Food & Cooking

A Simpleguide To Instant Pot Cooking

The practice of cooking foods under pressure has actually been around for hundreds of years. Pressure cooking didn't become mainstream in the United States until the 1950s, though, when more women went to work and needed efficient ways to prepare family meals.
Fast forward to the Instant Pot debut in 2009. Engineers created an appliance that was super easy and safe to use, with pre-programmed buttons and built-in safety features. It wasn't long before the Instant Pot® (affectionately known as "the IP") became a hit with home cooks, and it remains all the rage today. 


You can cook soaked or unsoaked beans in the Instant Pot® with great results. you recommend cooking a maximum of 2 cups of dried beans at a time.

To soak beans, place 2 cups of dried beans in a large bowl. Fill the bowl with water until the beans are covered by at least 2 inches. Let them soak for 8 to 12 hours. You do not need to soak lentils.

To cook soaked or unsoaked beans, rinse and drain them. Place the beans in a 6- or 8-quart Instant Pot® and add enough water to cover them by at least ½ inch. Cook on the High setting for the recommended time. After cooking, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure.

Adzuki 25 15
Black 25 15
Black-eyed peas 25 15
Cannellini 40 25
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) 40 25
Great northern 30 25
Kidney, red 30 25
Lentils, green or brown 20 N/A
Lentils, red or yellow 15 N/A
Navy 30 25
Pinto 30 25
Split peas 20 15

It's important to rinse grains in a fine-mesh strainer before adding them to the Instant Pot®. The amount of liquid called for in the following cooking chart assumes that you've rinsed the grains before cooking. This chart also assumes that you're cooking 2 cups of grains at a time, which will yield about 6 servings.
Cook grains on the High setting. After cooking, naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure. Drain any excess liquid before serving.

Barley, pearl 5 cups 10
Buckwheat 3½ cups 2
Farro 4 cups 10
Millet 3 cups 9
Oats, rolled 3 cups 6
Oats, steel cut 3 cups 10
Quinoa 2 cups 1
Rice, brown (long-grain) 2 cups 22
Rice, white (long-grain) 2 cups 4
Wheat berries 6 cups 15
Wild rice 5 cups 25

Meats should be cooked on the High setting with at least 1 cup of liquid. Pour the liquid into the inner pot, then place the trivet inside. Place the meat on the trivet. After cooking, naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure.

Beef, ground 10
Beef, meatballs 15
Beef, stew meat 20
Beef, ribs 30
Beef, whole roast 40
Chicken, breasts 10
Chicken, whole 30
Pork, loin roast 60
Pork, ribs 25
Turkey, boneless breast 20
Turkey, bone-in breast 30
Turkey, leg 20

Most fish and seafood should be cooked on the High setting using the quick release method to prevent overcooking. Pour the liquid into the inner pot, then place the trivet inside. Place the fish or seafood on the trivet.
This table assumes that you're cooking fresh fish and seafood. 
To cook from frozen, add 2 minutes to the cooking time on the High setting.

Crab 4 Quick
Fish fillet 3 Quick
Fish steak 4 Quick
Lobster 4 Quick
Mussels 3 Quick

Seafood soup 7 Quick
Shrimp 2 Quick

Most vegetables should be placed on the trivet or in a steaming basket inside the Instant Pot®. Always be sure to use at least 1 cup of liquid when cooking vegetables. Unless noted, naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes, then quick release the remaining pressure.
This table assumes you are using fresh vegetables. 
To cook from frozen, add 2 minutes to the cooking time on the High setting.

Artichoke, whole, large 15 Natural
Asparagus, whole or halved 2 Quick
Broccoli florets 1 Quick
Brussels sprouts, halved 3 Natural
Carrots, ½-inch slices 1 Quick
Cauliflower florets 1 Quick
Corn on the cob 4 Natural
Green beans, whole 3 Quick
Peas 2 Quick
Potatoes, red, gold, or white (small or medium, whole) 10 Natural
Spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise 7 Quick
Sweet potatoes, medium, whole 15 Natural

The Dirty Dozen™ and Clean Fifteen™
A nonprofit environmental watchdog organization called Environmental Working Group (EWG) looks at data supplied by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about pesticide residues. Each year it compiles a list of the best and worst pesticide loads found in commercial crops. You can use these lists to decide which fruits and vegetables to buy organic to minimize your exposure to pesticides and which produce is considered safe enough to buy conventionally. This does not mean they are pesticide-free, though, so wash these fruits and vegetables thoroughly. The list is updated annually, and you can find it online at

12.sweet bell peppers
Additionally, nearly three-quarters of hot pepper samples contained pesticide residues.

1. avocados
2. sweet corn*
3. pineapples
4. cabbages
5. onions
6. sweet peas (frozen)
7. papayas*
8. asparagus
9. mangoes
10. eggplants
11. melons
12. kiwis
13. cantaloupes
14. cauliflower
15. broccoli

Note: A small amount of sweet corn, papaya, and summer squash sold in the United States is produced from genetically modified seeds. Buy organic varieties of these crops if you want to avoid genetically modified produce.

