Reduce The Amount Of Ingredients You Use
You could fill a slow cooker with all the ingredients you want. The Instant Pot wont pressurize if the food is too full. The Instant Pot wont pressurize properly if its not full. So make sure to reduce the number of ingredients you use. You should keep your ingredients below the MAX FILL line by keeping them at least 2/3. You should only fill the Instant pot to the halfway point if you are cooking ingredients that expand, such as beans, pasta, or grains. This is the key to great instant pot recipes.
Scale Back Your Recipes
If you wanted to, you could fill a slow cooker to the brim with ingredients. Not so much with the Instant Pot, which wont pressurize if its too full. If it doesnt pressurize, the food wont cook properly, so make sure youre scaling back your recipes. In general, youll need to keep the ingredients level below the 2/3 full MAX FILL line. If youre cooking ingredients that expand , only fill the Instant Pot to the halfway mark. The best instant pot recipes ensure that you follow this step.
Smart Program Pressure Cooking
If you choose to use one of the pre-set smart program options, the steps are even simpler. Please refer to our post on Smart Program Instant Pot Buttons Explained for how to adjust each setting.
Step 1. Start the Instant Pot. Insert the inner pot into the cooker base.
Step 2. Add ingredients and liquids to the inner pot. Stir if needed or leave layered.
Step 3. Secure and lock the lid. Make sure everything feels well sealed.
Step 4. Select one of the Smart Program buttons. Pre-set cooking time and pressure level will display. You can leave it as is or adjust things like the pressure level from HIGH to LOW. You can press the Smart Program button again to cycle through the Less, Normal and More time options or use the and + buttons to adjust the cooking time further. If you make any adjustments to the selected Smart Program, they will be remembered next time you use it.
Step 5. Preheating & pressurizing stage begins followed by cooking under pressure as per program settings. Once the Instant Pot beeps again and the timer has reached zero, the cooking process is done.
Step 6. You can do a quick release or allow the built-up pressure to release naturally , or do both depending on the food/recipe.
Step 10. Once pressure is released, open the lid and stir or remove the contents.
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Add At Least 1 Cup Of Liquid:
In a slow cooker, the process takes long enough that in many cases, meat can release its natural juices, and thats enough to keep it from drying out. Not so with the Instant Pot! If your slow cooker recipe doesnt have at least 1 cup of liquid, make sure to add some. Usually, broth is a good solution for that, but water can work, too. Or if your recipe already has liquid in it, like the can of chicken broth in our Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken Stew recipe, then youre good to go.
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Dont Throw Out That Crock Pot
Does this mean my Instant Pot is a failure? No, of course not. I bought it as a pressure cooker, and I love it. Ive owned an Instant Pot of some sort for going on six years, and since I got my Instant Pot, my slow cooker has been gathering dust. My biggest use of the slow cooker was for potlucks using it as a warming dish, essentially. Nowadays, when I take a pot of chili to a potluck, I bring it in the Instant Pot. I reheat with Saute mode, then set it to Keep Warm until it is time to serve. I have to stir more I dont want to scorch the chili on the bottom of the pot but it does the job well.
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Conversions Available In An Instant Pot
The first conversion on your instant pots slow cooker function is the Low function option. The purpose of this conversion is to keep food warm before or after you serve. In a traditional slow cooker, Low is equivalent to the Keep Warm function.
The second conversion is Medium. This conversion is usually on the slow cooker function of your instant pot. The equivalent of Medium in a traditional slow cooker is Low.
High is the last conversion available in an instant pot. To access it, set your instant pot to the slow cooker function. On the traditional slow cooker, Highs equivalent to Medium-high.
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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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Always Follow The Safety Rules
Tips For Slow Cooking In An Instant Pot
Slow cooking a meal to perfection in an instant pot demands that you have sufficient liquid in your recipe. One cup is enough for most recipes that are meant to be slow-cooked. To avoid undercooking food, ensure you have this full cup of liquid before you begin the cooking process.
Slow cooking in an instant pot needs to be done using the Slow Cooker function. If you use any other function, you will not achieve the desired outcome. You may end up pressure cooking or steaming your food unintentionally.
Adjust your pots settings to either high or normal on the Slow Cooker function.
The recipes prepared using Low function settings on a slow cooker require you to set the pots slow cooker to normal. This setting will enable you to prepare a similar or better meal like you would when using a traditional slow cooker.
