How to Slow Cook in the Instant Pot (Conversion Tips)
Did you know that you can cook slowly in the Instant Pot? You can! It’s a faster way to put your favorites simmered on the weeknight’s dinner table! Just follow these 8 tips and you’ll be well on your way to turning slow cooker into instant cooker recipes like a pro!
cooker was invented in 1940, and there are TONS of great slow cooker recipes out there
. However, the
Instant Pot has given the slow cooker a run for its money, thanks to the fact that you cook many meals faster and (in my opinion) better than the slow cooker. It also comes with the ability to do other cool things, like making yogurt, sautéing ground beef, and making oatmeal completely hands-free and saving money.
But what about all those amazing slow cooker recipes? Do we get rid of those looking for new favorite Instant Pot recipes? Don’t!
When converting slow cooker recipes to Instant Pot recipes, you need to know two things:
How the Instant
- Pot works the way it works
- Why Instant Pot recipes work. P.S
… If you’re new to the Instant Pot in general, I suggest you read my 20+ things you should know before buying an Instant Pot.
8 Tips on How to Make Slow Cooker Recipes in an Instant
Tip #1: Adjust the liquid level
Each Instant Pot recipe should start with at least 1 cup of liquid. The liquid is needed to prevent burns and to help the Instant Pot increase the pressure properly.
Because heating is so gradual in a slow cooker, the odds of something burning are slim BECAUSE enough juices have been released from the food by the time the slow cooker has reached its highest heating temperature.
Tip #2: The Instant Pot is designed to heat up very, very fast.
This means you need to START with liquid, otherwise your food will burn before you’ve had a chance to release juices.
- That said, whenever you make a slow cooker recipe in an Instant Pot, you should adjust the recipe so that you start with at least 1 cup of liquid. This could mean adding extra fluid to reach the minimum needed.
- This extra liquid can be water, broth, or the same liquid that the slow cooker recipe requires (i.e. beer, apple juice, etc.), is your decision. But make sure there is 1 cup of liquid at the bottom of your Instant Pot before you start cooking.
Tip #3: Natural Pressure Release vs. Rapid Pressure Release
Every time you make a recipe, the instant pot should increase the pressure, then cook the food, and then release the pressure. Pressure is usually released in one of three ways
- Natural pressure release: This happens when the food timer turns off and you do nothing. The pressure will be released naturally in about 10-15 minutes.
- Programmed natural pressure release: This is where the food timer is activated, but set a kitchen timer, usually for 5 or 10 minutes, AND THEN performs a quick release.
- Rapid pressure release: This is when you manually rotate the valve from “sealing” to “ventilation”. It’s like a switch, and in doing so will immediately release the steam that has been building up inside the Instant Pot.
The type of pressure release you choose for your slow cooker-turned-Instant Pot recipe matters, because every time there’s pressure inside the Instant Pot, your food is cooking.
That means, if you choose natural pressure release, your food will cook for another 10-15 minutes. Of course, the temperature will gradually drop, and the food will cook at a slower pace, but the food is still cooking.
Tip #4: When you’re cooking meat in the instant pot, the natural pressure release option is best.
This helps the meat retain juices and produces a better texture at the end. A perfect example of this would be my slow cooker carnitas. I would use natural pressure release when making that recipe in the Instant Pot.
If you’re making something that can be cooked too easily, such as vegetables, you’ll want to choose quick pressure release to avoid overcooking food.
Tip #5: Slow cooker ingredients that don’t
work in the instant cooker
- Milk and most dairy products (like sour cream or cheese) don’t work very well in the instant pot. The Instant Pot gets too hot, too fast for these foods and will likely cause a burn error.
- Cornstarch or arrowroot powder should also be added after the pressure is released, for the same reason as dairy products.
- Cream-based soups, such as mushroom cream or broccoli soup cream, and it doesn’t matter if they’re homemade or store-bought soup cream. These can be added to the recipe, just add them after pressure release.
Other ingredients to keep in mind:
- If your slow cooker recipe calls for flouring and burning meat, skip the flour part and simply seal the meat in some oil in the instant pot. The flour will prevent your Instant Pot from correctly increasing the pressure.
- Tomato paste, do not mix it with your liquids before cooking. Add it to the top of your meal, cook as directed, and then mix it after pressure release.
- Wine, you will want to add it after the release of pressure AND leave the lid so that the alcohol burns and the flavor deepens. The taste of the wine does not change under pressure, so the end result could be sour and probably undesirable.
Tip #6: Mix
meat with vegetables in the instant pot
Many slow cooker recipes have you put the vegetables with the meat at first, and they are all cooked together. If you do this with the Instant Pot, you’ll end up with soft vegetables.
If you’re starting with large cuts of meat (like slow cooker roast), here’s a simple solution to that problem:
- prepare the recipe as directed, skipping the veggies
- Set the instant pot to the desired setting and cooking time, EXCEPT reducing the cooking time by 10 minutes.
- When the timer turns off, Change the valve for rapid pressure release.
- When the steam has finished releasing it, add the vegetables. Reset the instant pot to the desired settings (same as before) and adjust the cooking time for 10 minutes.
If you’re starting with smaller cuts of meat, such as a stew or soup (say no more than 1 “chunks”), you shouldn’t run into the soft vegetable problem. You can add everything at the same time, at the beginning.
Tip #7: Cook
meat in general Most meat recipes
take 6 to 10 hours in a slow cooker, but using the Instant Pot means having your meat ready in less than an hour
- For red meat recipes, use the “meat” function in the Instant Pot. This will automatically set the control to “high” pressure and the time between 25 and 30 minutes.
- For white meat recipes, use the “poultry” function. This will also set the controls to a “high” temperature, but the cooking time will be around 15 minutes.
- If you have an older model and/or your Instant Pot does not have a “meat” or “poultry” function, use the “manual” or “pressure cooking” function and adjust the controls accordingly.
Tip #8: How long to set the instant pot timer
Most models of the instant pot come with settings like that that make cooking times and cooking pressure painless. But what if you’re cooking something DIFFERENT from what you have a button?
Hip Pressure Cooking has a great online table to help with cooking times, but you can also check out some of the recipes from your favorite bloggers! I personally test each recipe AT LEAST 3 times before posting it, so if I say brown rice takes 22 minutes, set its timer to 22 minutes.
Frequently asked questions
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