Tips For Cooking Slow Cooker Recipes In Your Instant Pot

I had always heard that Instant Pots are like slow cookers, but just with faster results! However, after finally biting the bullet and getting one for myself, I’m realizing that they are very very different! The particular model that I bought does have a slow cooker feature, but for the pressure cooking feature, it’s definitely another animal! You can’t just stick your slow cooker recipe into the pressure cooker and expect it to come out the same. There’s a few things to tweak or think about when converting recipes from your slow cooker to your Instant Pot.

Make sure there’s enough liquid. The key reason an Instant Pot works is because it builds pressure- and it needs liquid for that to happen (think: steam!). Also, because things are cooking quicker, food doesn’t have time to release its natural juices, so you need that extra liquid to help! Make sure you have at least 1 cup of liquid in your recipe (not alcoholic- alcohol will not evaporate at all and you’ll ruin the taste of your recipe!). Much of this liquid will still be there (because there’s just not time for it to evaporate!), so you’ll want to either use the saute setting and boil the extra liquid away, or use the rack accessory to keep your food above the liquid- unless the extra liquid doesn’t matter in your recipe! Plan accordingly.

No dairy. Milk, cream, cheese, etc. are all ingredients you will want to add after your recipe has come to pressure and cooked. Dairy ingredients will cook much faster than other things, resulting in curdling or scorching that is definitely not what you want in your tasty dinner!

Thickening agents. Ingredients such as cornstarch and flour are going to mess with the pressurization, so avoid recipes that use these.

Pay attention to size. Instant pots need a lot more room to work with. Depending on the size of your recipe and/or the size of your Instant Pot, you may need to reduce your recipe, or use a bigger sized Instant Pot. It needs more room to create pressure, and so you never want to fill it more than ⅔ full. Be sure you’re paying attention when filling your pot!

Use this handy timing formula. Obviously, the reason it’s called an “Instant” Pot is because it can cook things much faster than is usually required! There are a ton of cheat sheets out there, but one of the most helpful things I came across was this simple formula on Take the number of hours your slow cooker recipe requires to be cooked on High, and multiply that number by 6 to know about how many minutes you need! So a recipe that needs to be cooked for 4 hours on high, multiplied by 6, is 24- meaning, you need about 24 minutes to cook it in the Instant Pot!

A couple other things to think about when converting recipes for your Instant Pot:

Yeast breads and other baked goods won’t turn out the same. There are many recipes out there that make a variety of things, but one thing to think about with yeast breads- they are going to be cooked with pressure, which means steam! That means your breads will not have a delicious crispy crust! This also means that your cookies won’t come out with a delicious crispy edge. Maybe those things aren’t important to you, but if texture is a big deal for you, stick with the more traditional methods of baking them!

Quick cooking veggies and such are maybe, not so quick. Sure, you can cook your veggies in just a couple minutes in the Instant Pot, but that doesn’t include all the time it takes for it to come to pressure and the time needed for the steam to release. It ultimately will be much faster to just use the microwave or stovetop in these instances!

Keep these tips in mind and you’re sure to have success converting recipes for your Instant Pot!

    Camille Hoffmann
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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