Instant Pots are not designed to cook everything. Find out exactly what NOT to cook in the instant pot so that you can avoid pressure cooking FAILS and burn notices in your Instant Pot.
If you are just beginning to learn how your Instant Pot works, be sure to start with Instant Pot Basics. But as you test out Instant Pot Recipes, you MUST first remember what NOT to cook in your Instant Pot.
An Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker is a great tool to speed up the cooking process of many dishes.
Tough meats are made tender, like in Instant Pot French Dip Sandwiches. Frozen chicken breast cooks up perfectly in less than 10 minutes. Homemade yogurt is a breeze in the pressure cooker. You can even perfectly thaw out frozen ground beef in the pressure cooker.
But the Instant Pot is NOT good for ALL recipes.
And just because a recipe --exists does NOT mean you should make it.
Ingredients to Avoid Using in the Instant Pot
Even when placed on a rack, breaded meats or vegetables are not recommended due to the fact that the breading will get soggy as the pressure cooker cooks with steam. The breading may also fall off the meat and cause burning on the bottom of the pressure cooker.
Instead, it is best to use the oven for things like Chicken Tenders and Eggplant Parmesan to enjoy a crispy, crunchy breading.
Delicate Cuts of Meat
If you want to ruin an expensive cut of meat, cooking it in the Instant Pot is a surefire way to do so!
For example, a steak needs to be cooked to temperature--and that is next to impossible in the Instant Pot. Plus the steak will not be able to achieve caramelization on the exterior of the meat, which gives it texture and flavor. When making steak, I always rely on my fool-proof method for cooking steak.
A beef burger or chicken burger cooks up extremely fast on the grill or stovetop. Not only does it take longer to cook in the Instant Pot, but it also does not taste as good. The meat has a boiled consistency, instead of a caramelized exterior and juicy interior that makes a perfect burger!
Adding dairy to the beginning of the cooking time of pressure cooking can cause the milk or cream to curdle or separate. It can also cause your pressure valve to get clogged as dairy will foam at a high temperature. This will mean your pressure cooker will not come to pressure as expected and will be a reason your instant pot may not seal.
It also is a VERY COMMON reason a burn notice occurs on your Instant pot.
It is best to add any dairy product, like milk or cheese, to a recipe at the end of the cooking time, and let it finish cooking (or melting) using the saute function or the heat from the Instant Pot, which is done in recipes like Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese.
The exception to this rule is when using the pot-in-pot method for things like Instant Pot Oatmeal or Instant Pot Cheesecake.
Heavy cream can be used, as its high-fat content will not curdle when pressure cooked. But beware, it can still cause a burn notice if not used in with another type of thin liquid such as water or stock.
Quick Cooking Dishes
The whole purpose of using the pressure cooker is to take a long cooking process and shorten it. If a dish already cooks in less than 20 minutes, using your pressure cooker will NOT save you time, in fact, it may increase the amount of time--as you have to wait for pressure to be reached and pressure to be released.
So all those recipes for Instant Pot stir-fries? It is better to stick with making things like Chicken and Bok Choy and Chicken Stir Fry on the stove. And use your Instant Pot to prepare the brown rice to serve on the side.
Proofing bread in your instant pot is a GREAT idea--baking, not so much!
There are recipes for Instant Pot Bread out there, but a pressure cooker will never yield a crusty exterior and the result is a super dense, moist bread instead of a delicate crumb that is achieved in recipes like Whole Wheat Bread, Dutch Oven Bread, and Italian Bread.
As for quick bread recipes like Lemon Bread or Banana Bread, I still find the texture is BEST when prepared in the oven. Quick bread recipes take just as long, if not longer in the Instant Pot and they turn out extremely moist and dense, not as light and fluffy as they should be.
You may have thought I lost my mind on this one, but there are so many recipes for Instant Pot Cookies.
The verdict? They are horrible--and take much longer than oven-baked cookies. Cookies made in the Instant Pot are missing the crisp exterior and chewy interior that is key to delicious cookies like Neiman Marcus Cookies and Sugar Cookies.
Adding cornstarch or flour to your recipes at the beginning of pressure cooking can cause your food to burn or for the pressure cooker to not reach pressure. And even if a burn notice does not happen, your sauce likely will separate.
