Do you want to make easy weeknight meals with almost no cleanup? Nicole McLaughlin, aka NicoleMcmom, shares her formula for creating satisfying one-pot recipes using just one simple formula.
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Nicole has cracked the code for one-pot cooking, and now she's sharing it with you. To demonstrate the simple formula, Nicole will walk you through her recipe for One-Pot Crispy Chicken and Rice. And after that, she'll share her recipe for One-Pot Cheesy Bacon Ranch Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli.

The Formula for One-Pot Cooking 

To create one-pot meals, you could use a slow cooker, Instant Pot, Dutch oven, cast-iron skillet, or any other sturdy vessel that's large enough to hold the ingredients and thick enough to allow for even heating and cooking.

1. Sear protein to create a flavor base.

Whether you're cooking with chicken, beef, or pork, your first step is to brown the seasoned meat to create that first layer of flavor. You're not cooking it all the way through — that will come later. Note: If you're using a slow cooker, you'll have to sear the meat in a separate pan.

2. Add aromatics and seasonings.

Remove the seared meat and set aside. If there's more than a couple of tablespoons of fat at the bottom of your pan, you can spoon it out and discard it, but you'll want to leave enough to sauté vegetables such as onions, garlic, celery, carrots, and/or shallots. Leave all the brown crusty bits in the pot, too. That's pure flavor that'll be incorporated into your dish. As you stir and cook the aromatic vegetables, you'll notice how the moisture they release while cooking actually helps loosen and dissolve the brown bits.

3. Add starches.

This is where the one-pot technique really starts to kick in. Instead of boiling rice or potatoes in a separate pot, you can stir them into the sautéed vegetables.

4. Add liquid.

Once the rice or potatoes are stirred in well, you'll add water, broth, or wine to the hot pan to deglaze it. What you're doing is dissolving the cooked-on brown bits so the flavor gets into your dish while at the same time you're giving the rice or potatoes enough liquid to cook in.

5. Layer the protein on top.

Add your protein back to the pot (if you're using chicken, place it skin-side up so the skin stays crispy).

6. Add fresh ingredients.

If you're adding fresh vegetables to the pot, do it now. Place the pot into a preheated oven to finish cooking.

7. Final touches.

When the dish is done, add the final ingredients such as garnishes or whatever else your recipe calls for. And that's it!

Once you've mastered this simple formula, you can make your own one pot-meals using whatever you happen to have in your pantry.

Related: Browse our collection on One-Pot recipes.

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

More tips and tricks from Nicole: