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.
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.
"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."
"Yogurt sales were down 6% in 2018," Instant Pot Community member Steve C. posted recently. "My thought is...the Instant Pot!"
"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."
"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."
These are, according to Quittner, "the world's easiest mashed potatoes. Seriously—you don't even have to drain the pot after boiling."
"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."
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."
"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."
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."
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.