20 Magical Ways to Use Your Instant Pot - Skillful Cook
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20 Magical Ways to Use Your Instant Pot

20 Magical Ways to Use Your Instant Pot! From soups, to yogurt, to snacks, to drinks: it does it all! One of our favorite all-purpose kitchen gadgets.

Image showing various ways to use your Instant Pot. Text over the top reads "20 Magical Ways to Use Your Instant Pot."

This post was originally published a few years back, but guess what!? We added four more ways to use our favorite kitchen appliance - texture-perfect applesauce, a big pot of spaghetti, comforting risotto, and our favorite pot roast. Let us know in the comments how else you like to use this magical machine. ✨


Let’s talk about the Instant Pot. Hands up if you're part of the club?

For a first-timer, it can feel like some sort of mysterious potential-to-explode gadget that ends up sitting in the back of your kitchen cabinet for years out of fear. Or, it’s only lugged out to make that pot of brown rice or mysterious batch of dry beans (which, yes, is still an excellent use).

But we’ve been around the Instant Pot block a few times. And we’re here to tell you that this little beauty basically lives on our countertop at this point. It’s our rice cooker, soup maker, freezer meal magician, last-minute dinner miracle all in one. And we just can’t stop.

First Things First - What Is An Instant Pot?

Links in this post are Amazon affiliate links to products we love.
Instant Pot.

The Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker but also a slow cooker, yogurt maker, rice cooker, big sauté pot, steamer, and more. We have the 6-Quart Instant Pot Duo which is what we use for all our Instant Pot recipes. They also make a 3-Quart Instant Pot Mini and a hefty 8-quart Instant Pot.

The Instant Pot is an absolute game-changer, especially on busy nights. Most recipes are dump and cook, and all you have to do is set it all up and then WALK AWAY to do other fun stuff like watch TV, walk your dog, clean your house, have a dance party, etc.

BONUS: it also cooks food way faster (70%!) than other ways to cook and it's all done in one pot. Do you get why we love this thing yet?

If you're still not convinced, the Instant Pot is PRIME for meal prepping and freezer meals - no thawing required. You can check out all our freezer meal Instant Pot recipes here if you're into that kind of stuff (answer: you definitely are).

We'll also just drop the obvious: it's also a pretty excellent gift for a certain holiday coming around the corner.

Alright, let's get on with it. Here are some of our favorite ways to use this little gem.

1. Short Rib Beef Ragu

Beef ragu in Instant Pot.
Beef ragu in the Instant Pot.

The Instant Pot is a master at shortening the cooking times for notoriously long recipes. Example: this beef ragu. Beef short ribs take hours in the oven to become fork tender, but all the Instant Pot needs is a little over 30 minutes. Serve it up over a giant bowl of pasta or gnocchi and you’ll never go back to oven roasting short ribs again.

Click here to get the recipe.

2. Yogurt

Milk for yogurt in the Instant Pot.
Cooked yogurt in the Instant Pot. The yogurt has berries and granola sprinkled on top.

One of the most OMG moments of owning an Instant Pot is when you realize you can make yogurt. It's a bit time consuming, but simple and uncomplicated. You'll want to make sure you have an instant read thermometer to check the temperature of the milk (the one you use for meat works perfectly!). The result is a creamy and naturally sweet yogurt.

Click here to get this recipe from Tidbits.

3. Rice

Raw brown rice in the Instant Pot with water.
Brown rice in the Instant Pot with cilantro on top.

Put a rice cooker on the list of appliances you now can move to the basement. ✔️ The Instant Pot is the BEST for perfectly cooked rice. Even better: you can cook rice AND all your fixings all in one pot like this Spicy Chicken Meal Prep with Rice and Beans.

Click here to get this recipe from InstantPot.com.

4. Spiced Apple Cider

Apple cider in the Instant Pot.
Hot cider in the Instant Pot.

