Instant pot cooking times can take a while to master, but once you do you’ll save so much time in the kitchen. Thanks to this handy guide and printable instant pot cooking times chart you’ll never undercook or overcook your food again.
It’s no secret I’m a huge advocate for Instant Pot recipes, so much so, I even wrote a book dedicated to them. They allow me to cook healthy, gluten-free meals that my family love with minimal effort. The instant pot saves me so much time as not only does it cook food faster than the oven, but I am able to batch cook with ease which makes meal planning so much quicker.
Did you know you can even reheat food using the Instant pot? Needless to say, I’d be lost without it. However, one of the most popular questions I get asked is how long does it take to cook certain foods like beef, chicken, vegetables, and grains using the instant pot. The short answer is it depends on what you’re making. The long answer? This guide! Not only have I covered instant pot cooking times but also other tips and tricks to master your pressure cooker for stress-free meal times any day of the week.
The Basics: What Is An Instant Pot?
An Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker that has become a popular kitchen appliance for busy families. By combining several kitchen appliances into one device, including a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker and steamer all-in-one, the Instant Pot can help you save time in the kitchen while still creating delicious homemade meals. Not to mention it saves so much counter space, I’ve even managed to get rid of my microwave as my instant pot does everything I need.
I’ve used the same Instant Pot for the last 6 years, and it’s still one of my top kitchen appliances, every single week. It’s such a huge time saver because I don’t need to babysit meals over a stovetop. I can add my ingredients into the pressure cooker, set the timer, and work on other things like helping my kids with homework, finishing up work, or cleaning and organizing.
To make these instant pot cooking times as straightforward as possible, I recommend you understand how the Instant Pot buttons work first. If you’re new to the world of pressure cooking I also recommend you grab a few Instant Pot tips and tricks where you can learn from my mistakes and become a pro at pressure cooking in no time.
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Instant Pot Cooking Times
If you’re new to the instant pot, one of the easiest mistakes to make is assuming that if a recipe states “5 minute pressure cooking time” that the recipe will take only 5 minutes to cook. Instant pot cooking times are actually made up of three separate elements:
- The time it takes for the instant pot to come to pressure
- Time to actually pressure cook
- The time it takes to release the pressure naturally or the time to quick release pressure (quick release literally takes a couple of minutes)
To be honest, it can be a case of trial and error. While I have created a cheat sheet with the most popular instant pot cooking times, the size and model of your instant pot can make a difference.
It can also take your instant pot longer to come to pressure depending on how much liquid you add as well as the temperature of the contents (colder ingredients will slow the time it takes to come to pressure.)
Instant Pot Cooking Times for Poultry, Meat and Seafood
Generally, aim for around 8-10 minutes per pound of meat. This can vary depending on the type of meat (beef, pork, lamb, etc.) and the thinness of the meat. For instance, a roast will take much longer than ground beef. Meat that is cut into chunks vs. a thick slab will cook much faster too. For poultry and seafood, it’s usually about 4-5 minutes per pound, but will vary depending on if it’s whole vs. chunks or thinly cut.
When in doubt, it’s better to undercook than overcook your poultry, meat, and seafood because you can easily give it another 1-2 minutes to cook just a bit longer without making your food too tough or dry. Remember, it usually takes about 10-15 minutes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure and if you’re doing Natural Release it can take 5-25+ minutes depending on what you’re cooking, so add that to your cooking time.
Will Pressure Cooking Tenderize Meat?
Yes, it can. It just depends on how long you cook it and whether you do a Quick or Natural Release. For meat that I want to be very tender, I prefer a Natural Release. This is because the natural pressure release allows extra time for the meat to rest.
Can I Use Frozen Meat or Poultry?
Yes, you can. Refer to the Instant Pot meat cooking times chart for general guidelines. You don’t have to defrost ahead of time but allow extra time for it to cook. As the contents are frozen, it’s likely your instant pot will also take longer to pressurize so keep this in mind too.
How Much Liquid Should I Use?
In short, it depends on the recipe. Some like soups or stews might have more liquid, while other recipes might be just 1 cup. Generally, you always need at least 1 cup of liquid (water, broth, stock) in the Instant Pot to effectively have it come to pressure and cook the food.
Instant Pot Cooking Times for Vegetables
Vegetables usually require anywhere from 0 to 9 minutes in the Instant Pot. Most vegetables take about 2-4 minutes, with leafy green veggies and broccoli (if you want it al dente) taking 0-1 minutes. It all depends on your preference on softness. Hardy vegetables like whole potatoes and whole artichokes need about 9 minutes – though you can cut down the cooking time by about half if you cut potatoes into cubes or half artichokes.
I personally like my vegetables on the more al dente side so I tend to cook them for less time. It’s worth noting vegetables can continue to cook after pressure is released, so if you also prefer them al dente, you can immerse them into an ice bath immediately after for best results. Note that when cooking vegetables, stick to a Quick Release of the pressure to avoid making them soggy.
Again, when in doubt, it’s better to undercook than overcook, as you can easily give it another 1-2 minutes to cook it longer. Just add in the 10-15 minute additional time to pressurize.
Another option is you could just put the lid back on (without cooking again), set it to the Warm setting, and let the heat and steam within the pot cook the vegetables for a few minutes to the softness you prefer.
Can I Cook Vegetables at 0 Minutes?
