5 Surprising Ways to Use Your Instant Pot

You already know about the usual soups and stews, but did you know what else you can make?

Nicole McLaughlin, aka NicoleMcmom, demonstrates five unexpected ways to make the most of your multi-functional cooker beyond the usual Instant Pot soups and stews.

1. Make Bread

sliced loaf of instant pot crusty no-knead bread

Cut down on the time it takes for you to make yeast bread from scratch by using your Instant Pot to do the first rise on your dough. After the first rise, you'll transfer the dough to a sheet of floured parchment paper and let it rise for the second time while you heat up a Dutch oven to finish the bake. Get the recipe for Nicole's Instant Pot Crusty No-Knead Bread.

2. Cook Large Cuts of Meat

whole chicken cooked in an Instant Pot on a bed of vegetables

Besides cooking pork shoulders, beef chuck roasts, and ribs, Nicole likes to cook whole chickens in her Instant Pot. She places a whole chicken on a layer of chopped vegetables, seasons with salt and pepper, and sprinkles with paprika for color. After sealing and cooking at high pressure for 25 minutes, the meat is perfectly tender and juicy. Get the recipe for Nicole's Instant Pot Whole Chicken.

Nicole likes to shred the meat to use in several dishes throughout the week:

  • Mix with mayonnaise, mustard, onions, and herbs for chicken salad
  • Fill crisp or soft tacos for chicken tacos
  • Mix with barbeque sauce and serve on buns for BBQ chicken sandwiches
  • Strain the flavorful juices left in the pot to use as a base for chicken soup

Did you know? You can use your Instant Pot to sterilize your face masks.

3. Bake Cakes and Cheesecakes

Instant Pot® Cheesecake
Shauna James Ahren

Yes, you can make Instant Pot desserts, including cakes and cheesecakes. Nicole likes this top-rated recipe for Instant Pot Cheesecake.


  • Make sure the recipe you're using is written specifically for an Instant Pot.
  • Invest in a cake pan or springform pan that fits inside your Instant Pot while leaving enough room to lift the pan in and out. (Nicole's Instant Pot needs a 6" pan.)
  • After you fill the pan with batter, cover it with a sheet of foil to keep moisture from dripping into the pan.
  • Place the trivet that comes with your Instant Pot inside the pot, pour water into the bottom (per the recipe).
  • You can DIY a "sling" to lift the cake pan in and out: Tear off a sheet of aluminum foil that's 18 to 20 inches long and fold it lengthwise until it's about 6" wide. Place your filled pan in the center and bring up the ends of the foil to carefully lift the pan and place it onto the trivet.
  • Instant Pot cakes and cheesecakes don't brown the way they would in an oven, so it's a great idea to embellish with frosting, confectioners' sugar, dessert sauces, or fresh fruit.

4. Make Yogurt

creamy-looking yogurt in a ramekin with fresh blueberries

If you love yogurt, you'll love how easy and inexpensive it is to make your own with only three ingredients and an Instant Pot. (Try this recipe for Instant Pot Greek Yogurt.)


  • One of the two (or three) ingredients you'll use is cultured yogurt, which contains the active live cultures you'll need to turn milk (the other ingredient) into yogurt. (The third, but optional ingredient, is vanilla extract.)
  • Be sure to temper the live yogurt culture by stirring a little of it into warm milk before adding it to the hot milk in the Instant Pot so you don't kill off the culture.
  • The longer you process the yogurt, the tangier it will taste.
  • If you want the yogurt to be thicker, you can strain out the moisture using layers of cheesecloth or a very fine-mesh strainer. (Freeze the whey to add to smoothies or creamy soups.)

5. Pasta Dishes

plate of Instant Pot baked ziti

Instant Pot pasta is truly a one-pot meal. Instead of using two or more pots to make a pasta main dish, you can use your Instant Pot to cook the entire recipe in record time. Here's Nicole's recipe for Instant Pot Creamy Baked Ziti:


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound uncooked ziti pasta
  • ⅓ cup water, if needed
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 (8-oz.) pkg. pre-shredded mozzarella cheese (about 2 cups)
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat Instant Pot by setting it to the "saute" function. Spray the insert with cooking spray, and add oil. Add onion, and cook, stirring often, until it begins to soften, 3 minutes. Add beef, salt, garlic, and pepper; cook, stirring often, until browned.
  2. Stir in stock and cream. Press "cancel" on instant pot. Add pasta (do not stir), and up to ⅓ cup of water if pasta isn't submerged in liquid. Top pasta with marinara (do not stir), and place cover on Instant Pot. Turn steam valve to "sealing" position. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes (Instant Pot will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure).
  3. When cooking is complete, carefully release the steam valve, and press cancel. When pressure has been released, remove lid, and stir in 1 ½ cups of the cheese. Top with remaining cheese; let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with fresh basil, if desired. Top with Parmesan cheese before serving.

Browse our entire collection of Instant Pot recipes.

You can connect with Nicole as NicoleMcmom on Allrecipes and on Instagram @nicolemcmom.

More tips and tricks from Nicole:

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