instant pot

7 Creative Ways to Use Your Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is all the rage for busy home cooks! Today I’m sharing 7 creative ways to use your instant pot beyond the usual soups, meats, beans and grains. Also just a heads-up that there are affiliate links in this post meaning, at no cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thanks for reading!

7 Creative Ways to Use Your Instant Pot

What’s the Deal with the Instant Pot?

I think it’s pretty well established that the Instant Pot has turned into somewhat of a cultural phenomenon in the last few years. Even if you don’t own one, most of us can attest to their insane (seemingly overnight?) popularity. The sheer volume of recipes on Pinterest is crazy. Every time I search for something, I swear an IP variation pops up too!

I love the instant pot for simple and fast weeknight cooking with minimal cleanup (i.e. one pot meals). For example, you can throw in frozen chicken breast, a couple of cans of tomatoes, beans and broth plus seasonings and vegetables of choice and make a solid soup in less than 30 minutes. The saute feature allows you to get your onions and garlic started before dumping everything else in without having to dirty another pan, which is pretty cool too.

I’ve mentioned this before, but the IP also makes cooking for a crowd a breeze because you can perfectly cook large cuts of protein in a fraction of the time that you can in the oven or crock pot. I’m talking shredded, fall apart style Korean Beef or Carnitas as the perfect centerpiece for a BYO taco bar.

If you follow a plant-based diet, there are plenty of options for you too! A friend of mine recently recommended this Thai & Butternut Curry and it was another winner. Additionally you can use it for large batch dried beans which is great because honestly, I never think about soaking and prepping them in advance so I much prefer making them in an hour, pressure cooker style.

When I was writing this post, I remembered that I actually made an Instant Pot video tutorial last year for a cooking challenge that I facilitated. Check it out below if you’re interested in a more visual explanation of how the IP works or feel intimidated by all of the settings and buttons - I cooked a small batch of brown rice in this one.

Creative Ways to Use Your Instant Pot

All of the examples I mentioned above are pretty mainstream uses for the Instant Pot but did you know there’s a ton of creative, more non-traditional ways to use it too? I wanted to round up seven creative recipes (that I’ve found) to use the Instant Pot to share just how versatile it is. Many of these I’ve tried, some not. Hopefully this list gives you some new ideas and inspiration!

Hard-Boiled Eggs (Omnivore’s Cookbook)

These have become somewhat of a weekly staple in my house. I prefer my eggs on the jammy side, so I follow the 4-minute version and they turn out perfect every time and are SO easy to peel. Let me tell you, hard-boiled eggs were always so frustrating for me until I discovered this method. I’m not sure it was the altitude or what, but every time I made them on the stove they would be either impossible to peel, overcooked or a combination of the two. This method is quick and hands-off!

Cinnamon Roll French Toast Casserole (Fit Foodie Finds)

This French toast casserole recipe involves placing an oven-safe bowl on the trivet inside of the Instant Pot so that steam can cook it on all sides - genius! Just to clarify, the trivet is a small metal insert that’s included in the box for when you need to lift ingredients off the bottom of the pot.

I love this dish for brunch entertaining because it’s unique, but simple to throw together and really delicious. It’s a crowd-pleaser!

Coconut Milk Yogurt (Stephanie Lee Nutrition)

I have to admit that I haven’t ventured into the yogurt-making setting yet but this coconut milk version is really intriguing! There’s a yogurt button to make the whole process faster and smoother than trying to figure it out on your own. This specific recipe is great for anyone who needs to/chooses to avoid dairy (plus less expensive than buying from the store).

Instant Pot Coconut Milk Yogurt

Sweet Potatoes (Sweet Peas and Saffron)

Baked sweet potatoes are a great staple to batch cook and keep handy for quick lunches and dinners throughout the week. You can stuff them with all of your favorite fillings (actually, here’s three ideas!) for a super satisfying 15-minute meal or mash the inside for a side dish. Using the instant pot cuts down the cook time by about half and frees up your oven for other items, which is especially helpful if you’re making these as part of your weekend meal prep routine.

Peach Jam (Marisa Moore Nutrition)

This simple jam recipe will definitely happen in my house once peaches come back into season later in the summer. In the meantime I may even try it with frozen peaches to see if it works since those are always available.

