Can You Make Slow Cooker Recipes in an Instant Pot?
Have you ever wondered if your favorite recipe has a slow cooker to instant cooker conversion?
You know the Instant Pot can cook food quickly, but finding a new recipe for an old favorite can be unpredictable… And those failures are particularly painful when it’s 6:30 p.m. and everyone is hungry.
If you want to use the Instant Pot to save time, but don’t have time to try a bunch of new recipes, read on.
While it’s not hard to make a bunch of everyday foods like rice, hard-boiled eggs, and steamed vegetables faster in an Instant Pot, I have to admit that mine sat in its box, floating from the mud room to the kitchen and basement, for almost a year.
It seems silly, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed, 15 minutes to read the instructions is too much to consider, and then you’ll probably need to find new recipes too!
I’m glad to know that I’m not alone in the new boxed device syndrome for six months. I heard this from a reader a while ago when I mentioned the Instant Pot on Facebook
Because I did
And it really is
It’s SO easy, in fact, that my kids made the video of opening our second Instant Pot and setting it up. Disclaimer and DUH Important Note: This wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done. 😉
One should always read the instructions, especially with potentially dangerous devices! It’s part of my story, so stay here, but now that I know more, I wish I had taken a little more time back then. Please read your instruction manual. It’s not that long. 🙂
Let’s start at the beginning: What is an Instant Pot?
In case you are in the dark in this, it is an electric pressure cooker with a stainless steel pot. It will cook just like a stove pressure cooker, but with fewer riddles and childcare (but you can’t press with one).
All my Instant Pot tips and recipes apply to any electric pressure cooker (there are other brands) and most stove cookers should be the same (or maybe 5 minutes faster). You can get an Instant Pot on Amazon << that’s the one I have, and there are fancier models too.
So now the trick: what about the mental effort and time it takes to find completely new recipes for your new toy?
I have good news.
You don’t have to.
Converting crockpot to Instant Pot is so easy that you can still use all your old favorites!
discovered this by accident one day when I was having a rushed morning and thought, “Hey, no problem, I can start the slow cook meal I planned for dinner at lunchtime and only do 4 hours high instead of 8 hours low.”
When the kids got home from school at 3:30, I remembered my plan.
Wayyyyy too late.
I realized that maybe the Instant Pot could handle it, and lo and behold, dinner was saved!
As I’ve experimented more,
I’ve found that you can turn the slow cooker into instant recipes (almost) every time, more about the “almost” later.
How to convert slow cooker recipes
First, before you start playing with recipes, you need to understand the time of the pressure cooker. For the Instant Pot, a 30-minute timer means about 20 minutes to reach the pressure (it could be less depending on how full you are, but if you’re making a full main course, wait 20 minutes), plus the 30 minutes under pressure, most typically a natural release that can take up to 15 minutes.
So yes… 30 minutes actually means an hour, but once it’s all in the pot you don’t have to touch it, and that’s much shorter than 4 hours in a slow cooker!
There are just a few general rules to follow to make sure your slow cooker recipe succeeds in an instant pot – meat-based meals almost always
If it’s a meat-based dish that can be cooked 8 hours over low heat or 4 hours over high heat in a slow cooker, It is almost guaranteed that it will be done perfectly in 25-30 minutes in a pressure cooker.
You can use the Meat/Stew button (30-35 minutes) on red meats, and the Poultry button is worth trying if it’s chicken (15 minutes)!
Super important note: Always check three times that the ventilation is set to “seal” and not “ventilate” or you will be very disappointed with undercooked food, not to mention late with food, Worst of all.
The pressure cooker
needs at least one cup of liquid to reach the pressure.
Many meats will create juices as they cook, but you should still start with a cup of liquid at the bottom to be sure.
That can be an adjustment of a slow cooker recipe: for things like roasts, Whole chickens or shredded chicken dishes often only require you to add 1/4 cup for slow cooking.
You can add water or broth to make it work for the pressure cooker. Very important safety note: “cream of” soups do NOT count as liquid. They are too thick to produce steam properly in a pressure cooker. More on that.
is your friend
If adding liquid would ruin your recipe, you may still have a few options
. Place the meat
- in the trivet and liquid underneath, or
- boil the liquid with the “Sauté” button after the meat is ready.
A natural release is
go with a natural release for meats if you have
A natural release simply means that when the machine beeps that time is up, you let it sit for 10-20 minutes until the safety pin drops to indicate that the pressure has been released from the instant pot.
