Understand How The Instant Pot Works
Instant Pots are electric pressure cookers. It helps to think of pressure cooking as turbo-boosted steam cooking. Water is the critical element.
Here is how Instant Pots work:
Pasta fagioli with cranberry beans and kale by Fatfree Vegan Kitchen
Creamy carrot ginger soup by Eating by Elaine
Which Type Of Pasta Can I Cook In An Instant Pot
Quite honestly, I prefer to cook shorter pasta, like penne, rigatoni, ziti, but you can cook any type of pasta in an Instant Pot.
Theres one caveat when cooking long noodles, like spaghetti. First, you need to break the noodles in half to fit in your pot and then layer them in a criss cross pattern to prevent them from clumping together. Basically, just throw the long noodles in a messy pattern and you should be good to go.
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How To Adapt Recipes For Instant Pot In 5 Simple Steps
You already know how to adapt recipes for a slow cooker. But how can you get more use out of the appliance of the moment: the instant pot?
Whats an instant pot? Were glad you asked. Its an electric appliance that functions the same way as a stovetop pressure cooker, sans stovetop. Instant pots cook food by using heat in an enclosed environment: the pressure builds up around the food and breaks it down as a high-heat oven might. Its particularly good for cooking starchy vegetables and proteins quickly. As a bonus, an instant pot can be used as a slow cooker, rice cooker and steamer.
If youre looking to convert an old favorite and save yourself time creating a healthy meal plan, heres how to adapt recipes for instant pot:
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Convert Pressure Cooker Time To Stove Top
Weve put together a few simple guidelines. Follow them, and youll easily be able to convert your favorite recipes to the pressure cooker.
1. Add water
The overriding principle is that you must have at least one cup of liquid. One and a half cups are better.
You can look in your pressure cookers manual for the liquid requirement for your model.
Thats because the pressure cooker will not be able to work without this amount of liquid. The machine requires it to build up the pressure.
Of course, because the pressure cooker is a sealed unit, there is little evaporation. You may end up with more liquid in your finished dish than you would like.
This isnt a problem though, because you can always strain it off then reduce it over high heat until you are happy with the quantity of sauce or gravy in the end.
Convert water needed when cooking on Stove Top:
Pressure Cooker to Stove Top Ratio: 1: 2 or more
If you are cooking on the stovetop, the water evaporates quickly and you need to add more water.
2. Alter the cooking time
The next step is to cook the dish for one-third of the time called for in the original recipe when you cook in a pressure cooker.
After cooking, use the correct pressure release method for whatever you are cooking.
For instance, bigger cuts of meat like pot roasts or whole poultry, dried beans, soups, or other dishes that require a large amount of liquid will be better if you use natural pressure release.
Convert Time needed when cooking on Stove Top:
Instant Pot For Beginners Pdf Cookbook
Did you know that we also have an instant pot ecookbook that you can download instantly? It features 101 easy to understand instant pot beginner recipes.
Millions of people have downloaded and viewed these 101 instant pot recipes since it was originally created back in 2017. Though of course, it has been updated many times since then to bring you the best.
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A Natural Release Is Generally Better
Go with a natural release for meats if you have the time.
A natural release simply means that when the machine beeps that the time is up, you let it sit for 10-20 minutes until the safety pin drops to indicate the pressure has released from the Instant Pot.
This typically will help the meat be more fall-apart tender or easier to shred.
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Choosing Your Cooking Time
I warmly recommend that you invest $5 to buy the Best Vegan Pressure Cooker Timing Charts compiled by Jill Nussinow. It is more reliable than that provided in the Instant Pot manual, and Jill has worked tremendously hard to build it please dont try to get a free copy .
This said, for making soups or stews, youll find that timing can be quite forgiving, especially if using pre-cooked beans and lentils. If all you have in the pot is vegetables diced small and cooked chickpeas, 3-5 minutes on high pressure will suffice. Bigger chunks of hard vegetables might require more like 6-10 minutes.
You should set the cooking time based on the requirements of the densest, longest-cooking ingredient in your soup or stew. For example, if you are making a vegetable and pearl barley soup, youll want to use the barleys timing .
If using dry lentils or soaked beans, refer to a reliable cooking chart. If in doubt, err on the side of adding 1 or 2 minutes, rather than decreasing the cooking time. For most stews and soups, it is far better to have slightly overcooked lentils or grains than undercooked ones. Who wants to eat gritty rice soup?