Instead, it is best to thicken dishes like Instant Pot Creamy Mushroom Pork Chops at the END of pressure cooking.
To do this, you would mix together a slurry, which is a mixture of flour or cornstarch with water. Once pressure cooking is complete and pressure is released, open the instant pot. Hit saute on the instant pot and then whisk in the slurry. Let simmer on the saute function until the sauce has thickened.
There is evidence to support that an electric pressure cooker does not get hot enough to kill bacteria required for safe canning. In my book, it is not worth the risk.
Bottom Line: Remember that pressure cookers work with moist heat. Any dish that you want to achieve a crisp crust or a reduced sauce, will not be able to be achieved in the instant pot.
This post was originally published in 2018 but updated with a new video in 2020.
Can you cook an uncured ham hock (uncooked) in an Instant Pot with soup peas, vegetables,etc. in a stock for soup? The recipe says 10 minutes pressure cooking time and natural release. Is that adequate for temperature to raise to 160* and be safe to eat the ham bits from the ham hock? This is a recipe from a Southern Living magazine but seems not enough time to cook that very tough meat.
Hi Susan! I have a recipe for Instant Pot Ham and Bean soup using dried beans that you can use for a reference.
Instant Pot was gifted by my son during Xmas . We are vegetarian and use Instant Pot for cooking every day meals of rice and Dahl . Due to old age it became difficult to lift to old pressure cooker and keep it over gas burners. I tried preparing Masala Tea and it tasted good.
I'm an ol' timer who's trying to learn how to use the Instant Pot I was given at Christmas. I have great recipes from my grandmother that require browned hamburger meat. I've often wished the stores sold it browned! I was so pleased to see in your hints that you can cook this in the Pot and then just crumble it. While I've found a number of other great recipes, this alone makes it worthwhile! Thank you!
And, you've probably discovered, you can cook it straight from frozen! That alone makes this thing worth it's space in the cupboard space. So far, I've done a pot roast from frozen, a frozen turkey breast, and frozen
ground beef. The roast was the best ever. After it was done I seared it in a cast iron skillet then drained the vegetables and put them around the roast. Served from the skillet.
Suzanne B Polinchock
How do you cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot? I am new to this kind of cooking. I was given a 6 Qt pot for Christmas. Thanks.
Hi Suzanne! Here is my recipe for Instant Pot Whole Chicken. I hope you enjoy!
I would like to join your mailing list as I have just purchased a instant pro pot
I would LOVE that Julie-Ann. You can sign up for my Instant Pot Recipes here: https://amindfullmom.com/instant-pot-email/
What about the instant pots that have the baking option? Wouldn't they be ok for cookies- or anything that you can bake in the oven for that matter? They also have a instant pot for canning now. Are you referring to all instant pots or which one do you use?
Hi Lauren, the baking function is still just high pressure and uses moist heat, so the textures will not be the same as using the oven. As for canning, yes there is an Instant Pot designed for canning, but I have heard this is still not very consistent.
We learn from our mistakes. Thank you for sharing. Now we can cook without the disappointments. I hope I can remember all your great advice. I recently
sent my niece and fiancé a Instant Pot and signed them up for your newsletter.
Thank you for passing along my site! Please reach out with questions any time!
I was wondering if you have a cookbook out? You have such great tips, tricks and cooking methods that I would jump at the opportunity to purchase an instant pot cookbook from you!
That is so kind Sue! I don't have a cookbook out YET, but I will be sure to let my fans know when/if that happens.
Thank you for all the tips you have sent. It must have taken some time to work out all the information. How kind of you to share it!
Happy to share Dixie! Reach out with any questions!
I really enjoy reading all of your posts and watching your videos. They’ve been extremely informative as a Instant Pot newbie. I was wondering if you can make monkey bread in the instant pot? I’ve seen recipes on the Internet where you use biscuit dough to do so. Would this work? Thank you.
HI Tiffany! I love hearing that my recipes and videos have helped you feel confident in using your instant pot. As for monkey bread, I personally have not tried it myself but would suspect that the dough would get "wet" and soggy and not rise as much. However, if you give it a try, I would love to know your experience.
Is it safe to use Pacific Mushroom Broth in an instant pot?
I use mushroom broth all the time. If you mean creamy mushroom soup, I have not tried it.