Usually, This will help make the meat more tender or easier to crush.
quick release can save you
timeRushing? You can push the boundaries a bit.
If you have unfrozen chicken, for example, and your kitchen is half full or less, there’s a good chance the food will be made with the 15-minute poultry setup and a quick release. (That’s about 35 minutes of total cooking time.)
A quick release, by the way, means you open the valve and let the steam shoot out, keep your hands out of the way! Try using a wooden spoon to open the valve.
Once the steam has decreased, if you open the pot and the meat is not done (no pink in the case of chicken), you only wasted about 5 minutes. Just turn the lid back on, set the valve to “Sealing” and set a manual pressure timer for 5-10 minutes (make sure there is still liquid at the bottom!).
The good news is that once you figure out the moment once, write it down and you’ll be golden next time.
Always follow safety rules
- Do not fill a pressure cooker more than 2/3 with food (you need space for steam to build up) and no more than 1/2 if you are cooking with legumes or
- Add a tablespoon of oil to the dried beans.
- Never release quickly with thicker foods such as beans, grains, etc.
- Never add a thickener or a “cream of” soup before pressure cooking, do it at the end.
The instant cooker is also a slow cooker!
Oh, and don’t forget that the Instant Pot ALSO has slow cooker functionality. If you need to “set it and forget it” earlier in the day, IP is still your friend.
This feature is also particularly nice if you are concerned about the safety of the material in your kitchen utensils. You can’t beat that stainless steel interior!
It will also automatically switch to “keep warm” so you can be an hour or two later than the timer and everything works. Love.
Here’s a neat table you can check out for Instant Pot cooking times for all kinds of different foods.
: Turn Slow Cooker into Instant Pot
We’ve successfully transformed quite a few of these “meat-centered” slow cookers into favorite Instant Pots:
- Curry with Lemon and Coconut Whole
- Homemade Chicken Bone Broth Live
- Simply’s Crockpot Pulled Chicken Taco Meat, photo above, which we
- slow cooker freezer spicy chicken curry we enjoyed so much, modified here (no. 9
- The total waiting grilled chicken from our family of Stacy Myers’ Crock On! cookbook (recipe also found in my ebook, The Healthy Lunch Box)
modified here (No. 7)The
And… I feel like there have been more, but I don’t always write them in the same place. We’ve had enough successes that I’m very sure to say that a pound or two of meat with some spices and some vegetables will absolutely turn from slow cooker to instant cooker.
If you forget to turn on the slow cooker, you can save dinner!
Converting Crockpot to Instant Pot for Other Recipes
Not all slow cooker recipes are for shredded meat
I’ve had some successes and some mistakes, let me share what I’ve learned.
Beans and legumes Beans and
are another category, and I’m pretty sure about them too, having easily transformed my slow-cooked lentil brown rice casserole into a single attempt at one Great Instant Pot recipe (and Mexican version) that is actually ready in about half an hour, 40 minutes maximum! Wow!
Because lentils are small and cook quickly anyway, I decided to try only 15 minutes at high pressure (which is a long time to cook rice properly). Quick release, and it worked! I was excited.
Larger beans never take more than 30 minutes, often only 10-15 if you soak them, according to the Instant Pot time table.
We’ve made our homemade refried beans at the Instant Pot and another favorite, ham and beans from Crock On! and they both worked wonderfully, and I managed to transform the quinoa chile for tacos into a pressure cooker meal too (from the stove).
Ground beef and vegetables
Here’s my #fail
I don’t know how many slow cooker recipes use ground beef, which creates almost no juices while cooking, plus a ton
. My slow cooker
cabbage rolls cook to perfection in the slow cooker, but there is almost no liquid to speak of. We have made the dish several times in the Instant Pot, and there were always problems.
The pot was still NOT receiving pressure at all, which means that when we released the valve for a quick release, it wouldn’t let steam out, even after adding a cup full of water! He burned the bottom.
After several attempts and after learning more about my IP, that cabbage WAS too close to the top, so I need to try this on my 8 quarts and/or cut the recipe in half. Remember the safety rules on how to fill the Instant Pot!
Don’t forget! Pin It!
Don’t forget about the Traditional Cooking School’s pressure cooking class, which is especially useful if, you know, you’re like my reader from the beginning of the post who was too nervous to open the box because she thought something would explode. The TCS team provides a TON of support, and their Facebook group is super active with helpful members.
Check out the prices of Instant Pot on Amazon, as they change quite often!
Click to see all my Instant Pot recipes!
Unless otherwise credited, photos are the property of the author or used under a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.