Very few things have taken over the world of cooking as quickly or completely as Instant Pots. Everywhere you turn someone has a new recipe that you absolutely gotta to try or is talking about how it saved their life and I don’t mean metaphorically.
As someone who has sipped the Instant Pot Kool-Aid but not drunk too deeply, I will admit a fondness for the Ultra version that showed up at our house last year, peaking out of the box like Gizmo asking for a little drink of water.
In all fairness, learning how to use an Instant Pot is ridiculously easy and super convenient. I just never thought the words craze and pressure cooker would inhabit the same sentence.
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Everywhere you go on the internet it seems like there’s a new list extolling all the fantastic things people should make in them. These are the types of lists that can be helpful unless you’re the kinda of person who likes to experiment by throwing whatever happens to be laying around the kitchen into the shiny little machine everytime it beeps.
For those of us who never learned to color inside the lines, it can be more helpful to get advice on things we shouldn’t do. So for those of us who could use a little different kind of help, here’s our guide for things you should never, ever make in an Instant Pot or quite frankly any other pressure cooker.
A Few Things You Should Obviously Not Cook
Let’s start with a few of the more obvious things you shouldn’t cook in one, like avocado toast. On the surface, a mashup of these super hot cooking trends seems like a natural pairing, like peanut butter and chocolate or Brady and Belichick. So, as much as we want it to work, let’s break down why it won’t, starting with the toast part of the equation.
It can be a challenge to make toast in an Instant Pot, especially if you’re trying to use one of the pressure cooking settings.
And, even if you somehow make toast in one, the whole point of the avocado part of the equation is enjoying the flavor and texture of the avocado with a few enhancements, which isn’t going to work very well after it’s been pressure cooked into green slime.
As bad an idea as Instant Pot Avocado Toast sounds never doubt people’s ability to jump on a trend, let alone two. Especially when you consider the millions of Instant Pot recipes living on the internet and the thousands upon thousands of times a month that people search the web looking for Instant Pot ideas.
A few other things that hopefully fall into the obviously bad idea category would be things like baked Alaska and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Although, if you spend any time on Pinterest or reading food-related sites, it’s pretty easy to imagine how the peanut butter and jelly piece would start out “You guys, You guys, I just figured out the most amazing way to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in my Instant Pot. They’re the most amazing sandwiches ever and so much better than the ones I’ve been making in my Crock-Pot.”
There would be the standard shots of sandwiches stacked artfully next to a shiny Instant Pot set to unrealistic mode and a long series of comments about how creative the author is and how the person commenting never could have thought of something like that in a million years.
Things You Could, But Shouldn’t
Let’s start with any Instant Pot recipe that claims to be authentic. There is no such thing as a Traditional Instant Pot Irish Stew or Grandma’s Old Fashioned Instant Pot Collard Greens. Instant Pots in all their glory are new and what makes them such valuable tools in the kitchen is that they cook things much faster and in very different ways than traditional cooking methods.
So it’s completely ok to make recipes that are “inspired by”, “adapted from”, or “tastes like” traditional recipes but let’s not pretend that we’ve had hundreds of years of Instant Pot cooking or that smart cookers are central to a specific cultural or geographically based cuisine.
Also, don’t bake chocolate chip cookies in one, there’s a baking setting on the new Ultras that is supposed to be amazing at making cheesecake but if you start using it to bake cookies or other treats your oven is going to get jealous and start overcooking everything else out of spite.
The same goes for sheet pan recipes unless you want to make stew, never use a pressure cooker to make a sheet pan recipe.
Things You Just Shouldn’t Do
It’s pretty easy to find recipes for Instant Pot Dog Food on the web and if you’ve met my dog or any other dog it’s pretty obvious that most of them would be happy to eat whatever came out of the closest pot, instant or otherwise.
What you shouldn’t use yours for is to make dog food, to say to the world I’m going to spend my Saturday afternoon making homemade organic all-natural heritage-raised dog food in my kinda of expensive, fancy smart cooker.
This is the kind of thing that says a lot more about you than it does about your dog and trust me you don’t want to be the kind of person who spends their weekends making special dog food. Your dog won’t be able to tell the difference and you’ll never get the time back.
A Few Less Obvious Things You Shouldn’t Make
One of the reasons why they have become so successful is how fast the company has been able to innovate. Every year it seems like there’s a new model with some amazing new feature that makes you want to run out and buy a new one. Which is why we’re future-proofing this guide with a few prospective things you should never do, no matter what features they add.
Let’s start with the big one, literally. Don’t ever make a nuclear bomb in your Instant Pot. I know there’s that secret setting on the Ultra that would make it so easy to enrich plutonium at home but aren’t there enough big bombs in the world as it is and even if you do make one, what are you going to do with it? They’re not a very effective deterrent against annoying coworkers and no matter how impressive it looks your neighbor still isn’t going to take off that Make America Great Again hat.
Never try to cook an entire Christmas dinner in your set of matching Instant Pots. I know there’s a lot of people out there who have two, three, or four Instant Pots that they like to cook with at the same time. Something I’m all for if it makes sense for whatever you’re cooking, things like a chili cook-off or if you’ve decided to turn your living room into a soup kitchen but as amazing as they are, there’s no reason to throw out all of your other pots and pans and go 100 percent Instant Pot.
I’d also recommend against making 12-year-old scotch in one. It’s true that they’re excellent at infusing flavors in things and that while it’s technically possible to infuse some brand new scotch with a chunk of peat bog and oak. There are a few things worth considering.
Making scotch is not why they added a fermentation setting to the Max and as good as they are at cutting down cooking times, even if yours cuts the time by two-thirds the scotch is still going to be hanging out for four years and that’s a lot of time to wait for a couple of gallons of scotch and have your favorite kitchen gadget occupied. The other thing, which I think of as a general truism in life is Instant Pots are not a replacement for barrel aging.
The last thing you should never make in your Instant Pot is a baby, I understand how much you love it and that there are days when it can seem more supportive than your partner. And it’s completely ok if your Instant Pot is involved in pre-baby making romantic gestures, but can we, please agree for everyone’s sake to leave it out of the good parts.
Now that you know what not to do feel free to plug yours back in and make a tender fall apart pot roast or a little white bean and pancetta ragout. You know things that are delicious and bring out the best in you and your Instant Pot.