We all love finding shortcuts in the kitchen, right? I personally love cooking, but when I entertain (and I use that term loosely), I do anything I can to make things easier on myself. Because if I keep things easy, I’m more likely to invite people over. And while there are a lot of different ways to save time and effort, my personal favorite is using my Instant Pot.
I cook in mine at least twice a week, and I use it often for entertaining. It is my favorite kitchen appliance, and that’s saying a lot, coming from a girl who hates gadgets.
I want to help you find ways that make inviting people over easy for you, too. That’s why today I’m sharing with you 10 types of dishes you can cook in your Instant Pot that are great for entertaining.
What is an Instant Pot?
An Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker, a sealed pot that uses “pressurized” steam to cook your food faster. Even before my husband gave me one this past Christmas, I had heard aaaaaaaaalllll about them. It seemed like everywhere I went on the internet, people were talking about Instant Pots. Friends tried to talk me into getting one, but I just wasn’t really interested in buying another kitchen appliance.
I don’t have a lot of cabinet space, my kitchen is small, and really, I’m a minimalist at heart. I refused to give into the Instant Pot craze. After a while, though, I kept hearing about how much time they saved, and the more I read and researched, the more curious I got.
And once I got my Instant Pot and tried a couple of recipes, I was hooked. Sure, there was a learning curve, but I was amazed at all of the things that I could cook in it. After a couple of weeks, it replaced my Kitchen Aid mixer on the counter top — after 15 years of prominence in my kitchen. That’s how much I was using it.
Now, coming up on my first Instant Pot anniversary (I plan to buy mine some accessories to celebrate), I use it at least 50% of the time I’m entertaining. It’s fast, it doesn’t heat up the kitchen, and I can hit a button and step away.
You should start using your Instant Pot for entertaining, too. Here are 10 of my favorite things to cook in my Instant Pot along with some tips and recipes you should try.
1. Hard-Boiled Eggs
You might be yawning and thinking, “Seriously? Eggs, Sandi?” But you can use hard-boiled eggs in lots of different ways — in salads, in sandwiches, and as deviled eggs. And the awesome thing about cooking eggs in your Instant Pot is that they become super easy to peel. Much easier than when you cook them on the stovetop.
Make sure to run your eggs under cold water right after you take them out of the pot so they don’t keep cooking.
2. Large Cuts of Meat
One of the things I love most about the Instant Pot is that I can use it to cook a roast in less than two hours. When I cook in my slow cooker, it takes 8-10. Both work fine, but for someone who doesn’t always plan ahead enough to start my roast cooking in the morning, the Instant Pot is my best friend.
Plus, you know how some slow cooker recipes require you to brown the meat on the stove before cooking it? You can both sauté and pressure cook your roast in the Instant Pot so that you only have one pot to clean at the end.
When I’m feeding a crowd, I often serve shredded meat of some kind because it stretches further than a slice of roast. If a beef roast is on sale, I make shredded Mexican meat or French dip sandwiches. If pork shoulder is on sale, I make carnitas or barbecue sandwiches. (Side note: don’t ever tell your kids that pork shoulder can also be called pork butt. Trust me on this.)
When you’re cooking a roast in the Instant Pot, cut it into 3-4 chunks so it will cook quicker. I didn’t know this until I tried converting my carnitas recipe to the Instant Pot on the night I was hosting a study party for my son’s friends and their parents. (Read all about it in Dinner Party Mistakes: What to Do and How to Recover.)
Did you know soup only takes 15 minutes in the Instant Pot? I’ve been making them a ton lately. I love that I can just dump all of the ingredients in, close it up, push a button, and go about my business until it beeps done.
Milk doesn’t do well under pressure, so if you’re making a milk-based soup, add the milk after the Instant Pot has released its pressure. Cream, on the other hand, has enough fat to stay stabilized and not curdle.
