How to Convert Recipes to Instant Pot
If you’ve been searching for an Instant Pot conversion chart to end all charts, look no further! From types of recipes to how altitude affects cook times, our infographic will show you the easiest way to convert your favorite recipes for the Instant Pot.
The Instant Pot has taken the country by storm and it all makes sense once you realize just how quickly you can get dinner on the table when you use it. However, most recipes out there still aren’t made with Instant Pot instructions, so unless you know how to convert your favorites, you can’t take advantage of IP’s time-saving pressure cooking.
That’s why we at Cook Smarts decided to put together an Instant Pot Conversion Guide that serves as a cheat sheet with all of the essential steps you need for converting recipes. When you download this infographic guide, we’ll also include our Instant Pot Cheat Sheet (and bonus recipes!) – for only $9.99. This way, you can learn how to convert slow cooker, pasta, stovetop, and oven recipes, AND get settings and cooking times for meats, legumes, grains, and veggies, all in two incredibly handy downloads!
Instant Pot Recipe Conversion Guide
Use these simple steps to convert everyday recipes for the Instant Pot, so you can enjoy your favorite meals in an instant!
Step 1: Determine if a recipe will work well in an Instant Pot
There are all sorts of ingredients and meals that work in an Instant Pot, but it’s not always easy to tell which ones will turn out well. Since any pressure cooker requires liquid to achieve adequate pressure, in general, it is a good idea to adapt recipes that already have some liquid in them.
The Do’s and Don’ts section of our infographic gives you a list of the major ingredients to try and the ones to avoid, but we want to explain a couple of them in a little extra detail:
- Canning – Only the Instant Pot Max can pressure-can safely; all of the other versions up until now do not get hot enough to kill bacteria.
- Dairy – With the exception of making yogurt with the “Yogurt” function, dairy and IPs don’t mix well because dairy will curdle. So soups that need to cook in dairy, like cream of mushroom, are not good candidates for your IP. However, if there are any recipes that are fine with the dairy being added in at the end, go for it!
- Thickeners – It is not a good idea to add thickeners like cornstarch or flour at the beginning of pressure cooking because it can cause your food to burn or not reach the correct pressure. What you can do is make a slurry – a mixture of your thickening agent and cooking liquid – and then add it at the end of cooking.
Step 2: Fill Instant Pot to the right level
Since liquid is oh-so-important for building pressure, making sure that you fill your IP to the right level is paramount. If you have a 3 or 6 quart IP, you won’t want to use any less than 1 cup of liquid. If you have an 8 quart IP, make sure you use at least 1½ cups.
Since soups have a lot of liquid in them already, they would seem like straightforward recipes to make in the IP. However, evaporation doesn’t happen in an IP like it does on a stovetop, so it’s a good idea to decrease a soup recipe’s liquid by around ½ cup to ensure it won’t turn out too watery. The same goes for any recipe with a lot of liquid, like curries.
When figuring out how high to fill your IP with ingredients and liquids, use these general rules of thumb:
- ½ mark maximum for beans, rice, grains, and dehydrated foods
- ⅔ mark maximum for everything else
Step 3: Determine pressure setting
The handy preset buttons like “Rice” and “Yogurt” are super convenient, but not all ingredients fit nicely into those preselected categories, and home cooks often like to go with the “Manual” function regardless. When it comes to manual pressure setting, you just want to be careful not to blast delicate ingredients or only lightly pressure cook tough ingredients. So here are the basic guidelines:
- Choose LOW for delicate cuts of seafood or light steaming of vegetables
- Choose HIGH for almost everything else
Step 4: Convert cook time
Since pressure cookers cook ingredients in a fraction of the time other methods do, it’s important to know how to convert a recipe’s regular cook time into an IP-friendly cook time. Here are the essential formulas:
Oven / Stovetop
When converting oven or stovetop recipes, simply divide the recipe’s total cook time by 3. If math was never your favorite subject, we have good news for you: simply consult our cheat sheet for cook times between 15 – 65 minutes!
When cooking pasta in an IP, the most straightforward rule is to look at the pasta box’s lowest cook time and then divide it in half. Our infographic already has all of the conversion times for 6 – 15 minutes, so all the main noodles out there are covered.
Since the Instant Pot is so great at making one-pot pasta dishes and is frankly very convenient, we have another tip for you: While plain pasta needs 2 cups of liquid per 8 oz of pasta, if you’re planning to cook your pasta right in the sauce, be sure to add some stock or other liquid so the pasta can properly cook / soften.
When you go about converting crock pot recipes to your IP, you will want to convert the cook time hours required for a HIGH setting to minutes – this means multiplying by 60 and then dividing the answer by 10. And, yes, that is a bit more complicated, so we’ve made your life much easier by already converting all 2 – 10 hour crock pot recipe times for you in our cheat sheet!
When using frozen meat, make sure to increase the cooking time by 5 – 10 minutes. No one wants underdone meat for dinner!
Okay, so before you go thinking, “Great, I can figure out the exact cook times to use now,” remember that altitude affects cook time. Basically, as your elevation increases, the temperature at which water boils will also decrease. This translates to recipes taking a bit longer to cook the higher up you are, but don’t worry, an IP will still save you time in the kitchen no matter where you live!
To account for altitude, all you have to do is multiply cook times by 5% for every 1000 ft above 2000 ft elevation. But if you live at an altitude between 3,000 – 10,000 feet, our cheat sheet has already got you covered.
Ingredients with Various Cook Times
Since full recipes for meals almost always have ingredients that require different cook times, we have a couple suggestions for you. First, a good strategy is to add ingredients to your IP in stages. Second, you can consider sauteing vegetables and searing meat before cooking a whole meal. Third, you can always pressure cook foods that need more time first, and then cook quicker ingredients on the “Saute” function after the pressure release.
We’ve talked about how converting soup recipes is a pretty easy process, but if you are adding meat to the soup, we usually recommend pre-cooking it on the “Saute” function beforehand. If you want to make a good minestrone and need to add pasta to your soup, you can let the noodles cook right in the soup. Just remember to only let your pasta be in the pressure cooker for the right amount of time because no one likes mushy noodles!
Step 5: Choose a pressure release setting
We’re almost done with the basic steps you need to take to make your favorite meals in an Instant Pot. The last cooking step is determining what type of pressure release to use. Since your IP will have built up a lot of pressure inside (that’s kinda the point), it will need to be released either quickly or slowly.
While release timing is really dependent on Instant Pot size and volume of ingredients, here are some general guidelines:
- Quick Pressure Release
- Good for delicate cuts of meat, seafood, pastas, and quick-cooking vegetables
- Natural Pressure Release
- Good for soups, starchy dishes, and tough cuts of meat
- Most meats work well with an NPR for no more than 10 minutes, and then a manual release of the remaining pressure
- For most other ingredients, do not let the release surpass 5 minutes to prevent overcooking
Step 6: Jot down notes
Lastly, and as you can probably tell by now, converting recipes for your Instant Pot is solely reliant on cut-and-dry formulas. There will always be a process of fine tuning so you get your most beloved recipes exactly how you want them. That’s why it’s a smart idea to keep notes of what went well and what to change each time you finish cooking / eating an IP meal.
You are now equipped with the 6 main steps to start converting your recipes into Instant Pot successes. How do you feel? Ready to take on dinnertime with a new fervor? If it seems a little intimidating at first and maybe not quite worth it, we guarantee that these steps can become second nature with only a little practice. All you need is our handy Instant Pot Conversion cheat sheet and you’ll be on your way to the fastest cooking of your life!
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