Pressure Cooker Quick Chili with Canned Beans
The #1 question about my Pressure Cooker Ground Beef and Bean Chili recipe? “What if I want to use canned beans instead of dried?”
I dashed off a quick answer in the comments…“five minutes!”…but then it started to nag at me. Was five minutes under pressure enough time for the chili flavors to mingle?
Normally, cooking time is determined by how long it takes to cook all the ingredients through. Ground beef takes almost no time to cook. 1 The cooking time is based entirely on flavor. We don’t want a ground beef, bean, and chili soup, with each a distinct flavor; we want a chili, with all the flavors blended together, something greater than the sum of its parts. Time for some testing!
I bought beef, canned beans, tomatoes, and got out my pressure cookers. 2 The recipe was the same in all three until I locked the lid: sauté the onions and garlic, toast the spices, mix in the beef, then the liquids and the beans. Then I set one cooker to 5 minutes, one to 10, and one to 15 minutes, and let them pressure cook with a natural pressure release.
The results? Ten minutes is the Goldilocks zone. Five minutes is too short. The beans are the best in after five minutes – still having a little bit to them – but the rest of the ingredients don’t quite come together, tasting like a beef and tomato and bean soup. Fifteen minutes is too long. I get a thick, chili flavor, but the beans are way overcooked, starting to melt away. Ten minutes is just right, a rich chili with beans that have absorbed the chili flavors. 3
Which brings me to my last two points: One, even the 5 minute chili was good – chili is hard to mess up. Two, chili is better if you make your own beans in the pressure cooker. Make the beans ahead and freeze them in 2 cup containers. That lets you pull beans out of the freezer, and they taste much better than canned. (And yes, I know that contradicts point one. Hey, who says I have to be consistent?)
Note: I took this video while making a version of this recipe scaled up for an 8 quart pressure cooker. I’m including it here because it’s the same instructions; just use the ingredient amounts in the recipe on this page if you have a 6 quart pressure cooker.
Recipe: Pressure Cooker Quick Chili with Canned Beans
- 6 quart or larger pressure cooker (I love my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker)
What do you think?
Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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You don’t need a pressure cooker for ground beef. By the time the beef is no longer pink, it is done. In my regular recipe, the beans decide the cooking time – when the beans are done, we’re done. But with canned beans, they’re already cooked.↩
What? Doesn’t everyone own three…four…um…OK, I actually own six pressure cookers right now. I may have a problem.↩
The beans are right on the edge of overcooked at 10 minutes. Hey, we’re working with canned beans here, it’s the best we can do.↩