Drinks in the Instant Pot?! Oh yes. This fruity, mug full of happiness is at the top of the list. Completely hands-off, made in 15 minutes, and party ready. After the cider is finished cooking, keep the Instant Pot on warm and swap out the pressure cooking lid for the glass lid for easy self-serving. 👍🏼

Click here to get this recipe from Life Made Sweeter.

5. All The Soups

Ingredients for wild rice soup in the Instant Pot.
Wild rice soup in the Instant Pot.

We love making soup in the Instant Pot so much, we wrote an entire post about it. Our favorite though? This Wild Rice Soup. It's magical, comforting, and has all-day simmered flavor in less than an hour.

Click here to get this recipe.

6. Hard Boiled Eggs

Eggs in the Instant Pot.
Eggs in the Instant Pot. One egg is cut open and it's hard-boiled.

Talk about a meal prep score. Having hard boiled eggs in the fridge is an instant breakfast, shortcut to amazing egg salad, or a pop of protein for lunch. Five minutes on high pressure, natural release 5 minutes, plunge in ice water, and peel - that's it. MAGIC.

Click here to get this recipe from Skinnytaste.

7. Whole Roasted Chicken

Raw whole chicken in the Instant Pot.
Cooked whole chicken in the Instant Pot.

Don't believe us? The Instant Pot can cook an entire 5-lb. chicken in 30 MINUTES and it's juicy and amazing. ALSO: try laying the chicken on a bed of lemon slices and a generous sprinkling of herbs and salt. You're welcome.

Click here to get this recipe from Life Made Sweeter.

8. Baked Potatoes

Raw potatoes in the Instant Pot.
Cooked potatoes in the Instant Pot.

Who doesn't love a loaded baked potato??? You can make a batch of potatoes in 12 MINUTES, which is the perfect amount of time for you gather a few toppings for a very ideal baked potato bar.

Click here to get this recipe from Crunchy Creamy Sweet.

9. Mashed Potatoes

Raw cut potatoes in the Instant Pot.
Mashed potatoes in the Instant Pot.

While we're on the subject of potatoes, let's talk mashed! These mashed potatoes are the creamiest, dreamiest potatoes full of cream cheese, butter, and herbs. YUM.

Click here to get this recipe.

10. Steamed Brussels Sprouts (Or Any Steamed Veggies!)

Raw Brussels sprouts in the Instant Pot.
Cooked Brussels Sprouts in the Instant Pot.

Yes, steamed vegetables aren’t the most glamorous of recipes, but they are an old standby for good reason. A swish of olive oil and sprinkle of salt and you're in veggie heaven.

Click here to get this recipe from Pressure Cook Recipes.

11. Dried Chickpeas (OR Any Dried Beans!)

Raw chickpeas in the Instant Pot.
Cooked chickpeas in the Instant Pot.

Making dried beans the traditional way can be overwhelmingly time-consuming. There's soaking and simmering and boiling and it's just a WHOLE THING. The Instant Pot basically solves all those problems. Pop the dried beans in the Instant Pot, cover with water, and cook for about 30 minutes. No pre-soaking required!

Click here to get this recipe from A Couple Cooks.

12. Steel Cut Oats

Raw steel cut oats in the Instant Pot.
Cooked oatmeal in the Instant Pot with nuts and brown sugar on top.

Making steel cut oatmeal in the Instant Pot is a no-brainer. No watching to see if your pot on the stove will boil over. No worrying about over or under cooking. No fear of burnt oatmeal stuck to the bottom of the pot. Just put the oats in the pot with water (or almond milk if you’re feeling fancy) and cook. The result is a creamy, nutty pot of steel cut oats.

Click here to get this recipe from The Kitchn.

13. Kettle Corn

Raw popcorn kernels in the Instant Pot.
Popped popcorn in the Instant Pot.

We’re delving into snack territory! More specifically, POPCORN. Honestly, popping any type of popcorn in the Instant Pot is pretty slick, but we're partial to the sweet saltiness of kettle corn.

Click here to get this recipe from Sixth Bloom.

14. Cheesecake

Uncooked cheesecake in the Instant Pot.
Cooked cheesecake in the Instant Pot.

