These easy pressure cooker recipes are the best ways to use your Instant Pot to make dinner, from soups to pasta to tacos!
Want to make dinner in your pressure cooker but not sure where to start? Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja, and we’re here to help! In the past few years, we’ve gone from skeptics to electric pressure cooker experts. We’ve understood what makes it tick, what are the advantages to using one, and where it can come up short. We’ve found vegetables it can cook in an instant (black beans! beets! spaghetti squash!), and other recipes that take just as long as the stovetop. In short: we’ve made all the mistakes and mastered all the techniques so that you don’t have to.
Here, we’ve compiled our top electric pressure cooker recipes for dinner! These are the recipes we often turn to when we want to make a full meal with our Instant Pot. If you’re looking for other recipes like side dishes or basics (rice, beans, grains, veggies), head to some of the posts below.
And now, our top electric pressure cooker recipes!
Here's the very best pressure cooker lentil soup! It's the perfect intro to cooking soup in the Instant Pot, easy to make and full of nutritious ingredients. Lentils load it with plant based protein, and it’s bright red from fire roasted tomatoes. The star ingredient: fresh fennel, which adds a smoky undertone. Enjoy a steaming bowl with a side of our best cornbread.
Don’t take it just from us: reader Laura told us,“My husband said this could easily go into regular rotation at our house.” Score!
Can you cook pasta in a pressure cooker? Yes, and it's darn good, too! This pressure cooker pasta recipe cooks the pasta in a sauce of fire-roasted tomatoes, fresh basil and spices. You'll find the pasta slightly more tender than it would on the stovetop, but it's still mega delicious: kind of like a baked pasta. To make it creamy, stir in goat cheese: it adds a brightness and tang.
This pressure cooker chili recipe is pretty darn delicious, if we may say so ourselves! To keep it on the healthy side, it's a vegetarian chili, made with two beans and a surprise ingredient: lentils! The different textures work wonderfully in the chili-powder spiced broth. The best part are the garnishes: top with cheese and sour cream (or cashew cream for vegan), cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
Here's a pressure cooker recipe that everyone loves: and we mean everyone! Intensely cozy and comforting, it features chewy wild rice, savory veggies and white beans, swimming in a naturally creamy sauce that you'll never believe has no dairy. It's pretty magical. Serve with biscuits or homemade cornbread.
Don't take it just from us! One reader commented: "This soup is AMAZING!!! I actually think it’s my new favorite soup, which is saying a lot!"
Spaghetti in a pressure cooker? Yes, it's even possible to boil up a pot of noodles right in the Instant Pot. This one is one of the easiest pressure cooker recipes: simply throw in the noodles and sauce ingredients and press Go. And it comes out tasting incredible: it's made with fire-roasted tomatoes, fresh basil, and lots of seasoning.
Take it from one of our readers, who said: "“Oh my, I scraped the bowl clean on this one! The flavor was awesome."
Here's everyone's favorite fall soup, done up as a pressure cooker recipe! While butternut squash soup might seem simple, it always takes longer than planned (especially chopping the butternut squash). It's one step easier in the pressure cooker, where you can set it and forget it! Serve with grilled cheese to make a complete filling meal.
So we talked pressure cooker spaghetti: how about spaghetti squash spaghetti? This tasty dinner recipe combines tangy marinara sauce (use storebought or homemade) with spaghetti squash instead of traditional pasta. It makes for a tasty spin on the classic! For a filling main dish, add goat cheese, seasoned lentils, meatballs, or veggie meatballs.
Last up in our pressure cooker recipes: split pea soup! It's cozy, comforting, and full of filling split peas! The best part: it's seriously simple to put together. All you'll have to do is chop onion, carrot and celery: that's it! Then put your pressure cooker to work for the rest. It comes out lightly smoky and satisfying.
This ultra cozy pressure cooker lentil soup stars fennel, fire roasted tomatoes, and lentils: it’s an easy healthy dinner that everyone will love!
- Dice the onion. Dice the fennel. Peel and dice the carrots. Grate the garlic and set aside to stir in once the soup is cooked.
- Turn on Saute mode and add the olive oil. When it is heated, add the onion and fennel and saute for 6 to 7 minutes until translucent. Add the carrots, lentils, tomatoes, broth, water, salt, paprika, and oregano. Lock the lid of the Instant Pot. Place the pressure release handle (vent) in the “Sealing” position.
- Cook on High Pressure for 10 minutes: Press the Pressure Cook button, making sure the “High Pressure” setting is selected, and set the time. Note that it takes about 20 minutes for the pot to “preheat” and come up to pressure before it starts cooking. (During cooking, avoid touching the metal part of the lid.)
- Quick release: Vent the remaining steam from the Instant Pot by moving the pressure release handle to “Venting”, covering your hand with a towel or hot pad. Never put your hands or face near the vent when releasing steam. Open the pressure cooker lid.
- Stir in the spinach and grated garlic, and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Taste and season with additional salt and fresh ground pepper as necessary. Serve immediately.
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Pressure Cooker
- Cuisine: Vegetarian
Keywords: Pressure Cooker Recipes, Pressure Cooker Lentil Soup
What’s an electric pressure cooker?
An electric pressure cooker is a device used to cook foods at high pressure, which cuts down on cooking time. It’s the exact opposite of a crock pot or slow cooker, which has very long cook times. Other terms for a pressure cooker are Instant Pot or Instapot, a slang variation).
What pressure cooker do you recommend?
Alex and I use an Instant Pot brand pressure cooker. Here’s the 6 quart Instant Pot we have. This is the pressure cooker that we’ve used to test all the recipes above. There are some slight variations in pressure cookers between brands, so keep in mind that you may need to make adjustments based on your pressure cooker. And please don’t use a Mini pressure cooker for any of these recipes: it’s much too small!
Why cook with a pressure cooker?
Let’s clear this up right away: even though the brand-name electric pressure cooker is called an Instant Pot, it does not cook all foods in an instant! There are lots of things to get used to with pressure cooking. However, once you do: there are lots of advantages to using an electric pressure cooker in your kitchen!
- It’s usually pretty hands off. The nice thing about pressure cooking is you can “set it and forget it” in many cases. Recipes don’t require baby-sitting like they do on the stove or in the oven.
- It can be faster. For some recipes, the pressure cooker can shave the standard cook time in half: like cooking dried beans, spaghetti squash, or beets.
- It can extend your kitchen. One of the reasons we love our electric pressure cooker is that it gets extra pans off our stovetop or oven so that we can concentrate on cooking the rest of the meal.
Understanding cook time with a pressure cooker
As Alex and I have come to understand our pressure cooker, we’ve learned a few things. The cook time for pressure cooker recipes can look deceptively short. Apple crisp cooks in 2 minutes, and broccoli in 0 minutes! But keep the following timing in mind when making these recipes:
- “Preheat” time: After you add the ingredients to the pot, the pressure cooker requires about time for “preheating” or coming up to pressure. This time can varies depending on the recipe: it’s usually about 5 minutes, but can be up to 20 minutes (like in our mashed potatoes for a crowd).
- Natural release time (depends on recipe): Some recipes call for a “cool down” process to release the pressure in the pot. A Quick Release means that the steam in the pot is released immediately and you can remove the lid. But some recipes call for a Natural Release, where you wait with the cover on for the pressure to naturally release from the pot.
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.