Why You Should Have an Instant Pot

Last Update: September 27, 2022

Have you embraced the Instant Pot craze yet? If you’re on the fence, allow us to convince you why this small appliance is a total kitchen must-have. (And if you’re already a proud owner, read on for our best Instant Pot recipes.) In this post, learn how to choose the size that’s right for you, tips for getting started, and our favorite test kitchen dishes.

What Size Instant Pot is Right for You?

The Instant Pot is available in three sizes: 3-quart, 6-quart, and 8-quart. (Occasionally, the company releases a 5-quart to select retailers for sale days like Black Friday.) The 6-quart is the most popular choice, and for good reason. This size is available in every model (LUX, DUO, DUO Plus, Ultra, and Max), and is the most versatile in terms of capacity. Sure, you could make a little extra stock or a double batch of chili in the 8-quart, but for the average family, a 6-quart easily feeds up to four people with leftovers.

5 Reasons to Have an Instant Pot

One thing’s certain—an Instant Pot can transform your cooking routine. Here’s how.

  1. Make the basics on autopilot. Even if you only made homemade beans and batches of stock, the Instant Pot would still be worth it. These basic recipes are foundational to home cooking, and this equipment makes easy work of both.
  2. De-clutter the stove. Have you ever tried to simmer curry, cook rice, and warm up pita on a crowded stovetop at the same time? The Instant Pot frees up space and gives you one less thing to worry about ruining because you’re doing too much.
  3. More functionality. A slow-cooker is good for one thing: slow-cooking meals. An Instant Pot can act as a slow cooker if you want, but it also reduces cooking time for many dishes (see below) by pressure cooking them instead. This device can also cook dessert, make rice, create yogurt, and more.
  4. Reduce cooking time. The Instant Pot shines in reducing cooking time for braised dishes. Short ribs, pork butt—you name it—tough cuts of meat cook in about half the time as needed in a traditional oven.
  5. Walk away. One of the Instant Pot’s best virtues is in giving time back to the cook. Although the name may suggest dinner can be made in an instant, that’s a bit misleading. You might have to get everything in the pot, but once dinner is cooking, you can walk away and do other things—no need to stir, reduce the heat, or check on the pot until it’s time to serve.

Instant Pot Tips

Now that you know why you need one, here’s a primer for how to get started.

  • Read the manual (and recipes): Take some time to read the manual that comes with your Instant Pot. With so many settings, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself before getting started. Also, read recipes in full before you start cooking! An Instant Pot has to pressurize before cooking, release steam when it’s done, and there might be some extra steps in between like sautéing ingredients directly in the pot.
  • One thing at a time: It might be tempting to start cooking with your Instant Pot every night of the week. But like any new tool, there’s a learning curve, and you’ll only overwhelm yourself trying to go too fast.
  • Start with the basics: Rice, beans, and stock are simple recipes to follow and will help you get familiar with the machine before diving into more complicated dishes.
  • Make a plan: Aim to try one or two new recipes per week to stretch your culinary muscles and try new techniques. Once you get a sense of timing (the Instant Pot has to pressurize before cooking, which adds to overall time) and have a few wins under your belt, you’ll better understand how an Instant Pot can fit into your routine.

11 Best Instant Pot Recipes

We’re big Instant Pot fans in the test kitchen—here are some of our favorite recipes to try.

Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

Instant Pot chicken recipes are sure to become fast favorites—and this Whole30® dish is the ultimate comfort food. Zoodles replace traditional pasta, and a bowl can be ready in only 30 minutes.

Grain-Free Flank Steak Tacos

Your Instant Pot is ready to go for Taco Tuesday. This recipe uses shredded flank steak for the filling, and while it cooks you’ll have plenty of time to whizz up an herbaceous green sauce to serve alongside.

Instant Pot Beef Stew Recipe

Another take on soup is a comforting, keto-friendly beef stew that quickly tenderizes beef chuck. The recipe works for all sorts of diets: gluten-free, dairy-free, and Whole30®-compliant.

Instant Pot Ribs

We created a keto-friendly rub by mixing onion powder, paprika, and garlic powder, and ditching brown sugar. Bonus: Tender ribs can be yours in half the time you’re used to in the oven.

Instant Pot Beef and Broccoli

Instant Loss creator Brittany Williams developed this Chinese takeout-inspired beef and broccoli dish to better control the ingredients. Serve it alongside brown or white rice for a complete meal.

Instant Pot Coconut Yogurt

Our Instant Pot yogurt recipe is definitely doable in the Instant Pot. To make coconut yogurt, you only need four simple ingredients like coconut milk and maple syrup to create parfaits, dollop on savory dishes, or enjoy as a snack.

Easy Instant Pot Dessert

Gooey lava cake is the ultimate decadent dessert—and if you have 30 minutes, you can make it (almost) instantly. Gather vanilla extract, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and a few other pantry staples and you’re halfway there.

Instant Pot Keto Butter Chicken

Keto butter chicken is oh-so-comforting, and you can make it right in your Instant Pot using pantry spices (and a stick of butter, naturally).

Instant Pot Chicken Adobo

Instant pot chicken thighs always cook up perfectly tender. Apple cider vinegar is the star of the show for this simple chicken adobo recipe, which is keto, dairy-free, and paleo.

Keto Spinach Artichoke Dip

There’s nothing better than a warm, bubbling snack ready for hungry game day fans—especially when every bite is keto-friendly. Spinach Artichoke Dip is a homerun, and ready in 20 minutes.

How to Make Rice Pudding in the Instant Pot

Rice pudding can be ready in less than 30 minutes. This creamy dish uses coconut milk, vanilla, and warm spices like cinnamon and cardamom for an impressive finish.

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