Well hello, cheesecake! This might be the most magical of ways we've got. Since the Instant Pot uses steam to cook, it makes for an over-the-top creamy cheesecake that's done in just 35 minutes. Also, this tiny little 7-inch springform pan is JUST TOO CUTE.

Click here to get this recipe from My Baking Addiction.

15. Ribs

Uncooked ribs in the Instant Pot.
Cooked ribs in the Instant Pot.

RIBS! Yes, we're serious. They take 5 minutes to prep then 30ish minutes of cook time. Pro tip: finish them with extra sauce under the broiler to take them over the top.

Click here to get this recipe from Spend with Pennies.

16. Mac and Cheese

Uncooked mac and cheese in the Instant Pot with pieces of butter on top.
Mac and cheese in the Instant Pot.

This dreamy Mac and Cheese is made with all real ingredients and it’s faster than the boxed stuff. Honestly. SO fast. Just 5 ingredients and 4 minutes of cook time.

Click here to get this recipe.

17. Applesauce

Green apples chopped and in an instant pot with spices
Cooked applesauce in an Instant Pot.

The best snack for kids and adults (and with cinnamon?? yes.). And instead of standing over a stove, simmering away, all you have to do is pop it all in the Instant Pot and let it do its work.

Click here to get this recipe from The Kitchn.

18. Pot Roast

Potatoes, meat, mushrooms, spices, and onions in an instant pot
Stewed potatoes, meat, mushrooms, spices, and onions in an instant pot

One of our new favorites this year, and honestly, better than any slow-cooked or braised pot roast in our book. Tender beef, perfect potatoes, earthy mushrooms, and a delicious made-in-the-same-pot gravy all over top.

Click here to get this recipe.

19. Risotto

Risotto ingredients in an instant pot
Cooked risotto in the instant pot

Woweeeee another *usually* high maintenance one transformed into zero maintenance. There's still nothing like a slow-simmered risotto on the stove, but honestly, you don't lose anything other than the experience with this one.

Click here to get this recipe from All Recipes.

20. Spaghetti

Spaghetti with ingredients in the instant pot
Cooked spaghetti in the instant pot

Spaghetti. In the Instant Pot!? Uh huh. As our recipe tester said: “Surprisingly delicious!” We'll take any opportunity for less-to-zero extra dishes, and this one takes the cake (er, pot).

Click here to get this recipe from The Salty Marshmallow.

Favorite Accessories For The Instant Pot

Your Instant Pot will come with what you'll need for most recipes, but if you want to fully immerse yourself into its wonders, you may want to pick up a few of these extras.

7-Inch Springform Pan

Springform pan.

If you have ever made cheesecake before, then you know the magic of a springform pan! Cheesecake bliss to follow.

Extra Silicone Rings

Silicone sealing rings.

Yes, it's true that the Instant Pot comes with a silicone sealing ring, but it's a good idea to have a spare (or two!). If you use your Instant Pot for spicy chili or saucy meats, over time the silicone ring can become stained and hold onto some less-than-ideal “flavors” (totally yum, right?). If you are hoping to use your Instant Pot for both sweet and savory recipes, it's a good idea to have designated sweet and savory silicone rings.

Glass Instant Pot Lid

Instant Pot glass lid.

For when you want to turn your Instant Pot into a slow cooker! MAGIC. It also lets you see your food while it cooks which is essential for things like that homemade kettle corn above - which is one of our newest obsessions.

ALSO, you can swap out the pressure cooking lid with this one after cook time to make it easier to serve up pots of chili or even homemade apple cider. #winning

LOVE YOU FOREVER, INSTANT POT. ❤️ Here's where you can find the Instant Pot once more if you're feeling inspired.

And here's a collection of the best Instant Pot recipes we tried from all around the internet.

What else can it do that we're missing? We need to know. 👇🏼

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    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi Liz! I just checked the Instant Pot website and it looks like they don’t have the 10-qt insert available to buy. I’d recommend getting in touch with their customer service to find out where you can get it!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Kettle corn? Seriously? I have been a skeptic since DAY 1. I’m still skeptical of every recipe I try. Each & everyone have been fabulous!

