Think a pressure cooker is just for meat? Think again. Here are dozens of vegetarian Instant Pot recipes to prove you wrong.
Alex and I eat a mostly vegetarian and plant based diet. (In fact, we wrote a book about it!) When we heard about the Instant Pot, we figured it was just for meat: and didn’t give it a second thought. It wasn’t until a friend shared with us that she cooked sweet potatoes in her Instant Pot that we started to reconsider. Fast forward until today, and we’ve made dozens of vegetarian Instant Pot recipes! The sky’s the limit: from basics like rice and quinoa, to soups and even pastas!
And one of our favorite ways to use an Instant Pot is to cook dried beans. You can cook up a pot in 1 hour. It’s a drastic time savings versus the stovetop method (which calls for starting to soak the beans the night before and takes hours on the stove).
Here we’re sharing all of our best vegetarian Instant Pot recipes! Ready to get started?
First up in our vegetarian Instant Pot recipes: pasta! Can a pressure cooker cook pasta without turning it to mush? Turns out, it works: and it’s absolutely delicious! Here, we’ve made a creamy Instant Pot pasta with a marinara sauce mixed with creamy goat cheese. It’s so seriously flavorful, it might just be one of our favorite Instant Pot recipes yet. And it’s a perfect easy dinner recipe: as simple as throwing a few things in the pot and cooking for 5 minutes.
This one is really the best Instant Pot vegetarian chili recipe! It’s full of beans, veggies, and lentils to up the plant-based protein. A pressure cooker is a quick and easy way to make chili versus Crockpot chili, which takes hours and can turn out soggy. This Instant Pot chili is full of savory, hearty flavor. In fact…we might like it the best of all of our chili recipes!
This Instant Pot lentil soup recipe is the perfect intro to pressure cooker soups! It’s 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. This soup is ultra cozy; enjoy a steaming bowl with a side of the best vegan cornbread.
This vegetarian Instant Pot recipe is perfect for cooking fall's favorite ingredient. Tender acorn squash is stuffed with a savory, herb-laden pecan and rice stuffing that truly makes your kitchen smell like a fall wonderland while you make it. Really! Did you know you can cook acorn squash in a pressure cooker? This recipe uses the Instant Pot to cook both the rice and the squash, making it simple to whip up.
Here's a healthy soup that's incredibly tasty: minestrone! This classic Italian soup is full of chunky vegetables, baby kale and pasta in a tomato-y broth. Serve garnished with fresh herbs, or take it up a notch with a dollop of basil pesto (or vegan pesto).
This Instant Pot wild rice soup has become a fan favorite because it's so, so delicious. It cooks dried white beans at the same time as the rice (wow!), and it’s hands off, for the most part. When we took the first bite, we were blown away! It’s also vegan and vegetarian, so it’s all naturally creamy goodness.
Do you make your own refried beans? Homemade refried beans taste so seriously good, it’s worth making them when you have the time! The Instant Pot is actually perfect for homemade refried beans, because it skips the soaking time. Just throw the beans in with some seasoning, and in 1 hour they come out perfectly tender.
Looking for a fast and easy dinner recipe where all you have to do is “set it and forget it”? This vegan Instant Pot spaghetti recipe for busy weeknights, and times when you just don’t want to have to think about dinner. All it takes is just throwing all the ingredients in the pressure cooker! And the flavor? Take it from one of our readers, Erin, who said: “Oh my, I scraped the bowl clean on this one! The flavor was awesome and it was so easy, it was exactly what I needed right now.”
Gone are the days of waiting over 1 hour to roast spaghetti squash in the oven. This Instant Pot spaghetti squash method cuts the time in half! The cook time is only 8 minutes. With the 5 minutes to preheat and 10 minutes to let the squash drain afterwards, you’re still only looking at about 25 minutes total.
Who could pass up Instant Pot loaded potato soup? This one is creamy with intermittent potato chunks, using no heavy cream at all! Old Bay gives it an irresistible undertone. And it’s so easy to make: you don’t even need a blender! Like any good recipe, the best part is the toppings. Load it up with whatever you like: here we used shredded cheese, sour cream, chives, and smoky, salty vegan bacon.
This vegetarian Instant Pot split pea soup recipe is the ultimate meal! It’s filling, plant based, and easy to make in a pressure cooker. Full of cozy, lightly smoky flavor, all that's required is chopping 3 veggies: onion, celery and carrot. That's it! Let your Instant Pot do the rest of the work.
If you’re looking to eat more vegetarian recipes, you’ve probably heard this: eat more lentils! Right? This Instant Pot lentils is a tasty basic lentil recipe that can be served many different ways: as part of a bowl meal, in a taco, and more! The great part: pressure cooker lentils are totally hands off! They come out tender and perfectly spiced with onion powder, paprika, garlic powder, and oregano. The easiest way to serve them? With a pita and a dollop of Greek yogurt.
Do you use your Instant Pot for desserts? This Instant Pot apple crisp is simple so that the fresh apple flavors really shine. The topping is seriously simple: you'll use granola instead of oats! It cooks up in just 5 minutes in the Instant Pot! Garnish with lemon zest and a little cinnamon and it's seriously cozy with minimal effort.
Take it from one of our readers, Lisa, who said: "It was easy and quick and even though it was made in the Instant Pot rather than the oven it made my kitchen smell amazing. The apples came out perfectly tender!"
