There are so many Instant Pot uses, it’s hard to know where to start! Here’s a list of the BEST ways to use a pressure cooker, from soup to oatmeal.
There are so many ways to use an Instant Pot! This tool is the very definition of the word multi-tasker. You can make soups, quinoa, oatmeal, eggs, spaghetti squash: you name it! All with this handy and relatively inexpensive tool. Move over, rice cookers! The Instant Pot has got you beat.
Here’s a list of the best Instant Pot uses we’ve discovered, from pasta to sweet potatoes to quinoa! All of the recipes below we tested with our Instant Pot 6 Qt Pressure Cooker. Scroll below the recipes to find a bit more on how to use an Instant Pot, including important notes on the sealing ring. Now, let’s get started!
And now…our best Instant Pot uses! (In no particular order.)
Did you know you can use your Instant Pot to make pasta? Yes, and it takes just 5 minutes to cook! Throw everything in, press Go, and out comes a tasty dinner! This one has a flavorful homemade tomato basil sauce made creamy with goat cheese, which coats the penne perfectly. The pasta comes out a little softer than al dente, but it fully absorbs the sauce, making for a satisfying bowl of comfort food.
Next up in our Instant Pot uses: oatmeal! If you’ve got a pressure cooker, oatmeal is even easier than the stovetop. You'll toast the oats in butter or coconut oil until fragrant, then mix with milk and cook for just 3 minutes. What comes out is the creamiest, tastiest, easiest oatmeal you’ll find. Double it to make a big pot for entertaining or to eat off of all week (leftovers save well).
Why not use your Instant Pot to make a big batch of chili? This one is really the best Instant Pot vegetarian chili: it’s full of beans, veggies, and lentils to up the plant-based protein. We prefer a pressure cooker to making Crockpot chili, which takes hours and can turn out soggy (ew!). This Instant Pot chili is full of savory, hearty flavor.
Did you know an Instant Pot is also a rice cooker? Yes, you can throw away your rice cooker to make space for this beloved tool. You can make any variety of rice in an Instant Pot, and it comes out perfectly every time! A big advantage is that you can "set it and forget it", and it frees up the stovetop for cooking the main meal.
Another great Instant Pot use? Make a soup! Depending on the recipe, the Instant Pot can shortcut the time required to make a tasty soup or stew. There are so many Instant Pot Soup Recipes, from Italian minestrone to creamy wild rice!
A handy Instant Pot use: delegate cooking your hard boiled eggs! Yep, just add water and the eggs and let the Instant Pot handle all the hard work. It's easy and totally hands off! Then check out 10 Things to Make with Hard Boiled Eggs.
One of our hands down favorite Instant Pot uses is cooking dried beans! Why? It's SO fast. This is where a pressure cooker shines! The standard way to cook dried beans is on the stovetop for an hour or two: and usually you have to soak them one day in advance. Not so with the Instant Pot! It takes just 1 hour: no soaking required.
Another handy way to use an Instant Pot: use it to cook all those long-to-bake vegetables! You know, veggies like spaghetti squash and beets that take 1 hour to bake. Guess what: they take only about 30 minutes in the Instant Pot! Truly life changing.
Let's throw in a fun one: how about using an Instant Pot to cook dessert? Yep, you can cook up an apple crisp in just 1 minute in the pressure cooker! This one uses an organic granola topping that makes for a truly easy dessert recipe.
Why not use your Instant Pot to cook your side dish for you? We love using a pressure cooker to cook quick-cooking veggies in a flash! Then all we have to do is throw in some seasonings and we're good to go. It frees up the stovetop for cooking the main dish!
If you can use your Instant Pot to cook dried beans, you can certainly use it for lentils too! It's great to use to cook up a pot of seasoned brown lentils to use in lunches. Or try our smoky lentils and rice to use as a taco filling or nacho topping!
Yes, the Instant Pot is perfect to use for mashed potatoes! It frees up the stove of that big pot, which is especially nice when entertaining. And you don't have to keep checking to see if the potatoes are fork tender! Throw them in, press Go, and then mash. These recipes are crowd-sized, so they work for 8.
Got lots of apples? Use your Instant Pot to make applesauce! This homemade applesauce is our family favorite recipe. It’s so good that we adapted it for a pressure cooker, which makes it seriously quick and easy to make. All you need is a bunch of apples and a cinnamon stick. (Love apples? Try our Mulled Cider in the Instant Pot.)
Not only can you make dried beans in an Instant Pot, you can use it to make a killer refried beans recipe! Here you'll season pinto beans with onion, garlic, jalapeño pepper, cumin and chili powder before cooking them. They come out seriously flavorful! Use them as a side for tacos or in our Refried Bean Dip.
Last up in our best Instant Pot uses: whole grains! In addition to rice, you can cook any whole grain you like in a pressure cooker. For most grains it shaves off a little of the cook time. But the main advantage is that it's hands off! You don't have to babysit the pot, and it comes out perfectly cooked every time.
If you’re new to using an Instant Pot, read this! Or at least, skim it. When you first look at Instant Pot recipes, you’ll be amazed. 1 minute cook time? This is impossibly quick! And you’re right. It actually is impossible. That’s because you have to factor in two cook times:
“Preheat” time. After you put on the lid and press Cook, the Instant Pot has to “preheat,” meaning that it has to gradually get up to pressure. This can add anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes before it starts to pressure cook! The exact time that it adds is based on how many ingredients are in the pot. In our recipes, we always label how much time the Preheat took because we want you to understand the real cook time.
Natural release time. Some Instant Pot recipes call for a “natural release,” meaning a natural release of pressure after cooking. So you’ll need to add that time to the cook time to understand the full timing.
It takes a little getting used to. But after you use your Instant Pot for a few recipes, you’ll be able to accurately predict how long it will take TOTAL.
Caring for the Instant Pot sealing ring
Inside the lid of the Instant Pot is a plastic ring called the sealing ring. This ring helps to make the seal that lets the pot get up to high pressure. The sealing ring can take on flavors that were cooked in the pot, especially if they are very strong (like cumin). Here’s how to care for your sealing ring so that it won’t transfer those flavors to other food:
Clean it: Remove the sealing ring after cooking and fully clean it with soapy water.
Store it exposed to air: When storing the Instant Pot, store the lid upside down so the ring is exposed to air. This allows the sealing ring to air out between uses.
Deep clean if necessary: If your sealing ring has a strong odor, soak it in vinegar for a few hours.
Buy extra sealing rings: If you use your Instant Pot often, consider purchasing extra sealing rings. We have 3 extra Instant Pot sealing rings and use 2 for savory recipes and 1 for sweet recipes.