Got leftovers? You don’t need a microwave to heat them up. Here are four ways to reheat food in the Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker. Not only will they taste better, but it’s healthier too.
Why Not to Use a Microwave
While microwaves can be considered convenient, there are many reasons to get rid of your microwave. Not only are the bulky, unattractive appliances that clutter up valuable counter space but they actually strip your food’s nutrients.
Although a quick zap in the microwave may seem harmless, it actually changes the chemical structure of your food while destroying important nutrients in the process. Then, while taking nutrients away, chemicals can also creep in.
This is because some containers – especially plastic – react with the heat of the microwave contaminating your food. Unknowingly you could be consuming dangerous toxins every time you reheat food, which is why the Instant Pot is my go-to reheating method.
Why Use an Instant Pot to Reheat Food?
While there are many ways to reheat food without a microwave, I find the instant pot one of the best. Here are my top reasons why:
What I love about the Instant Pot is that it’s a 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Cooker – including a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, saute/browning, yogurt maker, steamer and warmer. This means you can use multiple settings on the Instant Pot to reheat leftovers.
The clue is in the name “instant” but rather than waiting for leftovers to reheat on the stove, I find the Instant Pot quicker and more efficient at reheating evenly.
Other reheat methods such as the stove top require you to keep watch. Instead, with the Instant Pot you can leave your leftovers unattended and let the instant pot do all the work. No stirring, watching or time keeping required – it’ll let you know when your food is ready.
As a busy mom, distractions are common so it’s super handy that once my leftovers are hot the Instant Pot can keep them warm. Unlike the stove or oven where they begin to cool instantly if my attention gets pulled elsewhere before I have time to eat.
What Foods Don’t Reheat Well in the Instant Pot?
The Instant Pot is a great way to reheat foods to help retain moisture. This means it’s my go to method for foods such as soups, stews, pasta, and rice. It also keeps meat like stewed beef and grilled or rotisserie chicken tender and moist. However, foods that need to be crispy like French fries, pizza, BBQ meat or fried foods should be reheated with an alternative method such as the air fryer, oven, or toaster oven.
Ways to Reheat Food in the Instant Pot
1. Use the Steam or Double Boiler Method
I find this my preferred method and the one I use most when reheating foods in the Instant Pot.
What is it best for?
It works great for grains like oatmeal, rice and pasta, as well as vegetables, stewed meat, mashed potatoes, or anything that might get dry in the reheating process.
How to Use
Set the High Pressure Function on the Instant Pot to default at 239-244°F or 115-117°C. You can use the +/- buttons to turn this higher (up to 347-410°F or 175-210°C) or lower (down to 275-302°F or 135-150°C) depending on what you are reheating. I typically only use the High-Pressure setting to reheat foods and adjust the temperature as needed.
Then, add 1 cup of water to the inner pot and place a metal trivel on the bottom. Place the food you want to reheat in a heat-safe container, like a glass food storage container or stainless steel bowl.
Place the food container on the trivet, put the Instant Pot lid on, and lock the steam vent. Set the Instant Pot to high pressure for 5 minutes to reheat most food. For vegetables, you might want to do 2-3 minutes. For larger casseroles, it may take 10+ minutes on high pressure.
When it’s done, do a quick release to vent the steam. Then, remove the lid and check the food to make sure it’s reheated thoroughly. Remember it does take about 10 minutes to come to pressure before it starts cooking so add that to your total.
2. Use the Sauté Function
What is it best for?
Sauté function is the hottest setting on the Instant Pot, so it can heat up food quickly. It works well for a variety of dishes including stews, soups, rice, pasta, meat, vegetables and more. This is my preferred way to reheat ground beef, chicken and other meat. I also prefer this method for reheating frozen soup in the Instant Pot.
How to Use
The Sauté Function on the Instant Pot is set to default at 320-349°F or 160-176°C. You can use the +/- buttons to turn this higher (up to 347-410°F or 175-210°C) or lower (down to 275-302°F or 135-150°C) depending on what you are reheating. Press the Saute button on the Instant Pot. Wait a few minutes for the inner pot to heat up.
For soups, stews, beans, pasta sauce, pasta noodles, or rice, add 1-2 tbsp of water or broth to the bottom of the pan. Add the food to heat up, stirring to cook evenly.
For roasted, fried, or baked meat, vegetable dishes, or stir fry, add a fat like 1-2 tbsp of avocado oil, olive oil, or butter instead of water to the inner pot. Add the food to heat up, stirring to cook evenly.
3. Use the Slow Cooker Function
What is it best for?
This option is great for soups, stews, oatmeal, stewed meat, pot roast, etc. but it takes longer to reheat, so you’ll need to prepare ahead of time.
How to Use
The Slow Cooker Function on the Instant Pot is set to default at 194-205°F or 90-96°C. You can use the +/- buttons to turn this higher (up to 199-210°F or 92-98°C) or lower (down to 190-201°F or 87-93°C) depending on what you are reheating.
Press the Slow Cooker Function. Add the food to the inner pot and place the Instant Pot lid or a glass lid to cover the pot. Cook for at least 1-3 hours, stir occasionally to cook evenly.
4. Use the Keep Warm Function
What is it best for?
The Keep Warm function is ideal if you have reheated food (or just cooked it) but don’t want to serve it immediately or just want to keep food warm. The Keep Warm function defaults to a 2-hour time frame, so it’s ideal if you’ve spent your afternoon making Instant Pot soup or stew, you can keep it warm until dinner. This option is best for soups, stews, sauces, broth, etc. Plan in advance so your dishes are ready on time.
How to Use
The Keep Warm Function on the Instant Pot is set to default at 145°F or 63°C. You can use the +/- buttons to turn this higher (up to 167°F or 75°C) or lower (down to 133°F or 56°C) depending on what you are reheating. Because it is the lowest of temperature, it’ll take the longest to reheat.
Top Tips Before You Reheat Food in The Instant Pot
If you are new to the Instant Pot and are feeling a little overwhelmed by this guide, don’t panic – I’ve got you. Before you try to reheat food in the Instant Pot, learn how to use the Instant Pot buttons properly – this will avoid any overcooked leftovers and minimize waste. Then, I recommend taking note of my Instant Pot tips and tricks for beginners as these are the hacks I wish I knew when I first started. Finally, it’s worth learning how to clean your Instant Pot properly not only for safety, but to maximize the lifespan of your instant pot.
Hopefully this guide has made you realize there is no need for a bulky, microwave in your kitchen. Thanks to the easy ways to reheat food in the instant pot, you can enjoy healthier, tastier leftovers using an appliance you already have.
Try These Instant Pot Recipes
- 25+ Gluten-Free Instant Pot Breakfast Recipes
- 20 Instant Pot Meals in 30 Minutes or Less
- 25 Gluten-Free Instant Pot Recipes Kids Love
Did you try to reheat food in the Instant Pot? Don’t forget to leave a comment below to let me know how it went. You can also FOLLOW ME on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
Instant Pot Recipes Made Simple
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- Step-by-step video lesson on how to use your Instant Pot, pressure cooker safety, and some of my favorite tips and tricks
- Two-week meal plan that you can put into action for no-stress weeknight dinners
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Thank you for this excellent post on reheating. I’ve owned an Instant Pot for 10 years and I certainly learned alot from your article. I didn’t know you could use the Slow Cook mode to reheat as I thought that would cook a stew/soup/roast more, not reheat it. I also didn’t know the Keep Warm setting could be adjuted.. It is true, you learn something new every day.