Chickpea and rice soup by My Plant-based Family
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Spaghetti Squash Is A Great Pasta Substitute
It wasnt til I went Paleo that I finally sampled a spaghetti squashbut I undercooked it and turned my nose up at the squeaky, bland vegetable strands. But heyIm open-minded. I gave spaghetti squash a second chance at a swanky vegetarian restaurant, and thats when I finally had an epiphanythis gourds pretty awesome if its properly cooked and smothered in a delicious sauce. Its not quite a pasta substitute, but this noodle-y veggie is a fabulous vehicle for an umami-packed sauce.
The Quick Way: Pro Tip For Converting From Instant Pot Recipes To Slow Cooker
I try to keep in mind that not everything is meant to be cooked in the crockpot. The same goes for the Instant Pot. Make sure that the recipe you are trying to convert is suitable for the crockpot.
Now for the good stuff: the cheaters path to quickly converting slow cooker recipes.
Find a similar crockpot recipe and use that as a base for your temperature and cooking time base.
A great example is cooking something like my Instant Pot Lasagna. Although my recipe is a healthier alternative you can use a regular crockpot lasagna recipe as a guide for how to layer the lasagna and how long to cook it for.
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Keep A Notebook Of Tips When You Convert A Recipe For The Instant Pot
Cooking in an Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker is easy, but youll want to make notes when you convert recipes to make in one.
Write down notes so youll know what changes you made and can tweak the recipe the next time you make it. Or, if youre cooking from a cookbook, Ive started writing notes in the margins so I can duplicate what changes I made.
Once youve adapted a couple of recipes, it gets easier. You learn to trust your instincts and use your senses.
If youd like to print this post to keep in your notebook, I created a .
Now, its your turn. Id love to hear your tips and tricks. If you have a tip that helps you convert a recipe, please leave a comment. If I didnt answer your question about converting a recipe, leave me a comment too and Ill do my best to answer it.
If youre new to using the Instant Pot, be sure and check out my posts on Which Instant Pot Button to Use and Quick Pressure Release or Natural Pressure Cooker Release.
Im adding a great suggestion by one of my long-time Pressure Cooking Today readers. She suggested new users make several reliable recipes written for the pressure cooker before trying to adapt their favorites to the pressure cooker. Better to experience some sure success before riding the bike without training wheels, so to speak.
What Recipes Can Be Converted From Stove
Now that you know how your Instant Pot works, you realize that not every recipe that can be made on the stove-top can easily be converted to an Instant Pot recipe successfully. Because all electric pressure cooking is water-based , they arent a good way to get crunchy or crusted bits. However, soups and stews using vegetables, beans, and/or grains are perfectly suited to the high-pressure environment. I will now explain to you in detail how to convert a recipe from stove-top to Instant Pot. I also included a selection of inspiring recipes from all-vegan bloggers that include directions for the electric pressure cooker and for stove-top cooking so you can see some examples.
Portobello pot roast by A Virtual Vegan
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How To Convert A Recipe For Your Slow Cooker
Truth: You can cook a lot of stove-top stews or oven-braises in a slow cooker. But before you go to work, school, the gym, sleep, or whatever else youd like to do for 8 hours, there are a few tips to keep in mind. We recently re-worked three of our popular braising recipes to work for the slow cooker here’s what we learned.
Certain types and cuts of meat do better in a slow cooker than others: dark meat chicken, brisket, pork shoulder. Items with more fat and connective tissue break down slower so they end up tender but not mealy or mushy after a long-cook time. What were really saying is: Do not put boneless skinless chicken breasts in the slow cooker.
In an ideal world, wed throw all of our favorite ingredients in a slow cooker and theyd magically appear brown and reduced four to eight unattended hours later. But, as my dad says, you pay for convenience. No matter where you finish your dishstovetop, oven, slow cookerbrowning meat before you braise it imparts big flavor and renders fat so you wont end up with a greasy soup when youre finished.
Don’t skip the browning in this beef chili.
Brisket needs liquid. Photo: Jarren Vink
Now, go walk the dog, go skiing, get a mani-pedi, or return the rental car. Dinner will be waiting.
Tips For Converting Your Favorite Recipes To The Slow Cooker
I am a huge fan of the slow cooker. Its not for everyone, but for me, I love being able to assemble a slow cooker meal in the morning and know that it will be hot and delicious by dinner . Ive gotten pretty good at spotting recipes with slow cooker potential over the years. Heres my best advice.
1. Pick the Right Recipe: Soups, braises, even many casseroles these are slow cooker gold. Look for a recipe that has a cooking time of a solid hour or more, one that bubbles away on a back burner or warm oven without needing your attention very often. You can nearly always follow these recipes exactly, and just swap out the stovetop or oven cooking for an afternoon in the slow cooker.
