What Can I Cook in an Instant Pot®?
The Instant Pot® has been around for years but seems to have really increased in popularity recently, and when you see all of the things it can do, it’s not hard to see why!
Whether you’ve replaced an old stove-top pressure cooker or you’re looking to bag a bargain on Black Friday, we’ve rounded up some of the ingenious ways you can make the most of your Instant Pot®.
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First of all, what is an Instant Pot®?
An Instant Pot® is an all-in-one multicooker that can pretty much do it all.
It can be used as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yoghurt maker, steamer and even has a sauté function!
Don’t worry if this feels overwhelming to begin with, once you’ve got the hang of a few basic functions it’s really easy to use.
When using the pressure cook function, it uses wet heat in the form of steam to cook food, so it won’t suit dishes that need to crisp up in the oven like our Salt and Pepper Chicken Nuggets.
If you have a sauce that needs to be reduced, it won’t work as well if you pressure cook it in an Instant Pot® as it will retain nearly all the moisture it starts with.
These are best kept on the hob or in the oven, or using the saute function on your Instant Pot®.
This is a tip worth bearing in mind when meal planning, and don’t forget our second Food Planner is there to help with shopping lists, week-by-week diaries and some bonus recipes to boot!
It has the added benefit of numerous safety mechanisms too that older style stove-top pressure cookers don’t have, so it’s an ideal choice for family kitchens.
Where can I buy an Instant Pot®?
They’re available on Amazon, and usually go on offer throughout the year so you can really grab a bargain if you shop around.
They come in a few different sizes, but the most popular tends to be the 5.7ltr version that’s big enough for a family of 5-6 people and great for batch cooking (more on that later!).
Not all sizes have all functions, so make sure you check the specs are suitable for your needs before you buy.
Cooking meat in an Instant Pot®
Undoubtedly one of the best features of the Instant Pot® is how it can make light work of meals that you’d usually have to spend hours cooking.
Because the pressure cook function uses pressure to tenderise and cook meat, you can use much cheaper cuts of meat like pork shoulder or oxtail.
Our Caribbean Jerk Stew would need to be slow cooked for 5-6 hours, but by pressure cooking in the Instant Pot® this is shaved down to only 30 minutes.
Can you see why they’re so popular yet?
Normally you’d need to cook these meats low ‘n’ slow for several hours for best results, but by pressure cooking in the Instant Pot® you can have Pulled Pork on the table in only 90 minutes!
The Instant Pot® is a batch cooker’s best friend, and we think it’s always worth cooking meals like this in bulk and freezing any leftovers for a quick dinner on demand you can reheat in minutes .
We wouldn’t be doing the Instant Pot® justice if we didn’t mention the fact you can cook a WHOLE chicken in only 20 minutes.
Yes, you read that right: forget having the oven on for hours and constantly checking the temperature to see if it’s cooked. The Instant Pot®
Our 20 Minute Whole Chicken is a game changer for busy families and for those days you want something healthy and nutritious on the table as quickly as possible!
Using an Instant Pot® is one of the few occasions where using expensive cuts of meat isn’t a good idea: burgers and steaks will end up boiled and bland, so these are best cooked on the stove for a caramelised coating and a deep colour.
Cooking fish in an Instant Pot®
Fish tends to be much more delicate than red meat and poultry, and usually only needs a short amount of time to cook on a high heat.
We’d recommend avoiding cooking fish like cod and salmon in an Instant Pot® to prevent mushiness, and instead cook on the hob or oven bake for a light, flaky texture.
Our Chilli and Lime Baked Salmon is the perfect example of juicy salmon with fresh vegetables and strong, zesty flavours that wouldn’t work in an Instant Pot®.
Cooking vegetables in an Instant Pot®
Most veggies are suitable for pressure cooking, but be patient, there’s a lot of trial and error to begin with!
Potatoes and sweet potatoes can be pressure cooked in around 10 minutes depending on the size and if/how you’ve chopped them: mashed potato is so easy in around 13 minutes!
Vegetables like carrots, cauliflower and swede work especially well, and usually only need a few minutes.
