The Instant Pot is a culinary time machine and the key to delicious slow-cooked taste and texture in a fraction of the time.

By Stacey Ballis
January 11, 2021
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Instant Pot Collard Greens
| Credit: Diana71

As we get further into the cold weather, the comfort of slow cooked foods seems to call to us more than any other time. Hearty soups, stews and chilis, savory braises, that low and slow cooking that is the hallmark of food that takes care and time to achieve peak perfection. Part of the soul-soothing nature of these foods is inherent in the nostalgia of them, the way your home smells increasingly delicious as the hours pass, the way the stove or oven or slow cooker on for hours help make the kitchen the warmest room in the house, the anticipation of the meal that is extended over the day.

Perhaps no cooking traditions embrace this more than Southern and soul food. Foodways born of necessity, the need to cook less tender off-cuts of meat that require time and temperature to make them edible, the need to have foods that cook hands-off and slowly over time so that they are not disruptive to long workdays, these foods are a triumph of ingenuity over circumstance. And the resulting recipes are among our most craveworthy when our bodies need warmth or our nerves are jangled.

But while there will always be that tradition to turn to, sometimes you want all the comfort with much less fuss. Enter your culinary time machine, the electric pressure cooker. Whether you have an Instant Pot or other multi cooker, they are the key to all that delicious slow-cooked taste and texture in a fraction of the time. From tender pulled pork in minutes instead of hours, baked beans straight from dry with no soaking needed, to breaking down your greens in savory pot liquor faster than you can steam spinach, this countertop beauty is comfort in an instant. As long as the dish in question has that liquid element, stock or gravy or sauce, you can make it safely in your Instant Pot.

Credit: My Hot Southern Mess

How to Convert Slow Recipes for the Instant Pot

You can convert your family recipes to multi-cooker recipes by following your usual recipe to the point of "turn the heat to low and let cook for _______ hours" then seal in your machine and reduce the cook time by about two-thirds when setting your timer, using the high pressure setting for large format dishes like pot roast or pork shoulder, and low pressure for dishes where the ingredients are cut small or are mostly vegetables.

When the time is up, let the pressure release naturally for five to ten minutes, then check the contents to ensure they are done. You can always reseal and add more time if needed, the beauty of traditionally slow-cooked dishes is that you can't overcook them, so you don't need to worry about that.

If you don't want to wing it completely, you can also easily source a similar recipe online to get a sense of the timing and setting they use! Many of the recipes on Allecipes are already designed for the multi-cooker, so just search the title of the recipe you are cooking and Instant Pot and you'll have plenty to choose from, either as research on adjusting your own recipe or as a recipe to follow to the letter.

Need more guidance? Turn to some of our favorite books on the subject! Instantly Southern by Sheri Castle is a bible for using the Instant Pot for these rib-sticking classics. Need them to be one-pot complete meals? Pick up Instant One-Pot Meals: Southern Recipes for the Modern 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker by Laura Arnold. Want fast comfort that goes beyond just Southern? Comfort in an Instant by Melissa Clark will have your back. And for a book that also includes handy charts that can help you in converting your home recipes, go for Pressure Cooker Perfection from America's Test Kitchen.

Whichever recipe you choose, your Instant Pot will give you all the all-day cooked Sunday supper feels on any random Tuesday without breaking a sweat!

Check out our complete collection of Instant Pot Recipes.

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