I love my new electric pressure cooker, and either I've convinced my friends how amazing it is, or they're just tired of me going on and on about it, but many of them have gotten their own now, too. Since we're all in the “we LOVE our pressure cooker club”, we like to compare and discuss all the fun things we're doing with them lately, so I'm going to share a bunch of those today.
The Best Ways to Use a Pressure Cooker for Healthy FAST Meals!
***First, click here for the electric pressure cooker we have — or if you're interested, click here to read why I returned my Instant Pot and got this instead.
So if you don't mind paying a little more, you could get that one now. But if you want to save a little, you can get just the one I have that does everything else the Instant Pot does, and for some reason, right now it's on SALE for $44 less than I paid for it just a few months ago! (Click here to get the deal, I'm not sure how long it'll be on sale.)
Like the Instant Pot, it also does NOT have Teflon, it cleans up nicely, and it can sauté right in the pot, especially nice for browning meat before cooking it the rest of the way, so you're not dirtying a bunch of extra dishes! You can also use it as a slow-cooker, and make soooooo many things with it to simplify your life.
This favorite new kitchen appliance saves me a TON of time, let me count all the ways I love it…
1. By far, my favorite way to utilize my pressure cooker as a time-saver is by batch-cooking food for fast meals later…
- Broth can easily be made ahead and stored in your freezer to throw into all sorts of recipes! Click here for how to make pressure cooker broth.
- If you have a beef or pork roast to use up or some chicken breasts, you can cook up a lot at once, then keep the cooked meat in your freezer in baggies, again, to throw into any type of recipe you want and it makes for a much faster meal. (Click here if you don't have a good local source for safe, pastured meats.) Here's how:
- I always start with rock-solid frozen meat, but if you think ahead better than I do and yours has been out of the freezer a while, keep in mind that it won't take quite as long to cook.
- If it's chicken breasts, just throw them into the pot and cover with water plus another couple inches more — I cooked 4.5 pounds all at once the other day and this gave me 4 baggies full to have on-hand!
- If it's a pork or beef roast, those always taste a little better if you brown it first, so I'll throw the package into the sink covered in water for 10 minutes just so it's softened up enough to brown it on each side, and you can do that right in the pressure cooker on sauté using bacon grease, ghee, lard, or tallow in the bottom.
- Once it's browned, then add about 5 cups of broth or broth + water, OR just water if there are bones in your meat because it'll make its own broth.
- How long to set it for will depend on how many pounds you're cooking, but if it's frozen and big enough to fill up a lot of the pan (I'm not being exact, but so much depends on the size), plan on one hour to one and a quarter. (If it's not done after that, just put the lid back on and crank it out for another 15-20 minutes.) Smaller hunks of meat will be done a LOT faster.
- When it's done, pull it out onto a plate to cool for a bit, then just shred it with a fork and pick any goobers out — grizzly pieces, small pieces of bone, or globs of gook, you know what I mean.
- Then you'll have falling apart delicious meat to use for dinner that night, or for future fast-food dinners! See ideas below for how to use this simple make-ahead beef or chicken.
2. The pressure cooker is also great for cooking entire last-minute meals. I'm always forgetting to get meat out of the freezer so it has enough time to thaw and cook before Kent gets home. This has already saved me many times and I've only had it a few weeks! More recipes will be added here as time goes on, but check out these cookbooks in the meantime for more ideas.
3. My friend Megan said she loves using her pressure cooker like this (get ready for your mouth to water!): I cook up a bunch of quinoa to use throughout the week: 2 cups water, 1 cup quinoa, push the rice setting, and it fluffs up beautifully. Store it in an airtight container. Then during the week I'll make a batch of Tabouli or I just mix it with different things — it takes on any flavor you want. My favorite is using a honey ginger balsamic vinegar with toasted sesame olive oil, chopped green onions, lots of garlic, fresh lemon juice, and chopped cilantro, parsley, and/or basil — the more herbs the better. Sometimes I use chopped spinach in it too after I steam for just a very short time.
4. Here's the thing, it's not handy JUST so you can pull together a whole meal quickly on busy days, even when you forget to get meat out of the freezer like I always do (or especially for those of you who work outside the home!), but keeping a bunch of pre-cooked food on hand has also helped me help others more lately, too; so when friends have been sick, I can quickly pull together a nourishing meal to run over to them.
5. If you compare fast pressure cooker meals to fast-food take-out meals — there's no comparison on the taste OR the quality of the food you're feeding your family — sourcing your own healthy meats, produce and other ingredients makes all the difference! (Again, find healthy meat here if you don't have a good local source, and if you need help knowing which ingredients or what types of food you should and should NOT be feeding your family, get my Real Food Ingredient Guide FREE here, or get my whole book, Real Food for Rookies here.)
