8 Instant Pot Hacks to Make Your Life Easier

There’s something glorious about the Instant Pot. It delivers tasty, hassle-free meals in a short period of time, and it can make your life so much easier.

Basically, it’s a magical cooking tool that combines an electric pressure cooker, a warming pot, a slow cooker, a steamer, a yogurt maker, and a rice cooker, all in one. (Yup—now that’s impressive.)

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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Not only does it free up some counter space, but it also cooks up some amazing food. Yet you should use it to your advantage to make the most of your meals, have fun experimenting, and make meal prep much easier by cooking foods that would normally require more time and effort. Here are 8 Instant Pot hacks to go crazy for right now.

Look for Frozen, Pre-Chopped Veggies

Buy frozen, pre-chopped veggies—it’s totally okay. “Yes, sounds simple, but when you’re relying on the ease of an Instant Pot, you want to really think stress-free (and fairly mess-free) cleanup,” says Elizabeth Ann Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, CPT. Plus, the nutrition is the same (if not better!), so you’re not skimping on any vitamins and minerals in that frozen pack.

“Purchasing frozen, pre-chopped veggies like broccoli and bell peppers makes a quick Broccoli Cheese Soup or enchilada and quinoa dish come together that much easier,” Shaw says, as an example.

Go With the Right Setting and Trust It

“Focus on functionality! Yes, if you’re making a slow-cooked dish in the Instant Pot, don’t try to cook it on pressure cooked,” says Shaw. “Use the slow cooker settings and follow the recipe instructions rather than trying to get it done too quickly. Doing so may result in a rubbery roast or chewy chicken,” she explains.

To clarify the difference—a slow cooker is for cooking a meal “low and slow”, while a pressure cooker works to cook something fast at a high temperature with pressure. “The Instant Pot has settings for both to simulate the cooking,” says Shaw, but you should go with whatever recipe you’re using and trust that it’ll come out properly on the correct setting.

Make a Big Batch of Rice

“The Instant Pot is THE BEST rice cooker around. Toss in brown rice, water and salt. No matter how much rice you want to make, the cooking time is the same so make lots for weekly meal prep,” says Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, author of the Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook. This is a great use for holiday planning and parties, as well as simply getting your meals prepared in advance for the whole week ahead.

You can also make a killer risotto. “It seems hard to believe that risotto perfection can be achieved without attentive stirring but the Instant Pot makes it possible and easy enough for a healthy and fast weeknight meal,” she says. Ten minutes of cooking and another ten for natural release will give you a creamy and comforting recipe to dig into.

Hack Hearty Squash and Potatoes

Squash can be pretty challenging to cook, so use your Instant Pot to do the tricky work for you. “Instead of wrestling to cook cumbersome veggies like sweet potatoes and butternut or spaghetti squash, pop winter squash in the Instant Pot,” she says. Poke a few holes in the outer flesh, place on a steamer rack, pour in 1 cup of water, and cook on high pressure for 10 to 15 minutes until it’s done.

Make Freezer Meals

Make-ahead meals can go straight from freezer to the Instant Pot in a jiffy. “Combine your favorite protein and sauce in a freezer safe bag and store in the freezer. When ready to cook, remove from the bag, toss in the pot and cook on high pressure for about 15 minutes (exact times may vary),” says White.

“When the cook time is done, quick release the pressure, remove the lid and stir in fresh or frozen veggies, they will be heated through very quickly,” she says.

You can use whatever foods you want—there’s much versatility when it comes to freezer meals and the instant pot. “Some of my favorite combinations are chicken breast tenders and Cajun seasoning with onions and peppers and sliced flank steak and teriyaki sauce with broccoli or sugar snap peas,” says White. Before serving, add a handful of fresh herbs or sesame seeds for a final burst of flavor, she suggests.

RELATED: Must-Try Instant Pot Recipes That Are Surprisingly Healthy

Cook Beans Quickly

Cooking beans from scratch can be pretty cumbersome and take a while—not so great when you’re exhausted after a long day at the office. “The process of soaking, draining and cooking dried beans can take a lot of extra time when prepared the traditional way,” says White. “The Instant Pot method requires no overnight soak—perfect black beans are less than an hour away,” she says. And you can then avoid sodium from a can of beans, too.

