Instant Pot Cowboy Beans


16 ounces 454 g dried pinto beans

8 cups 1.89 L water

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 pound 226 g ground beef

1/2 pound 226 g kielbasa, sliced

6 slices bacon chopped

1 medium yellow or sweet onion chopped

2 garlic cloves minced

2/3 cup 158 mL water

1/2 cup 120 mL ketchup

1/2 cup 120 mL BBQ sauce

1/4 cup 60 mL molasses

1/4 cup 50 g packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons yellow mustard

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons chili powder I like to use chipotle

1 teaspoon paprika

3/4 teaspoon liquid smoke


Rinse the dried pinto beans and add them to the Instant Pot along with 8 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt.

Cover the Instant Pot with the lid, set to “Manual” and Pressure Cook on high for 25 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally.

Once the pressure is released, remove the lid and pour the beans into a colander to drain.
Set the Instant Pot to “Sauté” mode.

When hot, lightly spray the pot with cooking spray and add the ground beef and kielbasa.

Cook, breaking apart the ground beef, until browned.  Hit “Cancel” and remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Drain the grease from the Instant Pot. Set to “Sauté” mode again. When hot, add the chopped bacon and onion.

Cook until the bacon is crispy. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Hit “Cancel” and drain about half of the grease off.

While cooking the bacon, stir frequently to avoid burning.

Add 2/3 cup of water to the Instant Pot and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom to prevent getting a burn signal.

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Add in ketchup, bbq sauce, molasses, brown sugar, yellow mustard, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, paprika, and liquid smoke. Stir to combine.

Return the beans, ground beef, and kielbasa to the Instant Pot and stir to mix everything together. Place the lid on the Instant Pot and set it to “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” mode for 15 minutes.

If you get a burn signal, remove the lid if the pin is still down. If it is not down, release the pressure and then remove the lid.

Stir in about 1/4 cup of water and use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom really well. Place the lid back on, making sure the pin is in the “sealing” position.

Once the time is up, let the Instant Pot do a natural pressure release. When the pin drops, remove the lid and serve.


This recipe can be customized to your liking by adjusting the amount of spices or adding additional ingredients like diced bell peppers or jalapenos.

Liquid smoke is a key ingredient in this recipe as it adds the smoky flavor that you would get from cooking the beans over an open flame for hours.

Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days or frozen for up to three months.

To make this recipe vegetarian or vegan, you can omit the meat and use vegetable broth instead of water.