6. Re-heating leftovers is simple, too. Just cover the pot and put it into the fridge overnight, the next day it goes back into the pressure cooker to heat up on the sauté or slow-cooker settings.
7. As mentioned above, the sauté feature is great for browning a roast and then pressure cooking it right in the same pot.
8. Pressure cookers are safe to use and don't harm the nutrients in food (any more than other cooking methods) — see more at this post: Are pressure cookers safe OR healthy for last-minute cooking?!
9. Pressure cooker rice is perfectly done every time — the texture is fluffy and wonderful! Just throw in 1 cup rice per 1 cup liquid — I use some homemade broth I usually have in the freezer along with water if I don't have quite enough broth. Add a few dashes of sea salt and 1-2 Tablespoons of pastured butter if desired. Cook 3 minutes on high pressure, let it depressurize, and you're done!
10. My friend Colleen just told me how easily she makes hard-boiled eggs in her pressure cooker: 1/2 cup of water in the bottom with the basket that comes with it. She did 6 eggs and used the egg timer button for 5 minutes. She tells me they were perfectly done! Now you can make a fast main-dish salad (just chop them up and throw them on top with some salt and pepper), or make delicious deviled eggs or egg salad for a sandwich or cracker dip — what a nutrient-dense snack for your kids! UPDATE: I just tried it with 8 eggs and 1 cup of water, and they were done perfectly — plus I've never had hard-boiled eggs peel SO NICELY before!!!!! Another update: Now I've done it with 18 eggs (I wanted some leftover egg salad) and it was STILL great! I put them in the basket and added enough water to cover, then just pushed the egg option and walked away. When it was done, I let the pressure out, and in a few minutes sat them in cold water 'til they were cool enough to peel. SO simple. Here's a video I made on how to make hard-boiled eggs in the pressure cooker. 🙂
I'm adding more notes and ideas as they come in…
11. Colleen's husband, Randy, made this pressure cooker risotto recipe that was a hit with the whole family. 🙂
12. A reader shared this: I cook 4 baked potatoes in 12 minutes. 6 sweet potatoes in 10 minutes. I'll update here after I try it, but this is what I found for baked potato instructions: Put 2 cups water into the bottom with the metal rack. Stack up the potatoes (some recipes say with foil, others say without is fine), and cook on high pressure.
13. Try this Simple Taco Soup recipe in the pressure cooker!
What to do with all that made-ahead meat and broth you've got now?
Oh so many things…
- Barbecue sandwiches using either shredded pork, beef, or chicken. Serve with some homemade barbecue sauce and your favorite buns, grilled a little on each side with pastured butter so they're extra yummy and a little crispy.
- Throw some broth and meat together, along with whatever veggies you have on hand, and plenty of spices and herbs for a quick, nourishing soup. If you're really pressed for time, throw your vegetables in and pressure cook for 10 more minutes to take the crunch out of them. You could toss in some rice so it's even more filling and cook that for 10 minutes, too.
- Take that same soup and add a creamy base to it for even more of a “feel-good” meal. Either add cream or milk, or you could add cream cheese, or you could make a roux — this is especially good for making a stove-top stroganoff-type dish. Here's how:
- In a small bowl use water and approximately equal parts flour, my favorite is einkorn flour nowadays, or arrowroot flour if you're gluten-free, and whisk well then spoon into the soup while stirring.
- Add more sea salt, pepper, herbs, and spices to season and make it taste dreamy.
- You could serve it over rice or pasta for a more filling meal. (This is our favorite pasta these days.) You can do it all in the one pressure cooker pan, then keep it on the slow-cook setting until you're ready to eat! Here's the stroganoff that I made last week:
- Mexican food is easy to pull together when the meat is already cooked, too: tacos/nachos/ burritos. Just look through these Mexican recipes for ideas.
- Look through these pork main dish recipes, beef main dish recipes, or poultry recipes for more ideas that could easily be adapted to a quicker pressure cooker version, or look through these soups and stews, too.
- Basically you can make so many things you're already used to making, only faster!
Please share YOUR favorite pressure cooker recipes! As more ideas come in, I'll add them to the list above, so keep checking back.
In the meantime, for more ideas and pressure cooker recipes…
- Be sure and check out these: Electric pressure cooker recipe books.
- My friend Megan has been cooking a lot out of this one and has found many winners: Pressure Perfect — if you have a pressure cooker question, it’ll be answered there.
More posts you might like:
- Read more about why I returned my Instant Pot and what I got instead! (Also there: are pressure cookers a healthy way to cook?!)