Use It for Your Favorite Healthier Desserts

“If you haven’t made cheesecake in your Instant Pot, you aren’t living up to your full Instant Pot potential. The moist, high pressure is the perfect cooking environment for light, fluffy and evenly cooked cheesecake,” says White.

You can make lightened up versions using a combination of Greek yogurt and reduced fat cream cheese. “My recipe for Rainbow Cheesecake can be found on the Instant Pot website and recipe app,” she says, if you’re looking for some inspiration.

Tackle Tough Cuts of Meat

“The Instant Pot is the ideal tool for quickly cooking cuts of meats that usually require long and slow cook times,” says White. And no one has time for that during a busy week! To make sure you can still enjoy these delicious meals, without all the hassle, turn to the instant pot. “Beef roasts, pork shoulders and racks of ribs can be cooked in a fraction of the time,” she explains.

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Whip out your Instant Pot and make any of these 42 healthy Instant Pot recipes for a quick, fresh, homemade meal with clean and delicious ingredients.

The Instant Pot is an amazing time-saver for healthy meal prep and you can make pretty much any and all meals in your IP including dessert!

Instant Pot Saves the Day

Here it is, people. After years of getting over our Instant Pot fear, we are officially superfans of the Instant Pot! If you’ve never heard of an Instant Pot, it is a new age pressure cooker. It is your all-in-one appliance that can saute, slow cook, quick cook, and everything in between.

When I say we had an Instant Pot fear in the beginning, it’s because if you’re not used to hot steam pouring out of one of your appliances, then it may take some time to get used to it.

Lee’s Aunt Lisa was the catalyst in Team Fit Foodie getting comfortable with the Instant Pot. We headed down to Illinois for a peach harvest (read more here) where Aunt Lisa taught us how to can peach with the Instant Pot.

She made it look so easy. She went over all the reasons she had an Instant Pot, so I thought we’d share why YOU need an Instant Pot.

Why You Need an Instant Pot

There are countless reasons for you to get an Instant Pot, but here are some of the reasons why WE love our Instant Pot.

  • Frozen chicken is ready in minutes
  • It’s a one-pot recipe machine
  • Weeknight meals are ready in half the time
  • You can make your own yogurt
  • Rice is super easy to make in the instant pot
  • A two-pound pot roast takes 2 hours, compared to a crock pot that takes 6-8 hours!

So there you have it, the rest is history! Give your first Instant Pot recipe a go with one of these delicious Instant Pot recipes (42 recipes to be exact)!

Healthy Meals, for all diets

We have stepped up our healthy Instant Pot game on Fit Foodie Finds over the last few years with dozens of new recipes featuring all types of meals. Our Instant Pot recipes are balanced meals that are made with simple and real ingredients that don’t sacrifice classic flavors.

While we don’t follow certain diets on Fit Foodie Finds, a lot of our IP recipes are naturally gluten-free and vegetarian. We have Instant Pot recipes that suit most diets:

  • gluten-free
  • paleo
  • vegan
  • vegetarian
  • keto

The Instant Pot is a great appliance for everyone, but especially for those trying to live a healthy lifestyle because it makes meal-prep a breeze AND you don’t have to use your oven (insert college kids!).

FFF Healthy Instant Pot Recipes

Here are all of our most popular healthy Instant Pot recipes! You’ll find everything from breakfast to chicken, to soup recipes! We also gathered some of our favorite Instant Pot recipes from some of our favorite bloggers!

Instant Pot Breakfast Recipes

Making steel cut oats made easy in the Instant Pot! It is an easy one pot recipe that you can make for great meal prep recipes throughout the week. All our Instant Pot breakfast recipes below are great for meal prep!

  • 10-Minute Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats
  • Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs Meal Prep Breakfast
  • Instant Pot Cinnamon Roll French Toast Casserole
  • Instant Pot Apple Sauce

Instant Pot Chicken Recipes

We love making a big batch of shredded chicken in the Instant Pot and using it all week long! You can make any of chicken salad recipes with shredded chicken from the Instant Pot! It’s the best!

  • Instant Pot Moroccan Chicken Bowls
  • Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
  • Basic Instant Pot Chicken Breast
  • Instant Pot Cashew Chicken

Instant Pot Vegetarian Recipes

Not into meat? That’s OK! We have so many amazing vegetarian recipes on FFF that are ready in no time in the Instant Pot!

