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Instant Pot Cooking Times Cheat Sheet: Fresh Meals & Freezer Meals

By Polly Conner

After testing hundreds and hundreds of Instant Pot recipes for our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, we have honed in on the best timing and methods for cooking different types of meals in the Instant Pot. 

We are excited to share this valuable Instant Pot cooking times information with you.

There is so much misinformation on the internet about the Instant Pot. It makes us cringe when we see well-intentioned recipe creators misinform Instant Pot recipe hunters.

This is why we are sharing all of the Instant Pot cooking times you’ll need below. We also created a one page cheat sheet for Instant Pot Cooking times.

No more overcooked meals.

No more undercooked meals.

No more googling, “How long to cook ____ in the Instant Pot?”

We have all the information you’ll need in order to cook meals in the Instant Pot from both fresh AND frozen. Yep. You read it right. We have provided Instant Pot cooking times for freezer meals too!

seasoned chicken drumsticks in instant pot

A few important reminders about cooking freezer meals in the Instant Pot:

  • Make sure to read our post about how to prepare and cook freezer meals in the Instant Pot.
  • In order for the 6 quart Instant Pot to work, it needs a minimum of 1 cup of liquid. If you have an 8 quart Instant Pot, it needs at least 1.5 cups of liquid.
  • Do not stack meat when freezing meals for the Instant Pot. This is especially true when it comes to chicken.
  • Use a meat thermometer like the one we recommend here to determine doneness.
  • You’ll find that this is not an exhaustive list of cooking times. We have narrowed it down to types of recipes that we cook the most often and that will be used in our forthcoming cookbook.

Instant Pot Cooking Times Chart Cheat Sheet


If you don’t want to download the Instant Pot Cooking Times Cheat Sheet, here is the information you’ll find on it.

Instant Pot Chicken Breast Cooking Time

1-2 pounds Medium Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (seasoned or in sauce/marinade):

Fresh: Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 7 minutes at high pressure and then quick release the pressure, or until chicken is cooked through. (Chicken is done when it has no more pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.)

From Frozen: Turn on the Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. Pressure cook for 15-20 minutes with a quick release, until chicken is cooked through. (Chicken is done when no longer pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.)

Try these recipes:


Instant Pot Chicken Thighs Cooking Time

 1-2 pounds Boneless Chicken Thighs (seasoned or in sauce/marinade)

Fresh: Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 7 minutes at high pressure and then quick release of the pressure, or until chicken is cooked through. (Chicken is done when it has no more pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.)

Frozen: Turn on the Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. Pressure cook for 15-20 minutes with a quick release, until chicken is cooked through. (Chicken is done when no longer pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.)

Try these recipes:


Instant Pot Chicken Thighs & Drumsticks Cooking Time

2 ½ – 3 pounds Bone-In Chicken Thighs and Drumsticks:

Fresh: Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 12 minutes at high pressure and then quick release of the pressure, or until chicken is cooked through. (Chicken is done when it has no more pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.)

Frozen: Turn on the Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. Pressure cook for 17-22 minutes with a quick release, until chicken is cooked through. (Chicken is done when no longer pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.


Instant Pot Beef Roast Cooking Time

1 (2-4 pound) Boneless Beef Roast (seasoned or in sauce/marinade)

Fresh:  Cut the meat into 2×2-inch chunks (trimming off fat). Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes, with a 10 minute natural release and then quick release of the pressure. Remove the meat and shred with two forks.

Frozen: Turn on the Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. The frozen meat will cook the same amount of time as from fresh.


Instant Pot Pork Shoulder Cooking Time

1 (3-4 pound) Pork Shoulder (also known as Boston Butt), trimmed

Fresh: Cut into four equal pieces. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 45 minutes. Naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes (or more if you prefer) and then use quick release.

Frozen: Turn on the Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. The frozen meat will cook the same amount of time as from fresh.

Try these recipes:

Pork Carnitas recipe for the Instant Pot.

Instant Pot Pork Loin Cooking Time

2 ½ – 3 pounds Pork Loin (not to be confused with Pork Shoulder!)

Fresh: Cook whole. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 27 minutes with 10 a minute natural release.

Frozen: Cut the pork loin into 3 equal parts. Turn on the Saute Function. Saute frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. The frozen meat will cook the same amount of time as from fresh.