Using an Instant Pot
The Instant Pot is essentially made up of six pieces:
1. The main base where the panel and buttons are located
2. The stainless-steel inner pot
3. The lid with the steam release knob
4. The sealing ring inside the lid
5. A stainless steel trivet (used in some but not all recipes)
6. The electric cord that plugs in the back of the base

The main base with the panel and all the buttons can be intimidating, but you actually need to use only a few settings to get start ed:

PRESSURE LEVEL. Make sure it is set to High.
PRESSURE COOK OR MANUAL. Use the up and down buttons to set the time your recipe indicates.
CANCEL. Hit this button if you need to stop the cooking process.

Here are the general steps for making most recipes in the Instant Pot:
1. Add your ingredients, including at least 1 cup of liquid.
2. Lock the lid into place. Make sure the steam release knob is in the sealed position.
3. Set the cooking time and the pressure to High (most common) or Low.
4. After cooking, release the pressure.
5. Unlock and remove the lid. Serve your food.

Here are a few other tips to keep in mind as you get started:
- You'll always need at least 1 cup of liquid to cook anything in your Instant Pot®.
- After sautéing, use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits of food stuck to the bottom of the pot. This will prevent you from getting a Burn message.
- Most recipes call for a natural release, quick release, or a combination of the two.
→Quick release means a lot of steam, so use tongs or an oven mitt to avoid burning your fingers.
→Natural pressure release means letting the pressure come down by itself after cooking is complete. This usually takes about 15 minutes.
→Some recipes call for a natural release for 10 minutes, then quick releasing any remaining pressure. You won't be able to unlock the lid until all the steam has been released.

Cook Once, Eat Many Times
Meal prepping is a game changer for busy people who want to eat healthy. Even if you love to cook, sometimes there just isn't enough time in the day to make a healthy meal from scratch. When you have at least a few recipes prepped and waiting for you in the fridge, you're less likely to grab something on the go or order out. This saves me money and helps me stay on track with your healthy eating goals.


With meal prepping, you can choose how much you want to make in advance, from one meal to a whole week's worth. You can also batch cook, preparing some ingredients ahead of time, such as proteins, potatoes, beans, and grains. Batch cooking is helpful because it makes day-to-day cooking easier. This style of meal prepping is also known as "buffet-style" meal prep and allows for a flexible, mix-and-match approach to breakfasts, lunches, and dinners throughout the week ahead. (See chapter 2 for a bunch of make-ahead staples and basics.)
Additionally, you can always advance prep your ingredients for recipes you are going to make later. Ingredients can be premeasured and pre-chopped and stored in jars or zip-top bags so it's much easier to make a specific recipe later in the week. Advance prepping is a great way to get children involved with meal planning, too, since even young kids can help with tasks like washing vegetables.

If you prefer to cook every night, then leftovers can be refrigerated for lunch the next day or frozen to have at a later date. Leftovers are wonderfully versatile, especially when you bulk-cook staples like beans, rice, and potatoes. For example:
- Form leftover cooked lentils into patties for a burger alternative, or sauté them with sliced onion and red bell peppers to make lentil taco "meat."
- Shred extra cooked chicken for chicken tacos or chicken salad.
- Combine some cooked brown rice with steamed vegetables for a simple casserole or with cooked lentils to make vegetarian "meatloaf."
- Serve steamed vegetables with butter or your favorite vinaigrette. Vegetables can be reheated in a skillet with cooked chicken and vegetables or sautéed with sliced beef and teriyaki sauce for a quick stir-fry.


Step-by-Step Instant Pot Meal Prep
Here's a basic guide to get started. Once you master the strategy, check out the Sample Five-Recipe Meal Prep Plan for a more in-depth example of meal prepping in action.
STEP 1: Plan which recipes you want to make. you recommend keeping a calendar with meal ideas for the week. A small whiteboard in the kitchen works great, as does your phone.
STEP 2: Make sure you have enough storage containers for the food you make. you prefer glass containers with airtight lids. If you plan to use plastic containers, they should be food safe and BPA free.
STEP 3: Shop for ingredients. You can usually get better pricing on dry ingredients like beans and rice when you buy them in bulk. Stock up on frozen and canned items, too (I choose reduced-sodium options whenever possible).
STEP 4: Cook a few recipes in bulk, starting with the one that takes the longest to cook. While the first one is cooking, prep ingredients for the remaining recipes so you can start the next one as soon as the first one is finished.
STEP 5: Store the meals. you write the date you cooked each recipe on a piece of masking tape on each container so you don't keep it longer than intended. Most cooked foods stored in the fridge should be eaten within 4 days. Frozen foods can usually last up to several months.
STEP 6: Most prepared foods can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop. For best results, thaw frozen food overnight in the refrigerator. Before reheating, you add about a teaspoon of water to the microwave-safe container with your food and cover it with plastic wrap. you poke a few holes in the plastic and heat the food for 45 to 90 seconds or until it is steaming. 

To reheat on the stovetop, transfer the food to a medium saucepan with about a teaspoon of water. Reheat over medium heat until the food is simmering.

