How All-In-One Cookers Can Help in the Kitchen
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Published on January 02, 2018

instant pot

How All-In-One Cookers Can Help in the Kitchen

Millions received the multi-function “Instant Pot” and various versions of this kitchen device as gifts this holiday season. Offering versatility not found elsewhere, Instant Pots offer warming, pressure- and slow-cooking, rice preparation – even make-your-own yogurt settings.

If an Instant Pot was under your tree this Christmas, you may be wondering just how to use it.

We sought some expert perspective from Avera Heart Hospital Registered Dietitian Lauren Cornay, RD, LN, who offered these tips for getting the most from your new mealtime multi-tool.

You MUST read the manual: Cornay said there’s a complexity in the device that makes reading its manual a must-do. Like many things in life, give yourself some time before you get too creative. “There’s certainly a learning curve, and for some of its more robust features, you’ll want to know what you’re doing before you dive in,” said Cornay. “It’s helpful, but mastery of its use will take some practice.”

It’s a great addition: The team that devised the Instant Pot did so with one goal in mind: nutrition. “In several interviews, they noted that people who cook want to do so in a healthy way, but that they more often than not say they don’t have time,” she said. “This machine allows you to cook at low, slow settings while you’re at work, or at rapid pressure-cooking settings when you get home. So the inventors were certainly listening to the time-crunched among us – and who doesn’t want to save time?”

Consider volume as well as features: Some versions of this appliance have seven to nine uses or settings. So first consider how you might use it and then shop, she said. “The larger 8- and 10-quart ones are great if you do a lot of entertaining, but for a single person or a couple, they’re more than likely unnecessary,” she said. “The features are similar – do you really plan to make your own yogurt? If so, then splurge. If not, get one that has the features you’ll mostly use.”

Consider the health benefits: From-scratch cooking scares many of us because it’s time consuming, and that’s what these machines offer – huge cuts in prep time. “I’ve joked with clients about dried beans – much cheaper to buy, great economic and nutrition choice – but they take hours of time to rinse and soak. Not with these devices,” Cornay said. “You can cut the salt and processing out and do it yourself in just minutes. I’ve seen many quick-soak bean recipes with the Instant Pot.”

Deep well of meal choices: Not only do the founders of Instant Pot offer copious recipes along with the device, the Internet is chockful of them. “This machine is hot and the recipes will just keep coming and coming, with more innovations and more healthy choices,” she said. “You can always tweak them to reduce sugar or salt, personalize them to your taste.”

Instant Pot Salsa Chicken


  • 2 chicken breasts boneless, skinless (about 1-11/2 pounds)
  • Mexican seasoning chili, taco or fajita seasoning
  • 1 cup salsa your preference


  1. Season the chicken breasts by generously sprinkling seasoning (or other Mexican spice mix) on both sides.
  2. Place the chicken breasts directly on the bottom of inner pot of the Instant Pot. Spread the salsa over the top of the chicken.
  3. Cook on ‘Manual’ high pressure setting for 10 minutes.
  4. At the end of the cooking time, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure.
  5. Use tongs to transfer the cooked chicken breasts to a bowl and use 2 forks to shred the chicken while adding some of the cooking liquid back in to moisten the chicken. Tip: to shred chicken super quickly, use a hand or stand mixer.
  6. Use the shredded chicken in your favorite casseroles, freeze for later use, or simply add to corn tortillas with some avocado, cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice for a quick meal. Enjoy!

Adapted by Lauren Cornay, RD, LN, from

Quick Soaking Dry Beans


  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup beans
  • 1 teaspoon salt optional


  1. Place water, beans and salt into the Instant Pot.
  2. Set Instant Pot to Manual and cook for 2-8 minutes at pressure.
  3. Once time is up, slow release the pressure from the Instant Pot.
  4. Strain, rinse and drain the beans.
  5. You are now able to use these beans in any recipe at normal cooking time! Note: You can double, triple, or half this recipe as long as you keep the ratio of beans to water at 1:4.

Adapted by Lauren Cornay, RD, LN, from


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