A pressure cooker is perfect for whipping up fresh, nutritious recipes. Here are all the best healthy Instant Pot recipes that will quickly become favorites!
Got an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker? Turns out, the Instant Pot can make eating healthy simple! While Alex and I were skeptical of the Instant Pot at first, once we finally got one we fell in love with its versatility.
Here, we’ve put together a list of all our favorite healthy Instant Pot recipes! There are a few main categories: dinner recipes like soups and pasta, side dishes, and basics like dried beans, and whole grains. We love using it for all three! (You can also use it for drinks, but that’s another other topic.) Keep reading for more about cooking in a pressure cooker, and all of the best healthy Instant Pot recipes.
Top healthy Instant Pot recipes
What’s an Instant Pot?
An Instant Pot is a digital pressure cooker (Instant Pot is the brand name; Instapot is a slang variation). Here’s the Instant Pot we have. But there are lots of brands of electric pressure cookers! The concept is 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.
Why cook with a pressure cooker?
Alex and I will be the first to admit: cooking with an Instant Pot is not something we ever expected to do. We’re pretty wary of adding new gadgets to our kitchen. If we add something new to our kitchen, we want to be confident it will be useful in the long term before committing precious cabinet space.
We were on the fence for years until we gave it a try. Now, we make so many different recipes in the Instant Pot (as you can see above). While it’s not a perfect solution to making fast meals, here are the major advantages we see:
- 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. The Instant Pot is not always faster! It depends on what you’re making. But some things it can shave the standard cook time in half: like cooking dried beans, spaghetti squash, or beets.
- It can extend your kitchen. It might sound silly, but one of the reasons we love the Instant Pot is that it gets extra pans off our stovetop or oven so that we can concentrate on cooking the rest of the meal.
What Instant Pot do you use?
Alex and I use an Instant Pot brand (Instant Pot is the brand name; Instapot is a slang variation). The pressure cooker we used to test all of these healthy recipe is the Instant Pot 6 Qt Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker.
We can’t speak to other brands and types of Instant Pots. For example, we’ve heard that the Instant Pot Mini is pretty different and does not work as well as the standard size. So, only use the Instant Pot Mini for these recipes at your own risk!
The other pressure cooker we have experimented with is the Ambiano Digital Pressure Cooker that we used to make the steel cut oatmeal. We found that this pressure cooker performed similarly to our Instant Pot and the timing was interchangeable.
“Hidden” cook time with a pressure cooker
As Alex and I have come to understand our Instant Pot, we’ve learned a few things. The cook time for pressure cooker recipes can look deceptively short. Sweet potatoes cook for 16 minutes, and apple crisp cooks in 2 minutes, and broccoli in 0 minutes!
However, keep in mind taht there are two additional times to add to the cook time.
- “Preheat” time: After you add the ingredients to the pot, the Instant Pot requires about time for “preheating” or coming up to pressure. This time can vary depending on the recipe and how much food is in the pressure cooker. It’s usually about 5 minutes, but can be up to 20 minutes (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.
Once you take into account these additional times, you can accurately estimate the time needed to cook using a pressure cooker! All our Instant Pot recipes have the preheat time (and Natural Release, if applicable) clearly marked. We want to help you understand how long the pressure cooker recipe will actually take to make.
Understanding the Instant Pot sealing ring
Your Instant Pot or pressure cooker comes with a plastic sealing ring on the inside of the lid. The sealing ring can sometimes pick up odors from the cooking. Here are a few tips on caring for the sealing ring:
- Make sure to remove the sealing ring and fully clean it after cooking.
- Store the Instant Pot with the lid upside down so the sealing ring is exposed to air, instead of with the lid closed onto the pot. This allows the sealing ring to air out between uses.
- To remove the odor from an Instant Pot sealing ring, soak it in vinegar for a few hours.
- Tip: If you use your Instant Pot often, consider purchasing two sealing rings. We have 2 Instant Pot sealing rings and use one for savory recipes and one for sweet recipes.
Looking for Instapot recipes?
Instapot, Instant Pot, and Electric Pressure Cooker are all different names for the same thing: a countertop appliance that cooks food using high pressure. Outside of the recipes above, here are our best pressure cooker and Instapot recipes:Print
This is the BEST Instant Pot healthy chili, featuring two beans, lentils, and a robust flavor. (It’s vegan too.) Pressure cooker chili is fast and easy!
- 2 medium yellow onions
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 3/4 cup brown or green lentils
- 28 ounce diced fire roasted tomatoes
- 28 ounce can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 2 teaspoons cumin, divided
- 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 15-ounce can kidney beans
- 1 15-ounce can black beans
- 2 medium or 1 large garlic clove, grated
- For serving: sour cream or cashew cream, shredded cheese, hot sauce, cilantro, sliced green onion, roasted and salted pepitas
- Dice the onions. Dice the pepper.
- Turn on Saute mode and add the olive oil to the Instant Pot. When it is heated, add the onion, pepper, and fennel seeds and saute for 6 to 7 minutes until translucent. Add the lentils, tomatoes, broth, kosher salt, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 3 tablespoons chili powder. Lock the lid of the Instant Pot. Place the pressure release handle (vent) in the “Sealing” position.
- Cook on High Pressure for 12 minutes: Press the Pressure Cook button, making sure the “High Pressure” setting is selected, and set the time. Note that it takes about 15 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.
- Add the final flavorings: Drain and rinse the beans. Stir in the beans, grate in the garlic (using a microplane is easy), and add the remaining 1 teaspoon chili powder and 1 teaspoon cumin. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Taste and season with additional salt and fresh ground pepper as necessary.
- Load it up: Load up with toppings, as they provide the final flavoring! Use sour cream or cashew cream, shredded cheese, hot sauce, cilantro, sliced green onion, roasted and salted pepitas, or your other favorite toppings.
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Instant Pot
- Cuisine: Healthy
Keywords: Instant Pot Chili, Healthy Instant Pot Chili, Healthy Instant Pot Recipes
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.