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      You may gone through with online shopping services.
      There are many options available, choose which one perfect as per your requirement.

    3. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi Liz, I bought a 10 qt from Walmart online. However, it’s not an instant pot. It’s a Harvest cookware. I bought the 10 qt because I want to can veggies, jams, etc… I still want to get a 3 qt and probably a 6qt. I will probably buy an instant pot for those sizes . The Harvest cookware as cooked every thing perfect and I do not have any complaints about it.

  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi Lindsay,
    I have the 6qt instant pot ultra and it gives me burn errors with a lot of the instant pot duo recipes that a lot of bloggers post. Have you heard anything about cooking settings with different instant pots? Do you ever get burn errors on your instant pot?

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love this post! I feel inspired again to use my instant pot more often. It’s my fave kitchen appliance but I keep making the same thing over and over. Not anymore!!!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Which of these things can you use the Instant Pot Lux for? I know not the yogurt. Anything else that you need the low pressure setting for?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I have the lux and have found that steaming veggies in it waaay overcooks them. Haven’t tried something tougher like carrots or Brussels sprouts, however. I do tend to like my veggies pretty crisp-tender when steamed.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I’ve found 1 Minute pressure to be perfect cooking time for Fresh Broccoli Florets. Perfectly cooked, no mush!

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      Though I haven’t tried it yet, my Lux has a separate yogurt button. Also, 1 for cake.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    LOVE the instant pot and we make so so many of your recipes all the time! My IP faves are quinoa, mashed potatoes, rice, and hard-boiled eggs in addition to many of the meals and soups on this site!

    HOWEVER – biggest pet peeve is the inaccurate “total times” given for IP recipes that abound on the internet. It does NOT take 30 minutes to make nearly anything when it almost always takes 10-20+ minutes to come up to pressure (especially if it’s a freezer meal that hasn’t been thawed), and then sometimes 10 minutes to release pressure. It can really throw people off when trying to plan a weeknight evening! I definitely expected it to be more “instant” than it is – I love that it helps eliminate the mess and you can set it and do other things, but in my experience, a lot of the time it isn’t actually THAT much faster for many things.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        You agree with her but this site perpetrates the problem. Why do you feel the need to understate the time it takes to make the dish?

        Short ribs: “all the Instant Pot needs is a little over 30 minutes”
        Cider: “made in 15 minutes”
        Chicken: the IP “can cook an entire 5-lb. chicken in 30 MINUTES”
        Baked potatoes: “You can make a batch of potatoes in 12 MINUTES”

        It’s infuriating. What do you gain?

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          Yes! A lot of the time I can make the recipe the old way on the stove faster than using the Insta Pot. I can make eggs faster than letting it come to pressure the cooking.

          1. Skillful Cook Logo

            I’ll bet you can’t peel them as quickly as you can the ones from the IP. I would buy an IP just for eggs alone.

        2. Skillful Cook Logo

          Well I know you can make a pork butt in about 90 minutes compared to 8 hours on low in a crock pot…. makes some good pulled pork… same could be said about a roast…. and for baby back ribs may take a total of 30 minutes since it has to come up to pressure – finish them on the grill or in the oven – still saves an hour easy from just grilling them…. and so tender…

        3. Skillful Cook Logo

          I understand that people don’t want to do the math in their head for the instant pot to get ready for dinner but it’s not complicated. The problem with this is that if the recipe included the time for the heating up and pressure release it would confuse these same people and they’d over cook their meal and blame someone for that too.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      My favorite is pintos in 45 minutes of pressure. Total time app. 1hour 10 minutes if you let them slow release for 10 minutes which is way quicker than conventional 4-5 hours on the stovetop or a 12 pound turkey in 45 minutes of pressure total 1 hour total appx. As opposed to 4-5 hours in the oven or a 4-5 lb. roast and potatoes in 35-45 pressure time or 1 hour total as opposed to 3-4 hours in the oven and the meat is fork tender and fall apart wonderful. Not to mention that my whole kitchen is not hot with the Texas heat in the summertime. I adore my instant pot. It is the best gadget in our kitchen.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I cooked a huge chuck roast in two hours. Had to cook the veggies separate for ten minutes so they wouldn’t be mushy. So that was 2 hrs and 10 minutes for a meal that normally takes 8 hrs. And it tasted like it had cooked all day and I shredded the meat in less than a minute with tongs of all things. It drfinitely takes the time down. I also made ham and beans without soakibg the puntos in an hour….an hour…my husband ate three bowls it was so good.