Once you’ve cooked buttery Creamy Mashed Potatoes in the Instant Pot®, you can appreciate just how simple it is!
Serve your mash with Roast Beef and Gravy for a scrumptious roast that’s not only for Sundays.
Some of the faster-cooking vegetables are best avoided, as they can go soggy and overcooked really quickly!
If you have a recipe that calls for these, add them right at the end.
The sauté function is great for a final simmer to reduce liquid and cook any ingredients that aren’t able to be pressure-cooked.
It’s also really handy for throwing in things like pasta if you’d prefer to cook them in the cooking liquid rather than a separate pan, like our rich tomatoey Beef Ragu Fettucine.
It’s worth experimenting a minute at a time to get vegetables cooked to your taste, and don’t forget the golden rule: it’s easy to cook longer if your food is undercooked but you can’t un-cook it if it’s overdone!
Cooking rice in an Instant Pot®
Rice is one of those foods that can take an age to master.
Too sloppy, undercooked, burnt on the pan – we’ve all been there!
Luckily for all of us, there’s a built-in rice cooker function on the larger models of the Instant Pot®, and it really is as simple as adding rice and water, and pressing Start!
You can have fluffy white rice in around 15 minutes and nutty, wholesome brown rice in around 25 minutes – ideal for serving alongside a Creamy Chicken Curry and some fakeaway favourite sides.
Cooking eggs in an Instant Pot®
Whether you’re after a quick breakfast or a mid-morning snack, boiled eggs are a great choice.
Packed full of protein and plenty of vitamins, they are filling and delicious.
No more waiting around for the pan of water to boil, no cracking eggs when dropping in the pan: the Instant Pot® makes the whole process eggs-tra easy!
You can actually batch cook soft boiled eggs in only 2 minutes, or hard boiled in 5 minutes, and because they’re steamed they’re a little easier to peel, too.
Pop any extras in the fridge for hassle-free snacking in the next few days.
Cooking Dairy in an Instant Pot®
Dairy products like milk, soft cheese and sour cream will curdle in an Instant Pot®, just like in the slow cooker, so you have to be extra careful or you’ll end up with a lumpy sauce.
To prevent any splitting, make sure you add your dairy products right at the end, when it’s finished cooking and off the heat!
Recipes like our Creamy Garlic Chicken will always be best cooked on the hob to prevent curdling and allow enough time for the sauce to reduce.
Cooking yoghurt in an Instant Pot®
One surprising feature of the larger Instant Pot® models is the ability to create yoghurt!
Making yoghurt at home sounds really complicated but when you add up the price of shop bought yoghurt over the weeks, it makes sense to give it a go!
In fact, the only ingredients you’ll need are milk and a ‘starter’, which is a small amount of leftover shop bought or homemade yoghurt to start your own.
It’s another one of those trial and error techniques though as the length of time you leave it can affect the tanginess, so have a go yourself and find what works for your taste.
As a starter, you can boil 2 litres of milk on the ‘Yoghurt’ setting for 35 mins, and then allow to cool before adding 2 tbsp of natural yoghurt.
Leave the Instant Pot® to do its thing for around 8 hours and that’s it – all the hard work is done and no added preservatives or added sugar in sight!
Pop in our Creamy Butter Chicken for a rich, indulgent sauce with the added satisfaction of knowing it’s all homemade.
Be sure to check the manual that comes with your Instant Pot® for full instructions.
Once you’ve perfected this technique, you can pretty much have an endless supply of yoghurt and save some money at the same time!
Can I convert slow cooker or oven recipes to cook in an Instant Pot®?
Absolutely! There are a few easy rules for converting oven and slow cooker recipes, and we’ve pulled together a simple conversion table to help.
Remember, you can always use the slow cooker function on your Instant Pot® too!
More information can be found here, and as always, the best way to get the most from your Instant Pot® is experimenting to find what works for you.
At a glance: our handy cheat sheet of Instant Pot® do’s and don’ts.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and only scratches the surface of what an Instant Pot® can do.
We see so many tips and tricks over in our Facebook Group so if you’re not already a member, you can join our community and let us know your favourite Instant Pot® recipes!