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I love my Instant Pot. After being gifted one for Christmas three years ago, it seriously streamlined my ability to cook as a single person. I simply dump all my ingredients in one giant pot, set it on high pressure for about 20 minutes and I’ll have a meal ready before The Bachelor comes on. It’s a major time-saver and my favorite cooking gadget, so I’m here to share my top easy instant pot recipes with anyone who needs them.
As a rice cooker, slow cooker, steamer and pressure cooker, the Instant Pot pretty much does it all. Still, I’m always surprised by the ingenious recipes that I find on the Internet, like chili garlic noodles that take just three minutes to cook—you truly can make anything in this thing.
I find myself looking for recipes for my tried and true favorite meals that have been Instant Pot-ified, including soups and curries, but this gadget is also great for meal prepping steamed vegetables and grains. I’ve also found it to be the fastest and best way to make typically time-consuming things like spaghetti squash, risotto and even bread. Once I discover one of these Instant Pot hacks, I don’t go back to the oven or stovetop for that meal ever again.
To share my wisdom with other Instant Pot-lovers, here are 10 things you never thought you could make in an Instant Pot—and the easiest ways to do so.
1. Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash is my favorite vegetable pasta dupe, but it always frustrated me how freaking long it would take to cook in the oven (sometimes over 45 minutes!). Finding out that you can cook it in the Instant Pot in under 20 minutes was a serious time-saver. Though this method does make the squash a bit more watery, it’s easy to drain out the extra liquid. This recipe by Detoxinista is my go-to.
2. Roast Chicken
This is one I learned from my parents, who frequently roast chicken to make homemade dog food for their three dogs (crazy, I know). While it doesn’t produce skin as crispy as an oven might, this Instant Pot rotisserie chicken recipe from Damn Delicious takes a fraction of the time and still yields a succulent bird that is great for shredding up for buddha bowls, nachos and sandwiches.
3. Dry Beans
At the beginning of the pandemic, I panic-bought a whole bunch of dried beans, as they were essentially the only source of protein left in the grocery store. When the stores restocked essentials, I was still stuck with a bunch of beans and no idea how to cook them.
Traditionally, dry beans are cooking by soaking them overnight, then simmering them over the stovetop for up to two hours, which seems like way too much planning for me. Thankfully, I learned that you can cook beans in the Instant Pot in just 45 minutes with this recipe from A Mind “Full” Mom. I now exclusively use this method over canned because it’s cheaper and makes better beans overall.
4. Vegan Buffalo Cauliflower Dip
I have made this buffalo cauliflower dip recipe from Rainbow Plant Life for many Super Bowls, and even my omnivore friends have enjoyed it. It gets its cheesy flavor from nutritional yeast and the kick of buffalo sauce makes everyone forget that they’re not eating meat. Plus, as opposed to cooking and steaming all the ingredients separately before blending them, I like that I can just dump it all in there and use an immersion blender for the perfect consistency.
5. Instant Pot Cake
Yes, you can bake in a pressure cooker—and whoever you’re making the cake for will be in awe that you did so. You do need to use a pan inside your Instant Pot, but I’m happy to report a standard 6-inch pan does fit, according to this recipe from Well Plated by Erin. Simply mix all your ingredients per usual, but instead of putting it in a hot oven, you just pressure cook it and end up with a great cake in less time. Genius.
6. Butternut Squash Risotto
I’m obsessed with risotto, but I hate slaving away over a hot pot and slowly adding in broth every 10 minutes or so, which is why I rarely made it before the Instant Pot came into my life. With it, I just dump all the ingredients in and it will be ready in about 20 minutes—no frequent stirring required. This IP Butternut Squash Risotto recipe from Whole Lifestyle Nutrition is one of my faves. It’s like fall in a cozy cup.
Stovetop popcorn tastes way better than that stuff in a microwavable bag, but again, it often takes too much effort to bother with. I was shocked to find that you can make popcorn in the Instant Pot in, yes, an instant. This recipe from CopyKat requires the use of a glass lid as cover, and once the popcorn is popping, you can add your favorite seasonings and enjoy.
8. Hard-Boiled Eggs
Hard-boiled eggs were always one of those things I failed to cook properly. They always came out either too runny or somehow overcooked. They’re pretty much foolproof in the Instant Pot, though, especially when following this recipe from Gimme Some Oven. I love having them on hand for breakfast or to put on salads.
I made bread once and only once in quarantine. It took way too much time between kneading, waiting for the yeast to rise, cooking covered and then cooking uncovered. When I learned you can bake bread in the Instant Pot, I was intrigued, to say the least.
You still need to wait for the dough to rise and all that jazz, but it shaves off some time and still produces a delicious loaf. I follow this recipe by Amy + Jacky Pressure Cooker Recipes.
10. Vanilla Extract
Though I don’t make this too frequently, it’s still a fun one that I was surprised could even be done in an Instant Pot. To make vanilla extract, you do have to obtain your own vanilla beans, but it comes out better than any store-bought version I’ve ever come across. You can make other extracts like peppermint and lemon in the Instant Pot, too, but for vanilla I use this recipe by Tidbits.