Creative Vegetable Gardener:A Quick & Healthy Replacement for Canned Beans in the Kitchen

How to cook chickpeas in a pressure cooker, and freeze them, so you have the convenience of canned beans.

In our house we primarily cook vegan and vegetarian recipes with the occasional chicken or fish added in for variety. I was a vegetarian for over 20 years, so I’m very versed in cooking tasty, meatless meals.

And most vegetable-focused cooking calls for the use of a lot of beans! Chickpeas are my favorite, and I think the most versatile, bean out there, so that’s what we use the most often.

I like to buy my beans dry from the bulk section of the food co-op, not in cans. I think they taste a lot better, I don’t have to worry about potentially harmful chemicals from the cans, and I create less waste.

But, the drawback of using dry beans is that you need to plan ahead in order to have them ready for a recipe. They need to be soaked for 8 hours for stovetop cooking and they take a look time to cook once they’re on the stove.

So, I can see why a lot of people opt for canned beans – you can just pop open the can and use them right away.

But, over the years I’ve devised an easy method that allows me cook beans quickly and have plenty left over to use as an alternative to canned beans.

If you’re a bean lover who would prefer to cook your own beans quickly and easily, this post is for you! Let’s dive in.

soaking bean s to cook in a pressure cooker

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How to Cook Chickpeas in a Pressure Cooker

If you usually cook your dry beans in a pot of boiling water you know how long it can take. So, this shortcut is definitely one you’ll want to incorporate into your kitchen.

If you eat a lot of beans like we do, I highly recommend getting a pressure cooker. This has revolutionized using dry beans in our house. No more waiting for garbanzo beans to cook for hours in a pot of water.

There are two kinds of pressure cookers: the old school original stovetop ones and the now popular Instant Pot. I actually have both in my kitchen and use them both for cooking beans. The strategy is pretty similar for each method.

Directions for Cooking Beans in a Pressure Cooker

Ingredients & Tools Needed

4 cups dried chickpeas or other beans (pinto, black, white, etc.)

Pressure cooker: stovetop or Instant Pot (I have the older version of this)

Colander: I prefer metal over plastic, like this one

Step 1: Soak Beans

Even when using a pressure cooker I still soak the beans before cooking. But, you don’t have to soak overnight, about four hours should be enough.

Measure out four cups of beans into the pressure cooker. Fill with water and make sure the beans are completely covered and have at least two inches of water above them since they’ll absorb some of it. Soak beans for about four hours. I often do this step on my lunch break at home so they’re ready for my dinner recipe.

Step 2: Rinse Beans

After four hours, dump the soaking water and transfer the beans into a colander. Give the beans a good rinse.

Step 3: Cook Beans

Pour the beans into the pressure cooker and add fresh water. (There’s usually a fill line the water is supposed to stay beneath.) Bring cooker up to pressure and set timer depending on what beans you’re cooking.

How long you need to set the timer on your Instant Pot or on the stove for regular pressure cookers depends upon what kind of bean you’re cooking, how well you like them cooked, the model of the pressure cooker, how old the beans are, and at what altitude you live.

This blog has a helpful table broken into columns for electric and stovetop pressure cookers. I’ve found that it’s taken me some time to perfect my cooking times based on the appliance I’m using. I recommend taking notes each time  you cook them until you find a method that works well for you.

Start with somewhere between 12-18 minutes on the pressure cooker. My preferred time in the stovetop pressure cooker is 18 minutes with a quick release (which I explain below). I haven’t quite perfected my Instant Pot method yet.

chickpeas ready to freeze

Step 5: Natural or Quick Release

Once the timer has gone off you have two options – letting the pressure release naturally or releasing in manually. This can be a tricky step because you can’t see the beans to tell if they’re done yet.

Personally, I don’t like mushy beans unless I’m making hummus or refried beans, so I tend to err on the side of underdone. This means I use the quick release method and then check the beans right away to see if they’re cooked to my desired consistency. If not, I put them back on for a few minutes and check them again.

For the Instant Pot you can lay a towel or washcloth over the pressure valve to catch any liquid that might come out  and then turn it to the release position. Be careful not to burn yourself.

For the stovetop pressure cooker you can place it in the sink, run cold water over the whole thing for a few minutes, and then turn the dial to the release position. Be careful not to put your hand in the way of any steam that’s releasing.

Test a few beans to make sure they’re done. If so, dump them into a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. If not, put them back on to cook for a few additional minutes.

Step 6: Use in a Recipe

Most of the time when I’m cooking beans it’s because I want to use some of them in a recipe right away. Use as many as you’d like at this point, but you’ll like have extra because this yields a lot of cooked beans!

Step 7: Freeze Beans

Once the beans have completely cooled, transfer them into plastic containers, bags, or glass jars and freeze. I like to use wide mouth quart canning jars so I can see what’s in there. One pot of beans usually fills between 3-4 quart jars for me. That usually lasts a month or two depending on what we’re cooking during that time.

recipe dish with chickpeas

How to Cook with Frozen Chickpeas

When I need some beans for a recipe I take out a jar to thaw on the kitchen counter the morning of the day I’m going to use them for dinner. But, sometimes I forget. Luckily, they can be quickly de-thawed using a microwave, or at our house where we don’t have one, lots of hot water poured into the jar.

At this point, you can simply use the beans like you would any other canned bean you buy from the grocery store.

Some of my favorite recipes for using chickpeas are:

Baked Falafel from Love and Lemons

Beet Falafel from Minimalist Baker

Hummus from Love and Lemons

Tomato, Chickpea and Coconut Soup from Love and Lemons

Chana Masala from Minimalist Baker

And you can find all of my articles about cooking and recipes here.

If you follow this method easy method for how to cook chickpeas in a pressure cooker you’ll never have to buy canned beans again! And you’ll always have a well-stocked supply in your freezer.


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