Things you can Cook in an Instant Pot, and Things you Can’t

No appliance is perfect and despite the popularity of modern-day pressure cooking, it isn’t suitable for all dishes. Just as you cannot deep fry all your meals (as much as you may want to) neither can you put everything in an Instant Pot.

The Instant Pot is a very popular appliance in American kitchens and indeed, in other countries and regions. It has helped to reignite an interest in pressure cooking which was highly popular both before the Second World War and again in the 1950s. Pressure cooking is an old method of creating dishes quickly but it had fallen out of fashion, partly due to a belief the appliances were dangerous but also due to the popularity of TV meals and eating out.

The new versions of pressure cookers often come packed with other features and allow slow-cooking and other functions to make yogurt, rice, sous-vide, and to be able to saute. Some say cooking rice in an instant pot is quicker compared to how long a rice cooker takes to cook rice. If you are considering one of these cookers you would surely be interested in what you can and cannot do. Here are some of the best uses for an Instant Pot and some things to avoid. 

The best uses for an Instant Pot

One of the most obvious uses for an Instant Pot is to reduce the cooking time of meals that traditionally take a long time. It can certainly do this and it also helps keep all the flavor and nutrients in because the pot is sealed while it cooks. Meals such as boeuf bourguignon are ideal as normally they take a long time. Pressure cooking will not only tenderize the beef but also lower unsaturated fat and help retain iron and other minerals.

Does this mean that it is ideal for cooking beef and other meats then? Well, the answer is not simple. The Instant Pot is very useful in some ways and not so much in others for a few reasons. 

Cooking meat in an Instant Pot

Some things lend themselves to pressure cooking and meat is one of them. The cooker can tenderize meat well so it is perfect for brisket and tough cuts. However, due to the cooking times of some cuts, it is not ideal for steaks or burgers. This isn’t to say you cannot cook them but there is little benefit and you may feel you are missing out on something.

Wagyu beef is the most expensive and most sought after in the world. Cooking a steak from this Japanese beef requires a hands-on approach and depending on your preference a hot iron skillet, butter, searing and quick cooking. The way the Instant Pot cooks will not help you with meat that is already so tender, and will also not add the searing that you probably desire. Similarly, burgers will not receive the charred look or flavor that broiling or barbecuing will give. 

How about chicken in the Instant Pot?

Just like beef, chicken works well in this appliance depending on what you are cooking. There are many recipes at for chicken and broccoli and other dishes, and chicken cooks well in the Instant Pot. Indeed, you can cook a whole frozen bird in the Instant Pot. It keeps chicken moist and tender, but there is one thing it doesn’t do, it can’t crisp.

This means fried chicken or crispy skin is a no-go unless you purchase an Air Fryer attachment. French fries and other crispy foods are also not going to work well in an Instant Pot. This also means that anything else, needing a bite may not work. 

Cookies and pastries in the Instant Pot

Some people swear by their Instant Pot for cooking cakes and others don’t. This is because the Instant Pot cooks with steam. Therefore there is a lot of moisture flowing around the inside of that cooker. This means very moist cakes but no texture to the outside. This also goes for cookies, pie crusts, and bread. Sad, but true. However, it depends on what cake you are making and how you like them to come out so experimenting may be the key. 

How about seafood?

Seafood can be very delicate and it may depend on the recipe you are using. Steamed lobster tails in an Instant Pot is a great way of preparing them for starters or for breaking up into a roll. Other seafood such as mussels might find the pressure cooking too much. There are many great seafood recipes online and with some adaptation, you might find a lot of work with the Instant Pot but they will need some care. 


Some foods such as eggs and rice cook extremely well in an Instant Pot. It is simple things such as this along with more complicated recipes such as coq au vin or slow-cooked pulled pork that makes the Instant Pot one of the most essential kitchen tools for home cooks.

The only problem is while it can make tasty ribs and stocks it is sometimes hard to use for more delicate recipes. Luckily, there are many recipes online for the Instant Pot and cooking tips to make almost anything.


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