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How to Adapt Crockpot Freezer Meals for an Instant Pot

Instant Pots are the rage right now because they cook food FAST.  Everyone is busy and needs an easy way to get a healthy meal on the table.  Readers asked us for years to convert our crockpot recipes for the pressure cooker, so I’m here to do that today and answer all of your questions.

How to Adapt Crockpot Freezer Meals for an Instant Pot

If you already know that you want to buy yourself an Instant Pot for Christmas, here is a link to the one we bought on Amazon.  It won’t cost you anything extra, but we earn a small commission for referring you.  Thank you for your support!

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE INSTANT POT ON AMAZON.COM AND BUY NOW

Now let’s get started…

What exactly is an Instant Pot?

An Instant Pot is a brand of pressure cooker.  The temperature inside a pressure cooker is raised beyond what can be done with a regular pot so food can be cooked much more quickly.  Not all pressure cookers are created equal, so I’m keeping this post focused on the one that I own, the 6-Quart Instant Pot.

The Instant Pot, 6-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker is a pressure cooker, slow cooker (yep, you read that right!), and rice cooker all in one.  It steams, it sautés, it warms, it does your laundry.  I’m kidding about that last one, but it really seems to do it all.

How to Adapt Crockpot Freezer Meals for an Instant Pot

Why should I buy one?

  1. The pressure cooker feature is perfect for nights that I forget to thaw a frozen meal or put something in my crockpot in the morning.
  2. The slow cooker feature turns the Instant Pot and its stainless steel insert into a crockpot.
  3. It cooks food very quickly. Even if I have a meal in my crockpot or oven, I can throw a in a veggie or rice and have the perfect side dish in minutes.
  4. It’s programmable! Just like your crockpot you can “set it & forget it”. It even has a timer and a keep warm function.
  5. Pressure cooking preserve 90-95% of vitamins in your vegetables by flash cooking.
  6. Pressure cooking uses less heat and less time, giving you an energy savings of 70% versus conventional cooking.
  7. It’s very versatile.  I will absolutely be making yogurt for my three year old yogurt monster!

Overall, I’m still super excited to have this appliance in my collection. Yes, it’s one more item taking up shelf space, BUT it does so many things!

It sounds too good to be true.  Are there any downsides to using an Instant Pot?

I’m not going to lie, this statement in the Instant Pot manual is a downer, “Be aware that certain foods, such as applesauce, cranberries, pearl barley, oatmeal or other cereals, split peas, noodles, macaroni, rhubarb, or spaghetti can foam, froth, and clog the pressure release device (the steam release handle). These food should not be cooked in a pressure cooker.” I was shocked. My sister-in-law’s pressure cooker mac n’ cheese is AMAZING and nowhere in her manual does it say not to use macaroni. I’m a little bit heartbroken…but I’m probably going to try a lot of these foods in my Instant Pot anyway…shh!

The only other downside is that the sheer number of features might make you feel overwhelmed at first, but hopefully this post will help you get started.  I recommend reading the owner’s manual and experimenting with a couple of recipes while you master your specific model.

How can I adapt my favorite crockpot recipes for the Instant Pot?

Most crockpot recipes do not need to be changed at all.  The only difference I found is that pressure cooker recipes require at least a cup of liquid.  If you don’t have a cup, your cooker will not produce enough pressure and your food will be undercooked. SO, if one of our recipes has less than a cup of liquid, make up the difference using water or broth.

How to Adapt Crockpot Freezer Meals for an Instant Pot

How long do the meals need to cook?

One of the things people love most about Instant Pots is how fast they cook.  A crockpot is low and slow, while a pressure cooker is high and fast! Most of our meals require cooking in the crockpot for 6-8 hours on low, this translate to 30 minutes in the pressure cooker, but don’t be fooled, you also need to allow 15-20 minutes for it to heat up and 15-20 minutes for the pressure to release.

Choose the setting that best relates to the main ingredient of the meal. For example, if you’re making our 5-Ingredient Crockpot Pot Roast, choose the meat/stew setting. For the Slow Cooker Sweet & Spicy BBQ Chicken, choose the poultry setting.

Can I cook my frozen crockpot meals in an Instant Pot?

You can put your meals in frozen, straight from the freezer, no thawing necessary. Yay!  Just run your freezer bag under hot water for a few seconds to loosen it up and slide it right in the pressure cooker.

If you decide to purchase an Instant Pot because of my tips, here is a link to the one I have from Amazon.  It won’t cost you anything extra, and we earn a small commission for referring you.  Thank you for your support!

