Learn all about pressure cooking dried beans and grains like barley, and brown rice. Plus cooking times whether using a stovetop or electric cooker.
Jeff and I have been using a cooker to make our beans for years and years. It's just part of our life now. Soak the beans the night before, cook them up the next day. It really becomes part of your routine. No biggie. So we'll show you how to do this below.
And if you've been a fan of our website for any length of time, you probably know by now that I am a huge fan of steaming my whole grains because it's the first way Jeff and I learned how to cook them. So it's our go-to cooking method and it's really what I recommend first and foremost.
The only challenge is that it takes longer to steam grains than if you pressure cook them. And many of you out there lead SUPER busy lives. So cooking your grains under pressure might be just the ticket. We'll describe how to do this below as well.
This article assumes you have a pressure cooker and you know how to use it. If not, visit our Cooking With A Pressure Cooker article created to teach you all about how to use one of these things! :)
Please note, times may vary according to your cooker, the altitude in which you live, and the variety and age of your beans or grains. Experiment and keep notes.
Ready? Let's get started...
Beans - Before we cover the cooking time of beans, be sure you know all about how to prep/pre-soak your beans for cooking.
All of the above measurements and cooking times are based on PRE-SOAKING your beans overnight (at least 8 hours -- preferably longer).
Beans are done to perfection when you can easily smoosh one between your tongue and the roof of your mouth.
For every 1 cup beans use 3 cups water. Can be doubled, tripled, or more.
Feel free to add a small strip of Kombu to cooking water to make the beans more digestible.
Never fill your cooker more than halfway when cooking beans!
By the by, tomatoes, vinegar, and citrus should never be added to your pot before cooking or the beans will take for-ev-er to cook.
I recommend you let the beans cool in the cooking liquid -- which is likely to thicken -- and store them this way. Then, serve them in their own "sauce" (my preferred method). Or drain, and if you like the taste of the cooking liquid, set it aside for soup-making.
"Your instructions for pressure-cooking is a huge time, energy, and money saver! I cooked red beans--10 minutes cooking with 15 minute cool down, perfectly done. Grathias¡ (Spain Spanish for Gracias)"
-- Paul Clark Behrend, Logroño, La Rioja, Spain
But cooking in this way DOES work beautifully and saves time for the following heartier grains. Click any of them to visit articles dedicated to shopping for and prep/pre-soaking tips, and soooooo much more.
Barley - Before you go any further, be sure you know all about how to pre-soak your barley so it's ready for cooking. If you haven't soaked your barley, then give it a good rinse instead and double the cooking time.
Stovetop: Place 1 cup pre-soaked barley and 1 cup water in the cooker. Lock the lid in place and over high heat bring to high pressure. When high pressure is reached, lower the heat just enough to maintain high pressure. Cook for 12 minutes.
Electric: Place 1 cup pre-soaked barley and 1 cup veggie broth (or water) in the cooker. Cook for 12 minutes.
Both: Carefully remove the lid - be aware of the steam. Stir. Your barley is ready to eat and season.
Maya from New Jersey Says...
"I will cook up a bunch of something in a pressure cooker & put 1/2 cup measures of it in a muffin tin & freeze, then empty the tin & put the frozen food pucks all in a single container. It takes up less space & you can pretty adequately measure out quantity & calories.
"If I take out one each of beans & rice, it's a nice lunch. If I take out 4 each & thaw, I can spice it up, add some fresh veggies & make a full dinner when I just don't feel up to anything more complicated."
Brown Rice - Before cooking brown rice, click here to visit the soaking instructions in our Brown Rice Guide. If you haven't soaked your brown rice, then give it a good rinse instead and double the cooking time.
Brown rice takes a little experimentation to find the amount of water and timing that works for your tastes. Not only do everyone's tastes differ, but some rice contains more water content than others making it tricky to give exact advice.
First, refer to the Rice Measurement Chart (below). Decide if you want to create a chewier rice with grains that more separate, or if you'd like a softer and stickier rice. Your answer will dictate how much water you use and how long you cook your brown rice.
Chewier rice = less water
Sticker rice = more water
1 cup rice
1 cup liquid
1 1/2 cups rice
1 1/4 cup liquid
2 cups rice
1 3/4 cups liquid
3 cups rice
2 3/4 cups liquid
*Liquid = Water or Veggie Broth
Stovetop: Heat the cooker over high heat. Add pre-soaked brown rice. Carefully stir in vegetable broth (or water), and 1/2 salt. Lock the lid in place and over high heat bring to high pressure. When high pressure is reached, lower the heat just enough to maintain high pressure. Cook for 12 minutes, depending on how chewy or sticky you like your rice. Turn off heat and allow pressure to come down naturally for 10 minutes.
Electric: Carefully add brown rice, veggie stock (or water), and 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste). Lock the lid in place. Cook for 12 minutes.
PLEASE NOTE: We no longer recommend pressure cooking millet. Why? Because it expands too rapidly. And because it is SO sticky, it doesn't do well in the pressure cooker. Much better to steam your millet or boil your millet using a good ol' stovetop where you can keep an eye on it, adding more water as needed.
"I love being vegan and love your site. It's been two months and it has really changed my life. SO glad I found you! Look forward to learning more and more."
-- Teresa Weybrew, Hatfield, Massachusetts