Instant Pot Whole Chicken Cooking Time

Whole Chicken (4-5 lbs):

Fresh: Add 1 cup of water in the bottom of the pot. Place the trivet/steam rack in the bottom of the pot and set the chicken on it, breast side down. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 24-30* minutes with natural release, which will take about 20 minutes. Check to make sure the chicken is done throughout (registers at least 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding the bone). 

Frozen: Add 1 cup of water in the bottom of the pot. Place the steam rack in the bottom of the pot and set the chicken on it, breast side down. Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 40-50 minutes* with natural release, which will take about 20 minutes. Check to make sure the chicken is done throughout (registers at least 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding the bone).

*General rule of thumb for a whole chicken is 6 minutes per pound for fresh chicken and 10 minutes per pound for frozen chicken. 


Instant Pot Soup Cooking Times

Soup (with 1-2 lbs raw, boneless, skinless chicken breasts/thighs in it):

Fresh: Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 6 minutes at high pressure and then quick release of the pressure. (Chicken is done when it has no more pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.)

Frozen: Turn on the Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. Pressure cook for 22-27 minutes with a quick release, until chicken is cooked through. (Chicken is done when no longer pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.)

Soup, Vegetarian:

Fresh: Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 7-10 minutes (depends on recipe) at high pressure and then quick release of the pressure. 

Frozen:  Turn on the Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. Pressure cook for 12-17 minutes with a quick release. 

Try these recipes:


Soup (with Cooked Ground Beef/Sausage/Turkey:

Fresh: Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 7-10 minutes (depends on recipe) at high pressure with a quick release.

Frozen:  Turn on the Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. Pressure cook for 12-17 minutes with a quick release. 

Try these recipes:


Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats Cooking Times

Steel Cut Oats:

Fresh: Add oats and liquid. Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 12 minutes at high pressure with a quick release.

Frozen:  n/a. Simply freeze fully cooked oats and rewarm to eat.

Try these recipes:

We hope this is super helpful to you and your Instant Pot cooking adventures. If you need some recipe ideas, make sure to swing by our recipe index and try some Instant Pot Recipes out. 


Get Your One Page Instant Pot Cheat Sheet Before You Leave!

Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas

By Polly Conner

It’s hard to not like Carnitas made in the Instant Pot. In fact, pork shoulder is one of my favorite cuts of meat to cook in electric pressure cookers! Coming from someone who has tested hundreds (yes, hundreds) of Instant Pot recipes, that means a lot. Carnitas can be prepped in minutes, they make a great freezer meal, and they feed a large number of people.

Instant Pot Carnitas

Instant Pot Carnitas | A One Minute Video

Instant Pot Carnitas

These Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas are by far one of my family’s favorite recipes. The seasoning and marinade, plus the Instant Pot cooking method, pack some serious tangy-smoky-citrusy flavor into the meat. After being pressure cooked in the Instant Pot and shredded, you’ll pop the meat under the broiler and broil until it begins to crisp up on the edges. You’ll find yourself going back to this recipe again and again!

Instant Pot Carnitas shredded

How to Cook Pork Carnitas in the Instant Pot

The secret to getting divine Instant Pot Carnitas is cooking the pork just right.

After testing hundreds of recipes for our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, I’m pretty convinced that a pork roast (also known as a pork shoulder or pork butt) is one of the best cuts of meat to cook in the Instant Pot.

  1. Cut the pork into 4 equal pieces. Pat dry and rub seasoning over each piece.
  2. Cook in the Instant Pot.
  3. Transfer meat to a cutting board and shred. Broil the shredded meat

It’s worth noting that we’ve tested pork in the Instant Pot a lot of different ways and found that pork roast cooks best in the Instant Pot when it is cut into a few pieces. In all of our Instant Pot pork recipes, we instruct you to cut it into four equal pieces. Not only does this make the cooking time go faster, but the meat gets more evenly cooked and shreds very easily. This is especially true when cooking pork roast from frozen!

Pork shoulder cooked in an Instant Pot

How Long do I Cook a Pork Shoulder in the Instant Pot?

If making a pork shoulder in the Instant Pot, you’ll want to cook it at high pressure for 45 minutes with a 10 minute natural release.

If you want to know how long to cook other cuts of meat, I’d strongly encourage you to download and print off our Instant Pot Cooking Times Chart. Tape it up in your pantry for future reference. You can thank us later. 

Can I make Carnitas is the Crock Pot? What About a Dutch Oven?

You bet! We have all of the instructions written up for you in this post.

