Did you know that the Instant Pot has only been around since 2010? It feels like much longer, but it’s true! In contrast, slow cookers have been around since approximately 1950. As a result, more slow cooker recipes can be found compared to Instant Pot recipes-for now! But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with using a slow cooker for your favorite old recipes. Instead, just convert the recipes! Here are my 10 Tips on How to Convert Slow Cooker Recipes to an Instant Pot!
Note: Before I get started and you glance at the chart I want to clear something up. This chart I made for the beginner in mind. So I DO have some casseroles which use the pot in pot method and thicker sauce recipes on my site but they may not be as easy for a beginner- so I left those off. As you gain confidence and skill, you can try many different recipes like chapstick, crayons, cough syrup, and elderberry syrup and gummies! The possibilities are endless! Ok let’s get started!
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10 Tips on How to Convert Slow Cooker Recipes to an Instant Pot
Before I give you my handy slow cooker recipe conversion tips, a couple of things need to be remembered. The cook time for an Instant Pot does not include the time it takes the Instant Pot to get to the right pressure. Also, the cook time doesn’t include the time it takes for the Instant Pot to release its steam at the end. Keep these items in mind when planning out your meals. You would do well too reading my Instant Pot Beginners Guide and My Instant Pot hacks article too.
1. Add Liquid
One of the most important tips I have on how to convert slow cooker recipes to an Instant Pot is to make sure you put enough liquid in your Instant Pot! By default, you should always include at least 1 cup of liquid in your Instant Pot. In this case, liquid refers to water or water-based ingredients such as broth. Thick liquids (like any of the cream of mushroom/chicken/etc. soups) are too thick to supply the necessary liquid. Without enough liquid, your Instant Pot can’t create the appropriate pressure to cook. If you’d rather not add liquid to your dish because water makes your meal soupy, your only options are either to use the trivet to keep your food above the liquid, or try to cook off some of the liquid at the end with the sauté feature.
Below is an example of PIP (Pot In Pot) where I made hard-boiled eggs in the instant pot. There is a cup of liquid below the trivet. On the trivet is the bowl with the eggs. This is just one example of many. For this recipe go here.
To make your own broth to drink or to use for recipes is simple! Here’s my recipe.
2. Add Thickeners at the End
Don’t add any kind of thickener or thick “cream of” soup to your Instant Pot at the beginning. Instead, wait until you’ve finished pressure cooking to add it. Adding it earlier can mess up the whole cooking process. Besides, as mentioned, they don’t count toward the necessary liquid, so there’s really no reason to add them in earlier.
3. Add Dairy at the End
A converted Instant Pot recipe also shouldn’t include dairy in the beginning. Dairy just doesn’t usually pressure cook well. Instead, add your dairy at the end. Here’s an example in my Zuppa Tuscana Recipe.
4. Use the Preset Meat Buttons
When you convert slow cooker recipes to an Instant Pot, don’t forget that the Instant Pot has preset buttons for meat! These actually work really well. Use the Meat/Stew button to cook red meats and the Poultry button for chicken, turkey, and other birds.
5. Add Veggies Later
If you’re going to cook veggies and meat in your Instant Pot together, cook your meat, but stop it with a quick release 10 minutes before the meat should be finished. Then add in your vegetables and manually add 10 minutes of cook time. This process will avoid overcooked vegetables,
6. Avoid Coating Your Meat
Unlike in a slow cooker, in an Instant Pot you should be careful coating your meat before cooking it. All this will do is create a layer at the bottom of the pot that will get in the way of the Instant Pot building up the necessary pressure. You also shouldn’t try to convert recipes where the end result is supposed to seem crispy/fried. Since the Instant Pot works via steam, it’s not easy to get a crispy coating. You CAN season meat though, like in my rib recipe here-
7. Release the Pressure Appropriately
I suggest going with the natural pressure release for most meats. It takes longer than the quick release, but gives some meat a better texture. I use the natural pressure release for legumes and grains, generally. They require a lot of built up pressure and a quick release is more dangerous. I usually use the quick pressure release for vegetables to keep them crisp. If you were around for my other chicken recipes like chicken teriyaki and my chicken freezer meal series, I use natural pressure release in all those recipes. Keep in mind- there are exceptions though. So this is a guide- not set in stone.
8. Don’t Overfill
An Instant Pot should never be filled more than 2/3 full. It needs that other 1/3 for steam space. This is reduced to 1/2 full for grains, and also 1/2 full for beans, lentils, and other legumes. This is because grains and legumes will double in size once cooked. Sometimes, they also create foam as they cook, so you need space for that as well. Trust me- overfilling CAN lead to a great big mess! 😉
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9. Add Time for Frozen Food
A good rule of thumb is to add 5-10 minutes to your cook time if you’re cooking frozen meat. You may also want to add a minute or two for frozen veggies.
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10. It’s Okay to Get the Timing Wrong
Converting slow cooker recipes to an Instant Pot is an inexact science. Factors like food size and food moisture vary from dish to dish and can make it difficult to figure out the perfect Instant Pot cook time from the get-go. So if you’re converting a slow cooker recipe to your Instant Pot for the first time, expect for the timing to possibly be too long or too short. Too short is best, as you can always re-lock the lid and use the manual pressure timer to cook the dish for another 5 minutes or so. Since the Instant Pot and the food are all hot, you won’t have to wait as long as you did in the beginning for the pressure to build up. Just make sure liquid is present in the bottom of the pot! To make it less likely you’ll use the wrong cook time, here’s a handy slow cooker to Instant Pot conversion printable!
It may take one or two tries to successfully convert your favorite slow cooker recipes to an Instant Pot, but it’ll be worth it! While sometimes it’s great to be able to set and forget a dish and let it cook slowly, other times you need things to cook fast, and that’s what the Instant Pot is great at! It’s particularly handy to know how to convert slow cooker recipes for days when you intended to cook something in the slow cooker, then forgot until it was too late in the day. That’s when it’s the Instant Pot to the rescue!
Have you ever converted a slow cooker recipe to your Instant Pot before?