Did you know that slow cooker recipes are really easy to convert to the pressure cooker?
As long as you keep a few basic rules in mind – like how much liquid to use and how to adjust the cooking time – turning your favorite all-day slow cooker recipe into a 30-minute pressure cooker special is straightforward and simple.
Yes, Pressure Cookers Are Safe!
In the past, you may have heard stories of pressure cookers being difficult or scary to use. There’s no need to be scared of pressure cooking these days, though!
The electric ones are safe, quiet, and easy to operate. They basically work like slow cookers, except everything happens much, much faster.
How Does a Pressure Cooker Work?
When you lock the pressure cooker’s lid in place and begin cooking, pressure builds up inside the pot as the food heats and liquids turn into steam. Once the pot reaches the proper pressure for cooking, a valve in the top of the pot pops up. This prevents any more steam from escaping the pot and closes the seal on the MultiPot.
This valve also acts as a safety mechanism, making it impossible to open the pot while it’s under pressure. Additionally, sensors inside the housing of the pot detect when to raise and lower the heat to maintain the correct pressure as the food cooks so you never have to worry about too much (or too little) pressure building inside the pot.
Once cooking is done, you can allow the pressure to gradually decrease on its own (which can take up to a half an hour), or you can hit the "quick release valve" and release the steam instantly. Some recipes are better with a natural release, and others can be quick-released – more on that below.
One of the major differences between slow cookers and pressure cookers is that with a pressure cooker, the pot is completely sealed. The high pressure created within this sealed pot helps cook food much more quickly than in a slow cooker!
How to Convert Slow Cooker Recipes to the Pressure Cooker
With all of this in mind, here are a few tips and tricks to help you successfully convert your slow cooker favorites into speedy MultiPot meals.
1. When to Decrease the Amount of Liquid
Since pressure cookers seal up during cooking, they don’t let a lot of moisture evaporate out of the pot or the food. This means that stews and braises require a little bit less water than they do when made in the slow cooker.
Take, for instance, Elise’s recipe for Slow Cooker Guinness Beef Stew. When we converted it for the pressure cooker, we decreased the liquid by quite a bit (2 1/2 cups instead of 5). This way, the stew turned out nice and thick, even without much evaporation, and it took half as much time to make, too.
2. When to Increase the Amount of Liquid
You’ll also need to add liquid to a slow cooker recipe if it doesn’t have any to begin with! For a 6-quart pressure cooker, the general rule is to use at least a cup of liquid, though you can sometimes get away with a little less if you’re using ingredients that you know will release a lot of liquid as they cook.
For instance, when converting Slow Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork to Pressure Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork, we added 3/4 cup of pineapple juice. The pork releases enough additional liquid as it cooks to ensure proper cooking overall.
When you’re converting a slow cooker recipe, also keep in mind ingredients that absorb lots of water (like grains) or thicken the cooking liquid (like tomato paste). It’s important to include enough liquid in your recipe so it can properly come up to a rolling boil.
Tomato paste is a particularly big one to watch out for -- since it’s concentrated, it thickens up liquids really quickly! For every tablespoon of tomato paste you use in a recipe, make sure there’s at least 3/4 cup of liquid, such as water or broth
3. Adjusting the Cooking Time
Foods cook much more quickly in the MultiPot than they would in a slow cooker, so you need to adjust the cooking time of recipes accordingly.
There are lots of time charts online for how long to cook different ingredients in a pressure cooker. We like Mealthy’s Cheat Sheet, since it’s really concise and includes a lot of foods we cook often.
A good rule of thumb is to determine the ingredient that takes the longest amount of cooking, and set the pressure cooker based on that. For our beef stew, the stew meat is the ingredient with the longest cooking time. We chose to set the cooking time for 30 minutes, resulting in meat that’s fork-tender without being so soft that it falls apart completely.
4. When to Do a Natural Pressure Release vs. Quick Release
You can let the pressure release from your MultiPot really fast by moving its release valve to the “Venting” position manually, or just let the pot cool down and depressurize on its own. In pressure cooker speak, these two methods are commonly referred to as “quick release” or “natural release.”
It’s safe to do a quick release if the pot is less than half full, and doesn’t include any foods that have a tendency to foam up or expand a lot. It’s safer to let the pressure release naturally if you’ve got a really full pot, or if the recipe includes foods that tend to expand or foam up, like grains and beans.
In our recipe for Pressure Cooker Baked Beans (converted from our recipe for Slow Cooked Baked Beans), we let the pressure release naturally. The combination of the thick cooking liquid and beans is a double whammy, so you want to be extra careful and wait for the pot to release pressure on its own. This ensures that you won’t end up with a spattered mess, and it helps the beans cook through very evenly, too!
5. Move the Dairy to the End of a Recipe
This is a big one! So many slow cooker recipes are cheesy or creamy, but in a pressure cooker, dairy tends to curdle, scorch, or spurt out the pressure valve. When making creamy or cheesy recipes, wait until the pressure has fully released before stirring in dairy ingredients or melting cheese melt on top.
The one exception to this rule is pot-in-pot recipes, where you’re actually cooking the food in a separate pan that rests on top of a steam rack inside the pot, with water underneath (see image, below). The dairy never comes in contact with the bottom of the pot, so you don’t have to worry about scorching. One example of this is our Pressure Cooker Cheesecake, which cooks inside the pressure cooker in a springform pan.
6. What to Do with Rice and Pasta
Did you know you can cook both rice and pasta under pressure?! This saves tons of water, especially for pasta!
For pasta in the MultiPot, use a 1:2 ratio (by weight) to determine how much water or broth to add. For instance, a pound of macaroni requires a quart of liquid.
For grains, you can refer to that cheat sheet mentioned above.
7. Adding Last Minute Ingredients
Some slow cooker recipes require adding ingredients like frozen peas, canned beans, or fresh herbs near the end of cooking. You can do the same thing with the MultiPot.
Once the pressure has released, just open the pot and stir in the ingredients.
If the ingredients need to be warmed up before you serve the dish, press “Cancel” to reset the cooking program, then select the “Sauté” program -- just like you can use this MultiPot feature to brown or sear ingredients at the beginning of a recipe, you can also use it after cooking under pressure, too. When the food is ready, press “Cancel” to turn off the pot.
We hope these tips are helpful and make cooking MultiPot meals a total breeze. Let us know what slow cooker recipes you’d love to see made in an electric pressure cooker here!
Curious About the Mealthy MultiPot? Check It Out Here!
And Take a Look at These Great Recipes From Mealthy!
- Mealthy's Pressure Cooker Pork Carnitas
- Mealthy's Pressure Cooker Butternut Squash Soup
- Mealthy's Pressure Cooker Beef & Barley Stew
- Mealthy's Pressure Cooker Starbucks Copycat Sous Vide Egg Bites
- Mealthy's Pressure Cooker Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes