The Instant Pot Turns Lazy Cooks Into Amazing Chefs

 by Arthur Bovino

For people whose job, exercise regimen and social life leave little time for gourmet cooking, the Instant Pot is a shining beacon of hope. In addition to everything [slow cookers]( do, Instant Pots pressure-cook, saute, steam and more.


For people whose job, exercise regimen and social life leave little time for gourmet cooking, the Instant Pot is a shining beacon of hope. In addition to everything slow cookers do, Instant Pots pressure-cook, saute, steam and more. Not to mention, they cut cooking time by up to 70 percent.

Less time, more versatility, fewer pans — what's not to love? Oh, and you know those taste compounds typically lost during cooking? They get sealed inside to make your food taste even better. No wonder 2 million have sold since the appliance launched in 2010.

Health Benefits of Instant Pots

But here's something even Instant Pot owners may not know: Food made in an Instant Pot is also thought to be healthier, eliminating cancer-causing compounds produced by grilling and frying. And, according to food scientist Kantha Shelke, Ph.D., it also makes "high-protein foods like beans and meats more digestible," making it easier for your body to absorb nutrients from those foods.

From under-an-hour baby back ribs to risotto with mushrooms, asparagus and peas, here are 10 healthy and tasty Instant Pot meals that require little more than pushing a few buttons.

1. Lime and Mint Shredded Instant Pot Lamb

Though leg of lamb is naturally succulent, pressure-cooking it makes the meat fall-off-the-bone tender. Leg of lamb is also one of the leanest cuts of the animal, coming in at 150 to 170 calories and three grams of saturated fat per 3-ounce serving. Pair it with a simple dipping sauce made of lime juice and mint to add a touch of brightness and eliminate the gaminess sometimes associated with the meat. It's delicious served with couscous, quinoa, rice or fresh greens in a healthy wrap.

Recipe & Nutritional Info: Lime and Mint Shredded Instant Pot Lamb

2. Healthy Instant Pot Carnitas

Carnitas aren't typically associated with healthy or quick cooking. After all, this popular dish from western Mexico is made by braising pork shoulder in lard for hours. Here, we've swapped shoulder for tenderloin, which cuts a 3-ounce portion from 168 to 93 calories. Three-quarters of those calories come from protein, which is essential for providing energy, creating hormones and the maintenance of your body tissue. While nothing can replace the richness of lard, pressure-cooking tenderizes the loin and amps up flavor.

Recipe & Nutritional Info: Healthy Instant Pot Carnitas

3. Instant Pot Turkey Bolognese

This bolognese recipe from renowned Italian cookbook author Marcella Harzan may be the gold standard, but with ingredients like vegetable oil, butter, wine and whole milk, it's not the healthiest sauce you can twirl pasta in. This recipe swaps in low-fat milk and omits wine, oil and butter (reducing the total calorie count by almost 550) and swaps in turkey for the ground beef, which means less saturated fat. Using Instant Pot's "Saute" setting adds flavor to the turkey and vegetables, and pressure-cooking keeps the meat moist and savory.

Recipe & Nutritional Info: Instant Pot Turkey Bolognese

4. Instant Pot Spring Risotto

Risotto usually means standing over the stove for 20 minutes, constantly stirring and adding stock. Well, look, ma! No hands! With an Instant Pot, all you have to do is hit "Saute," cook the onions, then stir for two minutes to coat the rice before pressure-cooking. Dried porcinis infuse a truffle-like pungency without the expense, and green peas bring spring flavor and help with daily fiber needs. Lastly, nutritionally rich asparagus adds potassium, folic acid, vitamin B-6, thiamine and fiber, helping to form red blood cells and assisting with protein metabolism and cell growth.

