Over the last year, the Instant Pot has quickly become one of the hottest trends in kitchen appliances—and for good reason. (Learn why we’re hooked!) Not only is the multi-functional electric pressure cooker easy to use, it can make everything from yogurt to rice to big, saucy roast dinners. Basically, it’s a home cook’s new best friend.
While there are a few things you shouldn’t attempt to make in your Instant Pot, converting most recipes—especially soups, stews, meats, bean or grain-based dishes and slow cooker recipes—to be pressure cooker-friendly is simple. We’ve rounded up some of the top tips below so you can put your favorite appliance to work this week.
Reduce your cooking time.
The whole point of an Instant Pot is that, well, it’s instant. Okay, it’s not that fast but the pressure cooker functionality does cook food quicker than a traditional methods. If you’re trying to convert a recipe, first look for similar recipes using an Instant Pot and use those as a guide. Give our favorite Instant Pot recipes a skim! Or follow this rule of thumb: If you’re using a recipe that requires the oven, lower the cook times for meat by one to two thirds.
Use less liquid.
Because the lid on your Instant Pot seals tightly, there is little to no evaporation while cooking. That means you won’t lose any liquid, so be light-handed with broths and other liquids to avoid a dish that is too watery or lacking flavor. But make sure you have at least one cup of liquid before turning it on—it’s necessary to create steam inside the bowl and to avoid burning. Read through our Instant Pot safety tips before you start cooking.
Your Instant Pot needs room to build pressure (that’s how it cooks the food, after all) so don’t cram in your ingredients. Fill your pot two thirds to be safe and only half if you are making any type of grain, pasta or legume, as they will grow in size while cooking. And whatever you do, do not add ingredients past the MAX fill line—it’s there for a reason! The best instant pot recipes will help you follow this step.
Be wary of dairy.
Adding dairy products to your pressure cooker at the beginning can make them curdle because of the high temperatures. It’s best to wait until the end (preferably once you’ve removed whatever you’re cooking from the Instant Pot) to mix in any cheese, milk or cream. Love cheese? This instant pot pasta dish is the one for you. The exception to this rule, of course, is when you’re making yogurt with the appliance’s specific yogurt function.
Pick the right release.
An Instant Pot has two different options for releasing pressure: quick pressure release and natural release. The natural release can be used for most recipes (pasta, meat, oatmeal, etc.) but, if you’re dealing with something that you don’t want to overcook like vegetables, the quick pressure is a better choice as it lets the steam out very quickly.
It’s obvious why so many people are falling in love with their pressure cookers. Whether you’re making a tender beef brisket for Sunday dinner or looking for a creative way to get your kids to eat their veggies, you can rely on your Instant Pot to make it happen. You might even love it so much that you’ll consider trading your slow cooker for it! We won’t judge!