Wondering how to use the pot-in-pot method to cook in your pressure cooker? This tutorial will walk you through the whole pot-in-pot process—how to set it up and what equipment you’ll need, as well as tips for adapting recipes to cook pot-in-pot!
Have you tried pot-in-pot cooking yet? The pot-in-pot method (sometimes shortened to “PIP”) of cooking in the electric pressure cooker has several benefits!
- Cooking pot-in-pot lets you make a dish in the pressure cooker without dirtying the inner cooking pot, which is useful if you plan to use the pressure cooker again (for instance, making white rice to serve with your Beef and Broccoli).
- Pot-in-pot also lets you make two separate parts of the meal at the same time in the same pressure cooker (making white rice while the lemon chicken cooks below).
- Pot-in-pot is necessary for “baking” things like cheesecakes in the pressure cooker.
- It’s also automatic portion control—the pot-in-pot method uses cute, smaller-size dishes like cake pans, half-size Bundt pans, mason jars, and ramekins.
- Pressure cooking is a great way to reheat many foods.
I recently had the chance to walk a friend through the pot-in-pot method, and I thought I’d take some photos to share with you!
How to Cook Using the Pot-in-Pot Method in Your Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot
For this tutorial, I’ll be adapting my classic white rice recipe to use the pot-in-pot method.
Many pressure cookers come with a trivet (also called a cooking rack with feet)—some are lower than others, and some have handles to make it easier to remove the pot. If your pressure cooker came with a trivet, you’re good to go. If you need to purchase one, I highly recommend having both a low trivet for cooking taller pans and a high trivet for cooking one-pot meals.
As far as the cooking dish goes, most oven-safe dishes will work as long as it fits in your pressure cooker with enough room for the steam to escape around it. Many people like to cook their rice in a Pyrex or other serving dish; however, some people shy away from glass. Do what you’re comfortable with! I’m partial to using my 7×3-inch round cake pan—it really is my workhorse in the kitchen.
You can make a simple sling by folding a long strip of aluminum foil in thirds lengthwise. Since I cook pot-in-pot so often, I’ve made a reusable sling by cutting a large silicone pastry mat lengthwise into 4-inch strips. I also love to use my retriever tongs to remove the pot-in-pot pan from the hot inner cooking pot. As always—go with what works for you!
The MOST important thing to remember about pot-in-pot cooking is to add water to the cooking pot BEFORE lowering in the pan! Pressure cookers need steam to cook—the water added to the bottom of the pressure cooking pot is the key to creating this steam! I like to add the water to the pressure cooking pot first thing so that I don’t accidentally forget this step once the pot-in-pot is in place.
The amount of water needed will vary depending on the cook time; however, for most things (cheesecake, rice, eggs, veggies), add 1 cup of water to the 6 quart pressure cooking pot, then place the trivet on the bottom.
In your oven-safe dish, add the ingredients and stir. Center the oven-safe dish on the sling, and use the sling to carefully lower the pan onto the trivet. Fold the sling so that it doesn’t interfere with closing the lid.
Lock the lid in place and cook as directed. When the time comes, remove the lid and unfold the sling. Use the sling to remove the oven-safe dish from the pressure cooker. (Be careful, since the cooking process can make the sling hot and slippery.)
I like to use my mini mitts to get a good grip on the sling since they’re all silicone and easy to wash, but any oven mitt will work. Other people prefer to use retriever tongs to grab the sides of the pan and lift it out. Use whatever you have on hand to do what works best for you!
Recipes that Use the Pot-in-Pot Method
If you’re brand new to cooking pot-in-pot, I’d recommend you start with a few recipes that are already written to use the pot-in-pot method.
