You have a slow cooker; do you really need an Instant Pot? The answer is…maybe. Depending on how you  plan to use it, and for what. We are Instant Pot newbies, but have already had great success with a few dishes.

What Instant Pots do REALLY well:

  • Make legumes: They are magic at cooking beans of all kinds, no pre-soaking necessary.
  • Saute: Unlike a slow cooker, you can saute in the Instant Pot. This is ideal when you want to brown meat or caramelize veggies before cooking the rest of your dish.
  • Make broths, soups and stews: Use the saute function to get some real flavor going on your meat or veggies before adding your liquid. You can adapt most every soup or stew recipe for the Instant Pot.
  • Hard boiled eggs: Finally you can make them perfect—and a cinch to peel—every time.

You can also use your Instant Pot to make beautiful rice and other grains, desserts, and even yogurt.

Before you run out and purchase one, It’s important to note that the Instant Pot is NOT for everything. While it makes magic of some meats, and is sublime for soups and stews (and risotto, etc.), it does not, as this NY Times article notes, do crispy or crunchy very well. It’s not all that Instant either; it takes a full 20 minutes to heat up and then release steam. Make sure to build that into your cooking plans.

For everything you ever wanted to know about your Instant Pot (but were afraid to ask!), Melissa Clark of the NY Times has got you covered with this in-depth Instant Pot cooking guide.

Join Chefs Christine Sanchez and Maggie Odell for an evening of Instant Pot magic at the Glenwood Life Center on Tuesday, March 20. These creative chef/moms will school you in the art of the Instant Pot, taking all the mystery out of pressure cooking. Learn 4-5 recipes including a dessert. 

RECIPES: Fire Up Your Instant Pot
Here are some Instant Pot recipes we’ve experimented with already (can you say Boef Bourguignon in 90 minutes?!) and some we are dying to try:

Garlicky Beans with Broccoli Rabe
Coconut Curry Chicken
Classic Boef Bourguignon
Spaghetti Squash and Turkey Meatballs
Instant Pot Bone Broth*

Indian Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Onions (Chana Masala)
Melissa Clark, Dinner in An Instant

Yields: 6 servings

1 lb dried chickpeas
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 onions: halved, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
3 TBS grapeseed, safflower or peanut oil
4 garlic cloves, grated on a Micriplane or minced
1 1 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 jalapeño or other green chile, seeded if desired, minced, plus more for serving
1 TBS tomato paste
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 tsp garam masala
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ground turmeric

This very classic Indian dish features soft chickpeas simmered in a spicy tomato gravy. Here, the dish is made entirely in the pressure cooker, beginning with the dried chickpeas and ending with the bubbling sauce. However, if it’s more convenient, you can just cook the chickpeas in the pressure cooker, preparing the sauce and finishing the dish in a skillet. That will leave your pressure cooker free for rice which is just perfect to serve underneath a pile of these fragrant, ruddy chickpeas.

1. In the pressure cooker, combine the chickpeas, 7 cups of water, 2 tsps of the salt, the onion halves, and the bay leaf. Cover and cook on high pressure for 40 mins. Allow the pressure to release naturally. if the chickpeas aren’t done, cook at high pressure for another 5 minutes, then manually release the pressure. Drain the chickpeas, reserving the broth, and return the empty pot to the pressure cooker.

2. Using the sauce function (or do this in a skillet over heat), heat the oil in the pressure cooker. Add the sliced onions and cook, stirring frequently until golden brown, 10-15 minutes.

3. Stir in the garlic, ginger, jalapeño and tomato paste, and cook until fragrant, another minute. Then stir in the tomatoes, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, and cook until the sauce has thickened, 1-3 minutes.

4. Stir in the garam masala, cumin, chili powder, turmeric, and remaining 1/2 tsp salt, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute; then stir in the chickpeas. If the mixture looks too thick, add a few tsps of the reserved chickpea cooking broth. Simmer for another 5 mins to let the flavors meld. Then taste, adjust the seasonings if necessary, and serve with more jalapeño on top if you like. Extra reserved chickpea broth can be frozen for up to 3 months and is an excellent substitute for chicken stock.

*For the Beef Bourguignon and the Bone Broth, pre-order the beef/bones from Rising Tide Market; ask for Ashley.