Converting Slow Cooker Recipes To Your Instant Pot

How to Convert Slow Cooker Recipes to Your Instant Pot

With a few simple changes to your recipe, you can cook your meal in an Instant Pot. These tips will help you convert your slow cooker recipes, so they work in a pressure cooker.

If you’ve just started using a pressure cooker, you’re probably wondering if you can find recipes that will work for the meals your family enjoys. Or, if it’s possible to adjust the slow cooker recipes you like best to pressure cooker recipes.

The good news is that you probably can use your slow cooker recipes, as long as you don’t mind making a few adjustments.

The truth is that you can probably take most of your slow cooker recipes and cook them just fine in a pressure cooker.

I learned this the hard way after buying my Instant Pot.

One day I’d planned on using my slow cooker to make that night’s dinner, but I left the house forgetting to turn the slow cooker on. As dinnertime approached, I decided to see if I could use my Instant Pot pressure cooker to make the same meal. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find that converting the recipe was no big deal. It was really easy.

In case you didn’t realize this, the Instant Pot has a slow cooker setting, which is for making “slow and low” meals, just like a regular slow cooker.

But if you’ve got a million things on your schedule and need a quick way to prepare a meal, the Instant Pot works great on the pressure cooker setting. This can save you a lot of time when you’re in a hurry to prepare a meal.

What’s great about the Instant Pot is that you can program the timer in advance. This way you can put the ingredients in and set it to start cooking everything at whatever later time you set it for.

With a few changes you can convert your slow cooker recipes into pressure cooker recipes. This way you can finish cooking meals for your family in a lot less time.

How Crock Pot Recipes Can be Cooked in an Instant Pot

There are some things you need to keep in mind when taking a slow cooker recipe and converting it into a pressure cooker recipe:

No Magic Conversion Formula

You’re not going to find a magic formula that will automatically convert your recipes, so they turn out well in a pressure cooker. It’s always best to practice cooking meals in your pressure cooker before trying to convert your favorite recipes.

It would really help if you were able to go online and find a pressure cooker recipe for a similar meal before trying to make your conversion. This way you will have a good idea of cook times as well as other changes you’ll need to make.

A Pressure Cooker Needs Some Water or Liquid

To cook in a pressure cooker, you must use at least 1 cup of water or another liquid to create the pressure. If the slow cooker recipe calls for very little liquid, like just ¼ cup, you’ll need to change that to 1 cup for the pressure cooker.

The only exception would be if you’re cooking the types of foods that produce liquid while being cooked. In those cases, you can do with a little less than 1 cup of liquid in the beginning. However, you should generally use at least 1 cup of liquid.

Both slow cookers and pressure cookers cause very little evaporation. This means that most liquid amounts will likely be similar in both appliances, as long as the recipe calls for at least 1 cup.

Never Overload Your Pressure Cooker

Depending on how large your pressure cooker is, you may need to reduce the amount of food and liquid you put inside. Your pressure cooker cannot work properly if it is over 2/3 full.

If the foods you plan on cooking create foam or expand during cooking (like rice, beans, other grains and certain fruits) your pressure cooker should not be any more than ½ full.

Avoid Using Wine or Liquor

If the recipe has wine in it, this will need to be adjusted because wine stays the same when cooked under pressure. So, it will cause the meal to have a raw tart flavor.

Experts suggest decreasing the amount of wine by half. Then you can use the saute setting on the pressure cooker to reduce the wine with heat. Once this is done, you can continue pressure cooking.

Do not use liquor in your pressure cooker because alcohol will not evaporate during cooking. Instead, the alcohol will disperse in the steam, causing a highly flammable situation.

Cook Time Needs to be Adjusted

Pressure cookers work a lot faster than slow cookers, which means cooking time will need to be shortened.

That being said, pressure cookers do take a little time to reach pressure, so that time should not be totally factored into the cooking time. How long it takes to reach pressure will depend on how full the pot is and how hot the ingredients are. 

While the Instant Pot is building its pressure, the ingredients inside are starting to cook, so take this under consideration.

If you go online, you can find some helpful charts to use when figuring out the cook times of the ingredients in the pot. The two that I find most helpful are:

Hip Pressure Cooking Chart

Instant Pot Cooking Times Chart

You can also get some very helpful information from a book by America’s Test Kitchen called “Pressure Cooker Perfection.” This book is full of delicious recipes as well as some very helpful cook time charts.

If you want your meat to be tender, use a natural pressure release, which allows all the pressure to release on its own once the cook time is over. But, before you open the lid make sure the valve has dropped.

If your recipe includes meat along with other ingredients, like vegetables or grains, it would be best to cut your meat into pieces so the cook time will be shorter and more in line with the other ingredients. Your other choice would be to cook the meat for the length of time called for in the recipe and then add the other ingredients. Then keep cooking for the time needed to cook those ingredients.

Stir in Milk and Cheese at the End

If there is milk or cheese in your slow cooker recipe, do not cook those ingredients in your pressure cooker. Those ingredients can cause clumping in a pressure cooker. Instead, stir them in after pressure cooking everything else.

Having said that, you can sometimes use cheese in Instant Pot recipes. For example, this particular pressure cooker lasagna. Even so, don’t mix the cheese into the other ingredients. But in general, it’s best to add the cheese last whenever you can.

Thickeners Should be Added Last

If the slow cooker recipe calls for thickeners, like cornstarch or flour, add these after pressure cooking the other ingredients.

This is because thickeners can make it difficult for the liquid in the pot to boil. This can keep the cooker from reaching high pressure, causing the ingredients on the bottom to get scorched, as well as the bottom of the cooker.

If the recipe needs thickening, make a separate slurry with cornstarch and water or flour and water. Stir that into the pot once everything else has been pressure cooked but still hot. You can also use the saute setting on the Instant Pot if necessary.

Be careful when using processed pre-packaged ingredients with thickeners, like condensed creamed vegetables or “cream of” soups. A lot of seasoning packets cause the same problem, especially if the amount of liquid isn’t sufficient to dilute them.

If your recipe calls for a “cream of” soup, it would be best to add that on top of the other ingredients without mixing it in. This will keep the liquid from getting too thick.

Make Notes

Once you’ve successfully cooked a slow cooker recipe in a pressure cooker, make notes of what adjustments you made that worked or didn’t work.

Keep your notes in a specific notebook or add your notes to the original slow cooker recipe. It’s important to keep track of your adjustments for the next time you want to cook that same meal in a pressure cooker.

Taking slow cooker recipes and converting them into pressure cooking recipes can take time in the beginning but save you more time in the long run. By using the tips above, you can prepare your family’s favorite recipes on very short notice!

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