The Perfect Instant Pot Freezer Meal

As if our Instant Pot Pork Carnitas weren’t good enough, I have even better news. They make an amazing Instant Pot Freezer Meal. Simply doubling the recipe and freezing a portion before cooking it will set you up for an incredibly easy dinner down the road.

Here are some great tips on making Instant Pot freezer meals if you want to learn more on that. We also have a printable Instant Pot Cooking Times Chart that would be helpful for anyone who uses their pressure cooker regularly.

Pork Carnitas as a freezer meal

How Serve with Pork Carnitas

  • One of the beauties of this meal is that it can be easily customized and served in so many different ways. That’s why I love this meal as one for large groups. Here are some ideas:
  • Change up taco night by using this filling instead of ground beef.
  • Top a leafy green salad with it and other toppings like roasted fresh corn shaved off the cob, diced bell peppers, red onion, and crunched up tortilla chips.
  • Throw this shredded pork in a quesadilla or on top of a “burrito bowl” with brown rice, beans, and your favorite Mexican toppings.

So many options! I personally almost always serve it with our Avocado Lime Salsa.

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas in wraps
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Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas

  • Author: Polly
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1012 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Seasoned, marinaded pork roast gets cooked in the Instant Pot and then broiled until crispy in this easy, freezer friendly, and delicious recipe for a crowd.


Ingredients

  • 12 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (4–5 pounds) pork shoulder (also known as pork butt or Boston butt), trimmed of excess fat 
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup lime juice* (juice of about 4 limes)
  • 3/4 cup orange juice* (juice of about 3 oranges)
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • chopped cilantro (optional for garnishing)

*Freshly squeezed is the best!


Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Turn on Saute function and heat the oil.  Saute the onion just until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper while it cooks. Stir in the garlic during the last 30-60 seconds. Press “Cancel”. 
  2. In a small bowl, combine the oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. 
  3. On a cutting board, cut the roast into 4 or 5 equal pieces. Pat the roast dry with paper towels and then rub the seasoning all over each piece. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  4. Add the seasoned meat, lime juice, orange juice, and hot sauce into the Instant Pot. 
  5. Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 45 minutes at high pressure. Naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes (or more if you prefer) and then use a quick release.
  6. Remove the pork to a cutting board, and shred with two forks.
  7. Preheat the broiler. Broil the meat on a rimmed baking sheet for 3 minutes. Using tongs, turn the meat over and spoon about ¼ cup of the juices from the Instant Pot over the meat. Broil another 3 to 4 minutes, or until the edges of the meat start to crisp up and turn brown. Remove from the oven and spoon another ¼ cup of the juices over the cooked pork.
  8. Serve immediately in tacos, burritos, or salads, or enjoy a la carte. If serving in a corn tortilla, we suggest topping with diced avocado, pico de gallo, Cojita cheese crumbles, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges. If serving on a salad, use those same toppings and try our Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette as the dressing.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-3. Place the onion/garlic mixture, seasoned pork, lime juice, orange juice, hot sauce into a gallon-sized freezer bag or round freezer container. Seal and freeze. Tip: Set the freezer bag in a bowl in the freezer for a few hours to help it freeze in the shape of the pressure cooker.

Prepare From Frozen: Turn on Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. Follow Steps 5-8, except cook at high pressure for 45-50 minutes with a natural release for 10 minutes and then a quick release. (The frozen meat will cook approximately the same amount of time as from fresh.

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas in wraps

Make sure to swing by and check out our other Instant Pot recipes.

Instant Pot 4-Ingredient Chicken Drumsticks

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Instant Pot Chicken Drumsticks couldn’t be easier or tastier with this 4 ingredient recipe. Make them fresh or from frozen. All ages love these!

seasoned chicken drumsticks in an Instant Pot with chicken broth

Some affiliate links are within this post.

Why Chicken Drumsticks in the Instant Pot are the Bomb

Like some of you, I’m a work-at-home mom with three kids who are schooling virtually right now. We are 8 months into this routine and I’m honestly so tired of cooking every meal. (Yes, even food bloggers/cookbook authors can say that!)

cooked chicken drumsticks on a plate with broccoli and mashed potatoes

That’s why I am obsessed with this super simple recipe that:

  • Requires only 4 pantry ingredients to season the drumsticks. (Boom!)
  • Can be doubled and a second batch frozen for later to save time. (See our freezing instructions below.)
  • Is gluten-free and dairy-free.
  • Leaves amazing homemade chicken broth in the cooker when you’re done, which you can freeze for later.
  • Everyone in the family enjoys! (This only happens every 30.3 meals, it feels like.)