Pot-in-Pot (PIP) Cooking
Pot-in-pot cooking means cooking in another vessel inside the inner pot. you recommend an ovenproof 7- or 8-inch ceramic soufflé dish or glass bowl (1½ to 2 quart capacity) that fits into either a 6- or 8-quart Instant Pot®. PIP cooking is ideal for making quiches or casseroles or cooking two separate items at once.
For PIP cooking, you'll need a sling to lower and lift the dish onto and off of the trivet. 
To make a sling, fold two 2-foot-long pieces of aluminum foil in half, and then fold them in half again. This creates two slender, long strips of foil. Arrange the strips in a plus sign shape. Place the baking dish in the center of the plus sign, and bend the foil strips upward to make two sets of handles. Use these handles to place the dish on the trivet inside the inner pot and to lift it out after cooking.

The Instant Pot® was designed to make your life easier, but there are additional ways to make it even more efficient. Here are some of your favorite multitasking tips:
- The Instant Pot® is more than a pressure cooker. It has a Slow Cook option that allows you to make foods that benefit from low and slow cooking, such as a lean roast or homemade bone broth. Slow cook overnight or while you're at work for optimal efficiency.
- Most Instant Pot® models have a Keep Warm mode, which keeps the cooked food at a safe temperature for several hours until you're ready to eat it or pack it up for later.
- If you're cooking foods that have similar cook times, use the trivet to cook multiple foods at once. For example, chicken breasts and potatoes take about the same amount of time. Place the trivet in the inner pot, add a cup of water, and cook a couple of chicken breasts and potatoes at the same time.
- Purchase an extra stainless steel inner pot. This allows you to move quickly from one recipe to the next, especially when you're meal prepping.

Here's a sample strategy for prepping five meals on the weekend to last through the first half of the week ahead. you generally pick two main dishes, one side dish, one staple, and one breakfast. You can then pick another three or four recipes to cook in the middle of the week, which will take you through to the weekend. you recommend cooking these recipes in the order they are listed. While the first recipe is cooking, prep ingredients for the other recipes so you'll be ready to start the next one right away.
- Broccoli and Cheddar Crustless Quiche. This is perfect for breakfast, and the leftovers can be served for lunch.
- Teriyaki Chicken and Rice. This is a great basic to have on hand, and both kids and adults love it. Serve it for lunch or dinner along with steamed broccoli and carrots.
- Sloppy Joes. These are traditionally served on hamburger buns, but they're also delicious over sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, or rice.
- Sweet Potatoes. you always have a batch of cooked sweet potatoes in your fridge because they are both cheap and highly nutritious. They can be served plain or with butter and are a healthy side dish to almost any main dish recipe.
- Steamed Broccoli and Carrots. you make a big batch of steamed vegetables each week and then reheat them to go with almost any main dish. Use any mix of vegetables you like, including frozen options.
- In general, when planning meals to prep ahead, remember to include a combination of protein, healthy fat, and complex carbohydrates. Use this chart as a guide for packing up portions:

Stocking Your Kitchen
There are some Instant Pot® accessories you find useful when cooking. you also keep a well-stocked pantry for ingredients Use often when meal prepping. It's one more way to keep your meal prep efficient and focused—no last-minute surprises. Set yourself up for success by stocking your kitchen and pantry with the following essentials.

The Instant Pot is pretty amazing on its own, but these extra pieces of equipment can help take it to the next level:
Ceramic or glass baking dish: For pot-in-pot cooking, a 7- or 8-inch, 2-quart ceramic or glass baking dish works well. Make sure it's oven-proof and can withstand pressure cooking.
Cutting boards: you have a bamboo cutting board for vegetables and a couple of dishwasher-safe plastic cutting boards for prepping raw meat and poultry.
Fine-mesh strainer: Use your strainer for rinsing rice or quinoa before cooking.
Immersion blender: Perfect for blending soups right in the pot.
Sharp knives: you recommend having at least one large chef's knife and one small paring knife for prepping ingredients.
Stainless-steel steamer basket: This basket fits inside the inner pot and has many great uses, including steaming vegetables and hard-boiling eggs. Look for one that is intended for use with a 6-quart Instant Pot®.
Utensils: A wooden spoon, spatula, ladle, and tongs are your go-tos. you like to buy wooden, silicone, or stainless steel ones that can be washed in the dishwasher and handle heavy use.

You can stock your healthy pantry with dry goods so you'll have what you need for months. you always have the following items on hand:
- Canned foods, including full-fat coconut milk, tomato paste, and diced tomatoes
- Cornstarch or arrowroot starch, to thicken sauces
- Dried beans, grains, legumes, and so on, including black beans, quinoa, chia seeds, white and brown rice, whole-wheat and brown rice pasta, rolled oats, and green or brown lentils
- Dried herbs and spices, such as black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, ground cinnamon, curry powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt, thyme, and turmeric
- Jarred items, including balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, peanut butter and almond butter, Sriracha sauce, Thai green curry paste, white wine vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce
- Low-sodium broths (beef, chicken, and vegetable)
- Extra-virgin olive oil and/or coconut oil
- Reduced-sodium soy sauce (use tamari for gluten-free diets)
- Sweeteners, including honey and maple syrup
- Vanilla extract