  • Kitchen Hack: Protein Instant Pot Mac and Cheese in 5 Minutes
  • Instant Pot Fried Rice
  • Instant Pot Butternut Squash
  • Instant Pot Potato Salad
  • Instant Pot Sweet Potato Curry
  • Instant Pot Apple Crisp
  • How to Make Quinoa in the Instant Pot

Instant Pot Soup Recipes

Soup in the Instant Pot may be one of our favorite meals in the Instant Pot! It is so easy to through everything in the Instant Pot and let it do it’s magic! You are left with a flavorful soup and only one dirty dish!

  • Instant Pot Hamburger Soup
  • Instant Pot Stuffed Pepper Soup
  • Instant Pot Tuscan Turkey Soup
  • Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup
  • Instant Pot Chili

Instant Pot Beef + Pork Recipes

Say hello to our most popular Instant Pot Recipe of the moment, INSTANT POT PORK ROAST. Any big chunk of meat in the Instant Pot is pressure cooked to perfection in the Instant Pot!

  • Instant Pot Beef with Broccoli
  • Instant Pot Pork Chops
  • Instant Pot Korean Beef Bowl Recipe
  • The Ultimate Instant Pot Pork Roast
  • Instant Pot Carnitas
  • Instant Pot Pulled Pork
  • Instant Pot Beef Stroganoff

More Amazing Instant Pot Recipes

  • Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen
  • Garlic Rosemary Cauliflower Potato Mash from Little Bits of Real Food
  • Healthy Lasagna Soup from A Pinch of Healthy
  • Beef and Mushroom Ragu with Spaghetti Squash from Skinnytaste
  • Restaurant Style Beef Shawarma from Little Spice Jar
  • Instant Pot Vegan Lentil Gumbo from Cotter Crunch
  • Potato Leek Soup with Cauliflower from A Calculated Whisk
  • Lemon Vegetable Risotto from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen
  • Instant Pot Ginger Garlic Drumsticks from Living Sweet Moments
  • Instant Pot Wild Rice Soup from Little Spice Jar
  • One Pot Cashew Chicken from Life Made Sweeter
  • Cranberry BBQ Pulled Pork from Wholesomelicious
  • Creamy Instant Pot Green Bean Casserole from Instant Pot Eats
  • Instant Pot Hard “Boiled” Eggs & Lazy Devils from Nom Nom Paleo
  • Instant Pot Pot Roast (Tavern Style) from Heather Likes Food
  • No-Knead Whole Wheat Rosemary Bread from Delish Knowledge
  • Instant Pot Orange Chicken from Little Bits of Real Food

Knowing this, I read all of those 15 first pages in Multicooker, picked out a few tasty-sounding recipes and started making tortilla soup. I sautéed tomatoes, onions, and garlic, added broth, whole chicken thighs, sealed the lid and set the pressure cooker function for five minutes.

Wait, what? Five minutes from onions to almost-done soup? Holy cow! All is forgiven!

It’s not quite that quick—multicooker users know that the countdown doesn’t begin until the unit is pressurized, which can be a couple minutes for meals without much liquid in there, or a while longer if you’re waiting for six cups of broth to heat up enough to build the pressure.

No matter. After those five minutes were up, I let the pressure out, shredded the thigh meat and put it back in the pot, sprinkling Cotija cheese and cilantro over my bowl, then adding a dollop of sour cream and a squeeze of lime. Along with some toasted tortillas, it made for a fantastic dinner.

I switched gears for the next meal, this time opting to understand the fuss around pressure cooker mac and cheese. The key here is that it’s not a quantum leap forward in macaroni technology, but it’s a dinner that allows you to dump uncooked pasta in cold water with some mustard powder and cayenne and hit start. After five minutes under pressure you stir in evaporated milk, cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheese, make sure the pasta is al dente, and Bob’s your uncle.

The more I cooked, the more I learned. Two keys I figured out were to get all the prep done ahead of time, and read the recipe all the way through before you do anything. Yes, you should do both of these anyway, but they’re more urgent with the pressure cooker. Things often move quickly from one step to the next in pressure cooker recipes, so it was particularly necessary to have everything ready for something like the Thai-braised eggplant, where you sauté several ingredients then add 1/2 cup of broth, which halts the browning and provides the liquid to make the steam and build pressure. If that half-cup isn’t measured out, you could end up with a scorching problem.

