How to Convert Recipes for Pressure Cooking: A look at which recipes are suited for pressure cooking and how you can take those traditional recipes and convert them to Instant Pot success!
One of the most frequently asked questions I get is How can I make (fill in the blank) in the Instant Pot?
While I have a growing collection of Instant Pot Recipes, there are many things you all ask for recipes for, that I have not created a pressure cooker version for–YET (I am working on requests!)
But in the meantime, let me share my tips AND my list of cautions, so that you can begin to feel confident in converting your family recipes for the Instant Pot.
Converting Traditional Recipes into Instant Pot Recipes
First, ask yourself if your recipe can be made in the Instant Pot
Not everything should be cooked in the pressure cooker. There are some dishes, like fried chicken or a juicy filet that should never be attempted in a pressure cooker. Find out more about what NOT to cook in your Instant Pot.
However, Instant Pots excel at making inexpensive cuts of meats tender, like Instant Pot French Dip Sandwiches, and making soups or Chili in a short amount of time that taste as though they have simmered all day.
For Instant Pot Recipe Success
- Choose recipes that
- Already have liquid in them
- Avoid these types of recipes
- high in dairy products
- tender cuts of meat
*Again refer to what NOT to cook in the Instant Pot for more detailed explanation.
Converting Recipes for Pressure Cooking
Once you decide if your recipe is suitable for pressure cooking, you need to decide on a few things.
- Cook Time
- Pressure Setting
- NPR or QR
Determine Pressure Setting
It is relatively easy to determine if you need to cook on high or low pressure. The majority of recipes are cooked on high pressure. The only time low pressure is used is for delicate cuts of seafood, or a light steaming of vegetables.
Remember you do NOT need to use the various functions on the instant pot–just manually adjust the pressure and cook time yourself.
Determine the Cook Time
This is where it can seem overwhelming and tricky to figure out how long to cook things in your instant pot.
For Recipes traditionally made in Oven or on Stove Top:
Cut the cook time for meats, soups, and vegetables by two-thirds of total cook time. (So for 60 minutes you would cook on high for 20 minutes.) A simpler way to state this is to divide the total time by 3 and that give you cook time on high pressure.
For Recipes with Pasta
For recipes with pasta, it can be a bit more tricky. I have heard it said to cut the cook time on pasta in half, but in my experience, it is better to cut the LOWEST suggested cooking time by two-thirds, let naturally release for another third of total original time + 1 minute and then do a quick release. See a bit complicated.
- For example, rotini pasta says it needs 12-13 minutes to cook. I divide 12 by 3 which gives me 4. I cook my pasta for 4 minutes, then let naturally release another 1/3 total time + 1 minute–which in this case would be 5 minutes (4 +1). See complicated, but NOT impossible!
For Recipes Made in Slow Cooker/Crock-Pot
I have already addressed how to use your Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker, but what about making a slow cooker recipe into an instant pot recipe–cooked faster?
For recipes made in the slow cooker that you want to convert for pressure cooking it again is a simple math formula (well, for those of you who like math–those that don’t, sorry, refer to the cheat sheet I provide!)
- Refer to the amount of time that a recipe needs to cook on high and covert from hours to minutes (multiply it by 60) then divide by 10.
- For example, a recipe that needs to cook for 8 hours on low and 4 hours on high, you would take 4 hours and convert to minutes
- 4×60 = 240
- Divide 240 by 10 to give you 24
- You would cook your recipe for 24 minutes on high pressure.
- If you are using frozen meat, increase cooking time by 5-10 minutes.
- 5 minutes for smaller cuts of frozen meats/vegetables
- 10 minutes for larger cuts of frozen meats/vegetables
Should you use NPR or QR for your recipe?
Once you have established pressure setting and cook time for your recipe in the pressure cooker, now you must address if you need to use natural pressure release or quick release.
- Use NPR (natural pressure release) for soups, starchy dishes, tough cuts of meat.
- Use QR (quick release) for delicate cuts of meat, pastas, and quick cooking vegetables.
Still Confused about converting recipes? Let me explain things a bit for you!
Conversion Chart for Converting Recipes
Click on graphic or here to print this PDF for Instant Pot Conversions
What if you recipe is not cooked fully after time has elapsed?
Simply, put your lid back on the pressure cooker and set to cook on high for 3-5 minutes and make notes for the next time you make the recipe.
Important Things to Remember when Converting Recipes to Instant Pot Recipes
- Be sure to add enough liquid.
- All recipes need at least 1 cup of liquid in them to achieve the right pressure.
- If you are cooking a recipe with a lot of liquid, like a soup, decrease the liquid by 1/2 to 1 cup total liquid, as no liquid will evaporate on the pressure cooker. (Slow Cooker recipes are usually already adapted for this–so this notation is just for oven/stove top recipes)
- Do NOT add cornstarch, flour, or dairy products.
- These ingredients can cause burn warnings and will not allow your pressure cooker to reach pressure.
- Add dairy products at end of cooking time (or use pot in pot method)
- Add a cornstarch slurry (2 parts liquid to 1 part cornstarch) at end of cooking time and let thicken on saute function for a minute or two.
- Do NOT overfill your pressure cooker.
- Never fill inner pot over 2/3rd of the way full with liquid.
- Never fill inner pot over 1/2 way full when cooking rice or beans.
And finally, I would NOT experiment with recipes BEFORE you try out a few recipes that have been tested by others. Once you are familiar with pressure cooking, then you can start to experiment.
Be sure to keep notes and document any changes that need to be made so that you have your own point of reference for recipes in the Instant Pot.
Okay, now that you have that down, I want to know–what are you anxious to make yourself?