7 Tricky Dishes Made Easier With an Instant Pot

If don’t have an Instant Pot at home, you may be skeptical of the hype surrounding this hot new kitchen gadget. The electronic pressure cooker works for many dishes once limited to the oven or stove top, and according to fans, it makes cooking them a lot less stressful. Looking for some recipes to convert you to the Instant Pot camp? Start with these notoriously tricky dishes you may have avoided in the past.

1. BROWN RICE

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Why It's Hard: Brown rice delivers a whole lot of nutritious bang for your buck, but it’s also famously unforgiving to home cooks. Mess up your rice-to-water ratio and you end up with rice that’s soupy and mushy; leave it on the stove for a few minutes too long and your rice comes out dry, or worse, burnt. The whole cooking process takes 45 minutes to an hour.

How an Instant Pot Makes It Easy: Like a rice cooker, an Instant Pot delivers perfectly steamed rice that requires little-to-no babysitting on your part. When preparing brown rice in an electric pressure cooker, you should use a rice-to-water ratio of approximately 2 cups to 2.5 cups, according to the food blog Our Best Bites. Cook for 22 to 24 minutes (depending on your elevation), and then give the pot a chance to release its pressure naturally for about 5 to 10 minutes. Your rice should come out fluffy and flavorful.

2. CHEESECAKE

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Why It's Hard: Cheesecake is one of those treats that rarely turns out as good at home as it does when you order it from your favorite diner. Unlike other cakes, it has to be cooked in a hot water bath: Without one, you end up with ugly cracks breaking up the top. Between the 20-minute prep time, two-hour cook time, and the time it takes to cool down, baking cheesecake can be an all-day affair.

How an Instant Pot Makes It Easy: Cheesecake may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of cooking in an Instant Pot, but once you try it you’ll never go back. The food blog Little Spice Jar recommends preparing the graham cracker crust and cream cheese filling like you normally would, then placing the cake on a steaming rack inside the Instant Pot above one-and-a-quarter cups of water. Instead of sitting in a water bath, the cake steams, ensuring a perfectly smooth top. Allow it to cook on manual high pressure for 37 minutes, then let the Instant Pot naturally release pressure for another 25. Your cake will be cooked through in a little over one hour instead of two. (You'll still have to let it cool for a couple of hours, though.)

3. POACHED EGGS

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Why It's Hard: It isn't easy to perfect poached eggs at home. Get it right, and you have a flawless white pillow that oozes with runny yolk the moment you pierce it with your fork. Get it wrong, and you have an egg with ragged, wispy whites and a yolk that’s broken or overcooked. The method for poaching an egg on the stove top involves dropping it in gently boiling water, a method that leaves a lot of room for error.

How an Instant Pot Makes It Easy: Poaching an egg with an Instant Pot is one step above hard-boiling it on the difficulty scale. This recipe from Cooking with Curls has you crack eggs into silicone cups rather than directly into a pot. Once your cups are filled, place them on a steaming rack inside your Instant Pot above one cup of water. Seal the lid and steam them for a few minutes to get round, neat, Benedict-ready poached eggs.

4. RISOTTO

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Why It's Hard: Anyone who’s watched a competitive cooking show knows that risotto is infamous among chefs. The recipe, which involves stirring rice with liquid until it reaches a creamy consistency, is seemingly simple, but add the liquid too quickly, or not often enough, and you’ll miss out on that luscious texture the dish is known for. If you’re doing it right, making risotto can take up to 30 minutes of your undivided attention.

How an Instant Pot Makes It Easy: With an Instant Pot, making 7-minute risotto without the constant stirring is a possibility. This recipe from Hip Cooking has home chefs toast their rice in a preheated pressure cooker like you would with conventional risotto. Once the rice is ready, add the broth, seal the lid, and leave it to cook for five to six minutes. After releasing the pressure and giving the rice a good stir, your risotto should be ready to hit the plate.

5. MAC AND CHEESE

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Why It's Hard: Homemade macaroni and cheese is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It also requires a lot of work, including cooking pasta, making a roux, and baking it all together in the oven. More steps means more time, more dishes to clean, and more opportunities to mess up.

How an Instant Pot Makes It Easy: Instant Pot mac and cheese is even more convenient than the boxed stuff. Instead of dirtying multiple pots, throw your ingredients—dry pasta, water, butter, seasonings—into your pressure cooker, says food blog Center Cut Cook. After leaving it to cook at high pressure for four minutes, release the pressure and add evaporated milk and a blend of shredded cheeses. Mix the ingredients to achieve gooey, cheesy goodness.

6. BAKED POTATOES

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Why It's Hard: Traditional baked potatoes are less difficult than they are time-consuming. To get fluffy oven-baked potatoes at home, you need to be prepared to wait about 45 minutes.

How an Instant Pot Makes It Easy: An Instant Pot makes this simple dish even simpler. For this recipe from Self Proclaimed Foodie, just add a cup of water to the bottom of your pressure cooker, place your potato on the steaming rack, and close the lid. Cook the potatoes at high pressure for 12 to 20 minutes, then naturally release the pressure for another 10. That’s all it takes to transform your potatoes from hard and starchy to soft and creamy.

