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Can I Pressure-Cook Baked Beans?

by Michael Brent

Baked beans are a delicious accompaniment to an outdoor cookout or backyard barbecue, and the classic sweet-and-savory side dish is a favorite among grown-ups and kids alike. Baked beans made from scratch must spend several hours in the oven, but using a pressure cooker can speed things up considerably. If you don't bake them in the oven, they won't technically be baked beans, but you will have an appetizing dish in less time -- and a cooler kitchen, too.

Why Use A Pressure Cooker?

Preparing nutritious, tasty family meals can be challenging for busy moms. Pressure cookers dramatically reduce cooking times for soups, stews and beans. Cooking beans typically requires an hour or two of simmering on a stove. Baked beans require even longer -- several hours roasting in an oven. Pressure cookers force steam to build up in an airtight pot, causing pressure to rise so that the boiling temperature of the water inside becomes much higher than in a non-pressurized pot. The higher temperature causes food to cook up to 70 percent faster, using about 50 percent less fuel.

Time and Flavor

Baked beans are, as the name suggests, prepared in an oven. They require long, slow cooking for the molasses, pork and onion flavors to mingle and penetrate the beans. When the dish is done, the beans are separate and almost dry, and the pork and onions are meltingly tender. However, the process takes up to seven hours, and although the flavor goes great with a summer cookout, running the oven all day at that time of year wastes air-conditioning energy, or else makes the kitchen intolerably hot. Baked-style beans cooked in a pressure-cooker, however, can be ready to eat in less than an hour. In addition, the pressure causes the taste of the molasses, onions and other ingredients to quickly and fully permeate the beans, locking in the flavors.

Backyard Barbecue

If you haven't made baked beans in a pressure-cooker, summertime is the perfect time to give it a try. Baked beans are a delicious part of any backyard barbecue or tailgate party to accompany such tried-and-true grill favorites as hot dogs, burgers, ribs or chicken breasts. The rich flavor of baked beans is a perfect fit with a fresh summer salad, topped with your favorite creamy dressing.

Nutrition Facts

Many baked-bean recipes include bacon or pork, but omit the meat if you prefer. Pressure-cooked baked-style beans are not only a fast, tasty side dish, they're loaded with nutritional benefits. Beans are an excellent source of dietary fiber and high in protein. In addition, beans contain folic acid, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and vitamin B6, and can help lower cholesterol.

Photo Credits

  • Alexandra Grablewski/Lifesize/Getty Images