Olivia Piepmeier

Fennel Beans

A watercolor illustration like you're looking into a pot with the fennel seeds toasting. The top says 'Fennel Beans' with some beans and little things that are supposed to be the fennel seeds.

Inspired by SimplyRecipes


  • 1 pound dry white beans (I usually use great northern. I think white beans are all pretty similar in preparation. If you’re using a different type of bean, the cook time may differ)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or 2 tsp diamond crystal)
  • dried fennel seeds (I never measure this. maybe it’s around 2 tsp or so?)


  1. Turn instant pot on sauté, high, for 2 minutes (the time really doesn’t matter, I’ve just found this to be enough).
  2. When it starts getting obviously hot (this will be before it beeps), throw the fennel seeds in and stir constantly until they’re toasty. They can burn quickly, so once you think “yeah, that’s toasty,” turn it off.
  3. Throw in the rest of the ingredients immediately and stir just to incorporate everything.
  4. Turn the cooker on to pressure cook, high, for 38 minutes.
  5. Let it naturally release for 15, then open ‘er up.
  6. Test for doneness.
  7. Ta-da! Now you have like, 4 cans worth of beans. They freeze great, so unless you’re making something with an ass of beans, freeze them in a size that feels reasonable for you. I usually do 1.5-3 cups per container.


I cook with these beans A LOT. I thought it best to have this recipe up ASAP so it’s easy to refer to later.

My household leans hard on veggie-centered dishes and beans are super handy for that life. The pandemic caused me to get on the dry-bean wagon and once I realized how easy and cheap it was, especially with an instant pot, no more canned beans for me! White beans are especially magical. They’re little creamy pods of deliciousness that compliments other fantastic ingredients well.

I don’t know what inspired me to toast fennel seeds with the beans. Maybe it was the comments on something in New York Times Cooking (aka. the most helpful comments section on the internet). But now, I can’t not put them in there and it’s made me be even less likely to settle for canned beans.