For recipes that require the High settings on a standard slow cooker, set your instant pots slow cooker to High. Ensure you set your timer to the time demanded by your recipe. Allow an additional fifteen minutes for every cooking hour.
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Why You Should Not Use Your Instant Pot As A Slow Cooker
Yes, theres a setting, but your slow-cooker recipes arent going to work as well in it.
Editors Note: The Instant Pot is great for making a lot of amazing things, from perfect stuffed peppers, to delicious deviled eggs and more. But most of the time, we love it for its speedy pressure-cooking capabilities. So what about that other button, the one that says slow cook on it?
The Quantity Of Liquid
We all know that IP needs some type of liquid to get to pressure. This is how it works and there is no way around this. The liquid is used to power up the pot and delivers amazingly with regular and steamed recipes.
However, when you want something with a thick texture cooked slowly you need a traditional slow cooker. With a Crock Pot, even if the dish starts with more liquid, it will evaporate during cooking.
With an electric pressure cooker like the Instant Pot , this isnt possible because the lid is tightly sealed. Sure, the steam release valve is open, so some steam is released, but the result just isnt the same.
I made a few recipes using the slow cooker function in my Instant Pot. Some were great and some were tasty but a little watery.
Your first try
If you are cooking a recipe for the first time, use the same amount of water \ liquid as in the original slow cooker recipe. It may work and it would be tasty anyway.
Your second try
If the final dish on the first try was too watery, you have 2 options:
1. Use less liquid than in the original recipe.2. Use another lid that isnt as tight.
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A Quick Note On Pressure Cooker Type
Over on the Cooking Issues blog, Dave Arnold has noted that results can vary greatly depending on the type of pressure cooker you use. See, older models of pressure cookers have whats called a jiggler: a weight that sits on top of a steam vent. As pressure in the pot builds up, that steam pushes up on the weight harder and harder, until it finally lifts it just enough to vent a bit of steam out, releasing pressure and allowing the jiggler to settle back down. This happens at quite a rapid rate, leading to the weight jiggling up and down . What this means is that in an old-school pressure cooker equipped with a jiggler, the liquid inside actually simmers slowly as pressure builds and is released. This leads to cloudier broths and stocks, and soups and stews with ingredients that tend to fall apart a little more.
The results are pretty drastically different. See the batches of chicken stock here:
Heres whats in each cup:
- A) Stock cooked in a spring-valve stovetop pressure cooker
- B) Stock cooked in an electric pressure cooker
- C) Stock cooked in an older stovetop pressure cooker with a jiggler
- D) Stock cooked on the stovetop in a Dutch oven
- E) Stock cooked in a slow cooker
You can see an obvious difference in the color of these stocks. What you cant see is the flavor, which, to a large degree, correlated with color. Batches A and B were by far the most flavorful, with the best body. Batches C and D were next , trailed by batch E, at a distant fifth.
Can You Use Your Instant Pot As A Slow Cooker
Can Instant Pot be used as a slow cooker? Yes but it is not as simple because Instant Pot slow cooker setting temperatures are running about about 30-50 degrees F lower than on actual CrockPot. Therefore, food takes longer to cook and times have to be adjusted. But you can still use your electric pressure cooker as a slow cooker, if you wish. Here is how.
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What Slow Cookers Are Good At
To be fair, there are a few tasks that slow cookers perform better than either Dutch ovens or pressure cookers, and not just on convenience but in terms of actual performance. Theres no better device for keeping things like stews, soups, chilies, dips, and cheese sauces hot at a potluck picnic table, where guests are going to be dipping repeatedly over the course of several hours. Theres very little reduction going on, and because of the slow, even heat dispersal of ceramic, theres virtually no chance that your sauces are going to burn or brown.
Slow cookers are also great for making large batches of caramelized onions. It takes a long time, but its essentially a set-it-and-forget-it technique. Fill up the crock with sliced onions, add a few knobs of butter, season with salt, turn it on, and leave it alone until the onions are as dark as you like. You wont develop quite the same flavor as youll get with onions caramelized the traditional way, and you wont get the speed of pressure cooker caramelized onions, but as far as the convenience-for-results ratio goes? Its tough to beat.
I also quite like the uniquely moist and custard-like texture you achieve when cooking stuffing or bread pudding in a slow cooker both are recipes that dont rely on intense browning or reduction of liquid for their flavor.
After all, as anyone who has played can attest: Good things come to those who try to find shortcuts.
