Feeling the pressure to whip up yet another family meal in between work, school, sports and the myriad of other demands on your time? Sure, slow cookers are simple and hands-off, but they also require foresight and six to eight hours of cook time. Enter the latest culinary craze: The Instant Pot.
For those who don't have the time or inclination to spend hours cooking, or are simply spent on all your slow-cooker recipes, this modern-day pressure cooker is nothing short of a culinary miracle. When steam is trapped inside the pot, pressure builds up and cooks the contents two to six times faster than conventional ovens, while also preserving more nutrients and flavor. First invented in the 1600s, conventional pressure cookers have been used on stovetops for centuries, but it's only been within the last couple of decades that the electric pressure cooker has emerged as a staple for busy households.
Stews and soups are just the start—the Instant Pot provides the perfect environment for cooking just about anything edible, from whole chickens to baked potatoes to decadent desserts. We've gathered more than two dozen ideas to help you move your meals from slow to instant.
- Breakfast Quinoa: Packed with protein and fiber, quinoa is a healthy, delicious way to start your day, especially when topped with maple syrup, cinnamon, sliced almonds and fresh berries.
- Pressure Cooker Yogurt: Creamy, silky-smooth yogurt at the push of a button? Yes, please. Top with your favorite fruit, granola or almonds.
- Egg Muffins: Seeking a low-carb, low-calorie breakfast option? These light, fluffy egg muffins are perfectly portable, yet supremely satisfying.
- Baked Apples: This is one of those versatile dishes that works equally well for breakfast, as a side or for dessert. Raisins, red wine and cinnamon create a wonderfully warm, inviting flavor.
- Cheesy Egg Bake: It's like a deep-dish pizza, morning style. Keep it simple with the five core ingredients, or add some va-va-voom with your favorite veggies.
- Chicken Tortilla Soup: Enjoy this cozy comfort soup as described, or load it up with added vegetables for extra goodness. Making it in an electric pressure cooker is about 30 percent faster and keeps your hands free for veggie chopping.
- Kale Tacos with Caramelized Onions: Flavored with sautéed onions and red pepper flakes, meaty kale greens can be loaded on a tortilla or mixed with black beans. Finish with salsa and crumbled queso, or your own fave toppers.
- Balsamic Basil Wheatberry Salad: The Instant Pot isn't just for hot dishes. This refreshing salad is made from unprocessed whole wheat berries, fresh tomatoes, feta cheese, a drizzle of balsamic and some other veggie goodness.
- Corn Soup: As chef Mike says, it's summer in liquid form. Just add bacon, sautéed onion, salt and pepper and revel in the fabulous corn flavor.
- Korean Beef Stew: Step outside your culinary comfort zone and into this bold, savory fusion of Korean flavors, tender beef and simmered veggies.
- Texas Red Chili: You don't have to hail from the Lone Star State to enjoy authentic southern chili—and thanks to the Instant Pot, you don't need four hours, either. This hearty chili will be ready to satisfy in just 30 minutes.
- Salsa Verde Chicken Casserole: This easy-peasy Tex-Mex casserole is layered with chicken, corn tortillas and grated cheese.
- Pork Carnitas: Mexican beef is cooked to tender perfection and ready to enjoy in tacos, salads, burritos or mixed with cilantro lime rice.
- Paleo Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo: Warm up chilly nights with this savory and satisfying stew.
- Round Roast: Next time you prepare a roast, speed up the tenderizing process with this easy pressure cooker recipe. Carrots, red wine vinegar, beef broth, herbs and spices infuse it with flavor.
- Mashed Acorn Squash: The pressure cooker creates perfectly caramelized squash in just 20 minutes. Add brown sugar, butter and nutmeg for a delightfully warm, cozy comfort food.
- Sun-Dried Tomato Herbed Polenta: In this flavorful, gluten-free dish, Italian corn porridge melds with sun-dried tomatoes and fresh herbs.
- Refried Beans: Simple, yet satisfying, this filling and flavorful side dish is a perfect companion for your favorite tacos, burritos or quesadillas. The Instant Pot creates a wonderfully smooth, creamy texture.
- Punjabi Chana Masala: This North Indian spiced chickpea curry dish is delicious served with a puri or batura, along with sliced onions, tomatoes and cucumber salad.
- Cheesy Potatoes Au Gratin: Sliced potatoes, creamy cheese sauce, savory chicken broth and panko bread crumb topping are a recipe for pressure cooker perfection.
- Sweet and Orangey Brussels Sprouts: Flavored with orange and maple syrup, this vegan and gluten-free side dish adds a healthy (yet delicious) element to Thanksgiving dinner or any meal.
- Greek Yogurt Cheesecake: Cheesecake in a pressure cooker? Yes, you read that correctly. It actually provides the perfect environment for moist, evenly cooked cheesecake. Made with whole milk Greek yogurt and less cream cheese, this one contains about 40 percent less fat than traditional cheesecake.
- Creamy Rice Pudding: Cut the prep time in half when you make this rich, creamy rice pudding in your Instant Pot. Ramp up the deliciousness with cinnamon or whipped cream.
- Upside-Down Apple and Ricotta Cake: This moist confection gets its flavor from apples, lemon juice, soaked raisins, crushed walnuts and a hint of cinnamon.
- SparkPeople Banana Bread: Make it worth the splurge by glazing with homemade chocolate ganache.
Which of these have you tried (or would you like to try)? What are your favorite pressure cooker recipes?