I’m always looking for new ways to incorporate Colorado peaches into just about everything (I’m kind of obsessed actually) and this comes together in just 20 minutes! In addition to spreading on toast, I can see this being a great way to add flavor to grilled fish and chicken. And how amazing is that color?

Instant Pot Peach Jam

Chicken Pho (Nom Nom Paleo)

HELLO. Did you know that not only can you cook an entire chicken in the IP, but you can then take it one step further and turn it into a delicious pho? This was actually one of the first recipes I attempted when I bought mine (ambitious? yes.) and it turned out great, although it’s definitely on the more time-intensive side than the others on this list.

Compared to traditional, “simmer on the stove all day” pho it is faster. Just note that the total time listed is 1.5 hours because you first have to cook and shred the chicken, then do a second cook.

Raisin Bread (The Foodie Dietitian)

Last but certainly not least, I am really excited about this raisin bread by Kara aka the Foodie Dietitian!

While this raisin bread doesn’t use the Instant Pot for the actual cooking process (you’ll need the oven for that part), it creatively utilizes the yogurt function for the rise which is so clever and something I would never think to do.

I’ve not tested this yet, but it’s on my list because it looks insanely delicious with butter slathered on top and there isn’t any kneading required, which cuts down on a step and saves time. Shortcut homemade bread? I’m in.

Instant Pot Raisin Bread

Which Instant Pot Model Should I Buy?

Now if you don’t currently own an Instant Pot and are interested in purchasing one, this is the one I have and love.

It’s a good size and has all of the features I’ve needed at a really affordable price point. I’m not sure if it’s temporary, but the price is actually significantly lower now than it was when I bought it.

Many people don’t realize, but this is actually a 7-in-1 appliance so in addition to the pressure cooker setting, it can also be used to cook a variety of ingredients with several different methods. If you do end up purchasing it, I hope you love it as much as I do!


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My 2017 Healthyish Gift Guide

Is it just me, or is November totally flying by? Holiday shopping season starts in T-minus 11 days people. If you're anything like me, you always have great intentions of starting your shopping early. You might buy one or two things in October and think it's finally going to be that year, but then Thanksgiving comes and goes and you have yet to cross anyone else off your list. While I really do love buying gifts for my people, I have this annoying "need" to find the absolutely perfect thing which can sometimes drive me a little mad. I always check out online gift guides for ideas because there are so many cool things out there that I would never even know about otherwise. This year, I wanted to put together one myself! Here are some of my favorite healthyish things at the moment.

Oh and just a heads-up: This post contains some affiliate links. While these do not affect the purchase price of the item, they could result in me getting a small commission on anything you buy. Thank you for supporting this blog. Now on with the gifts!

The Instant Pot

It's probably no surprise that this made the list. I just talked about how much I love it in my post last week and I keep finding new and interesting ways to use it! Besides the ever-so-popular pressure cooker feature that the IP is known for, here are some other cool things you can make with it:

  • Yogurt

  • The perfect rice (minus all of the foam boiling over the pot and making a mess of your stovetop)

  • Anything that you would typically make in a slow cooker

  • Seared and shredded meat (with no extra pots/pans required)

  • Steamed vegetables

  • Oatmeal or other porridge

It's just an amazing all-around appliance and would open up a whole new world of cooking possibilities for the home chef in your life!

Green Chef Subscription

I have waxed poetic about Green Chef so many times over the last few months, but I'm still holding strong that it's nothing short of amazing! You can read my full review here, but in short Green Chef sends you a box of brightly colored, beautiful and creative meals along with recipe cards that explain exactly how to assemble them so 1) you don't have to plan dinners for the week and 2) you don't have to do a huge grocery shop. Perfect for post-holiday travel when you're craving plants and just can't think about what to cook. 

They don't offer a gift card option, but you can sign someone up for a box (I did this for my mom). It would be a fun gift for a couple who wants to start cooking more, or for anyone who wants to start trying some new cuisines or branch out from their usual meal rotation. 

Mediterranean Bowls via Green Chef

Mediterranean Bowls via Green Chef

Cookbooks

A cookbook is a great gift for home cooks, because while they provide new meal inspiration and are just plain fun to read, most people don't buy them "just because". I know I browse cookbooks online often but it's hard to justify spending $25-50 on one when free recipes are available all over the place. This is why they make the perfect gift. 