Plus, making these chicken drumsticks in the Instant Pot, in particular, results in fall-apart tender and moist chicken on the bone. With a few minutes under the broiler at the end, you’ll have crispy and perfectly seasoned dinner ready to go in no time.

Ingredients You’ll Need

So…”what is the secret mix of 4 pantry seasonings you need to bring bland drumsticks to life?” you ask. I’ll tell ya…

raw chicken drumsticks and seasonings

We use a blend of seasonings that Polly’s mom (Janny) used regularly to prepare chicken-on-the-bone for her family while growing up. We had a hunch Janny’s salty-savory mix was the right blend for our chicken drumsticks. After several tests by us and our cookbook testing team–who still rave about this recipe–we were right!

Here is the 4-ingredient seasoning line-up:

  1. Garlic Salt
  2. Onion Salt
  3. Celery Salt
  4. Poultry Seasoning

Keep these on hand and use the same blend for all cuts of chicken or even pork, too. In addition, you’ll need a little chicken broth in the Instant Pot to help create the steam necessary to build pressure.

seasoned chicken drumsticks on a cutting board

How to Make Instant Pot Chicken Drumsticks

Watch this 1 minute video to see how easy it is to make drumsticks in your electric pressure cooker…

cooked chicken drumsticks on a serving platter with broccoli

How to Make This Recipe Into a Freezer Meal

When you combine the magical powers of the Instant Pot AND freezer cooking, you practically set yourself up for hands-free cooking. That’s because you can dump your frozen meal directly in the Instant Pot and cook it from frozen!

chicken drumsticks in a freezer bag

Freeze for Later: Follow step 1. Place the seasoned chicken and the broth in a gallon-size freezer bag or round container (try not stack the drumsticks in the bag/container as much as possible; instead, place them side by side). Seal and freeze (if using a freezer bag, set it in a bowl or round container with a diameter similar to the Instant Pot so it will fit in the pot when frozen.

Prepare From Frozen: Set the Instant Pot to “Sauté.” Transfer the frozen meal to the pot and cook for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press “Cancel.” Follow step 2, but cook for 17 to 22 minutes. Follow steps 3 and 4.

We sound like a broken record, but doubling and freezing a batch is such a wise use of your time! Read more about how to make Instant Pot Freezer Meals here or see all of our Freezer Meal recipes here.

What to Serve with Instant Pot Chicken Drumsticks

Next up is figuring out what to serve with these crispy drumsticks. We recommend going simple and kid-friendly. Try some of these favorites…

Creamy Mashed Potatoes (in the Instant Pot)

Oven Roasted Broccoli

Sweet and Savory Roasted Carrots

sweet and savory roasted carrots in a bowl

Bottom Line: Whether you want a healthy, kid-friendly dinner or a freezer meal on hand for later, we think you’ll love the simplicity of these Instant Pot 4-Ingredient Chicken Drumsticks!

cooked chicken drumsticks on a plate with broccoli and mashed potatoes
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seasoned chicken drumsticks in instant pot

Instant Pot 4-Ingredient Chicken Drumsticks

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings (2 drumsticks per serving) 1x
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Just 4 pantry seasonings plus a few minutes in the Instant Pot and and under the broiler turns out perfectly seasoned, crispy drumsticks that the whole family will love. Make them fresh or from frozen. 


Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks
  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth (or water)

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the garlic salt, onion salt, celery salt, and poultry seasoning. Rub the seasoning all over the drumsticks. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Transfer the seasoned drumsticks to the Instant Pot and pour in the broth. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 12 minutes, then quick release the pressure. (Check to make sure the chicken is done. It should register 165°F internally.)
  3. Position the top oven rack about 6 inches below the broiler. Preheat the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  4. Use tongs to place the drumsticks on the prepared baking sheet; discard any liquid remaining in the pot (or save it to use as homemade chicken broth later). Broil the chicken until the skin is browned and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

Freeze for Later: Follow step 1. Place the seasoned chicken and the broth in a gallon-size freezer bag or round container (try not stack the drumsticks in the bag/container as much as possible; instead, place them side by side). Seal and freeze (if using a freezer bag, set it in a bowl or round container with a diameter similar to the Instant Pot so it will fit in the pot when frozen.

Prepare From Frozen: Set the Instant Pot to “Sauté.” Transfer the frozen meal to the pot and cook for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press “Cancel.” Follow step 2, but cook for 17 to 22 minutes. Follow steps 3 and 4.

