Instant Pot tips and recipes for healthy cooking

August 7, 2018 Providence Health Team




Pressure-cooking helps maintain foods natural taste, texture, and nutrients.

Pressure-cooking may help reduce the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes.

Instant Pot meals are safe, healthy, fast alternatives to traditional cooking methods.

The Instant Pot® is a kitchen appliance designed to consolidate preparing and cooking food into one electronically controlled device. This trendy, programmable appliance has become popular for those interested in making healthy dishes because it allows for better taste, texture and nutrient retention.

Instant Pot cooking methods

The Instant Pot can replace multiple kitchen appliances including the pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté/searing, yogurt maker and warmer. Depending on which model you choose, you can easily cook meals in a variety of different ways, like:

  • Pressure cooking - Using pressure and heat the Instant Pot can prepare food evenly and quickly—usually in less than half the time of traditional cooking methods.
  • Slow cooking - The slow cook function on the Instant Pot allows you to cook food slowly and safely, similar to a .
  • Sautéing and steaming - The Instant Pot has a built-in heat source at the base of the machine, which makes it easy to sear meats, steam or sauté vegetables, and simmer liquids.
  • Rice cooking and yogurt making - Each Instant Pot comes with a recipe booklet that shows you how to easily make rice and yogurt.

Of course, any brand of the types of cookers named above can do the same things.

Health benefits of pressure cooking

Whether you maintain a paleo, vegan or keto diet or are just trying to eat better, the “instant pot”-style cooking will help you cook healthy meals — faster. The method works by raising the boiling point of water while allowing heat to generate inside the pan. This results in shorter cooking times, greater preservation of vitamins and minerals and healthier meals. Here are some additional health benefits:

Research suggests that cooking food with water-based methods, like pressure-cooking, may reduce the risk of certain diseases like type 2 diabetes.

Pressure-cooking preserves more heat-sensitive nutrients by reducing cook times and using less water than any other cooking method.

It is the best method for preserving the ascorbic acid and beta-carotene in spinach and amaranth.

It makes grains and legumes more digestible by breaking down proteins and reducing phytic acid and lectins.

Pressure cooking tips

These tips will come in handy, especially if you are new to cooking with an “instant pot”:

Don’t overfill it! Fill your pressure cooker only about 2/3 of its capacity. If you overfill it, the food will be too crowded to cook properly.

Follow recipes closely. For optimal results, pay close attention to cooking times, ingredient order and chopping sizes. This will ensure your meals are cooked to perfection.

Save fresh herbs for last. It’s best to wait until your food has finished cooking before adding any fresh herbs. The combination of heat and moisture will cause them to wilt and lose flavor.

Try these fast, healthy, delicious “instant pot”-style meals

Though the pressure cooker may not be right for every meal, it is a contender for delivering fast, healthy foodss that are as delicious as they are convenient.

Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala (Whole30, Paleo, and Keto) (courtesy TastyThin)
Serves 6 | 280 kilocalories
Prep time 5 min. | Cook time 25 min.


  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. butter or ghee (Whole30)
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 2 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 c. full fat coconut milk
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger

Cooking instructions

  1. Set your Instant Pot to sauté.
  2. Add butter, onion, and yellow peppers and cook for 3-4 minutes until veggies start to soften.
  3. Add garlic, ginger, spices and salt and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes and coconut milk and stir well to combine.
  5. Place chicken on top of mixture. Close the lid and set to Poultry (or Manual setting for 15 minutes).
  6. When cycle is complete, remove chicken and shred. Using an immersion hand blender, puree the sauce. Add the chicken back to the sauce and adjust seasoning to taste.

Instant Pot Carnitas (Whole30, Paleo, and Keto) (courtesy Gnom-Gnom)
Serves 4 | 272 kilocalories
Prep time 10 min. | Cook time 45 min.


  • 2 ¼ lbs. pork shoulder, cut into large cubes
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 oz. water
  • 1 orange, halved
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin

Cooking instructions

  1. Pat meat dry and cut into large cubes. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside.
  2. Set instant pot to sauté and heat up olive oil, add meat (working in batches as needed) and sear meat for 3 to 5 minutes on each side until browned. Press cancel to turn off the heat.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, squeezing the orange into the mix before adding it in (yes, you want the whole orange in the mix!). Toss to combine.
  4. Lock lid in place, close pressure valve, and press meat. Adjust cooking time to 30 minutes and cook. Allow pressure to release naturally (roughly 20 minutes). Remove lid and shred meat with two forks.

For crispy carnitas

  1. Turn on oven broiler while carnitas are cooking. Once meat is shredded, transfer to a baking tray, along with some juice, and broil for 3-6 minutes until the edges begin to brown and crisp up.
  2. Serve right away with desired toppings.

If you have a healthy, delicious “instant pot”-style recipe that leaves you jumping for joy, we’d love to hear about it. Please share it in the comments below.

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.


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