7. POT ROAST

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Why It's Hard: Pot roast is a great meal to make on a lazy Sunday—not so much on a weeknight. The dish traditionally features a tougher cut of meat like chuck roast that needs to be cooked low and slow in a braising liquid until it becomes fall-apart tender. Depending on the size of your cut, the cooking process alone can take three to four hours.

How an Instant Pot Makes It Easy: Meet your new weeknight dinner staple. This recipe for pressure cooker pot roast from Amy + Jack cuts your roasting time in half and tastes just as good as a chuck roast cooked in a dutch oven. Start by browning your meat and sautéing your onions and garlic inside the hot Instant Pot. Load these ingredients into the pot with a cup of chicken stock and allow them to cook at high pressure for 45 minutes. Wait another 25 minutes for the cooker to depressurize naturally before removing the roast, and then add your vegetables and cook them on high for four minutes. Do a quick pressure release before taking out the vegetables and use the remaining juices to make your gravy.

Mental Floss's Three-Day Sale Includes Deals on Apple AirPods, Sony Wireless Headphones, and More

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If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and buying a new pressure cooker, this 8-quart model from Martha Stewart comes with 14 presets, a wire rack, a spoon, and a rice measuring cup to make delicious dinners using just one appliance.

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Gourmia

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Prices subject to change.

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Do You Remember? 12 Memorable Events That Happened on September 21—the Internet’s Favorite Day of the Year

Earth, Wind & Fire performs during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival just two weeks ahead of their favorite date: September 21st.
Earth, Wind & Fire performs during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival just two weeks ahead of their favorite date: September 21st.
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“Do you remember the 21st night of September?” Earth, Wind and Fire first asked the question back in 1978. In the years since—with many thanks owed to writer and comedian Demi Adejuyigbe’s viral videos celebrating the song and the day—September 21st has become something like the internet’s birthday or, as some have called it, “the most important day of the year.”

In honor of the ceremonious occasion, here are 12 memorable things that have happened on September 21st. After reading them, not only will you remember the 21st night of September—you’ll remember exactly what makes it worth singing about.

1. The Last Day of Summer

September 21 frequently marks the last official day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, as the Autumnal Equinox often falls on September 22 (which is the case in 2020).

2. The Ganesha Milk Miracle

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In what has become known as the “Ganesha Milk Miracle,” India was briefly brought to a standstill on September 21, 1995, when statues of the elephant deity Ganesha appeared, when offered, to sip milk by the spoonful. Millions of people stood outside the country’s temples, hoping for a glance of this marvel, which stopped as quickly as it started. Milk prices increased by fourfold.

3. Belize Independence Day

After years of diplomacy talks, in 1981 Belize became a nation independent from the United Kingdom.

4. H.G. Wells’s Birthday

H.G. Wells was born on September 21, 1866. His work later influenced and has been referenced by author Stephen King, who was born on the very same day, 81 years later.

5. Mad Men Made Basic Cable TV History

Jon Hamm stars in Mad Men.Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

The Academy of Television of Arts and Sciences confirmed what everyone was thinking in 2008 when it named Mad Men the year’s Outstanding Drama Series, making AMC the first basic cable network to ever win the award. Bonus: Bryan Cranston also took home his first Emmy (of an eventually record-breaking four) for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Breaking Bad.

6. Benedict Arnold Became a Traitor

General Benedict Arnold committed the act that would make his name synonymous with treason and betrayal. In 1780, he met with British Major John Andre, offering to hand over his command of West Point in exchange for money and a high ranking within the British army.

7. J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit Was Published

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit—which would eventually go on to sell 100 million copies, be translated into more than 50 languages, and most importantly, introduce the world to the concept of second breakfast—was published in 1937. In its honor, Tolkien Fans everywhere will celebrate Hobbit Day on September 22 (presumably with some second breakfast, amongst other felicitations).

8. Sandra Day O’Connor Confirmed as First Female Supreme Court Justice

Sandra Day O'Connor is sworn into the Supreme Court by Chief Justice Warren Burger while her husband, John O'Connor, looks on.The U.S. National Archives, Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

On September 21, 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor was confirmed by the U.S. Senate with a vote of 99–0 to become the first female U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Four days later, on September 25, O'Connor was officially sworn in.

9. Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower” Made its Debut

In 1968, Jimi Hendrix released his cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.” While this was the first cover of the song, it became the definitive version as well.

10. NASA’s Galileo Mission Concluded

NASA, Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

After becoming the first spacecraft to visit an asteroid (visiting two, actually) and successfully completing its mission to gather information about Jupiter and its moons, NASA concluded its Galileo mission in 2003. In order to avoid an unwanted crash between Galileo and the Jupiter moon of Europa—and in a poetic twist, to protect its own discovery of a possible ocean underneath Europa’s icy crust—Galileo was plunged into Jupiter’s atmosphere.

11. Perry Mason Made His Television Debut

Perry Mason premiered in 1957 and with it, we got America’s first weekly, hourlong primetime series to follow one character, which created the DNA for all of your favorite courtroom procedurals to follow (including all the Law & Orders, and then some), and a lawyer with a strikingly high success rate (yes, even for a fictional lawyer).

12. National Pecan Cookie Day

A tray of pecan cookies—just in time for Pecan Cookie Day.rojoimages/iStock via Getty Images

September 21 marks National Pecan Cookie Day, likely because pecan trees become ready to harvest in September. But really, who needs an excuse to eat a pecan cookie?