New Orleans-style grillades and grits, made using an Instant Pot
Sure, it may just be an electric pressure cooker dolled up with bells and whistles, but there's no denying the convenience of the Instant Pot. You can't (or rather, shouldn't) cook everything in it, but you certainly can use an Instant Pot to shave hours of cooking time off of your favorite braises, stews, chilis and even grits. Ready to get started? Read on for our guide to Instant Pot cooking.
What even is an Instant Pot?
Instant Pots are technically programmable electric multi-cookers. They come with multiple settings for specific dishes, as well as for things like searing and slow cooking. The biggest advantage of an Instant Pot (or other similar multi-cooker) is its ease of use. There's no fiddling with different knobs or worrying about the lid exploding. You don't even need to be there to release the pressure when your food is finished. Simply turn it on, set a timer, and let 'er rip.
Should I replace my slow cooker with this device? Read more about the differences between the two here
How Instant Pots transform low-and-slow dishes into 30-minute meals
No matter if you're working with an Instant Pot or your grandmother's stovetop pressure canner, pressure cooking always works the same way. All pressure cookers are, at their core, a metal pot with a locking, airtight lid outfitted with a pressure regulator and release valve. When the lid is locked in place, steam can only be released through that valve. In this fully closed system, the evaporating steam from the boiling water is trapped and increases the pressure in the device. This, in turn, raises the boiling point of the water inside the cooker and allows foods to cook in a fraction of the time of traditional stovetop and oven cooking methods.
Want even more details? Head here for all of the nitty gritty
Still not convinced? Learn how one Instant Pot skeptic changed her mind
Like many of you, I wasn't convinced that multicookers — the hybrid pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, saute station, steamer and warmer appliances that have inspired a new kind of cooking fandom — were all that innovative. I already had a slow cooker and a rice maker, and I absolutely love baking and roasting and grilling and sauteing and all the other ways home cooks usually get dinner on the table. I didn't want to jump on any kind of bandwagon, especially one that required buying a new appliance for my already crammed kitchen. But after enough cooks from all backgrounds and skill levels told me about their love of multicookers, I decided that my hesitation was more about stubbornness than anything else. [Addie Broyles]
Get the recipe for the game-changing dish
Here's how Virginia Willis makes traditional chicken and dumplings in her Instant Pot
In the South, we love our comfort food and timeless chicken and dumplings is quite possibly the best cold-weather comfort food combination there is — thick, hearty stew married with fluffy, tender dumplings. The trouble, however, with these iconic recipes is the pressure to achieve taste memories that frankly, may never be able to be recaptured. Chicken and dumplings would seem to be a recipe best executed by a twinkly-eyed grandmother, but I’ve worked up a harried mom-friendly recipe for quick herb chicken and dumplings using a store-bought bird, as well as a more chef-inspired new Southern chicken and dumplings recipe that uses boneless, skinless chicken breasts with sweet potato and spinach. With that innovative approach in mind, I set out to make this, one of the most old fashioned of dishes, with one of the newest equipment additions to our kitchen, the Instant Pot. [Virginia Willis]
See the full recipe here
And how Willis makes game day chili in a flash
Making a big batch of chili and enjoying it on game day with friends and family is an easy and delicious way to entertain. I put out bowls of sour cream or yogurt, grated cheese, scallions and a bottle of hot sauce. That, and a crispy bag of tortilla chips and we're ready for kick off. However, I often get caught behind the line of scrimmage and forget to soak dried beans overnight. I sometimes resort to the quick, hour-long method of bringing the water and dried beans to a boil, then setting them aside for an hour or so before starting the process of actually making the dish. Still, depending on the age of the beans, this “Hail Mary” can take up to several hours to cook. Enter my top new recruit: the Instant Pot. Start to finish, even with the pressure build and steam release, it takes only about an hour to make a pot of chili to feed a crowd. Now, that’s what I call winning! [Virginia Willis]
Get the recipe — along with Willis' secret ingredient — here
5 one-pot Instant Pot recipes, perfect for any weeknight
One of the less frequently used, but still wildly useful functions of the Instant Pot is the ability to sauté. The burner underneath the pot generates enough heat to impart a delicious sear onto meat and poultry, giving much needed caramelization before cooking under pressure. With the addition of a simple starch or vegetable, these Instant Pot dishes can become quick and easy weeknight dinners with minimal cleanup required — in fact, they all can be made in just about one pot.
See all of the recipes here
3 Southern classics transformed with an Instant Pot
From shrimp and grits (yep, you read that right) to ultra-speedy, no-prep barbecue pork, here are three classic Southern meals that you can make in an instant (pot).
Try all of 'em out this week
Want more? Try these additional 6 Southern Kitchen-approved Instant Pot recipes:
Instant Pot Huevos Rancheros
Instant Pot Jambalaya
Instant Pot Grillades and Grits
Instant Pot Applesauce
Instant Pot Spicy Braised Kale
Instant Pot Spinach Artichoke Dip
Photos (Instant Pot on counter, chicken and dumplings, black bean chili): Virginia Willis
Photos (huevos rancheros, green chili, collards): Ramona King