Recipe & Nutritional Info: Instant Pot Risotto With Dried Mushrooms, Asparagus, Peas and Spring Onions

5. Instant Pot Spaghetti Squash With Spicy Chicken

At seven grams of carbs per cup, spaghetti squash is a great substitute for high-carb, high-calorie pasta (43 grams per cup). It also provides nearly 10 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C. But cooking spaghetti squash usually means waiting an hour for it to bake. Not to worry, Instant Pot achieves the same effect in five minutes. This riff on a popular spaghetti dish served at the New York restaurant Porsena adds spicy chicken sausage and cancer-fighting mustard greens to satisfy all of your pasta cravings.

Recipe & Nutritional Info: Instant Pot Spaghetti Squash With Spicy Chicken Sausage and Mustard Greens

6. Instant Pot Cauliflower Soup With White Beans and Lemon

Cauliflower is rich in vitamin C and potassium and high in glucosinolates, a sulfur-containing compound that activates the body's detox system and may prevent some cancers. Plus, its mild flavor makes it a blank canvas, so you can spice it up with your favorite ingredients. Here you'll use protein-rich white beans and lemon (imagine a vegetable version of Greek avgolemono soup, but without egg yolks or orzo). And while this recipe requires finishing in the blender, it still takes less than 20 minutes to cook!

Recipe & Nutritional Info: Instant Pot Cauliflower Soup With White Beans and Lemon

7. Tagine-Style Instant Pot Chicken With Lemon, Green Olives and Garlic

There's a reason so many other proteins "taste like chicken": It lacks flavor. To add a kick, this recipe uses traditional Moroccan tagine ingredients, pairing chicken with green olives, garlic and lemons to add brightness and depth. Chicken is a low-fat source of protein (a 3-ounce serving contains 27 grams) with less cholesterol and saturated (bad) fat than other meats. It's also nutrient-rich, containing vitamin B-6 for insulin production and metabolism of carbs and protein, vitamin B-3 for converting carbs to energy, and selenium, a cancer-fighting antioxidant.

Recipe & Nutritional Info: Tagine-Style Instant Pot Chicken With Lemon, Green Olives and Garlic

8. Instant Pot Swedish Meatballs

Just admit it, you're not at IKEA to pick up a Billy bookcase or any other piece of furniture. You're there for the Swedish meatballs made with butter, milk and heavy cream, accompanied by lingonberry sauce at 35 calories per tablespoon. This is a healthier take on Instant Pot's own meatball recipes. It substitutes fat-free half-and-half for butter and milk and swaps in fresh raspberries (64 calories per cup!) in place of jam. Serving easy, quick-pickled cucumbers on the side adds freshness and cuts through the creamy sauce.

Recipe & Nutritional Info: Instant Pot Swedish Meatballs

9. Under-an-Hour Instant Pot BBQ Baby Back Ribs With Vinegar Slaw

You want your baby back, baby back, baby back ribs — but not so badly that you're willing to fire up the grill or wait for them to cook in the oven for three hours. Instant Pot does delicious, fall-off-the-bone ribs in 20 minutes. And while baby backs aren't lean (three ribs come in at 280 calories), if you limit your daily fat intake, they're a good source of protein, vitamin B, selenium and zinc. Feeling fancy? The Instant Pot staff suggests a teaspoon of liquid smoke for a fresh-off-the-barbie effect.

Recipe & Nutritional Info: Under-an-House Instant Pot BBQ Baby Back Ribs With Vinegar Slaw

10. Instant Pot Jambalaya

This traditional Louisiana dish has a list of ingredients as long as a Mardi Gras parade, but preparing it is as easy as seasoning and cooking the proteins, sauteing its "holy trinity" of vegetables (onion, celery and pepper) and cooking the rice. Here we use brown rice, which has six times as much fiber as white rice, to help you feel full. Fiber also lowers high blood pressure and cholesterol, decreasing your risk of heart disease. Lastly, use chicken andouille for a healthier alternative to pork sausage.

Recipe & Nutritional Info: Instant Pot Jambalaya

What Do YOU Think?

Do you have an Instant Pot? What's your favorite Instant Pot recipe? Share in the comments section.

Read more: 9 Simple Slow Cooker Recipes for When You Can't Even


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