2. When to Pre-Cook: I love slow cooker recipes that involve nothing more than piling everything in the pot and pressing a button to cook, but this doesnt work with every recipe. Heres what I do:
3. Choosing High or Low Heat Setting: Slow cookers work by slowly coming up to temperature , and then holding that temperature for however long you tell it to. On the HIGH setting, the slow cooker comes up to temperature quickly on the LOW setting, it warms more slowly either way the end result is the same. What really matters is how long you want to cook the food, which takes us to the next tip.
Do you have any other tips for converting recipes to the slow cooker? And particularly successful recipes to share?!
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Instant Pot Pasta Formula
Since different pasta shapes require different cook times, here is what works for me:
Look for the suggested cook time on the box. Now, take the lower number and divide it in half. If an odd number is listed, divide that and round down. For example, if it says 7 minutes, divide that in half, which is 3.5 and round it down to 3.
This produces pasta that is well cooked and just right for my family. For an al dente pasta, or firm to the tooth, subtract one minute from that. For a softer and more tender pasta, simply add another minute to that cook time.
Whole Wheat or Gluten-Free Pasta: The cooking-time formula holds true for whole wheat and gluten-free pasta varieties, too. Simply refer to the cooking time on the package and follow the calculation above.
Quick Instant Pot Conversion Chart
I have also put together a quick Instant Pot Pressure Cooker conversion chart.
That way if you want something quick for dinner and you want to pressure cook it then you can quickly turn to this list.
It features a lot of my favourite foods and it is great for referencing later.
It includes 25 of the most popular instant pot foods that is saved in PDF for easy printing:
Even better, you can print it out and grab it in our members area. In our members area which is for members of kitchen gadgets, we have lots of free instant pot, air fryer, slow cooker and soup maker printables and ebooks.
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Instant Pot Pressure Cooking Is Just Like Baked But Much Quicker
If you imagine that you would normally cook a stew in the oven. You might start it on the stovetop and then transfer the cooking into the oven.
The stovetop is the same as cooking on the sauté setting in the Instant Pot. It will take the same amount of time, though is like using an electric burner on the stove, so if you leave it then it will burn.
But what would spend an hour afterwards in the oven can be done in the Instant Pot for about a quarter of the time.
If you think of anything you cook in the oven, on the stove, microwave, steam, rice machine, soup machine, pasta machine, then it can be done in the Instant Pot.
I am sure at such a thought, that your mind is going crazy with ideas of what you can cook in your Instant Pot!
Slow Cooker Vs Crock Pot
A Crock Pot is a type of slow cooker. If you want, its an improved version of a slow cooker.
Regular slow cooker have only one heating source in the bottom, while the Crock Pot have several heating elements around the pot.
Please note that in this article, when Im mentioning Crock Pot or slow cooker, Im talking about the classic slow cooker, and not the Crock Pot Programmable Pressure Cooker.
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Before You Convert A Recipe Ask Yourself: Is The Recipe A Good Choice For The Pressure Cooker
The first step is picking a recipe that is well suited to the pressure cooker. The pressure cooker requires liquid to achieve pressure. So ideally the recipe will have some liquid in the recipe already. Slow cooker recipes, soups, meats, legume and grain recipes are generally easily adapted to the pressure cooker.
If you want a crispy, fried coating on your meat or veggies, pressure cooking is not the best method. If youre cooking meat thats very lean, or expensive and tender already, the pressure cooker is probably not the best method for cooking that meat.
The pressure cooker excels at taking tough, fatty meats and turning them into tender, succulent meat. It excels at making soups quickly that taste like theyve simmered all day long.
Its also perfect for cooking root vegetables. Two of my favorite vegetables to cook in the pressure cooker are potatoes for potato salad and spaghetti squash. Its the only way I cook rice now, and it makes cooking dry beans a breeze.
What Should I Avoid
This is in no way an extensive list but in general you can organise ingredients and recipes into two categories: those suitable for Instant Pot® cooking and those that should be avoided.
At a glance, ingredients or recipes to use or avoid are:
- Recipes that need wet heat
- Root vegetables
- Recipes that already contain liquid
- Recipes that need a longer cooking time
- Baked goods
- Breaded foods
- Recipes that need a crispy finish
- Recipes that need dry heat
- Recipes with thickeners like flour or cornstarch
- Very tender or expensive cuts of meat
- Vegetables that cook quickly
- Meals that normally cook quickly (Things like steak, burgers or stir frys should all be avoided!
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