Instant Pots can cook anything. But what are they truly great at? The answer, most of the time, is anything that usually takes a while but that you’d rather not take a while to make. Here are 25 of the absolute best things to cook when you get an Instant Pot or any other multicooker.
Pot roast holds a place in the pantheon on Instant Pot miracles. Using rather poor quality meat (by the general standard that which we judge meats), the hallowed pot roast is traditionally cooked for a long time and left to turn spindly fat fibers into wonderful, gelatinous, melt in your mouth fat. The Instant Pot does this, and takes a fraction of the time to do it. It’s magic.
There are thousands of recipes for rice scattered across the internet. Instead of starting with those, start with a recipe straight from the source. This recipe on the Instant Pot website highlights one very important truth about the machine — it does not allow much at all in the form of evaporation. This means water-rice ratios when making rice are virtually always one-to-one, no matter how much you’re making.
What do you gain from making beans in a multicooker instead of any other method? You get to skip the “soak beans overnight” step. This means you can start with dry beans and have them ready to eat in an hour, and anybody whose made beans made fresh instead of out of a can knows there is no real comparison between the two.
Barbacoa-style beef is great for the exact same reasons pot roast is great — the turning of otherwise undesirable protein into something stellar. Though this recipe calls for beef, you can substitute it out for your preferred protein.
Get the mixture started in a saucepan, divide it into individual ramekins and pressurize. The result is flan that is both faster and less prone to overcooking and drying out, a common problem in oven flan recipes.
Risotto is a labor-intensive dish to cook with constant stirring and attention required. Not with an Instant Pot. Make this quick-and-easy mushroom risotto and you can probably charge people $30 a plate.
You’ll need to scroll passed a rather long intro to get to it, but this recipe underscores what makes pressure cooking, and the Instant Pot, great. Throw a bunch of powerful ingredients in the cooking chamber, allow the temperature and pressure buildup to force the flavors to meddle, then throw in some noodles and meat at the very in for another few minutes. It will be the fastest and simplest ramen you’ve made.
It does not mash the potatoes for you, but it does get them mash-ready in ten minutes or less. This option is far quicker than boiling, and far better for the potato than trying some crafty microwave trick.
Birria is having a moment, and it’s long overdue. The fall-apart meat is perfect in tacos, and the stew makes an amazing dipping “sauce.” Birria can take hours upon hours to get perfect, so heading to your local Mexican restaurant feels like the go-to move. But in an Instant Pot, you can have birria on demand.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Oh, yes. One of the best cozy meals of all time is made in an Instant Pot — start to finish — in 20 minutes or less. It allows the cooking and tenderizing of chicken thighs, veggies and noodles very quickly. Hot tip: keep the bones in the mix for a richer, more flavorful bowl.
Your own ricotta?! In less than an hour?! The Instant Pot really can do anything. After you’ve made your ricotta, put it in almost anything from smoothies to pancakes (and of course lasagna).
Cooking fish in an Instant Pot does not seem as natural as pot roast or heaping bowls of rice, but it ought to. Salmon filets cook through in all of 5 minutes on the steam setting (use the steam rack to keep it off the base of the pot).
Perhaps the strangest thing about making yogurt in an Instant Pot is that you’ll need some yogurt to make it in the first place (either yogurt or a packet of live cultures to whisk in). Yogurt is one of the few recipes in an Instant Pot that doesn’t receive a drastic decrease in cook and prep time, so plan accordingly.
All told, this Dutch oven classic typically takes anywhere from three to five hours to come together. In an Instant Pot that number is more like half an hour (prep included). The most notable difference being the amount of liquid that will cook off in a Dutch oven versus the Instant Pot. To combat this (if you think it’s an issue) is to use slightly less liquid than you would normally with this dish.
Notice the singular “pancake.” The single, giant pancake is something of a cult Instant Pot recipe, and it’s not exactly practical. The giant pancake takes longer (much longer) than making your typical weekend pancake on a non-stick pan. But does your weekend pancake routine create an inches-thick Godzilla pancake? It doesn’t.
Whether you’re on a protein-dense diet or making cobb salads, boiling eggs is a practice perhaps better served in an Instant Pot than anywhere else. Because the pot cooks with pressure instead of a single heat source, the eggs cook from all directions, meaning no more pockets of undercooked boiled egg. Also, the boiling eggs rest of the steam rack, meaning the chance of them cracking during cooking is slim to none. It also only takes five minutes to hard boil.
This is not a traditional Indian butter chicken recipe. It is, however, close enough, given its 15-minute combined prep- and cook-time. Lots of curries and saucey dishes such as this are ideal Instant Pot fodder, as the lack of varied texture in the dish isn’t a glaring issue (texture uniformity can be solved with peanuts, chopped scallions, etc.).
Chili is an Instant Pot staple, as are most dishes where intense flavors are usually held back by long cook times. It’s doubly good because while the pressure cooking of the Instant Pot does abbreviate the cook-time, chili is also a dish that isn’t big on texture in the first place, meaning there’s not much missed from a stock pot made chili and an Instant Pot made chili.
This is more a matter of ease and time saved than anything else. The Instant Pot isn’t going to do anything incredible to homemade chicken stock, it’s just going to make it faster.
As classic as a steak in a skillet and burgers on a grill, ribs in the Instant Pot is one of the crowning recipes of the multicooker boom. And it isn’t without reason — racks of ribs brought to falling of the bone in under a half hour (finished off on broil in the oven) is close enough to traditional barbecue-smoked ribs to satisfy most cravings.
Mac and Cheese
This is very likely the simplest mac and cheese recipe possible. It comes down to putting water, noodles and salt in a pot, letting it run for four or five minutes, then stirring in the remaining ingredients. I don’t know what else to say — it’ll take you a grand total of half an hour, start to finish, and requires no babysitting.
The Instant Pot’s ability to obliterate and deepen the flavor of dishes in no time is probably its greatest strength, and that’s exactly why this 20-minute peach cobbler is great. You can flip peaches for another fruit if you wish (I don’t know why you would) and top with vanilla ice cream.
Short ribs need time to cook and get tender, and Instant Pots take time out of the equation. Try this Korean-style short rib recipe that yields a hearty meal that’s sweet, savory and so, so good.
What you lose in texture from oven to Instant Pot you make up for in time and tenderness. Before you embark on making a whole bird in your Instant Pot, ensure the bird isn’t too big (this is when the larger sized Instant Pots are nice).
Pulled pork made on a smoker or grill (or braised on the stove or in the oven) takes hours upon hours to effectively gelatinize the fat and allow the pork to easily tear apart. In an Instant Pot, it takes a little over an hour. Put your pile of pork ribbons on a sandwich, in tacos or douse them in vinegar sauce and eat them alone.
Instant Pot’s steady temperature regulation means your cheesecake is less likely to fall apart or come out the wrong texture. You could sub oreos for other toppings, but we’d judge you.
Corned beef is a drag to make. This is another example of the Instant Pot giving you the help that a standard stovetop can’t.
Pozole is a Mexican stew with loads of meaty, peppery flavor. It can take hours to cook properly on the stove, but an Instant Pot is able to shorten that to just north of an hour. Try making it with a chicken base, too.
Ditch the takeout tonight, and make your own butter chicken. All you need are a boatload of amazing spices, and thankfully the Instant Pot turns an all-day ordeal into a quick meal.
All making a red sauce in the Instant Pot instead of a regular pot will do is speed up the process. You don’t have to use the recipe within the link below — use your own — but you could save yourself a couple hours by using the Instant Pot.
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