We’ve loved the Instant Pot since we first wrote about it in July 2016. The brilliant thing about electric pressure cookers like the Instant Pot is that you can prepare dinner in less than an hour with very little effort or attention. The results taste almost as good as slow dinners made on the stove (sometimes better!), and you only have one pot to clean at the end.
You can find many awesome, yet involved, Instant Pot recipes that showcase the best electric pressure cookers have to offer. I’ve made Melissa Clark’s spicy shredded pork for a dinner with great reviews, as well as one from our own test kitchen for chicken with lemon and vegetables. But sometimes you just want an easy dinner idea that’s as stupidly simple and foolproof as the device itself. The following are the quick, index-card ready recipes we make regularly for our families, each broken down by the Instant Pot settings you should use.
These abbreviated recipes assume some basic knowledge of how the Instant Pot works, but a newbie can follow it after learning a few key terms. Sauté: Set it to Sautéed mode over high heat and cook uncovered for about 5 minutes until things start to soften and brown a bit. manual: Set an exact cooking time and pressure level (both indicated in recipes). Quick release: Activate the pressure release valve as soon as the cooking timer is activated. Natural release: Wait for the pressure to release naturally until the safety valve deactivates and you can open the lid (usually 10 to 20 minutes).
Dinner ideas in a green chile pot
and white beans
Sauté onions and half a poblano pepper; add 1 cup of dried white beans and water to top the beans a little. Manual, high pressure, 15 minutes. Quick release. Add 1 pound of chicken thighs, the other half of the poblano, any extra vegetables, and half a jar of sauce if desired. Manual, high pressure, 20 minutes more. Quick release if you’re hungry, natural if you forget about it. —Tim Barribeau
Optional: Brown whole chicken in oil over sautéed. Add 4 cloves of garlic, 2 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 inches of sliced ginger, 1/2 cup of soy sauce, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 4 cups of water. Manual, high pressure, 25 minutes. Quick release pressure. —Ganda Suthivarakom
chicken and vegetables
Sauté (or just add to the pot if you’re short on time) about 4 cups of vegetables cut into roughly equal size pieces with a splash of oil, salt and pepper. Potatoes, carrots, celery, mushrooms, onions, and garlic are good choices. Place about 4 pounds of chicken leg quarters on top (thighs and breasts also work well, with or without bones), along with more salt and pepper and an optional bay leaf or other herbs if desired. Manual, high pressure, 20 minutes (15 minutes if boneless chicken is used). Natural release until it opens on its own (about 20 minutes). Optional: Garnish with chopped parsley.
Variation 1, chicken and rice: Add 2 cups of rice and about 2
- cups of chicken broth or other liquid (make 1 cup of cream if you like creamy).
- Variation 2, Instant Pot coq au vin: Make the main recipe but add about 4 slices of bacon, chopped, to your sauté mixture. Add a few drops of red wine (up to half of the bottle). Follow the same pressure instructions. —Jacqui Cheng
Sauté about 6 cloves of crushed garlic with a chopped onion. Add 2 cans of whole tomatoes and their liquid and seasonings (oregano, thyme, salt). Manual, high pressure, 10 minutes. Quick or natural release. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Add fresh herbs, salt and pepper to taste. —Courtney Schley
Easy side dishes and bases
Sauté sliced bacon until fat is yielded. Add the sliced shiitakes and chopped garlic. Add 1 bunch of kale, chopped, plus 3 chopped carrots and 1/2 cup of water or broth. Manual, high pressure, 8 minutes. Quick release. —GS
Sauté 1/4 cup spaghetti broken into 2 tablespoons butter until pasta is golden brown and fragrant. Add half a medium onion, diced into small cubes, and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Follow with 11/2 cups basmati rice, 11/2 cups water, and a pinch of salt. Cover the pot and cook in Manual, high pressure, 6 minutes, then natural release for 10 minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste. —Lesley Stockton
Combine a 13.5-ounce can of coconut milk with 12/3 cups of basmati rice, rinsed (or you can make 1 cup of coconut milk, 2/3 cup of water, and the same amount of rice, but all coconut milk will be richer). Add a large pinch of salt and (optional) 1 or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger, and/or 1 or 2 chopped garlic cloves. Cook using rice settings (no adjustments necessary), natural release 10 minutes. Add a handful of chopped cilantro if desired. —Marguerite Preston
Combine chicken thighs and feet (or wings, or leftover bones, or whatever cheap), tubers, celery, garlic, onion and any herb you like in the pot and add enough water to cover. Manual, high pressure, 90 minutes. Quick or natural release, then skimmed. —TBdo
you have a short recipe for your Instant Pot? Share it in the comments so we can try it out too.