Yes, it can be preferred for vegetables that are leafy green or cook faster to set your instant pot at “0 minutes”. This avoids overcooking particularly delicate vegetables. It takes about 10-15 minutes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure and during that time the vegetables will cook. Once it comes to pressure, the Instant Pot will beep indicating cook time is done. Do a Quick Release to check the tenderness of your vegetables.
Instant Pot Cooking Guide for Beans and Legumes
The instant pot cooking times for beans and legumes will depend on what you’re using them for. If you need them firm for dishes such as salads or tacos, they’ll need less time. However, for hummus, refried beans or soup, you’ll want to up the time to make softer beans. You’ll notice from my instant pot cheat sheet that times vary from 6 minutes for split peas up to 35 minutes for garbanzo beans.
A huge benefit of cooking Beans and legumes in the the instant pot is that you can eliminate soaking before cooking. This is because the instant pot does it all for you. Just make sure to always use enough liquid so that it covers your beans by a few inches. If you don’t use enough liquid, your beans will turn out hard and won’t cook properly.
Traditionally, soaking beans and legumes prior to cooking is a great way to make them easier to digest. It’s also believed soaking can reduce bloating and gas, reduce phytic acid and lectins, as well as improve the absorption of nutrients to the body. Not only does the instant pot accelerate the cooking time but it does so in a way that imitates the soaking process. This means you still gain the goodness while saving time and effort.
If you are more prone to bloating, gas or stomach upset from beans and legumes, you may still want to soak them ahead of time. Usually, this takes around 4-12 hours before pressuring cooking. Personally, I have found pressure cooking alone helps me to tolerate beans and legumes better – another reason I am a huge fan of the instant pot.
Another reason some people prefer to soak beans and legumes prior to pressure cooking is if you find the skins come off of the beans or legumes and they blister open. Soaking will help them to stay whole and avoid this. As I often mash them for recipes, this doesn’t bother me but it’s worth noting before you pop them in the pot.
If you’re new to cooking beans and legumes in the instant pot, my instant pot refried beans or three bean chili are great recipes for beginners.
Instant Pot Cooking Times for Pasta and Grains
Cooking pasta and grains like rice or oatmeal in the Instant Pot really comes down to your personal preference. While some guidelines advise brown rice will take 2-3 times longer to cook than white rice, even that can vary depending on your preference. You can even try a Quick Release vs. a Natural Release to find the perfect firmness for your taste.
Similarly, cooking times for pasta can vary depending on the thickness of the pasta. For example, instant pot mac and cheese may take more time than Cacio E Pepe. Again, it’s better to undercook and add more time afterward than overcook and have mushy pasta. For most pasta, I suggest a Quick Release to make sure it’s al dente.
What to do if You Undercook Food in The Instant Pot
You’ve likely noticed I’ve mentioned when it comes to instant pot cooking times it’s often better to undercook than overcook. That is because it’s very difficult to “save” a dish if you overcook it – your food will go tough and dry.
However, if you think its undercooked it is quite easy to pop it back in the instant pot for an additional few minutes and let it come to pressure again to cook longer. Just remember it takes 10-15 minutes to come to pressure + the additional time you want to cook.
Alternatively, you could put the lid back on, set it to the Warm setting, and let the heat and steam within the pot cook the food for an extra few minutes. There is also a Sauté setting where you can turn up the heat and cook food like you would over a stovetop. As I tip, If you want to tenderize meat, I would recommend you pressure cook it longer rather than use the Sauté setting.
How to Avoid Overcooking Food In The Instant Pot
It may sound obvious, but the best way to avoid overcooking is to stick to the instant pot cooking times in my printable. Vegetables, pasta, rice, and some meat can easily be overcooked, especially if you do a Natural Release.
This is because Natural Release keeps food in the Instant Pot with hot steam for an extra 5-10 minutes, which essentially cooks the food longer. So be sure to refer to the Instant Pot Cooking Times and note NR = Natural Release and QR = Quick Release.
In addition, if you overfill the Instant Pot (more than the halfway mark on the inner pot), it takes longer to come to pressure, which can overcook food. While it’s possible to double a recipe if needed, its worth baring in mind that foods such as rice expand to double their size so you definitely don’t want to fill to the max line.
How to Save Overcooked Food
Unfortunately, there may be no saving overcooked pasta and no one wants mushy risotto , but you may be able to use vegetables in a soup or stew.
Overcooked meat and poultry can be dry and tough, but may work in a stew or chili. You could even shred the meat, add cheese, a little spice and some homemade guacamole for super easy tacos or enchiladas.
Instant Pot Cooking Times Cheat Sheet
Now you know my top tips pressure cooking all types of food, you’ll hopefully feel inspired to give cooking with the Instant Pot a go. To give you a helping hand, I’ve created an Instant Pot cheat sheet with the most popular foods.
This cheat sheet can be downloaded, printed, and stuck on the fridge or kept in the drawer ready for you to refer to at any time. Alternatively, save a digital copy on your phone, so you can find it with ease.
Remember these instant pot cooking times are a guide only, but the trial and error process of pressure cooking is all part of the fun. Once you have it mastered, it will save you so much time and energy in the kitchen, trust me, it’s worth persevering.
More Recipes You Might Like
- How to Clean an Instant Pot
- 20 Instant Pot Meals in 30 Minutes or Less
- 25 Gluten-Free Instant Pot Recipes Kids Love
- Top 10 Instant Pot Accessories You Need
Did you try these instant pot cooking times? Don’t forget to comment below to let me know how it went. You can also FOLLOW ME on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
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