Vegetable Beef Taco Soup (pictured) | The Welcoming Table (High Pressure for 15 minutes, then QR)
Homemade Chili | The Welcoming Table (High Pressure for 15 minutes, then QR)
Loaded Baked Potato Soup | Cooking Classy
Chicken Jalapeno Popper Soup | Once a Month Meals
I am amazed at how good pasta is in the Instant Pot. I mean, seriously — I have made the best Mac and Cheese of my life in my Instant Pot, and it only takes 4 minutes under pressure! (20 minutes total.) Did you know that you can also make Spaghetti — both the pasta and sauce at once — in the Instant Pot? (Granted, it’s not as good as making sauce from scratch, but for a quick, kid-friendly meal, it’s worth trying!)
Be prepared for water to squirt out along with steam when you release the pressure. Some people cover the valve with a dishtowel. I just wipe off the counter when it’s done.
5. Chicken Recipes
Unlike a crockpot, you can put frozen meat into an Instant Pot without any food safety issues. Just add 10-20 minutes or so to your cooking time. In fact, you can make Instant Pot freezer meals by freezing them in round containers and transferring them directly to the Instant Pot when you’re ready to cook them.
6. Beans & Legumes
Beans are one of my favorite things to cook in my Instant Pot. Similar to roast, beans would take 8 hours or so in the Crockpot but only 1.5 hours in the Instant Pot. And beans are very inexpensive if you’re feeding a crowd. It’s easy to add flavor to them, too, from bacon to chicken broth.
You don’t have to soak beans when you cook them in the Instant Pot. Woo-hoo! Something about digestion and enzymes and — I’ll get back to you on that.
Amy & Jacky from Pressure Cook Recipes (who are an awesome resource for all things IP!) say that the Instant Pot makes better rice than their Japanese rice cooker, and that’s saying a lot, considering they take their rice very seriously. Rice is great for stretching a meal which makes it perfect when you’re feeding a lot of people.
To make sure your rice doesn’t stick, rinse it before cooking in. And follow a 1:1 rice to water ratio in general (as opposed to 1:2 on the stovetop).
10+ Fail-Proof Instant Pot Rice Recipes | Pressure Cook Recipes
15-Minute Mexican Rice | Ginger Casa (pictured)
Instant Pot Cilantro Lime Rice | Two Peas and Their Pod
Electric Pressure Cooker Parmesan Rice | Recipes That Crock
Your Instant Pot won’t necessarily save you a lot of time cooking vegetables, but it’s handy to cook them in while you’re working on another dish. I love that I can make mashed potatoes all in one dishwasher-safe pot. I’ve never understood how to use a steamer insert on the stovetop, but it’s easy to do in the Instant Pot.
9. Rice Pudding
I know, I know. I already talked about rice. But rice and rice pudding are two different things. Rice pudding was the very first recipe I tried in my Instant Pot. To be honest, I had only ever made it once before, but after making it in the IP, it’s become one of my favorite dessert recipes.
If you don’t have milk or you’re trying to avoid dairy, you can use coconut milk as a great substitute. I almost like the taste better with coconut milk.
Instant Pots make amazing cheesecakes. Don’t believe me? It’s true. The water in the bottom makes a perfect water bath, and the result is so delicious. You have to try it! You’ll be so proud that you made a homemade cheesecake, and your guests will be amazed that you made it in the Instant Pot. To make a cheesecake, you need a springform pan.
Make your cheesecake the day before you plan to serve it. That way, it has time to cool and to let all the flavors meld.
There you have it! 10 things you can make in your Instant Pot, and all of them are great for everyday or for entertaining.
Do you have an Instant Pot yet? If not, you can buy one here. I recommend a 6 Qt. if you cook regularly for 4-6 people. If you have a big family or you feed large groups often, you should get an 8-Qt. That’s what I have, and I love it!
If you do have an Instant Pot, what’s your favorite thing to cook in it? Tell me in the comments below!
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