 

Want More Easy Freezer Meal Recipes?

Make sure to snag our Top 10 Easy Freezer Meals. You can download this, print it off, and have it for future reference when looking for great freezer meals.

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The BEST Instant Pot Vegetable Soup {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This Instant Pot Vegetable Soup is filled to the brim with hearty vegetables, black beans, and barley. It provides the nutrition you need this winter to boost your immune system and fight off sickness plus amazing taste that will make you want to lick the bowl clean.

Why is this the very best Instant Pot Vegetable Soup, you ask?

For starters, you’ll slurp up the very best healthy, vegetable-based foods that are filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and more PLUS enjoy incredible taste in one bowl. I have a hard time stopping eating this soup…but, hey, that’s not a bad problem to have when it’s this good for you! I love that it’s filling and will satisfy even the meat-lover in your life. (I’m looking at you, hubs).

The Best Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

You’ll begin building flavor with the classic combination of sautéed onions, celery, carrots, and garlic, which you’ll season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. The red pepper adds a hint of heat in the background that helps to clear the sinuses. (At the end, you’ll stir in kale, which melts into the soup adding the nutritional powerhouse of greens but not adversely affecting the taste.)

The Best Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

Then, you’ll throw in vegetable broth (I prefer organic) and fire-roasted tomatoes into the Instant Pot. Fire-roasted tomatoes are my go-to type in soups, because they have a notably more complex flavor than just regular ole diced tomatoes. They add in Vitamin C, fiber, and are an excellent source of the antioxidant lycopene, which is shown to help lower the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and macular degeneration (poor eyesight as you get older). Whoop-whoop!

The Best Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

Heartiness and fiber comes from the black beans and barley in this vegetable soup. At the store, look for pearl barley, which is one of the cheapest whole grains you can find. I found it in the bulk bin in the health food section. The barley holds its texture well in the soup, which surprised me the first time I tested this. It’s does much better than pasta or orzo, which can get mushy pretty quickly. I am officially a pearl barley fan.

The Best Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

Lastly, bay leaves and the coveted Parmesan rind (the outside edge of a Parmesan wedge) take this brothy soup to new horizons. Vegans can omit the optional Parmesan rind, but it sure adds depth to the soup that’s hard to replicate. Just ask the cheese counter to cut you off a piece of rind, if you don’t want to invest in a wedge. Mine was less than $2.

The Best Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

Time to fill your pot and get cooking the BEST Instant Pot vegetable soup, in my humble opinion. Bonus: you can freeze this soup in small quantities after it’s done to warm up for quick, healthy lunches in the future, too.

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The Best Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

The BEST Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 19 minutes
  • Total Time: 24 minutes
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Instant Pot Vegetable Soup is filled to the brim with hearty vegetables, black beans, and barley. It provides the nutrition you need this winter to boost your immune system and fight off sickness plus amazing taste that will make you want to lick the bowl clean.


Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 34 celery ribs, sliced
  • 34 medium carrots, sliced
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 quart (32 ounces) all-natural vegetable broth (sub: chicken broth)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can petite diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ⅓ cup pearl barley (sub: 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
  • 12 bay leaves
  • 1 (2-3 inch) Parmesan rind*
  • 23 cups chopped kale, packed (sub: chopped baby spinach)
  • Optional Toppings: grated Parmesan cheese*, fresh chopped parsley

*omit if making a Dairy-Free version


Instructions

  1. Turn on the Saute function and heat the oil. Saute the onions, celery, and carrots, stirring frequently, until the vegetables softened, about 5-7 minutes. Season with kosher salt and black pepper, to taste, as they cook. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes the last 30-60 seconds.
  2. Add the broth, tomatoes, beans, barley, bay, and Parm rind, and stir to combine.(Option 1 freezing instructions begin here.) 
  3. Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 7 minutes at high pressure and use a quick release when done. Remove the bay leaves and Parm rind (or leave the rind to add more flavor as it sits, if you want). 
  4. Stir in the kale and let it sit for about 3-5 minutes, until softened. Taste and adjust salt and pepper amounts, to taste. 
  5. Serve warm in individual bowls, and top with Parmesan cheese and parsley as desired.

Freeze For Later:

Method 1 (Before Cooking): Follow Steps 1-2. Transfer the uncooked soup to a gallon-sized freezer bag or round container. Seal and freeze. Tip: Place freezer bag in a bowl until frozen to freeze in the shape of the Instant Pot.