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Maillard Browning And Reduction
Maillard browning is not something you typically associate with moist cooking techniques, but it actually plays a vital role in flavor development in a good braise or stew, even beyond any initial browning steps you may take before you add your liquid.
Dutch ovens placed in the oven exhibit the most browning. That’s because they heat from all directions, including the top. As a stew cooks, bits of food sticking out above the surface, or, in some cases, areas of concentrated proteins directly on the surface of the liquid, can brown significantly, as can any bits of food that are deposited around the sides of the pot as liquid reduces. This effect is enhanced by cooking with the lid ever-so-slightly cracked to encourage evaporation,** though, even with the lid completely sealed, the heat coming from above will help add some browned flavors.
** This tactic also helps keep the contents of the pot at a sub-simmering 180 to 190°F or soa good temperature range for braising.
See, for example, the darkly browned bits of tomato that formed on the surface and edges of a batch of my Slow-Cooked Red Sauce:
This batch of tomato sauce tasted thin and watery even after eight hours of slow cooking:
The difference was even starker with beef stew. Take a look at the deep color developed in this batch of beef stew, cooked in a Dutch oven:
Then the slightly lighter color of one cooked in a pressure cooker:
And finally, this one, cooked in a slow cooker:
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Instant Pot To Crockpot Conversion
Please use this table to convert Slow Cooker recipe cooking time to Instant Pot Slow Cook mode.
|Instant Pot Setting|
|High||Add 15 mins to every hour in the slow cooker recipe|
Slow cooker high setting: This is the least straightforward conversion because Instant Pot can get as warm as real slow cooker. I highly recommend to add extra 15 mins to every hour of cooking time indicated in Slow Cooker recipe when cooking on High in Instant Pot Slow Cooker.
The Instant Pot And Slow Cooker Heat Up Differently
Slow cookers heat from the bottom, but heat travels up the sides through heat spreading evenly through ceramic pots. Instant Pot heats similarly from the bottom, but the thin metal pot does not spread heat evenly. The heat is generated from pressurized steam that is trapped in the pot. This makes it less suitable for slow cooking.
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When To Select Low Pressure
Low pressure should be used for delicate foods like eggs, fish, and vegetables. However, all of these foods can also be cooked using high pressure for a reduced amount of time. If you are confused about whether or not to use low or high pressure, its best to stick to high pressure. This should be specified in recipes.
Lets Start At The Beginning: Whats An Instant Pot
In case you are in the dark on this, its an electric pressure cooker with a stainless steel pot. It will cook the same as a stovetop pressure cooker but with less guessing and babysitting .
All my Instant Pot tips and recipes apply to any electric pressure cooker and most stovetop cookers should be the same . You can get an < < thats the one I have, and there are fancier models too.
So now the kicker: what about the mental effort and time it takes to find all-new recipes for your new toy?
I have great news.
You dont have to.
The crockpot to Instant Pot conversion is so easy youll still be able to use all your old favorites!
I discovered this on accident one day when I was having a rushed morning and thought, Eh, no problem, I can start the slow cooker meal I planned for dinner at lunchtime and just do 4 hours on high instead of 8 hours on low.
When the kids came home from school at 3:30, I remembered my plan.
Wayyyyy too late.
It struck me that perhaps the Instant Pot could handle it, and lo and behold, dinner was saved!
As Ive experimented more, Ive discovered that you can convert slow cooker to Instant recipes every time more on the almost later.
Youre Just *7 Days* Away From Easier Meals with Your Instant Pot
Whether you have a few fav meals in your Instant Pot or still arent using it regularly yet, I can show you the secrets to SAVE time with my favorite appliance!
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Slow Cooker To Instant Pot Conversion
At its basic, the slow cooker is easier to guess because the answer is alwaysa really long time. Instant Pot cooking times are super quickin many cases so quick that I wouldnt have guessed it correctly.
For instance, roast beef takes 15 minutes per pound in the Instant Pot and 8-10 hours on low in the slow cooker!
Add Liquid When Necessary
When cooking with a pressure cooker there is very little moisture lost, which is why you add only a cup of liquid for each recipe in the Instant Pot. This means that there doesnt need to be a lot of liquid to begin with. Cooking in the Crockpot is very different because its not a sealed environment and the cooking process takes a lot longer.
Make sure you add enough liquidespecially when cooking things like pasta, rice, and meat. This will help avoid dried out or undercooked meals. Also make sure youre not adding too much liquid, so your meal doesnt turn out too watery.
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