Enjoy your favorite dish in a fraction of the time. 
Credit: yellowsarah/Getty Images

There’s a lot to love about the Instant Pot. The sophisticated appliance can make anything from hearty stews to perfect oatmeal with the press of a button — plus, those dishes can often be made in a fraction of the time! And, if you have a favorite slow cooker recipe that you don’t have all day to make, you can easily use the Instant Pot instead. Though it may seem intimidating at first, converting slow cooker recipes to your pressure cooker is fairly easy — just follow the steps below! 

1. Measure your liquid

Unlike a slow cooker, which produces extra liquid from condensation, the Instant Pot requires at least one cup of liquid per dish. Because it’s a pressure cooker, the Instant Pot needs to build up steam before it can cook, and too little liquid can cause the food to burn or dry out.

You can use water, stocks, juices, or thin sauces, but be mindful of the ingredients. A thick, creamy sauce or canned “cream of” soup will not build up enough steam, so save those for adding at the end of the cooking cycle. 

If you’re worried about your recipe becoming too watered-down, you can always set the ingredients atop the Instant Pot’s included trivet. Alternatively, you can use the sauté function after you’ve pressure cooked to burn off some of the extra liquid. 

2. Mind the size

Though a slow cooker can be filled to the brim (if desired), an Instant Pot needs extra room in order to pressurize. As a general rule, keep the ingredients below the “max fill” line in your Instant Pot, about two-thirds full. If you’re cooking something that expands, like beans or rice, limit the pot to half full. 

Additionally, keep the density of your ingredients in mind. A thick cut of meat, like a pot roast or pork shoulder, takes longer to cook than other ingredients. In that case, cut the meat into 1-inch chunks or consider cooking in stages. For example, start by cooking a pork shoulder and releasing the pressure. Then, add your vegetables and cook with the saute function or pressure cook again for one to five minutes. 

3. Hold off on the thickeners

As we already mentioned, creamy ingredients are best saved for adding to the pot after the pressure has been released. This includes dairy products, like milk and sour cream, and canned “cream of” soups.

Similarly, hold off on thickening agents, like cornstarch or arrowroot, until after you’ve finished the pressure cooker setting. If a recipe calls for flour-coated chicken, for example, saute the chicken without the flour and add a thickening agent before serving. 

4. Convert the timing

Slow cooker recipes can take anywhere from four to eight hours, but an Instant Pot meal can be ready in just 20 minutes. To find the best cooking times for your dish, use the Instant Pot cooking time table, which includes guides for seafood, grains, meats, vegetables, fruits, and beans. As a general guideline, if your slow cooker soup, stew, or meat takes four hours on the “high” setting or eight hours on the “low” setting, it will take about 25 to 30 minutes in the Instant Pot. 

A few caveats:

  • Frozen meats can be cooked in the Instant Pot, but you’ll need to add extra time.
  • For most meats, add about 10 extra minutes to the cooking time. If it’s not enough, you can always put the lid back on and pressure cook again.
  • Seafood will only need a few extra minutes, and suggestions are included in the cooking time table.
  • Additionally, the Instant Pot will need up to 20 minutes to come to pressure and up to 15 minutes to release, so keep that in mind when planning your meal. 

Looking for more Instant Pot inspiration? Check out our 33 must-try recipes here