kitchen tools

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 Favorite Kitchen Tools + 3 That I Could Live Without

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links which means that if you purchase something through one of these links, I will receive a small commission but your cost will remain the same. All items linked are the exact model/brand that I own unless I noted "similar" in parentheses.

julienned carrots and zucchini on cutting board

Set Yourself Up for Cooking Success

When I'm leading cooking classes or lessons, the first thing that I usually talk about is the importance of setting up your kitchen with the tools and appliances that you will actually use most often, then getting rid of the "fluff" so you can stay organized and efficient. Sometimes the seemingly minor items can make a serious difference in your workflow. 

I know for me, I own a lot of things that sounded cool at one point, but after a few years it's clear that they might not have been the most practical choice. I know I'm not the only one - I have heard countless stories about ice cream makers, pasta machines and panini presses that sit in the back of the cabinet collecting dust.  

I've written on this topic before, but I figured it would be fun to share a few of my must-have kitchen tools (in no particular order) plus a few not-so-frequently-used things that I could live without. Everything is linked so you can see the model I use. I would love to hear you chime in on this topic too so be sure to play along in the comments.

Favorites

Chef's knife

A versatile and well-maintained chef's knife is hands-down the most important tool for any home-cook. I have several different ones but the one linked above is a recent favorite (disclosure: I actually received this knife for free to review it for another website - I ended up loving it!). In my experience, using dull knives is the quickest way to suck the joy out of cooking. It's really hard to slice something thinly and worst of all, dangerous. If you invest in one thing on this list, make it a quality knife. 

Cutting board (similar)

I use this cutting board every.single.day. I love that it's made of silicon because it makes chopping a breeze, plus I can toss it right in the dishwasher if it comes in contact with any raw meat. Wood cutting boards are some of my favorite serving platters, but I prefer not to use them for actual chopping (unless it's something dry like bread) because I feel like they are harder to clean/maintain and in my mind, the wood just soaks up all of that bacteria. 

chef's knife with vegetables on cutting board

Instant Pot

I am still digging my Instant Pot and I don't care if I'm totally cliche for saying it. I use it for cooking big batches of grains and dry beans but it's also seriously helpful for people with limited time to cook during the week. It's easy to make meat for a crowd (like shredded chicken/pork) and can be used for any slow cooker recipe that you want to make about 6x faster (see my note on this further down). A few of my favorite instant pot recipes can be found here, here and here. If you have an IP, what is your favorite thing to make in it?

Citrus juicer (similar)

Adding fresh citrus juice is a great way to add brightness and flavor to a dish. Sure, you can squeeze limes and lemons by hand but you end up wasting a good portion of the fruit. Plus all of those lemon seeds... it can be a total pain. This citrus juicer has been a game-changer because it works really well to get the maximum amount of juice out - perfect for vinaigrettes, sauces, guacamole and cocktails. I use it almost daily.

citrus juicer next to guacamole

Microplane

A basic box grater is fine for most vegetables, but a microplane is a must-have for grating things directly into a mixing bowl or saute pan. Think fresh garlic or ginger, parmesan cheese, or lemon zest. It grates very finely as opposed to the larger shreds from a grater. 

Cast iron skillet

The cast-iron skillet isn't totally necessary for cooking newbies, but it sure is a nice thing to have and you can find them really reasonably priced. I use it when I want to get a nice sear on a piece of protein or when I want to start something on the stove top then finish in the oven without transferring dishes. It's great for frittatas, casseroles and pizzas. As a side note, if one of your life goals is to learn to make the perfect grilled cheese, this is a totally necessary purchase. 

the best grilled cheese

Blender

For years I used a run-of-the-mill, inexpensive blender but it never worked all that well. I splurged on the one linked with some gift cards and I can definitely say it was a great decision to spend a little bit more. If this broke tomorrow, I would hands-down purchase another one right away. I think someday I would like to do the Vitamix thing but for now, this one works great for the smoothies that I tend to make. The result is always perfectly smooth with no chunks left behind, and it doubles as our food processor. The Ninja isn't as high an investment as the Vitamix, so it can be a nice in-between option. I also like that this model came with to-go cups and a separate blade attachment for when you want to make a single serving portable smoothie (so you don't have to dirty the entire thing). We use these multiple times each week.

The Ones I Could Live Without

While there is nothing wrong with any of these, I probably just wouldn't make an effort to replace them right away. I know many people swear by their slow cooker though so of course each person should form his/her own opinion.

Slow cooker

The Instant Pot has essentially replaced my slow cooker. It does have a slow cooker setting but I mainly just use the pressure cooker setting to cook any of these recipes in way less time with the same results. I never really liked using the slow cooker to begin with because the timing never worked with our schedules. When I worked in an office, I would set it in the morning but then the meal would be done way earlier than we were ready to eat dinner so I worried about it over-cooking. It was all right for weekends, but again I just prefer to use the IP now.

Toaster

This one might seem surprising. I love toast but I think when our toaster bites the dust I'll be replacing it with a toaster oven instead because it's so much more versatile. I like the idea of being able to bake, broil or even just heat up leftovers (mainly things like pizza or sandwiches) without turning on the full-size oven. 

Mandolin

I actually really like the mandolin, but I don't use it nearly enough. I rarely come across a recipe that requires using it, probably since most people don't have one. It's actually a great gift because it's a fun tool to own, but for practicality sake I wouldn't recommend it for amateur home cooks. The one I have has several parts and it can be a challenge to put together and adjust.  

Free Mini-Course

Stocking your kitchen with useful tools and appliances is the first step to streamlining your cooking routine but to keep the momentum going, I created a free 3-day email course with actionable steps on organizing your kitchen, meal planning, shopping and prepping for the week!

The course includes a pantry staple checklist, 5-day dinner plan, and other helpful information to help you refresh your kitchen and refocus your nutrition and cooking routine. Use the form below to sign up!

Set Yourself Up for Cooking Sucess

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