Method 2 (After Cooking): You can also fully cook this soup, freeze in small portions for individual meals, and rewarm in the microwave or stove top. Or you can fully cook it, freeze the whole recipe in a round container or freezer bag. Tip: Place the freezer bag in a round container in the freezer until it freezes in the shape of the Instant Pot.

Prepare From Frozen:

Method 1 (Before Cooking): Turn on the Sauté function. Sauté the frozen soup for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 12-15 minutes at high pressure and use a quick release. Follow Steps 4-5.

Method 2 (After Cooking):

For individual portions, thaw and warm up the soup in the microwave or on the stovetop.

For an entire frozen batch, drop the frozen soup block in the Instant Pot and saute for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Then, lock and seal the lid and cook at high pressure for 5 minutes with a quick release. 

How to Make Instant Pot Freezer Meals

By Polly Conner

Prepping meals in bulk and cooking them from frozen in the Instant Pot is the ultimate time-saver. If you can master the art (and yes, it is an art!) of Instant Pot freezer meals, your dinnertime hour will be revolutionized. We have truly pioneered this space of cooking and are thrilled to share everything we’ve learned on our journey so far. 

Freezer Meal and Instant Pot

To make this easy to digest, we’ve chosen to break it down into two parts:

1. How to Prepare Freezer Meals for the Instant Pot

2. How to Cook Freezer Meals in the Instant Pot

How to Make Instant Pot Freezer Meals

Tips on How to Prepare Freezer Meals for the Instant Pot

  • Find the right recipes. Most recipes that can be made in the slow cooker will work great in the Instant Pot. The difference is, the 6 quart Instant Pot needs at least 1 cup of liquid for the contraption to work. If you have a freezer meal recipe that doesn’t have 1 cup of liquid, we recommend adding water or stock to the Instant Pot before cooking it.
  • Freeze your meals in a circular form. While many are accustomed to freezing meals in a nice flat square shaped freezer bag, this shape won’t work when trying to cook a freezer meal in the Instant Pot. It simply won’t fit. My preferred method is to freeze the meal in a zip top freezer bag, and place the meal in a bowl (or something that is a round shape). After it’s frozen, I snatch my bowl back and leave the meal in the freezer. Then when you want to make your meal, it’ll plop right into that Instant Pot!
  • If possible, don’t stack your meat when freezing. We have learned this the hard way. Because the Instant Pot cooks so fast, if meat (especially fast cooking boneless chicken) is stacked, it’s really hard for it all to cook evenly. The outside gets WAY done and the instant remains pink as a pig. (Is that a phrase? It is now.)
  • Large cuts of meat should be cut into small pieces. We’re talking pork shoulders and beef roasts. Kind of that same concept above but in order for meat to cook evenly, it’s better if it’s not in one big chunk. We recommend quartering our pork shoulders and cutting our chuck roasts into 2 inch cubes. It’s some work on the front end but worth it. Chicken breast and thighs seem to do fine as they are.

Freezer meal in front of an Instant Pot

How to Cook Freezer Meals in the Instant Pot

  • Sauté the meal for 5 minutes before cooking. One trick that we have learned about cooking a freezer meal in the Instant Pot is to let the frozen meal simmer for about 5 minutes. Simply turn on the sauté function, place the meal in there and let it do its dang thing. The point of this is to release some liquid from the frozen meal which will help the Instant Pot come to pressure more quickly.
  • Allow extra time to come to pressure. I’ve found that freezer meals take almost twice as long to come to pressure than a thawed meal does. Make sure you allow for that time when prepping or you’ll have a hangry family.
  • Add extra time to cooking (sometimes). I wish there is a one size fits all pattern to freezer meal cooking times in the Instant Pot this but the trend but there just isn’t. One trend we see is that the longer it takes a meal to come to pressure, the less additional time you need to add to cook a frozen meal. It seems counterintuitive, I know. You’ll just have to trust us on this one.  So for example, in our recipes for a large batch of soup, we don’t add any additional cooking time when cooking from frozen. On the flip side, we add 10+ minutes to a small chicken recipe. It’s counterintuitive but our tests have confirmed the theory over and over again.

Our Freezer Meal Instant Pot Cooking Times Chart will come out on Wednesday. Stay tuned!

Ready to get started? Swing by and browse all of our Instant Pot recipes in our recipe index. Also, make sure to sign up for our email list so you’ll be alerted when our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker: 75+ Freezer Meals for Slow Cooker and Electric Pressure Cooker releases.