How To Turn Your Instant Pot Into A Slow Cooker

instant pot chili
How To Turn Your Instant Pot Into A Slow CookerParker Feierbach

We’re living in a golden age of small kitchen appliances (see: slow cookers, Instant Pots, and air fryers). We’re also in a not-so-golden age of abundant counter space. So what’s a home cook to do? Well, we’ve got a little magic trick: You can actually turn your Instant Pot into a slow cooker. The beloved Instant Pot has made yet another case for a lasting spot on your counter (don’t worry, Crock Pot, we still love you!).

What really differentiates the slow cooker and the Instant Potis how they conduct and spread heat as they cook. Instant Pots live up to their name, heating up quite quickly (even on a slow-cooker function) and mostly directly from the bottom. Slow cookers heat from below and along the sides of the cooker.

So how do you get your Instant Pot to play the role of a slow cooker?

You’ve probably noticed that the Instant Pot has a “Slow-Cook” button in plain sight. No big deal, right? Well, not so fast. There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re trying to make all your favorite slow-cooker recipes in the Instant Pot.

instant pot beef stew
Park Feierbach

You might need to do a bit of temperature math.
Much like “medium” and “small” can mean something totally different in two different clothing stores, the same is true of the heat settings of Instant Pots and slow cookers. Simply put, “Low” on both devices are not equal in terms of temperature.

Thankfully, there are some handy conversions for how to take your favorite slow-cooker recipes and make sure it’s set correctly for the Instant Pot’s slow-cook function:

Slow Cooker HIGH = Instant Pot Slow Cook High+ (or Slow Cook More) = ~200 to 210 F
Slow Cooker LOW = Instant Pot Slow Cook Normal = ~195 to 205 F
Slow Cooker WARM = Instant Pot LOW = ~170 to 190 F

From there, you can simply cook that slow-cooker recipe for the same amount of time in your Instant Pot.

One important thing to note: We’ve found that, when it comes to slow-cooking recipes on HIGH, adding 15 more minutes per hour of cook time has yielded the best results in our Instant Pot. For instance, you’d cook our Brown Sugar BBQ chicken (which cooks for 4 hours on HIGH in the slow-cooker), would need 5 hours on HIGH in the Instant Pot.

Just keep in mind that most recent Instant Pot models will switch to their Keep Warm function after 10 hours, so be sure to keep an eye in the case that you’re slow-cooking something (like a pot roast, for one) for over ten hours and need to maintain the correct temperature setting.

instant pot vegetable soup
Parker Feierbach

Watch your liquids.
Slow-cooker recipes often yield juicy, saucy results on their own, so your recipes often scrimp on liquid. But in order for Instant Pots to do their job, liquid is crucial to maintaining the pressure in this hot little pot. The rule of thumb is at least one cup of liquid (like water or broth, for example) in order to keep things cooking, so be sure to make sure there’s enough liquid before pressing Start. If your dish ends up having a bit too much liquid for your liking, using the Saute function right at the end of the slow-cooking process will help cook off any excess liquid.

Go light when you load up your ingredients.
While you basically can load up, set, and forget in regards to your slow-cooker, an Instant Pot is not nearly as happy with the same process. Since pressure is crucial to the cooking process in your Instant Pot, loading it up over the max-fill line, which is about 2/3rds of the way up, will not allow the pot to close properly and release steam. Especially if you’re using ingredients that really expand as they cook (like pasta or rice), err on the safe side (the halfway mark) so that you don’t cook your way into the Danger Zone.

Don’t be afraid of taking off the lid.
As with many slow-cooker recipes, you sometimes need to add ingredients in stages. You can totally do this in your Instant Pot on the slow-cooker setting. Just simply pop it open, stir in that gnocchi (maybe for our Slow-Cooker Tuscan Chicken Meatballs and Gnocchi?), and rest easy knowing that dinner is about to practically make itself, thanks to your trusty Instant Pot.

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