Cooking through these recipes also taught me what to watch out for and the limitations of multicookers. I learned to make extra sure to scrape all of the flavorful fond off the bottom of the pot after sautéing or browning food, especially if it was a dish with a thicker sauce, otherwise I’d get an unwanted “burn” message on the Ultra’s screen during the pressure cycle.

Speaking of searing, temper your expectations. My Ultra, which has the same searing capability as the Duo, left me wanting more. It could capably sauté onions but browning something like chicken legs was slow enough that I asked the manufacturer to ship me another Ultra just to make sure it wasn’t just mine. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

This isn’t just an Instant Pot problem. America’s Test Kitchen points out that some cookers have low, medium, and high sauté functions, while others have a “brown” option, and that you should use the hottest one. Regardless, an ATK spokesperson told me that “once you take that into account, the models all perform about the same.”

Now I know two things: it’s not my fault—yay!—and for a nice sear without a lot of waiting, I’ll use a skillet on my stove and transfer the browned food to the pot when it’s done.

I plowed on, picking up the pace, gaining confidence, and even riffing a bit. I made a pot roast from ATK’s 2013 Pressure Cooker Perfection, which hit the market before stovetop pressure cookers had been overtaken by the electric models. Since stovetop pressure cookers can build up a bit more pressure, they cook faster, so I cross-referenced what I was doing with Multicooker Perfection and it worked out very well. I also made Multicooker’s chicken broth recipe, a classic of the pressure cooker genre, as it’s fast, flavorful and done in an hour. One very nice touch? After browning chicken wings and onions, the 12 cups of water that the recipe called for brought it right up to my six-quart pot’s fill line for pressure cooking.

Risotto was next, another pressure cooker classic since there’s no need for constant stirring. In fact, it goes so quickly that you can have the whole yummy shebang on the table in half an hour.

Instant Hit

My only quibble with Multicooker Perfection is the curious omission of short sections for rice and grains, beans, and cuts of meat or vegetables cooked on their own. These were right up front in Pressure Cooker Perfection, and having that reference is a invaluable, especially for weeknight dinners.

Still, I’d run through enough recipes in the book that I felt comfortable enough to start spreading my wings. I had other recipes and cookbooks I wanted to explore, like the tamarind baby back ribs in Melissa Clark’s Dinner in an Instant. I also wanted to cross reference recipes in The Chef and The Slow Cooker, using the timing for similar food done in Multicooker.

You might find another book that does a great job getting you up to speed. For me, after making a host of recipes in ATK’s new book, the wilds of pressure cooking didn’t seem so wild anymore. I’d built the foundation I needed and was ready for more. So ready, in fact, that I logged into the secret Instant Pot for Indian Cooking group and looked up a recipe for dal makhani.

Food writer Joe Ray (@joe_diner) is a Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of The Year, a restaurant critic, and author of “Sea and Smoke” with chef Blaine Wetzel.

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Not with the Instant Pot. My machine didn’t come with a steamer basket or any other accessories, so I had to cook the chicken and broccoli together in about 8 minutes on high pressure, then the rice separately for 25 minutes. Still less time than the rice cooker, but more tedious to prepare them separately. The good news: There are accessories available separately to make cooking things together easier, like steamer baskets, springform pans, and stainless steel stands.

Day five was dedicated to applesauce—tons and tons of applesauce. It’s really simple: peel apples, cut them into small chunks, add to Instant Pot with a little water and cinnamon to taste, and cook for 11 minutes on high pressure. Once it was done, I blended the chunks with an immersion blender. It was the best applesauce I’ve ever had, hands down.

Day 6: Down, but not out

I spent much of day six in bed with a nasty cough and sinus infection, but I still had plenty of chicken and pasta left, thanks to the previous days’ work. I did cook a can of soup in the Instant Pot to kinda keep with my week’s theme, though.

Day 7: My pesto achievement Courtesy of Meagan Morris

I left my piece of resistance for day seven: pesto chicken pasta. Making pasta twice in one week might sound like a cop out, but this one was a challenge because I had to adapt a regular recipe for the Instant Pot. I was still able to do everything in the Instant Pot—including cooking the chicken—thanks to the sauté button. Once the chicken was finished, I added the rest of the ingredients to the Instant Pot, cooked for 5 minutes, and crossed my fingers.

And it turned out pretty great, if I do say so myself.

It took a little trial and error, but in the end, using the Instant Pot cut a lot of time out of my cooking process.

