Converting Slow Cooker Recipes for the Instant Pot

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The slow cooker is very helpful in the kitchen for busy families, but sometimes you need a meal fast. The “Instant Pot” can make a tender pot roast, a hearty beef stew, tender beans, and pulled pork in a fraction of the time it takes a slow cooker. It can also make many dishes that a slow cooker can’t. Even rice and yogurt have their settings. 

Also, if you need to steam or sauté food before pressure cooking, you don’t have to use another pan because the Instant Pot has settings for both. 

You can use silicone muffin cups and pans, metal pans, ceramic baking dishes, and oven-safe glass containers to make dishes like scalloped potatoes, many casseroles, and desserts. There are also a lot of different pans made for the Instant Pot, like cake pans, steamers, and pans that don’t stick. When using a pan in the Instant Pot, remember to put at least 1 cup of water in the pot, put a trivet or steam rack, and then put the pan on the trivet or rack. 

We investigated the best Instant Pots and came up with our top choices. 

If you want to make your favorite slow cooker recipe but don’t have it all day, use your Instant Pot! Here are some basic rules for adapting slow cooker and crockpot recipes for the Instant Pot. 

Tips for Convert Slow Cooker Recipes to Your Instant Pot 

Liquids 

Pressure cookers must have liquid. Condensation makes the extra liquid in a slow cooker, but the Instant Pot needs at least 1 cup. The pressure in the cooker comes from the steam, which comes from the liquid. Water, stock, beer, wine, fruit juice, and thin sauces can be used as liquids in a dish. However, thick sauces and “cream-of” soups can’t be used as liquids. If you’re worried that some foods will soak up too much water, you can use the trivet that comes with the pot to keep roasts, heat-safe dishes, and other foods from sitting in the liquids. 

There are no hard and fast rules for timing a slow cooker recipe in the Instant Pot. However, when planning your meal, include the time needed to build pressure and the time required to release pressure. Depending on how full the pot is, it can take up to 20 minutes to make pressure, and if you don’t do a quick release, it can take about 15 minutes for the pressure to release on its own. 

Meat, chicken, and stew 

If your slow cooker recipe for meat, soup, or stew says to cook it for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high, it should be done in about 25 to 30 minutes in the Instant Pot. Use the 15-minute poultry button for cooking chicken or turkey. 

While volume doesn’t matter, density does. Roasts and big, thick pieces of meat take longer to cook, and a baking dish filled to a depth of 3 inches takes longer to cook than one filled to a depth of 2 inches. Cut big roasts into smaller pieces to cook them faster. 

You can also cook frozen meat in a pressure cooker, but you need to add about 10 minutes to the total cooking time. If the meat doesn’t look done when the pressure is let off, put the lid back on and cook it at high pressure for another 5 to 10 minutes. 

Grains and beans 

Beans and grains grow as they cook, so never put more than half of them in the pot. Also, it takes longer to cook dry beans that haven’t been soaked than beans that have been soaked overnight. Since beans come in different shapes and sizes, cooking times vary. This chart shows how long to cook different types of beans and grains and whether they have been soaked. 

What Can’t You Cook? 

The Instant Pot has its limits, just like the slow cooker. Food won’t be crispy, crusty, or crunchy, and the pot won’t deep-fry or bake cookies. Here are some things that won’t work well in an Instant Pot. 

Dairy: Because milk and cheese can separate and curdle, they should be added at the end of cooking. They also make foam, which can clog the pressure valve. 

Foods and dishes that cook quickly: You can cook many fresh and frozen vegetables faster on the stovetop or in the microwave. The time guide might say that fresh or frozen green beans only need to cook for 3 minutes, but when you add in the time to bring the pressure up and release it quickly, you could be looking at 20 minutes. The Instant Pot won’t save you time if you can cook the food in less than 20 to 30 minutes. 

Thickeners: If liquids are thickened before cooking, a pressure cooker might not reach full pressure. Always add thickening mixtures (like cornstarch, flour, arrowroot, etc.) after the food is cooked, and use the sauté function to cook the food until it has thickened. 

Yeast bread: You might find a recipe for making yeast bread in the Instant Pot, but it won’t be crusty. 

Canning: The Instant Pot isn’t a pressure canner when it comes to canning. Even if a pressure cooker gets to the correct pressure, that doesn’t mean it’s at the right temperature. A pressure sensor, not a thermometer, controls the Instant Pot. For safe canning, you should always use a pressure canner. On the other hand, the Instant Pot can be used to can jams, jellies, and pickles in a boiling water bath. 

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