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      Erin – I’m with you. I find the “instant” in Instant Pot to be misleading. I’m regularly frustrated with how long things actually take vs. the recipe and my expectations. I often feel like it really doesn’t result in any time savings BUT I think it’s because of what I’m choosing to make (soups, rice, simple chicken dishes). I can see how it can save time on those typically longer-cooking meals (eg. roasts). I’ve committed to keep trying my not-so-instant Instant Pot, but I’m going to be more choiceful about what I make (and build in more total time).

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for this great article. I received an Instant Pot months ago as a gift and it is still in the box. This article has inspired me to take it out and cook a few of these recipes! Love your blog by the way!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    I have the 3 qt mini lux – how do I reduce your fab recipes to fit my pot?
    Can I make cake & yogurt, even though I do not have those features?
    Thank you

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I use mine to make cold start yogurt with just Fairlife milk and some starter at least once a week. We prefer to make it worth out any sweetener so we can use it like sour cream or add jam, maple syrup, chocolate syrup, or whatever sweetener to each serving as it is used. Love it!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        That’s 2 quart Fairlife milk and a couple tablespoons of plain live culture yogurt. I whisk it in the 3 quart pot to mix the starter in, set the yogurt setting for 8 to 9 hours, and forget it until it beeps. Good luck!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    This is a great – and exciting – article on the Instant Pot – just in time for Christmas! I’m going to ask your opinion on an new product that’s all over right now, the Ninja Foodi. What do you think about that item? I got a pressure cooker the year before all of the Instant Pots came out … I’ve only used my PC twice! 🙁

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    I have an instant pot. I tried using it once but I didn’t understand the directions. I packed it up and put it back in the closet. Can anyone help me with easy step by step directions so I can remove it from the closet? Thx

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Elayne, Pressureluckcooking.com
      He has a great step by step videos and of all the recipes I’ve made they are delicious.
      Also, youtube, instant pot community on facebook.

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    I just got the Instant Pot with accessories. Can’t wait to use it! Even got the extra seals you mentioned.

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    For the last two years my husband and I have been cooking our thanksgiving and Christmas turkey in the instant pot. We cooked a 12 pound turkey in 45 minutes of pressure in our 8 quart this Christmas at my Mother in law’s request because it has been so tender and moist.

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    If you, like this one-person-who-eats-rice-household, want to make small amounts of rice at a time, use the pot-in-pot method. It’s one less time you have to scrub out your IP liner. Same goes for quinoi, which I eat while the other person is enjoying his rice.

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    I just want to say thank you for all the ideas. I just got the 8 qt. one for Christmas. I would still recommend soaking the beans though
    It may not require it with the pressure cooking, but soaking helps get off all the gasses that wreak havoc your intestinal system. It may be a bit of a hassle, but your tummy will thank you!

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    I am from Malta, we don’t have instant pots here but we have PKP can you please tell me how to convert your recipes? Cos I just got one for Christmas

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    I got my daughter an Instant Pot for Christmas, but made the mistake of telling her childhood horror stories of pressure cooker disasters. I told her trying to make a point of the superiority of the Instant Pot, but she is not having it!! I’m going to share this with her, but any advice to help my Francesca?!! Thanks!!

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Add a meatloaf to those mashed taters (in foil, sitting on the rack above the taters).

    When mashing taters, add Boursin cheese (onion flavor) instead of cream cheese or sour cream….we couldn’t stop eating it!