Ready for the quickest, coziest fall recipe? May we present: Instant Pot butternut squash soup! It's spiced with sage, with a hint of cinnamon and a smoky undertone. The squash and carrot give it an electric orange hue, and it's rounded out with potato and apple for sweetness. Really, it's pure gold in a bowl! It's a star in our comforting butternut squash recipes.
Here's another healthy Instant Pot recipe that makes a quick vegetarian side dish! This is the BEST way to eat cauliflower: mixed with lemon zest for brightness, Italian seasoning, and olive oil. It's got a Mediterranean flair and is so tasty, you won't be able to stop eating it!
This vegetarian Instant Pot recipe has a cook time of 0 minutes! That's right: all you need is 0 minutes to cook this broccoli (though of course it takes 5 minutes for the Instant Pot to preheat!). Mix it up with feta cheese crumbles and red onion, and it's a showy side dish that takes no time at all.
Can you cook Brussels sprouts in an Instant Pot? Though we thought crispy roasted Brussels sprouts was the only way to eat them, turns out, Instant Pot Brussels are delicious too! They come out crisp tender and mixed with butter, chives, and Parmesan cheese, they’re super flavorful. Not soggy or bitter, but savory and irresistible. Watch out: you'll eat the whole bowl!
How about vegetarian Instant Pot breakfast recipes? These Instant Pot apple cinnamon steel cut oats are creamy and come out perfectly tender. The entire process of making steel cut oats in a pressure cooker takes about 30 minutes total including prep, preheat and cool down time. The even bigger benefit is that cooking steel cut oats with a pressure cooker is totally hands off. Throw in the oats and let the Instant Pot cook for you!
Here’s an easy, healthy breakfast recipe for weekdays or entertaining guests: Instant Pot oatmeal! If you’ve got a pressure cooker, oatmeal is even easier to make. The oats are toasted in butter until fragrant, then mixed with milk and cooked for just 3 minutes. (Vegan variation included.) What comes out is the creamiest, tastiest oatmeal you’ll make!
Why bake sweet potatoes when you can make them in the Instant Pot? What results is perfectly moist sweet potatoes with little effort and much faster than an oven! It’s now our go to method for cooking sweet potatoes. You can use them as a vegetarian side dish, or make them into a plant-based main dish like these Sweet Potatoes with Thai Peanut Butter Sauce. They're topped with a zesty bell pepper slaw and drizzled with peanut sauce and cilantro. Yum!
The Instant Pot is a fast way to make applesauce! This applesauce recipe is tangy sweet and depending on the apples you use, you don't even need sweetener. All you need is a bunch of apples and a cinnamon stick. It comes together with no added sugars in under 30 minutes!
Roasting beets usually takes over an hour. But here's a way to cut the time in half! Enter: the Instant Pot. This Instant Pot beet recipe takes about 30 minutes total. And they come out tender and juicy every time! It's so fast and easy, you won't be able to stop making beet recipes. Use these beets in our Beet Salad with Balsamic Dressing! It's a show-stopper.
Want to make perfect hard boiled eggs? Look no further than your Instant Pot! This method is totally hands off: you don’t have to wait for water to boil or worry about overcooking the eggs. Simply pop the eggs in the Instant Pot and cook for 7 minutes! The entire process takes about 20 minutes and couldn’t be simpler. And even better: boiling eggs in an Instant Pot makes for easy peel hard boiled eggs. (Really! We didn’t believe it until we tried it.)
You also can use an Instant Pot to cook dried beans from scratch! There's no soaking required: just pop in the beans and water. It takes only 1 hour to cook dried beans! It's vastly quicker than on the stovetop.
For all of these vegetarian recipes,Alex and I use an Instant Pot brand Instant Pot (Instant Pot is the brand name; Instapot is a slang variation). The Instant Pot we use is the Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker. We have used that Instant Pot to test all of the Instant Pot recipes on this website. There is definitely variations between pressure cooker brands and sizes, so you may see some variation in cook time.
Understanding Instant Pot cook time
When you look at cook time with any pressure cooker, you’ll need to factor in a few more things than just the actual cook time. Keep the following in mind:
“Preheat” time: Once you add the ingredients to the pot, the pressure cooker requires about 5 to 10 minutes for come up to pressure. This time can vary depending on the recipe.
Natural release: Some recipes call for a Quick Release: here you’ll immediately release the pressure and open the lid. But some recipes call for a Natural Release method, where you wait with the cover on after the cook time for the pressure to naturally release from the pot.
Cleaning the Instant Pot
The plastic sealing rink inside the Instant Pot can pick up odors when you use the pot to cook vegetarian recipes. To remove the smell from an Instant Pot sealing ring, soak it in vinegar for a few hours. Another option is purchasing two sealing rings. We have 2 Instant Pot sealing rings and use one for savory recipes and one for sweet recipes.
A good practice is to 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.
Place the following ingredients into the Instant Pot: water, tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, oregano, kosher salt, spinach, whole basil leaves, and penne.
Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes: Press the Pressure Cook button, making sure the “High Pressure” setting is selected, and set the time. Note that it takes about 10 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.
Open the lid and crumble in the goat cheese; stir until a creamy sauce forms. The sauce will thicken even more as it cools.
Keywords: Vegetarian Instant Pot Recipes, Instant Pot Pasta Recipe
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.