Book-Off

Your 5 Favorite Books for Dinner in An Instant

Pork shoulder, beans, and cheesecake—all in 30 minutes? Done.

by:
October 21, 2020
Photo by James Ransom

This post is part of our new community-driven book tournament, The Big Community Book-Off. With your help, we're finding the best books across categories (from bread to pasta, one-bowl to weeknight-friendly, and cake to cookies, to name a few), and putting them through a series of rigorous reviews—considered, tested, and written by none other than you.


Last month, community members Ruth, Erin, and Shereen subjected many, many vegetables to stem-to-tip testing, in search of the category’s best.

Two months ago, F52ers Reba, Margaret, and Jen sourced, baked, and consumed a very impressive amount of flour and sugar in determining the ultimate cake book.

Three months ago, brave reviewers Alison, Melissa, and Theresa tested your most referenced, timeless books on basics.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“The Instant Pot Bible is terrific. Very careful, explicit instructions, so you understand the whys as well as the hows. My SO has become incredibly picky in his old age, so I need to make familiar foods, no exotic spices. :-( Bruce and Mark offer the basic recipe for many items, and then lots of variations for more adventurous eaters. So far, I've made half a dozen recipes and they've all turned out perfect. The cheesecake is so easy and so perfect. I've been a fan of theirs for a long time and heartily endorse this book, too. ”
— renee
Comment

This month, we’ve got our minds set on meals made in an Instant—an Instant Pot, that is. These are the five cookbooks that you, our community, are reaching for when you want tender beans, meats, and magical cakes in a jiff.


Your 5 Best Instant Pot Cookbooks

1. Melissa Clark’s Dinner in an Instant

Photo by Amazon

When beloved NYT reporter Melissa Clark met beloved kitchen appliance, the book of recipes that resulted is, unsurprisingly, excellent. After a cozy fireside introduction (“Getting to Know Your Electric Pressure Cooker”), Clark offers a wealth of recipes that make impressive, innovative use of the multi-cooker: homemade coconut yogurt, shakshuka; Garlicky Cuban Pork, Coq au Vin (with rosé!), Mussels With Garlic & Lager, and—IP superstar—a crack-free Classic Vanilla Cheesecake.

2. Madhur Jaffrey’s Instantly Indian Cookbook

Photo by Amazon

Credited largely for introducing Western audiences to the true breadth and depth of Indian cuisine, no less impressive was Jaffrey’s foresight in revamping traditional Indian recipes’ use of the pressure cooker with the Instant Pot. In Jaffrey’s wonderful book, you’ll find recipes for long- and slow-cooked dals, braised meats, and perfectly fluffy rice—all ready in a fraction of the time, and without being terrorized by a screeching jet of steam.

3. Urvashi Pitre’s Indian Instant Pot Cookbook

Photo by Amazon

Talented home cook, blogger, and self-proclaimed Instant Pot evangelist, Pitre closely followed on the heels of Jaffrey’s book with her own Indian Instant Pot Cookbook, offering even more streamlined recipes. Dishes like Palak Paneer, Patra ni Macchi, and Chicken Vindaloo make economic use of ingredients and time, all without sacrificing depth of flavor.

4. Leslie Limón’s Everyday Mexican Instant Pot Cookbook

Photo by Amazon

Mexican highlands blogger Leslie Limón proves that flavorful braises, tender beans, and complex dried-chile-based sauces can be everyday (aka last-minute) realities, thanks to the Instant Pot. The first official Instant Pot cookbook devoted to this cuisine, Everyday Mexican offers 80 regional recipes, from poblano-stuffed tamales to Beef Shank Barbacoa and Frijoles Borrachos.

5. Bruce Weinstein & Mark Scarbrough’s The Instant Pot Bible

Photo by Amazon

With more than 350 recipes specifically designed for the Instant Pot, Weinstein and Scarbrough’s aptly named tome is ready to assist with breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and every moment in between. In each recipe, the authors provide useful charts for abandoning presets confidently, navigating between the stove top and appliance nimbly, and tips for how to go “Beyond” and “make the dish, well, ‘cheffier.’”

In testing and judging these five books, our reviewers have identified these as their key themes and guiding questions:

Utilization of the Instant Pot. Does the use of the appliance significantly simplify the cooking process or enhance the dish itself?

Versatility. Does the cookbook demonstrate the versatility of the Instant Pot? Does it offer a wide range of recipes using the multiple functions?

Design. A lot of appliance cookbooks can feel more like a manual than a cookbook—is this one attractive and well designed?

Taste. Do the recipes stand on their own merit? Are they truly interesting and flavorful?


Meet the Reviewers

Rosa

Melissa Clark’s Dinner in an Instant was the reason I bought an Instant Pot. I knew I could trust her to bring her great recipes to the convenience of the appliance.

Robin

The Instant Pot Bible contains weeknight-easy recipes and covers an impressive gamut of flavor profiles and dietary preferences—not just the heavily braised, bay-leaf-heavy dishes you typically find in such a cookbook.

Sarah

I also nominated Dinner in an Instant because it's one of the first Instant Pot recipe books I received, and it absolutely changed my cooking. Sometimes I really want to make something specific, but our schedule is crazy, and the Instant Pot makes it happen. My favorite recipe from this book is the Garlicky Cuban Pork—it cooks in less than an hour and a half, which makes it accessible even on long-shift days.

Which one of these books has your vote? Tell us in the comments!
more genius...for your ears

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Eva
    Eva
  • renee
    renee
  • Jeff Saltzman
    Jeff Saltzman
  • HalfPint
    HalfPint
  • SarahBar
    SarahBar
Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?) is a food and home brand, here to help you eat thoughtfully and live joyfully.

5 Comments

Eva November 2, 2020
I'm curious to hear the reviewers' takes on all of these. I have had Melissa Clark's Dinner in an Instant for a couple of years and just got Madhur Jaffrey's Instantly Indian. I've been pretty stunned by the shrimp pasta recipe in Clark's book and demanded my partner make it for me several times; I also always use her steel-cut oatmeal recipe and her guide to hard-cooked eggs.

I have less experience with Jaffrey's book so far, but found the first recipe I made from it surprisingly lackluster. Really eager to see what others think of all these.
 
renee November 1, 2020
The Instant Pot Bible is terrific. Very careful, explicit instructions, so you understand the whys as well as the hows. My SO has become incredibly picky in his old age, so I need to make familiar foods, no exotic spices. :-(

Bruce and Mark offer the basic recipe for many items, and then lots of variations for more adventurous eaters. So far, I've made half a dozen recipes and they've all turned out perfect. The cheesecake is so easy and so perfect. I've been a fan of theirs for a long time and heartily endorse this book, too.
 
Jeff S. October 29, 2020
Love Clark's book, looking forward to hearing about these others! The photo is a head scratcher: a pair of freezer burned boneless skinless chicken breasts, still in the package... huh? And one teaspoon of a mystery spice, already scooped... but the chicken is frozen... food styling is hilarious.
 
HalfPint October 21, 2020
I have only cooked from Dinner in an Instant. That chili recipe is the best chili recipe that I have ever made. Look forward to trying the other books now.
 
SarahBar October 23, 2020
You won't be disappointed! So many great recipes.