Are you trying to figure out how to make your favorite recipes in the Instant Pot? This guide will show you how to adapt MOST recipes for Instant Pot cooking. Download the Instant Pot Conversions Chart and you are well on your way to making your favorite classic recipes in the Instant Pot.
While there are many recipes that are adaptable to the Instant Pot, find out the things you just should NEVER cook in your Instant Pot.
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 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 instant pot. 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 do excel at making inexpensive cuts of meats tender and making soups or chili that taste as though they have simmered all day, but are ready in less than an hour.
How do you KNOW if a recipe will work in the Instant Pot? There are a few things that you want to keep in mind when choosing a recipe to adapt for the Instant Pot.
Choose recipes that
- Already have liquid in them (like stock, water, juice, beer, etc)
- Require a longer cooking time--like dried beans and chicken chili
- Use moist heat to cook--things like creme brulee or cheesecake
Avoid these types of recipes
- Anything breaded
- Tender cuts of meat, like steak.
*Again refer to what NOT to cook in the Instant Pot for more detailed explanation.
Instant Pot Conversions
Once you decide if your recipe is suitable for pressure cooking, you need to decide on a few things.
- Pressure Setting: Should this be cooked on high or low pressure?
- Cook Time: How long should the item be cooked?
- Release: Should you use natural pressure release or quick pressure release?
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 under 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 settings 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. And it does make a huge difference in the cook time if you are converting a soup, a chili, a recipe with pasta, or a slow cooker recipe.
These times are estimates and you may find that you need more or less cook time for certain recipes. It is also important to refer to Instant Pot Altitude Adjustments if you live at a higher elevation.
- 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 gives 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 ⅓ total time + 1 minute--which in this case would be 5 minutes (4 +1). See complicated, but NOT impossible! If you are overwhelmed by this math, just cook the pasta for half the time minus one minute and let pressure release for 5 minutes--you will get pretty good results every time--I have been trying this method out more and more with success.
- 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? 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, 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 times 60 would give you 240 minutes. Then divide 240 by 10, which gives 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.
Should you use NPR or QR for your recipe?
Once you have established a 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. To find out more about what NPR and QR are, refer to How to Use an Instant Pot.
- 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.
Important Things to Remember
- Be sure to add enough liquid. All recipes need at least 1 cup of liquid for a 3 or 6 quart instant pot and 1.5 cups liquid in an 8 quart instant pot for the right pressure to be achieved.
- Don't use TOO MUCH liquid. If you are cooking a recipe with a lot of liquid, like a soup, decrease the liquid by ½ to 1 cup total liquid, as the liquid will not evaporate from the Instant Pot as they do on the stove. (Slow Cooker recipes are usually already adapted for this--so this notation is just for oven/stovetop 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.
- It is best to add dairy products at the 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, if you desire your recipe to be thickened.
- Do NOT overfill your pressure cooker. Never fill the inner pot over ⅔rd of the way full with liquid. Never fill the inner pot over ½ way full when cooking rice or beans.
- What if your recipe is not cooked fully after cook time elapses? Don't panic! Place the lid back on your Instant Pot and add additional cook time. It will not take as long to come to pressure the second time.
- Experiment! But at the right time! 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. And 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.
Conversion Chart for Converting Recipes
Grab this chart and hang in an area that will help you convert your favorite recipes into Instant Pot Success!
Click on the graphic or here to print this PDF for Instant Pot Conversions
Okay, now that you have that down, I want to know--what are you anxious to make yourself?