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE INSTANT POT ON AMAZON.COM AND BUY NOW

P.S. This post was not paid for or sponsored by Instant Pot in any way.  Since so many readers asked us about converting crockpot recipes to the Instant Pot, we purchased one with New Leaf Wellness funds. That way I could review the product honestly without any pressure to sell it to you.  XOXO.

Thoughts or questions?  Have you tried an Instant Pot?  Please leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you. 


Jill Petrush Rogers is an artist and former bookbuyer/seller. Jill recently moved back to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA with her husband, Tom, and their two energy-filled boys. Jill loves to channel her creativity by coming up with recipes as a contributing writer for New Leaf Wellness.

18 Comments

  • Catherine says:

    Thank you for this article! I’ve just been content to use my Instant Pot on the slow cook function to prepare the freezer meals, but sometimes I don’t get the meal in the pot with enough time to cook 6 hours, so this is info is extremely helpful. On those occasions I’ve wondered if about using the pressure cook function to cook them but was too anxious to try it.

  • Jennifer says:

    I am one of the thousands who bought one on that amazon prime day. Talk about impulse purchase! It has become my most favorite kitchen appliance hands down. I’m excited to try crockpot meals in there too now. I love doing beans, rice, makes the best risotto!, frozen chicken breasts that cook in like 30 minutes…I could go on and on and I do to anyone who mentions an instant pot. I have read that the caution against the foods you mentioned is in doing a quick release rather than natural release. I would love the wonderful sister-in-law mac n’ cheese recipe as it is difficult to find vegetarian meals for the instant pot.

    • Jennifer, here it is 🙂

      1T olive oil
      1lb macaroni
      2 1/2 c water
      1/2 c heavy cream
      1 1/2 c grated cheddar cheese
      1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
      2oz cream cheese
      salt & pepper

      preheat pressure cooker
      add oil, pour in macaroni & coat, pour in water, lock lid in place
      pressure cook high for 6 minutes
      reduce pressure (they say with quick release, but I’m not sure if that’s a good idea for the Instant Pot)
      immediately add remaining ingredients & stir well

      Let me know if you try it. I’m sure I will!

  • Danielle says:

    So for a recipe that says it takes 30 minutes to cook I should really plan on an hour?

  • Amanda says:

    Woo hoo! This is on my Christmas List and I’m pretty certain I’ll be getting one. 😀 Can’t wait to make my lilfe easier!

  • Lauren Zingaro-Toth says:

    Oh so glad to see this post. I prefer the pressure cooker to the crock pot. I have a pressure cooker…not an instant pot. Ive never made a reciipe without directions for,the time. I have several of yiur recipes in my freezer. How can i figure out how long to put them in the pressure cooker for? Thanks, Lauren

    • Lauren, Does your pressure cooker have settings based on ingredients? For example a poultry setting for chicken dishes? If you can explain how your pressure cooker is set up, maybe I can brainstorm with you. I think the most important thing is that you have enough liquid in your meal.

      • Lauren Zingaro-Toth says:

        Hi Jill…..unfortunately, my pressure cooker does not have settings. It has a timer and you can adjust the pressure. Last night, I made your chicken philly sandwich recipe in the pressure cooker. I used the guidelines in the owners manual and added some extra time because it was frozen and it turned out great! There was plenty of liquid in this recipe so I didn’t add any more to it. But I imagine with some recipes, I may have to add some liquid. Any chance that you will create a freezer cooking guide for pressure cookers?!?! Thanks for your help! Lauren

  • Dharia says:

    thanks for this! i also got one and am wondering how to convert your vegetarian recipes to insant pot. coconut chickpea curry is my favorite, but i’m concerned about overcooking the peas. since veggies are so quick in the IP, i’m thinking it would only need a few minutes to get everything good and hot?

  • Laurie says:

    If I have a frozen chicken meal and I put it in frozen in the IP and select poultry, it will factor in the time for thawing, etc? Or do I need to add more time to it? Thanks for any advice you can give me on this.

  • Jessica says:

    I have and love the Instant Pot 6-quart 7-in-1 DUO, and had been wondering about cooking your freezer meals in it! But, your link is for the 7-in-1 DUO while your pictures are of the 6-in-1 LUX (and one of your links says “6-in-1” but takes me to the 7-in-1). All of that to say, if you have a 6-in-1 LUX it doesn’t have the yogurt setting; the DUO does.

  • Amita says:

    So, for some of your freezer meals like the black bean chile with cornbread crust – that should only take 30 min. in the instant pot versus 6-8 hours in crockpot?

    • Amita, yes but remember it will take time to get to pressure as well. I’ve never tried the cornbread in the pressure cooker, let me know how it turns out. I’m wondering if it will get soggy at all…

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