Did you know you can convert slow cooker meals to Instant Pot/pressure cooker? Save time and have dinner perfectly cooked – every time! Here is the ultimate guide for making any Crockpot recipe in an Instant Pot.
Slow cooking is still a wonderful thing, but pressure cooking in the Instant Pot is really wow-ing us. We love being able to saute in the same bowl we cook in. We love not having to “babysit” the cooking meal. And we especially love that dinner can be on the table so quickly!
With so many family favorite meals already perfected in the slow cooker, we wanted to figure out the best ways translate them for pressure cooking. We’ve found that most recipes translate just as well – if not better! No need to totally re-invent your recipe collection when you can follow these guidelines to convert.
Here are our tips, conversions, and cautions for making any Crockpot recipe Instant Pot friendly
Basics for converting a crockpot recipe into instant pot
Here are some basic rules to help you know what (if anything) should be changed for your recipe to work as a pressure cooker recipe. Plus some tips to help you make the most of your Instant Pot!
One-cup liquid rule: If your recipe does not already call for at least a cup of liquid, you will need to add a cup of water or broth. Pressure cooking requires liquid, so don’t try to cook anything without at least a cup!
When to use the drop-in steam rack: this is great for when you do not want whatever you’re cooking to touch the bottom (for more even cooking), such as when “boiling” eggs. This also works for keeping things like “baked” potatoes from sitting in the water at the bottom. I also like using it for roasts so I can pull them out easily.
Take advantage of the saute function! Truly a wonderful feature to save on dishes! It does take a few minutes to heat up, so just turn it on before chopping veggies and it’ll be ready for you. And did you know it has three settings? Yes, 3! It automatically turns to normal, but you can also push the “Adjust” button to set it to “Low” for bringing broths or sauces to a simmer, or “High” for searing meats.
Use the bowl-in-bowl method: did you know you can use smaller bowls and cups within the Instant Pot? If you want to make just a single serving or two of oatmeal, for example, you would put a cup or so of water into the Instant Pot, place the steam rack inside, then set the desired amount of oatmeal and water in a bowl or cup on top. The possibilities are endless! You can use any heatproof container made of metal, heatproof glass, or ceramic container.
How long to pressure cook a slow cooker recipe
For many recipes, you actually do not need to change anything but figure out pressure cook time! This is the case for many soups, meat-only recipes such as roasts or chicken. In the beginning it takes some experimenting and practice because no two meals are exactly alike. Here are some basic guidelines that will get you going in the right direction!
If a Crockpot recipe calls for 8 hours on low (or 4 hours on high), it will probably be done perfectly in about 25 minutes in the Instant Pot. If it isn’t done, just cook it for another 5 minutes on manual (unless it still looks reaaaally raw – then add maybe 8-10, but that is highly unlikely). And don’t worry, the Instant Pot will come up to pressure much faster the second time because everything inside is still so hot.
The thicker the piece of meat, the longer it will need. Volume does not matter, but density does. So if you have a large, thick piece of meat it will need more time than the same amount of meat cut into smaller portions.
If you throw your meat in frozen, just add 5-10 minutes to the total pressure cooker time. If it’s a really huge block of lots of ground meat or something, maybe 10.
Use the natural pressure release method when cooking meat to make it extra tender. It’s also important to allow for natural pressure release when cooking beans, rice, oatmeal, or other grains that foam so that it doesn’t sputter and clog the vent.
Use a manual or quick pressure release when you cook more vegetables or fruit. This helps keep fruit and veggies from getting too mushy. A manual pressure release is simply opening the vent once pressure cooking has finished – just keep your hands clear! Manual pressure release is also good if you’re not sure if you gave enough cooking time – so you waste less time before checking.
Liquid conversions for cooking beans and grains
When grains and legumes are pressure cooked, they require less water. For most grains, rice, legumes, and beans you will need less water than other forms of cooking.
Most slow cooker recipes do not call for rice and grains that cook quickly since they typically turn to mush. But if a Crockpot recipe calls for brown rice or barley, look at the Instant Pot chart for more information on minimum cook time and liquid amounts. Know that the “Rice” button is programmed for white rice only.
Beans and legumes will double in size when cooked, so never fill the Instant Pot more than halfway with them. If cooking beans alone, simply cover the beans completely in liquid.
To find out cook times, visit the Instant Pot website. Remember, cook times listed are typically minimum – beans and legumes are difficult to overcook but are gross if under-cooked. I always err on the side of cooking a little longer. The “Bean/Chili” button is set to cook beans, but if you are using beans that require more time you can either push “adjust” to “more” or use “manual” mode.
Soaking beans and legumes overnight is typically the best way to decrease cook time and have the best results (for your tummy). But you can definitely cook beans without soaking them in the Instant Pot, which is pretty great when you need to cook them last minute.
Cautions when converting slow cooked meals into Instant Pot
Here’s a basic list of things to be careful of when using your Instant Pot, especially when converting recipes:
- Do not use milk in pressure cooking. Milk can scald, which would ruin flavor and consistency in cooking. Instead, add milk products after cooking or find non-dairy substitutes or broths to use during pressure cooking.
- Do not pass the “Max Fill” line. Not only could overfilling possibly clog your Instant Pot, but it might leave you waiting for a long time and not actually ever reach pressure.
- For beans and grains, only fill halfway. Anything that expands will, well, get bigger – so leave plenty of room! Cooking beans and grains also often causes foaming, so you need the extra room to keep the foam from clogging the vent.
- Add thickeners after the pot finishes cooking. To add corn starch or flour, for instance, use a small bowl to make a slurry: add the thickener to a small amount of cold liquid and whisk well. Then pour into the cooked goods after the cooking is finished and whisk.