The Zero-Waste Chef

How to Cook Beans In a Pressure Cooker

Updated 01/27/18

All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume. — Noam Chomsky

I think the quote above fits well with a post about my second-hand pressure cooker because…

  1. Buying used items reduces consumption.
  2. Cooking, like other small acts of rebellion (mending, sewing, gardening, making) as my friend Meg calls them, can transform us from passive consumers to active, self-reliant conservers.
Second-hand All-Clad tea kettle ($10) and pressure cooker ($15)

I probably shouldn’t love a gadget as much as I love my new-to-me pressure cooker. My boyfriend and I found it on a recent trip to one of our favorite stores—Savers, a thrift shop. It was part of my mother’s day present. The pressure cooker—stainless steel, not aluminum like all the others I had come across in my search for one—cost $15. The All-Clad tea kettle, which Chandra also snagged for me that day, cost $10. (They go for $100 new).


I had once worried that I would blow up my kitchen or myself if I used a pressure cooker. Now that I know how to cook with one, I will sit at my kitchen table while my pressure cooker makes my food, rather than hide out upstairs far from the action. However I do still worry a little that my pressure cooker will land me on an FBI watch list

To avoid accidents, use a pressure cooker that has a couple of simple safety mechanisms. If the pressure builds up too high in mine, a little black stopper will fly out of the lid, revealing a hole for pressure to escape through.

The small black stopper rests flush against the lid before pressure builds in the pot
Pressure has forced the stopper to pop up; if pressure becomes too much, the stopper will shoot out, releasing pressure

After the food starts cooking and pressure builds, a little silver widget in the handle pops up, locking the lid in place and making it impossible for me to slide the lid open. This little gizmo drops back down once the pressure has subsided. At that point, I can safely open my cooker without burning myself.

At the beginning of cooking, the silver colored gizmo in the handle has not yet popped up
The gizmo has popped up, locking my lid in place and making it impossible to open while the pressure is on

If you buy canned beans, you may want to consider buying them dry and cooking them in a pressure cooker. They taste fantastic. Taste aside though, cans are lined with plastic that often contains BPA, which according to the Environmental Working Group, “is a synthetic estrogen that scientists have linked to breast cancer, reproductive damage, developmental problems, heart disease and other illnesses.” Some cans emblazoned with the claim “BPA-Free” across them contain BPS instead, which is no better.

So far, I have cooked piles of chickpeas in my pressure cooker and also beets. The beets cooked in less than 15 minutes! Do you know how long beets usually take to cook! Life-changing. I also cook whole pumpkins in my pressure cooker. In eight minutes!

How to cook chickpeas in a pressure cooker

When I post pics of beans on social media and explain they cook in a couple of minutes once the regulator starts rocking, someone will tell me that their pressure cooker will take 20 minutes. So, models and cooking times vary. If I soak my chickpeas in water for six hours or so, they will cook almost as soon as they reach pressure.

1. Soak chickpeas in water for six to eight hours. Add a strip of kombu seaweed to aid with digestibility and reduce gas. Drain and rinse.

2. Place chickpeas in the pot and fill about half way.

3. Fill with water. I pour in water until it reaches the top gauge line inside the pot. I like to heat up water first in my new-to-me All-Clad kettle to speed up the cooking process.

4. Slide the lid on and turn the burner to high.

5. Soon, the little black stopper in the lid will pop up (not fly out) and the safety mechanism in the handle will kick in. The heavy round thing that rests on the valve in the middle of the lid is the regulator. That will start to gently rock once the pressure inside has built sufficiently. Turn off the heat after a couple of minutes. NOTE: Your pressure cooker may cook more slowly.

6. Remove from heat after the timer goes off. After the little safety widget drops back down, remove the lid. If some chickpeas remain hard, add more water and cook them for a couple of minutes more or until done.

Cooked chickpeas drained and rinsed for making a snack of roasted chickpeas

That’s it! I used to cook chickpeas in my slow cooker, which tasted better than canned but they didn’t taste nearly as good as these! These have a nutty flavor and a creamy texture. So so good. I am shoveling them in right now as I type. Only in a post-apocalyptic world would I ever shovel canned chickpeas into my mouth. I’ll never cook beans any other way.

I’ve made lots of hummus and will make chana masala once tomatoes appear once again at the farmer’s market. Roasted chickpeas are a delicious snack.

Insanity laughs under pressure we’re cracking
Can’t we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can’t we give love that one more chance?
Why can’t we give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love?…

‘Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure
Under pressure
Pressure — Freddie Mercury, Queen

Hummus with sourdough crackers