Instant Pot Cranberry Beans. Dried cranberry beans are so much better than canned, and pressure cooking has them ready in about an hour.
I've made recipes that include cranberry beans before, but here is a simple “beans and nothing but the beans” recipe. Later this week I’m using cranberry beans in a more complex recipe, so I figured I should cover the bean basics first.
Cranberry beans go by a few different names. They’re cargamanto beans in Columbia, where they originated, and are called Borlotti beans in Italy. (Italy also calls them Saluggia beans - but only if they are from Saluggia in Northern Italy.) Wherever they’re from, they are a small, tan bean, with wine-red speckles, that turns completely brown when cooked. I get my cranberry beans from Rancho Gordo (yes, again). I am willing - no, happy - to pay extra for high quality beans. But, don’t let that stop you from getting them at your local grocery; as long as they haven’t been sitting on the shelf for years, they’ll cook up fine with these instructions.
Where to find cranberry beans
I get most of my beans online, through Rancho Gordo. They're expensive, but very high quality beans. Your local grocery store may carry cranberry beans, and your local "healthy" grocery store almost certainly does. And, the other place I find them is at my local Italian specialty store - borlotti beans are a big part of Italian cooking, so they always have them in stock.
Pressure cook all the beans
Of course, I’m using my (not so) secret weapon, and pressure cooking my beans. Bean cooking is one of the reasons I became a pressure cooking fanatic - it’s amazing how quick and easy bean cooking is with a pressure cooker.
This is a simple dried bean recipe, so the ingredients list is pretty basic
- Dried Cranberry beans (aka Borlotti beans)
- A sprig of rosemary
- A few cloves of garlic
Don’t have rosemary or garlic? You can substitute a bay leaf for the rosemary (or skip it), or a peeled onion for the garlic (or skip it). And, as I said above, Rancho Gordo’s Marcella beans are my favorite variety of cannellini beans, but they’re not the only cannellini bean out there - dried beans from any source with good turnover will work.
A 6-quart pressure cooker. Pressure cooker dried beans are one of the key reasons I became a pressure cooker convert. Try them - you’ll never go back to canned beans. (OK, maybe you will, for convenience - but see the Storage section for tips)
This recipe scales down easily - cut everything in half if you don’t need as many beans, or have a 3-quart pressure cooker. Scaling up runs into space issues; if you have an 8-quart pressure cooker, you can double this recipe, but it’s too much to fit in a 6-quart pressure cooker.
🤨 Soaking cranberry beans?
I get the “to soak, or not to soak?” question all the the time.
I don’t soak my cranberry beans in this basic recipe. They don’t need an overnight soak, and cook to tenderness with 40 minutes at high pressure.
That doesn’t mean you can’t soak the beans. They turn out fine, though the bean broth isn’t quite as full bodied. Soaked beans cook much quicker, 20 minutes at high pressure. I use that when I’m cooking the beans with other ingredients, where the shorter cooking time keeps me from overcooking the whole dish just to get the beans tender.
💡Tips and Tricks
- Salt your bean water! “Salt toughens beans” is a myth. Salting before cooking helps season the beans all the way through as they cook.
- If your beans are still tough when the cooking time is over, especially any “floaters” at the top of the pot, give the beans a stir, lock the lid, and pressure cook for another five minutes. Older beans take longer to cook, and if the beans have been sitting in the shelf at your store for a while, they may need extra time.
- Simmer to thicken: If you have the time, and want thicker bean liquid, simmer the beans for 20 minutes after pressure cooking. I set my Instant Pot to Sauté mode adjusted to low, set the timer to 20 minutes, and leave the lid off to let the broth evaporate.
Instant Pot Cranberry Beans. Dried cranberry beans are so much better than canned, especially when pressure cooking has them ready in about an hour.
- 1 pound dried cranberry beans (aka borlotti beans), sorted and rinsed
- 8 cups water
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 sprig Rosemary (or a bay leaf)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- Sort and rinse the beans: Sort the cranberry beans, removing broken beans, stones, and any other non-bean material. Put the beans in a strainer, rinse the beans, and set them aside to drain.
- Everything in the pot: Pour the beans into an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker. Stir in 8 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt, then add the rosemary sprig and peeled cloves of garlic
- Pressure Cook for 40 minutes with a quick release: Pressure cook on high pressure for 40 minutes in an electric pressure cooker (“Manual” or “Pressure Cook” mode in an Instant Pot), or 35 minutes in a stovetop PC. Quick release the pressure in the pot.
- Serve or Save: Remove the rosemary and garlic cloves and discard. Serve the beans as-is in their broth, freeze in their broth for later (see notes for freezing details), or drain and use them as directed in another recipe.
Soaking the beans: I don’t soak my beans, but if you want to, go right ahead. After sorting the beans, cover them with water overnight, then drain and rinse. Continue with the “everything in the pot” step, but only pressure cook soaked cranberry beans for 20 minutes with a quick release.
Simmer to thicken: If you have the time, and want thicker bean liquid, simmer the beans for 20 minutes after pressure cooking. I set my Instant Pot to Sauté mode adjusted to low, set the timer to 20 minutes, and leave the lid off to let the broth evaporate.
Storing for later: I love freezer beans. They’re so much better than canned, and ready to go in about 5 minutes with a microwave. Store the beans in their cooking liquid in 2-cup containers, and when a recipe calls for a can of beans, I pull one out of the freezer. They’ll last for about 6 months in the freezer.
6 quart or larger pressure cooker (I love my Instant Pot 6-Quart Pressure Cooker)
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 50 minutes
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Pressure Cooker
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Instant Pot Cranberry Beans, Pressure Cooker Cranberry Beans
A 2-cup container of beans, with cooking liquid, replaces a 15-ounce can of beans from the grocery store. They’ll last in the refrigerator for a few days, and freeze for up to 6 months. I always make extra beans, and freeze the leftovers for use in other recipes. Freezer beans are ready to use with about 5 minutes in the microwave, and are so much better than canned.
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