Instant Pot

10 Surprising Things You Can Make in Your Instant Pot

Yep, that's cheese.

April 11, 2019
Photo by Lauren Volo

Whenever anything involving Instant Pots, slow cookers, or air fryers happens here at Food52, it's likely I've got something to do with it. I'm the convenience cooker guy—and I'm not afraid to admit it. In fact, I embrace my beat. Maybe because I believe strongly that the ubiquity of these appliances signals deeper cultural resonances in the realm of home cooking today. After all, the way we cook has always said so much about who we are as a people.

So what does it say now that we're in the Age of the Instant Pot?

I think it means a few things: As smart phones and voice-controlled personal assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home are taking over the world entering our houses, so too are new technologies inhabiting our kitchens. More importantly, home cooks are starting to embrace them. It means, too, that we're all putting an even steeper price tag on our time, i.e. less time in the kitchen. No matter what you have to say about Instant Pot cooking, you do have to admit it sure saves a lot of time.

The day I bought an Instant Pot, I joined the popular Facebook group, and every day am fascinated by what people around the world are making: not just stews, soups, and rice, but cheesecakes, cottage cheese, and yogurt.

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Top Comment:
“... have you tried staining your yogurt? I live in the sticks and I always forget cheese cloth when I go to town... So I use coffee filters to strain my cow's milk yogurt...”
— Meg

No, really, everyone is making yogurt in their IPs right now.

Which is why I thought it'd be helpful to compile some of the most unexpected foods you can, apparently, make in the Instant Pot, whether you're a seasoned veteran or a newbie who has yet to really dive in.

Surprising Instant Pot Recipes

1. Cottage Cheese

"Homemade cottage cheese is less creamy and has smaller curds than most store-bought varieties, and its incomparable flavor is a real treat," Sherri Castle writes. "I remember my grandmother making cottage cheese—she would have been awestruck to see a multicooker turn out a perfect version with little more than the press of a button."

2. Yogurt

"Yogurt sales were down 6% in 2018," Instant Pot Community member Steve C. posted recently. "My thought is...the Instant Pot!"

3. Ricotta

"Store-bought ricotta can’t hold a candle to creamy, rich homemade cheese," Ivy Manning says. "You don’t need any special equipment, and the 'Yogurt' setting on most Instant Pot models gently heats the milk to the perfect temperature, so there’s no worrying about scorching the milk on the stove."

4. Mac & Cheese

"Making macaroni and cheese in an Instant Pot seemed, to me, counterintuitive at first thought. Wouldn't the noodles get all mushy, instead of remaining beautifully al dente?" Ella Quittner wondered. "No, it turns out—not if you cook them for the perfect amount of time. Plus, after some testing, I realized I could infuse the actual pasta with way more flavor by cooking it directly in broth, cream, and Pecorino."

5. Mashed Potatoes

These are, according to Quittner, "the world's easiest mashed potatoes. Seriously—you don't even have to drain the pot after boiling."

6. Bread Pudding

"Welcome to the 'best bread pudding' my husband has ever had," cookbook author Urvashi Pitre claims. "Roger is a bit of a bread pudding fanatic. We also love tres leches cake. So I decided to try mixing the two and ended up with a great bread pudding that was especially light and airy from the croissants, and moist from steaming in the Instant Pot."

7. Risotto

If you're pressed for time but want that slow-cooked risotto comfort without all the stirring, turn to the Instant Pot. According to Manning, "This light, creamy risotto, packed with asparagus, fresh fava beans, spinach, and lemon, is just the thing to celebrate the arrival of spring."

8. Jam

"Fully ripe strawberries—sweet, juicy, and red all the way through—make the best jam," this recipe's headnote says. "Visit a pick-your-own farm in late spring and early summer and give jam-making a whirl."

9. Cheesecake

Cheesecake is another surprising food I've noticed Instant Pot fans are making in droves. According to this recipe, "The moist cooking environment in the Instant Pot makes it super creamy and greatly reduces the chances it will crack or dry out."

10. Chocolate Lava Cakes

Turns out the Instant Pot is also the perfect environment for ramekins of gooey chocolate batter, and thanks to this foolproof recipe from Melissa Clark, you're only 9 pressure-cooked minutes away from perfect lava cakes.

What's the coolest thing you make in your Instant Pot? Share your secrets in the comments below.

Recipes excerpted from Instant Pot Miracle © 2017 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Instant Pot Italian © 2018 by Ivy Manning, and Instant Pot Fast & Easy © 2019 by Urvashi Pitre. Reproduced with permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. All products are independently selected by our editors, and Food52 may earn an affiliate commission.

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Eric Kim is a Senior Editor at Food52, where his weekly solo dining column, Table for One, runs every Friday morning. Formerly the Digital Manager at Food Network, he writes about food, travel, and culture and lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho.