Here are two of my favorites, plus two that I've been eyeing but don't yet own:

Cravings, by Chrissy Teigen

Seriously Delish, by Jessica Merchant

Dinner: Changing the Game, by Melissa Clark

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, by Mark Bittman

fish tacos, a la Cravings

fish tacos, a la Cravings

Apple Watch Series 3 or Accessories 

This is obviously a more pricey option, but for the active person in your life it sure is fun to wear. I have a Series 1 that I got as a Christmas gift two years ago. The main reason I love it is because I can't wear most metal accessories without my wrist getting irritated, and I really like wearing a watch. I also love the look of the Apple Watch (it matches my casual style) and you can easily switch out the band based on the season or your mood. 

Now I'm not religious about tracking my steps or anything, but I do find it helpful for reminding me to get moving at times when I'm focused on a task and it's fun to see how many miles walked while on vacation or on a particularly active day. It's also a great run tracker when training for an event if you are someone who likes to keep track of pace, distance, etc. I rarely use mine for texting and answering calls, but know that those are features as well, and with the new Series 3 you don't even need your phone nearby to do so! 

If someone on your list already has a watch, a bright and funky watch band is a less expensive option that would be really fun to receive. I love the dusty blue or bright pink options for days when you need a little bit of color in your life. 

Cocktail Making Supplies

You might be asking yourself how anything related to alcohol made the cut on a "healthyish" gift guide, but let me explain. I'm a big believer in the power of learning how to make a bomb cocktail. It's just one of those adult skills that I think everyone should have. Plus, one great tasting high-quality cocktail means it will probably be a lot more satisfying, which can be helpful for someone trying to cut down on alcohol intake. Less is more you guys!

I'm partial to Moscow Mules, but really the options are endless here. I love the idea of giving a local, craft mixer for a special add-on and you can cater it to whatever cocktail your gift-ee really loves. 

Citrus Juicer - I couldn't find the exact one I have, but this one looks similar.

Moscow Mule Mugs - we got these as a wedding gift and use them a ton when hosting company!

Craft mixer - Fever Tree makes some really interesting mixers although I've never actually tried them - I have been on the hunt for their ginger beer for weeks!

best.host.ever

best.host.ever

Bon Appetit Magazine Subscription

BA magazine is so much fun to read every month. Yes, the recipes are creative and delicious but their photography and graphic design is what really keeps me reading. They also write really funny and true-to-life articles that I find so useful. One of the columns is called "Basically" where a simple skill is broken down. As an example, one month it was on how to make perfectly roasted potatoes. Oh, and then there's the hot 10 list that I look forward to all year where they choose their favorite 10 new restaurants in the country and showcase them in the September issue. 

There are other food magazines out there, but if you're looking for one that's a little bit out of the box and will really challenge someone in the kitchen, I would highly recommend Bon Appetit. 

ClassPass membership

Anyone who knows me well, knows that when it comes to fitness I can't stay put doing the same thing for very long. Enter, ClassPass - the ultimate solution that seems like it was designed just for me! If you aren't familiar, ClassPass essentially allows you access to all sorts of fitness studios all on one membership with an app that allows you to schedule based on location, class type and/or time. This would be perfect for someone who has a hard time committing to a gym membership because of an ever-changing work schedule, or anyone who loves trying out new formats often. Classes are available in 39 cities and if you travel, you can use your membership anywhere, not just in the city you sign up. 

I recently re-joined and remembered just how much I like the flexibility. I tried out Barre3 (which I loved) and a new-to-me Cycling/Core class that was also really fun. Other Denver favorites include Core Power Yoga, Pearl Street Fitness, Fierce45 which is a pilates megaformer class and Fit36 - a super quick option near my work that I also really like. Taking classes like this as a drop-in can easily cost upwards of $25/class so CP membership is a great deal. 

Starbucks Mug

This is a classic and probably a bit predictable, but there are just so many beautiful mugs at Starbucks these days! This is another one of those things that most people probably gawk over but never actually buy for themselves. You can't buy the mugs on Starbucks.com anymore, but you can of course still find them in store, and on sites like Amazon. Check out a few of these patterns:

Pretty Pattern

Fall Leaves

Iced Coffee Lovers

And then of course their city-specific collectible mugs and tumblers are great if you want to give a souvenir type gift to a special someone. I may be biased, but I think this Colorado one is pretty cool:

Colorado Mug