Is the Instant Pot the end-all, be-all of cooking appliances? No, but it does make meal prepping a whole lot easier, which is important for me and my healthy diet and lifestyle.

My next step is to actually make a weekly meal plan centered around dishes I can make in the Instant Pot with more spices and riskier ingredients, thanks to my newfound confidence in the kitchen. I didn’t break any ground with the recipes I made during my week-long challenge, but that’s the beauty of the Instant Pot: You can make simple recipes (like pasta and eggs) and then turn around and create some really decadent meals and desserts (like ribs and cheesecake) a few minutes later.

Even if you don’t want to make all of your meals in an Instant Pot, it’s worth investing in one for busy days or weeks. Courtesy of Walmart

Buy it here: $100,

And let’s be real: It’s going to pay for itself in no time, thanks to my new yogurt-making abilities. That alone will save me $20 a week. Sorry, Fage.

We’d all like to be organized enough to start a slow cooker in the morning and come back to a home-cooked meal at night. But let’s be honest: You’re probably scrambling to get ready for work, sneak in some exercise, or get the kids to school with just enough time to slam a cup of coffee on your way out the door.

But thanks to the Instant Pot, which retails for under $100, you can reap many of the same benefits without as much advanced planning. It’s an active person’s godsend. Here are a few easy recipes from the kitchens of professional athletes to let simmer during your afternoon workout.

If You Have 2 Hours: Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is one of Rally Cycling racer Nigel Ellsay’s favorite picks for a weeknight meal. The 20-year-old loves spending time in the kitchen when he’s not out riding. “Pulled pork is great because you can put it in the Instant Pot at 4 p.m. and be ready for dinner soon after,” he says. To make it, simply stick a pork shoulder in the Instant Pot with about an inch of water in the bottom, set it to “meat,” and seal. (If you want to add some carbs to your meal, throw in a couple halved potatoes.) When it’s done, use two forks to shred the now-tender meat. Add barbecue sauce to taste, toss it on a bed of greens, and you’re ready to go.

Pro Tip: Weekly meal prep makes for even easier Instant Pot dinners. Pre-chop ingredients, combine in a plastic Ziploc, and stash it in the fridge or freezer. To cook, just plop the bag of ingredients into the Instant Pot and press the start button.

If You Have 1 Hour: Tomatillo Avocado Chicken

Chicken cooks quickly and stays moist and tender in a pressure cooker. Cyclocrosser Ellen Noble’s go-to recipe is simple. “I combine a premade tomatillo salsa with a couple slices of avocado (for creaminess), a few chicken breasts, plus whatever vegetables I have in the fridge,” she says. Add water or chicken broth so there’s about an inch of liquid covering the bottom, then program the pot to the manual setting on high for 15 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally, and set the pot to stay warm when finished so you can do your full workout without dinner getting cold. When you’re ready to eat, use two forks to shred the chicken. Top it with fresh cilantro and a spritz of fresh lime and enjoy. Serve atop tortilla chips with a bit of melted Monterey Jack cheese for a healthier take on nachos.

Pro Tip: Experiment! “The Instant Pot has become one of my favorite ways to make food for the week,” Noble says. “Sometimes I make specific recipes, or I’ll just throw in whatever’s in the fridge that needs to be used up and make a ton of delicious food for the week.” (Ellsay is also a fan of the “everything but the kitchen sink” stew.)

If You Have 30 Minutes: Rice Bowl

Noble and Ellsay both admit that they primarily use the Instant Pot to make rice in record time. Unlike a rice cooker, the Instant Pot’s correct ratio of rice to water is 1:1. The pot has a rice setting and will take between five and 25 minutes, depending on the type of rice you’re cooking. Before a race, Noble likes to top a bowl of rice with almond milk, jam or maple syrup, and almond butter. For a more savory option, add canned black beans, chunks of avocado, and plenty of greens and fresh salsa for a do-it-yourself burrito bowl.

Pro Tip: If you’re a fan of heartier, more nutrient-dense grains, the Instant Pot reduces the cook time of farro from 20 to 40 minutes on the stovetop to just ten minutes. Pearl barley, which traditionally takes nearly an hour, is done in just 25 minutes.

Filed To: NutritionRecipesWellness Lead Photo: Your Best Digs/Creative Commons

Cooking light instant pot

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