Instant Pot Diaries: Month 1

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I got a new Instant Pot. Now what?

Confession time, as I approach the 20th anniversary of having my own place, which means 20 years of having been 100% responsible for my own food. The confession? My longest record of cooking dinner for myself at home without resorting to the blue and yellow box? It was about 5 nights. Five consecutive nights of dinners at home. It all changed when I got my new Instant Pot.

Like about 99% of my Facebook feed, I bought myself an Instant Pot for Amazon Prime Day in July. My sister got one last Christmas, and that was the first I'd heard of it. She's a big meal planner/home cook, so I wasn't sure it was anything for me, until I did more reading on it.

Then a couple of friends got them, and started talking about them on Facebook.

And then Prime Day happened, and it was on sale for only $69.99, so suddenly I had my own Instant Pot on its way to me! I asked about it on Facebook, and people un-ironically used words like “life-changing” and “best kitchen gadget ever” and I was sold.

My flaky non-planner brain was drawn to the crock pot effort in microwave time. I saw a Pinterest pin that told me that I could put frozen chicken breasts in this magical machine and sit down to eat 30 minutes later. I. Was. Sold.

My Instant Pot arrived and right away I was ready to play. An easy pressure test and I started looking for dinner ideas. Listed below is every recipe (or “recipe”) that we have attempted in the month since we got our new Instant Pot, with thoughts and reviews.

Overall, I don't think that the “life changing” reviews are exaggerating. We're eating better, faster, and at home, which is saving us time, money, and calories. We're trying new flavors and new combinations. It's good on all fronts. I can see why people buy more than one. Mine hasn't left the kitchen counter since I opened it.

I'd love to hear your favorite recipes as well! Leave me a comment so we can try them!

Instant Pot recipes

Chicken, Broccoli & Rice: I found this recipe on Pinterest. It was OK, probably not the best choice for a first dish. I would have gone with something simpler, like a single protein component, to see what it could do. So I would possibly make this again, but would most likely spice it up more… this was a little boring for our tastes. Maybe adding some crumbled bacon?

Mexican Chicken: I broadcast opening the Instant Pot live on Facebook. A non-recipe recipe, I wanted to try out the freezer-to-Instant Pot chicken situation, and this was the result. We shredded the chicken and had burritos. Were I going to do this again, I'd use salsa to add to the liquid instead of as much broth as I used this time.

Better than Takeout Broccoli Beef: This was good, but I didn't cook it down enough once I added the cornstarch, so it was like 99% take out quality, but the flavor was right on. Now that I'm more comfortable with working the IP, I'll probably try adding the broccoli directly to the pot and bringing it back up to pressure for a moment instead of steaming it separately. One less pot is always a win.

French Dip: Beef broth that I had leftover from the Broccoli Beef, and some sliced chuck roast. Sliced thin and served on toasted rolls with melted cheese, and the leftover liquid as dipping pseudo-au jus. It was OK, would have been better with a bunch of onion added for more flavor.

BBQ Chicken: A non-recipe recipe. I just put equal parts bottled BBQ sauce and water and some chicken breasts. It was fine. Nothing exciting. No one got food poisoning.

Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork: This was a non-recipe of Jamie's creation. A bottle of Dr. Pepper for liquid, and one of our favorite spice rub combos on a boneless pork roast, made for a delicious pulled pork that we served on rolls for sandwiches.

Bread Pudding: A little experimenting at 10pm one night because we were craving something sweet and had limited options. We used leftover rolls from the other dinners, and filled 1 pint mason jars with diced bread, and poured over a standard milk/egg custard mix. Sealed each jar with foil and stuck them in the Instant Pot. (6 of them fit) I added a cup of water and set it to 20 minutes. Lesson learned: With single serve containers like these jars, the bread inside expanded pretty dramatically under pressure and made a huge mess inside the pot. The taste was spot on, but clean up left something to be desired.

Honey Bourbon Chicken from my new Instant Pot

Honey Bourbon Chicken: (Pictured above) This was my first real smash hit recipe. Absolutely delicious, and super simple to make. Would have been the perfect first recipe. We ate it with rice and broccoli, would make a yummy sandwich too, if shredded. I went a little light on the honey, maybe 2/3 of a cup instead of a whole cup, and it turned out delicious.

Moroccan Sticky Chicken: I was hoping this would be like a sticky chicken I had once years ago, but it wasn't. But it was a definite keeper of a recipe, and I'd love to try it with real saffron next time (I used a combo of tamarind and paprika instead) and might use just a tad less lemon juice. It was pretty citrus-y overall. Good, but I think the lemon overpowered the beautiful spice mix a bit.  Also, we did chicken thighs instead of drumsticks.

Orange-Chicken-Pressure-Cooking-Today-new Instant Pot

Orange Chicken: (Pictured above, photo from Pressure Cooking Today, used with permission) This would have been another great first recipe. Absolutely delicious, and everyone chowed down on it. We skipped anything spicy so that Max wouldn't complain, but you can easily kick the spice back up a bit with pepper flakes and hot sauce.

Macaroni and Cheese: Jamie actually made this the other night when I was out. He added crumbled bacon and it was a hit overall. I ate some reheated the next day, and it was delicious as well. I'm definitely going to try some other mac and cheese recipes though; this was fine but I feel like it could be better.

Apple pie oatmeal from my new Instant PotSteel Cut oats: (Pictured above) Steel cut oats in like 10 minutes total? We're in. A favorite for our family, I'm so excited for cold winter mornings this year! We spend more time dicing up fruit to include than we do cooking, and it's perfection. One cup oats plus two cups water and one cup of milk then add whatever fruit you want. (Reduce the water if you're adding water-heavy fruit like berries) We're buying our oats in bulk now, since it saves a ton of money and we'll always have them on hand.

Applesauce and pork chops: Instant Pot applesauce in minutes, and Jamie grilled pork chops outside. Fast and easy.

Kalua Pork: This recipe from Nom Nom Paleo is absolutely to die for. The flavor is amazing, especially considering the simplicity of it, but it will be a staple around her for sure. The leftovers are also really versatile; I mixed some in with mac and cheese the next day for lunch and it was a great way to use up some leftovers.

So that's our first month. I'm hoping to make this a series, so I'll check back in at the end of September! Please leave me your favorite recipes and tips in the comments.

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  1. Can’t wait to try some of these!

    Our favorite *recipe* so far has been just throwing together a beef stew. Browned up some stew meat, celery, and onion on the saute function. Then added tomato sauce, a bit of water (or beer), and your favorite beef stew seasonings. Added baby carrots and tiny potatoes on top. Close it up and pressure cook for an appropriate time for the meat (I did about 20-25 minutes depending on the size of my stew meat chunks). That’s it! It came out super yummy and filling.

    Up next – Adapting some Cuban recipes (ropa vieja for sure) for the Instapot.

  2. It’s looks like a lot of saucy stuff. Can you cook simpler stuff in it? (I know my question is super vague. Sorry!)

    1. Yes! The saucy stuff is the easiest, so that’s what I’ve been focused on. But like the chicken we did for burritos worked out beautifully, and ribs are on our to-try list.

  3. We tried the honey bourbon chicken tonight – and I missed your comment about cutting back on the honey. It was good – but too sweet for my husband, and I think my local Texas honey was stronger in flavor because it was pronounced. However, there are no leftovers, and next time I will try it per one of the commenters on the original recipe – she used 1/2c of honey and 1/2 c of apple juice.

    Kalua Pork is on the menu for this week, too. OMG, that is so good.

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