The Instant Pot is a magic device. It’s slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, and more, all in one appliance. Fans rave about how easy it makes cooking, especially with the ability to cook frozen meat, make one pot meals, and the keep warm function which means that if you aren’t ready when the food is, that’s okay. While we certainly can’t argue with any of these advantages, there are a few things that you shouldn’t cook in everyone’s favorite kitchen appliance.
Some of these don’t work because they just don’t produce the right result or they simply work better with a conventional cooking method. While there are so many amazing things the Instant Pot can do, here are the eight Instant Pot tips that focus on what you shouldn’t cook in your electric pressure cooker.
1. Short-order cooking
If it takes less than 20 minutes to cook on the stove, you don’t need to cook it in your Instant Pot. Remember, the cooking time may be short, but most recipes don’t add in the time it takes for the appliance to get up to the high pressure for cooking (10 to 20 minutes) or the time it takes for a natural pressure release once your food is done (10 to 15 minutes).
2. The crisp and crunchy
There are a few things that the Instant Pot can technically do, but your results will be better if you cook them the traditional way. Anything you want to come out crisp or crunchy falls into this category. Because the Instant Pot is a pressure cooker, anything like vegetables that you don’t want to be mushy will come out better if you simply cook them as you normally do.
Even though you can sauté using the sauté function, when you add liquid, heat, and pressure, all of the crisp is going to mellow out.
3. The deep fried
Deep frying anything —chicken, fish, doughnuts, Milky Way bars — takes high heat and the ability to control that heat. And while the Instant Pot gets hot, it doesn’t get that hot since pressure cooking is more about pressure than temperature. Which means, you also don’t have the ability to control the heat. So, if you’re going to deep fry it, stick to the Fry Daddy or a giant vat of oil on the stove top.
Another one of those things you can technically do in your Instant Pot, but why would you? You won’t get the crisp crust and you’re limited in shape, so stick to conventional methods for this particular baked good. (Instant Pot cooking is great for cakes, cheesecakes, and other desserts, though, so definitely try that.)
5. Pressure canning
Even though the Instant Pot is a pressure cooker, it regulates itself on the level of pressure, not on temperature.
To safely pressure can food, you need to be able to know the exact temperature and since that’s not possible on an Instant Pot, the USDA has not tested the appliance for safety in pressure canning (meaning don’t try it at home).
6. Stir fry
It’s a question of heat and surface area. The best stir fry takes high heat and a fair amount of surface area so that all the ingredients brown evenly and stay crispy (stir fry with steamed vegetables… isn’t stir fry). Plus, stir fry takes very little actual cooking time, so see the previous tip.
7. Creamy sauces
Anything dairy based tends to curdle under pressure and heat, which is what an Instant Pot is all about. Several recipes for dairy-based dishes will have you add the dairy at the last minute, after the dish has finished pressure cooking.
8. Pasta and noodles
You can make one pot pasta and noodle dishes in an Instant Pot, but if you’re just cooking the noodles alone, save yourself some time and trouble and cook it on the stove top. While the cook time may be about half of what it is on the stove top, you still have to get the pressure cooker heated up to the point where it’s ready to cook.
Plus, there are stories from users who have a problem with the quick release (which is faster than waiting for the natural release) causing a watery mess. Depending on how much water you’re looking to boil, the whole process may be faster on the stove.