Melody L. April 12, 2019
I sure could have used one of these when I first got married, 45 years ago! I was a stay at home mom, taking care of my two new (to me, at least. They were 2 and 4) sons, and husband. I was barely 19, and as money was incredibly tight, I was expected to not waste any food, left overs were a must, and of course I wanted to be perfect. But it seemed daily I would forget to take the meat out of the freezer. We butchered our own animals, chickens, turkeys, beef, and pig. We didn't butcher lamb or veal, as nobody liked that. I also had an acre garden, with fruit trees and nut trees. The other night, again, I forgot to take the corned beef out of the freezer. It didn't matter, An extra 5 minutes, so 90 minutes of the corned beef, 6 cups of apple cider, season pack, onions, 1/2 of the leeks, and away we went. I released after 10 minutes, added the rest of the leeks, red potatoes, carrots, 1 small cabbage, cored and quarter, garlic, large ground pepper, that's it. 6 minutes on high, high (pressure, heat) set the table, a 10 minute release, then quick, a there was dinner. Before it was the slow cooker, so it used to take me 13 hours or more. Now it takes me slightly more than 10% of the time. No yelling from the hubby. Try spaghetti squash in it, amazing! So tender and less than 1/10th the time. Instant "Spaghetti", using the squash noodles and a non meat sauce, hubby doesn't know, and our heart thanks us!
CameronM5 April 11, 2019
I don’t have an Instant Pot but I might get one just for that bread pudding 😋
Author Comment
Eric K. April 11, 2019
Highly recommend!
Carlos C. April 11, 2019
I am always wary of doing anything in my instant pot besides obliterating tough cuts of meat, quickly cooking beans (which I then need to simmer later), and making rice. The settings get out of whack. The yogurt setting practically boiled my milk once, making me have to throw a half gallon of milk away (I wasn't going to risk it). I also notice that the instant pot, like most pressure cookers, retains a lot of moisture, so things end up becoming really soggy, and I have to end up boiling it on the saute setting for at least 30 minutes to reduce some of the liquid. The flavors also seem watered down for some reason. Additionally, anything with tomatoes ends up getting scorched. I tried reaching out to customer service, but they required me to use a thermometer to test the temperatures, and I just couldn't be bothered. So I just use it cook rice and boil meat before I put it in another stew. I still think it's useful for that. I'm just afraid that if I try to make a cake or something in it, I will end up with carbon soup.
Author Comment
Eric K. April 11, 2019
Hah, carbon soup.

Tomatoes = sugar, so that makes sense to me. I burned a tomato curry once because I didn't add enough liquid.
ktr April 11, 2019
I had been making coconut yogurt in my instant pot in a similar fashion that I make whole milk yogurt in it. But, I tried another method this past weekend that was even easier. Put coconut milk and the contents of 2 probiotic capsules in a quart mason jar. Shake it to combine. Remove the lid and put the jar in the instant pot. Press the yogurt button and set for 24 hours. I removed mine after about 13 hours and it was almost perfect. It is not quite as thick as I'd like so I am going to experiment with adding a little gelatin to the mixture as well.
Author Comment
Eric K. April 11, 2019
How's the flavor?
ktr April 12, 2019
The flavor is very good. Nice and tangy like yogurt should be. The coconut flavor comes through but isn't overwhelming. It definitely doesn't taste like you are just eating straight up coconut cream.
Meg April 13, 2019
... have you tried staining your yogurt? I live in the sticks and I always forget cheese cloth when I go to town... So I use coffee filters to strain my cow's milk yogurt...
ktr April 13, 2019
I have but I started adding gelatin to my whole milk yogurt several years ago because the amount of yogurt you end up with after straining is quite a bit less than what you start with. And due to our work schedules, it often got over-strained to the point where it was nearly solid.
Meg April 15, 2019
...I have found that using coffee filters is fast, easy, cheaper and less messy than cheese cloth... I use highly pasteurized milk and I strain it warm on my counter for maybe an hour. I get very little whey compared to using regular processed milk. (sharing in case one day you don't have any gelatin around... :)
SevenOfNine April 24, 2019
My DIL uses ultra pasteurized also, with similar results. I make yogurt weekly, but with regular milk - will def give the ultra pasteurized a try! BTW, I use a Euro Strainer: no muss, no fuss.
Cate May 5, 2019
I am not familiar with something called a “Euro Strainer”. I was at Sur La Table today and didn’t see anything specific like that. Could you describe it please?
SevenOfNine May 5, 2019
Here’s a link to the one I have. After I strain the yogurt, I just flip the strainer upside down onto the (empty) whey catcher and the yogurt plops right out. The strainer only needs a simple rinsing — couldn’t be easier.
roryrabbitfield June 12, 2019
What’s a whey catcher?