15 minutes. Allow pressure valve to naturally release. Open lid and stir to combine.