3 Surprising Dishes You Can Make in an Instant Pot

If you’re only making stew in your Instant Pot, we need to talk.

Published May 17, 2021.

I didn’t eat much meat when I first tested multicookers, the Instant Pot among them. So I thought: “These are cool but I’m not buying a $100 bean machine.” Several years later, when we were developing our Mediterranean Instant Pot book, I was often lurking nearby, and just about fell over at the incredible range of dishes coming out of these machines—especially when the test cooks used the pressure-cook setting. 

I, like millions of others, became an Instant Pot convert.

Instant Pot Pro 8Qt

The most current Instant Pot multicooker is a great, easy-to-use appliance. Its flat-bottomed interior pot allows for even searing. Stay-cool handles mean you can easily move the pot, even when it’s hot. The streamlined interface is also easy to navigate.  
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Instant Pots (and other multicookers or electric pressure cookers) are completely sealed when cooking under pressure, so it’s hot and steamy inside, and it cooks food consistently. This makes it a perfect cooking environment for certain unexpected foods. Because they can sear food, you can start building flavor in the pot and then seal it up to finish off your dish. This gets you very flavorful food using only one pot. 

So yes, you can make stews, meats, and beans, but if you stop there you’ll miss out on achieving your Instant Pot’s full potential. You might not be making these following dishes in your Instant Pot, but you should consider it. You’ll be surprised how nicely they turn out. 

Mediterranean Instant Pot

This Instant Pot-authorized cookbook makes it more convenient than ever to cook the Mediterranean way in the kitchen appliance that revolutionized home cooking.  
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Multicooker Perfection

America's Test Kitchen put our rigorous testing process to work developing foolproof recipes that conform to your schedule: Make a recipe “fast” using the pressure-cook setting or let dinner cook while you’re out by preparing it “slow” on the slow-cook setting.  
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When I first tested these machines I thought fish . . . why bother? It cooks so quickly. But the moist, steamy environment inside a pressure cooker means you can cook your fish to succulent perfection with much less risk of overcooking. It’s like the French technique of en papillote, cooking in parchment packets, without the fussy folding. Mussels are also excellent in an Instant Pot. The environment inside the pot is so consistent that when you open the pot every mussel is nestled plump and perfect inside a splayed open shell. With the sauté function you can cook what you want to add for flavor, say garlic and fennel; deglaze with white wine; add the mussels; close; and cook. It takes one minute after coming to pressure and uses one pot—*chef’s kiss*.

Try it!
Instant Pot Mussels with Fennel and Leeks

Cheesecake and Flan

The “Bake” button on an Instant Pot is—how shall I put it—ambitious. You’re not going to be able to bake a wedding cake in an Instant Pot like you could in an oven. But for certain baking projects, there is no better vessel. Cheesecake and flan, which require water baths in the oven, come out perfectly when cooked inside the steamy environment of a pressure cooker. You set them on a rack with water underneath and steam gently cooks the desserts to moist perfection. Just make sure you have the right size pan to fit inside the Instant Pot. A 9-inch springform pan, most commonly used in recipes, is too large.

Try it!
Multicooker Cheesecake


I hear you! A pot on the stove works fine, why are you telling me to get out my Instant Pot for pasta? Here are three reasons.

  • It’s faster.
  • Because it’s such a consistent cooking environment and no stirring is required (or possible), shorter pasta such as rigatoni don’t break up as much as they do on the stovetop. 
  • Fewer dishes. You can build your sauce in the pot, add the pasta, seal, cook . . . just like that, one-pot cooking. And because you cooked your sauce right in the pot, you don’t lose a single bit of flavor in the transfer. Is that four reasons? Who’s counting? Just do it.

Try it!
Multicooker Ziti with Sausage Ragu

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