Nina’s Tips and Techniques: Quick Meals using the Instant Pot

I am frustrated with the Instant Pot because everyone says it is such a time saver, but I’m not finding it any faster than regular cooking—am I missing something?

It’s true—your Instant Pot is really only a time saver in SOME preparations. Mainly dishes that typically have long cook times like stews, braises and things that simmer like stock or beans. For other dishes the cook time is generally the same—the big difference is that the consistency of the finished product is better because cooking under pressure is a more controlled environment than on your stove top or in your oven. The other thing that people feel misled by is that it takes about 20 minutes for your Instant Pot to pressurize, then you have the actual cook time, then it also takes some time to depressurize. I’ve mentioned in past weeks why there are certain dishes you want to let depressurize naturally rather than flipping the pressure valve open. Like any recipe you make, whether it’s in the Instant Pot or not, you should plan for some prep time in the beginning and some cooling or finishing time at the end. Instant Pot cooking is still cooking and cooking takes time! The time saver with Instant Pot cooking is in the cook time it self. Think of it like this, something that takes 10 minutes will probably still take 10 minutes; something that takes 3 hours will now take 45 minutes!

Is there any way to speed up the time it takes the Instant Pot to get up to pressure?

During this part of the process the Instant Pot is heating. It can only pressurize over a certain temperature. If you add hot ingredients to your pot it should come up to pressure faster. Cold ingredients will take longer.

What are some more examples of dishes that take less time in the instant pot?

Possibly the best thing I have discovered in experimenting with my Instant Pot is its ability to make perfectly braised chicken thighs in less than 30 minutes. Chicken thighs are pretty much my favorite food. I’ve been making amazing shredded chicken thighs for tacos (recipe linked above!) as well as an insane Mexican chicken chili recipe. I also tried a Butter Chicken recipe that tasted like it had simmered for 3 hours in the back of my favorite Indian Restaurant, but it only took 20 minutes to cook! Amazing!

Recipe – Shredded Ancho Chili Chicken (perfect for tacos!)

8 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
2 dried ancho chili peppers
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp coriander
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
3 cups Chicken stock

Place all ingredients in the Instant Pot and secure the lid. Make sure the pressure valve is closed. Set the Instant Pot for 30 minutes at normal pressure. When it is done cooking release the pressure and open the pot. Strain off most of the liquid and reduce it by half in a small sauce pan, then transfer it back to the pot. Shred the chicken with two forks. Break up the ancho chilis and mix them into the chicken mixture, removing the stems. Season with salt and pepper if needed.