The Best Instant Pot Recipes (Healthy, Real Food)

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Today, we’re going to talk about the best recipes you can make in the Instant Pot. But here’s the thing…

I’m not much of a speciality appliance girl. In fact, despite my love for cooking, I actually own very few speciality appliances or kitchen gadgets. This is why, a few years ago, I was skeptical about the Instant Pot (an electric pressure cooker). I honestly couldn’t understand why I needed this appliance. Plus, I was scared of the Instant Pot. I had visions of the pot blowing up in my kitchen. Please tell me I’m not alone. Three years ago now, I finally decided to buy an Instant Pot and give it a try.

The Best Instant Pot Recipes

I wrote about my first experience in this post (along with sharing a delicious recipe for Instant Pot Salisbury Steak).

Fast forward three years and it’s an understatement to say that the Instant Pot is top on my must-have list for kitchen equipment. I’m obsessed. So obsessed that I’ve gifted five Instant Pot’s over the years, for weddings and Christmas. I believe everyone, particularly people wanting to cook healthy, real-food meals at home, should invest in an electric pressure cooker (Instant Pot was the first brand I ever bought and the one I continue to recommend).


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Maybe you just got an Instant Pot. Or, maybe you’re thinking about getting one and wondering if this is an appliance you actually need. Or, maybe you’ve had an Instant Pot for a long time and you’re not sure what to make. Today’s post is for you! Today, I’m going to break down my favorite foods to make in the Instant Pot along with specific recipes.

Before we talk about these Instant Pot recipes (which are all healthy, as they’re made with real ingredients), let’s first recap what the Instant Pot is. If you want to learn more, I have some recommended reading for you. Last year, I shared a post (How to Use an Instant Pot: 16 Tips and Tricks That Will Help You Successfully Use the Instant Pot) that’s packed full of super practical information. I highly recommend reading that post before getting started with an Instant Pot.

What is an Instant Pot?

The Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker. It uses steam pressure to cook food (this helps food cook faster and to absolute perfection). Pressure cooking isn’t a new method or discovery (it’s been around since the 1600’s), so while an electric pressure cooker is a newer invention, pressure cooking itself has been around for a long time. The Instant Pot is also multi-functional, which we’ll talk about later, so it does more than just pressure-cook food.

The Best Instant Pot Recipes

The Best Instant Pot Recipes (Healthy, Real Food)

Eggs

Nearly every weekend I make a batch of eggs in my Instant Pot to use throughout the week in the kids’ lunchboxes or alongside breakfast. Using the Instant Pot reduces the hands-on time it takes to bring the water to a boil on the stove-top and the careful watch you must keep once the eggs are placed in the water. With the Instant Pot, just add eggs and water and adjust the time. Within just a few minutes, perfect eggs await! You can use the Instant Pot method to make your favorite egg: hard-boiled or soft. You can even change things up and make mini frittatas (with veggies and meat).

Recipes to Make:

The Best Instant Pot Recipes (Healthy, Real Food)

Beans

Next to eggs, dried beans are my next favorite food to make in the Instant Pot. Once again, the Instant Pot cooks this tricky food to perfection with very little hands-on attention needed from the cook. I regularly make dried chickpeas (always stocked in my real food pantry) in the Instant Pot on Sunday morning and then turn some of the beans into hummus and roast up the other half as a crispy salad topping (store both in the fridge). During the week, we always have a taco-themed night (I shared about how themes simplify meal planning in this post) and sometimes cook black beans in the Instant Pot for burrito bowls. You can cook just about any bean, including lentils, in the Instant Pot! 

Recipes to Make:

Soup

One of the easiest dinner meals you can make in the Instant Pot is soup. Soup takes just minutes to make in the Instant Pot and always comes out perfectly. Since soup recipes already call for lots of liquid, you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’ve added enough liquid to the pot (I share the liquid requirements for the Instant Pot in this post). Soup naturally doubles as food prep (since one recipe makes enough for multiple meals), so making a soup once in the Instant Pot for dinner can double as a prep-ahead meal for the lunchbox (served in the lunchbox).

Recipes to Make:

Instant Pot Whole Chicken

Chicken

Another food I love to prep in advance: chicken. I love to cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot or the oven and use the meat throughout the week for dinners or lunches (in chicken salad, wraps, sandwiches, or soup). The Instant Pot is a quick and effortless way to cook chicken, from a whole chicken to chicken breasts or thighs. 

Recipes to Make:

The Best Instant Pot Recipes Healthy Real Food

Beef Pot Roast and Veggies 

Growing up, my mom made a beef pot roast every Sunday. The pot roast would simmer away in the slow-cooker all day until the family came together that night to enjoy this traditional dinner. The Instant Pot not only reduces the amount of time it takes to make a beef pot roast, but also guarantees that it will cook to perfection. This is not a weeknight meal as it does require more cooking time than something like eggs or soup, but it’s a great meal to make on a weekend when you have more time to spend at home and want a hearty meal. 

Recipe to Make:

The Best Instant Pot Recipes Healthy Real Food

Macaroni and Cheese

Making homemade macaroni and cheese is already relatively easy on the stove-top, but the Instant Pot simplifies the process even further. Cook the noodles in the Instant Pot (no draining water required) and then whisk in the homemade cheese sauce.

Recipe to Make:

The Best Instant Pot Recipes Healthy Real Food

Meatballs in Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Making homemade meatballs and homemade sauce can equal a messy kitchen with multiple pots and pans and bowls in the sink. Making this meal in the Instant Pot simplifies the process since everything is cooked in one pot! Easy and no heating of the oven required (well, except to boil pasta).

Recipe to Make:

The Best Instant Pot Recipes Healthy Real Food

Chicken and Rice

Chicken and rice cook perfectly together in the Instant Pot in under 20 minutes total. This meal is perfect for a busy weeknight and usually makes extra to serve in the lunchbox.

Recipe to Make:

Potatoes

Whether you’re looking to make baked potatoes or mashed potatoes, the Instant Pot cooks potatoes to absolute perfection in a fraction of the time it would take on the stove-top or in the oven.

Recipes to Make:

How to Make Chicken Broth/Stock in the Instant Pot

Chicken or Vegetable Broth/Stock

After cooking a whole chicken in the Instant Pot, I highly recommend stretching your dollar even further and making homemade chicken broth/stock with the bones. This nutrient-rich liquid may be stored in the freezer and used to make soup or cook rice. 

Recipes to Make:

The Best Instant Pot Recipes Healthy Real Food

Homemade Yogurt

I get it. Making yogurt at home may be one of the last things you want to do. We’re all busy! But I’m a firm believer in knowing how to make staples like yogurt, bread, and even crackers. Knowing how to make something empowers you to be an informed consumer when purchasing these foods from the store. You know exactly what should go into making yogurt so you’re not tricked by all the additive ingredients found in ultra-processed yogurt (and other foods). That said, making your own yogurt is incredibly easy to do in the Instant Pot. Just add some milk and press a few buttons, then hours later you’ll be left with a probiotic-rich, gut-loving superfood. (Learn more about the power of fermented foods here.)

Recipe to Make:

The Best Instant Pot Recipes Healthy Real Food

Homemade Applesauce

Another food that may not be on your weekly to-make list is applesauce. During the fall season, when apples abound, I definitely recommend making at least one batch of homemade applesauce in the Instant Pot and stocking all this homemade goodness away in the freezer for future breakfasts, snacks, or a treat in the lunchbox.

Recipe to Make:

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