Red, White, and Blue Cheesecake (or any other cheesecake recipes)
Spinach Artichoke Dip
Barbecue Bacon Meatloaf (OK, technically this one doesn’t use a pot in another pot—the meatloaf itself rests on foil—but the principles are the same)
Lemon Chicken (see it in action in the video and follow the tips listed at the bottom of the recipe)
More Pot-in-Pot recipes from The Electric Pressure Cookbook
Mexican Breakfast Casserole (p. 41)
“Baked” Cheese Ravioli (p. 124)
Penne and Homemade Marinara Sauce (p. 200)
Buttermilk Cornbread (p. 261)
Nearly the entire dessert section (starting p. 277)
Adjusting a Recipe to Use the Pot-in-Pot Method
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the pot-in-pot method, you can start to get a feel for what kinds of recipes it’ll work with. Here are a few guiding principles I use:
Choose Similar Ingredients to Another Pot-in-Pot Recipe
One of the easiest ways to adjust a pot-in-pot recipe is to choose a recipe that uses similar ingredients and base your cook time off of that. For example, if you want to make a Snickers Cheesecake, I recommend starting with my Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake recipe and adapting it to your candy of choice. (Candy, chocolate chips, and other mix-ins to the cheesecake batter require a longer cooking time.)
Choose Foods with Similar Cook Times
Choose recipes with similar cook times—for instance chicken breasts diced into large bite-size pieces cook in 3 or 4 minutes with a 10-minute natural pressure release, which is an excellent match for the cook time of white rice! For example, you can make my Indian Butter Chicken and rice at the same time! Simply cut the chicken thighs into large bite-size pieces so they cook more quickly. Then add a trivet and rice as directed in the white rice recipe below and reduce the High Pressure cook time to 4 minutes with a 10-minute natural release.
Chicken is also an excellent match for pastas. To figure out a cook time for pasta, simply take the time listed on the box, divide in half and then subtract a minute. (For example, the time listed on my box of bowtie pasta is 12 minutes, so in the pressure cooker that bowtie pasta should cook in 5 minutes.)
I love to serve my Chicken Lazone over pasta, so when I want to use the pot-in-pot method, I saute the chicken in the cooking pot, then transfer the sauteed chicken to my cake pan. I’ll wipe out the pot, then cook my spaghetti in the bottom of the cooking pot with just enough water to cover the noodles. I’ll rest the cake pan on a tall trivet in the cooker and cook for 3 minutes with a quick pressure release.
Change the Size of the Meat
Large cuts of meat require much longer in the pressure cooker than that same cut of meat diced into bite-size pieces. So if you want to cook a side with a longer cook time, consider changing up the size of the meat. For instance, the thinly sliced beef strips in Beef and Broccoli only take 12 minutes at high pressure, so they’re too long for white rice and too short for brown rice. However, beef cut into 2- or 3-inch cubes would need about 20 minutes at high pressure, making them a good match for brown rice, which has a 22-minute cook time and a 20-minute natural pressure release.
Don’t Be Afraid to Add Time
Since the trivet lifts foods up and away from the heating element on the bottom of the cooking pan, foods occasionally need an additional minute or two at high pressure. When first adjusting a recipe, I recommend starting with the original time listed in the different recipes and testing for doneness. For example, if I use a tall trivet when just cooking rice pot-in-pot, I will use a 4-minute cook time to make sure the rice cooks through.
Reheating Food In The Instant Pot / Pressure Cooker
You’ll use the same pot-in-pot method listed above to reheat food in the Instant Pot / Pressure Cooker.
- insert a trivet
- add water (1 cup for a 6 quart pressure cooker)
- add food you’re reheating into a dish (I usually use a 7×3-inch round cake pan for reheating food)
- use a sling to lower the dish onto the trivet (I generally do not cover the pan when reheating food) If you use this sling, it works as your trivet and your sling.
- use a 5 to 10 minute cook time, depending on what you’re reheating
OK, that’s it! Do you have any questions about cooking pot-in-pot? Leave me your questions in the comments!
- 1 cup long-grain white rice, rinsed*
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Place a trivet in the bottom of the pressure cooking pot and add 1 cup water to the bottom of the cooking pot.
- In a 7×3-inch cake pan or oven-safe dish, add the rinsed rice, 1 1/4 cups water, and salt. Stir and ensure all rice is covered.
- Lock the lid in place. Select High Pressure and 4 minutes cook time.**
- When the cook time ends, turn off the pressure cooker and allow pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then finish with a quick pressure release.
- Use the sling to carefully remove the oven-safe dish from the pressure cooker. Fluff rice with a fork or the rice paddle that came with your pressure cooker.
*This white rice recipe works well with basmati, jasmine, short- and long-grain white rices, with no change to cook time or water content. **When I cook pot-in-pot, I find that the rice needs an additional minute or two from what a traditional, cook-on-the-bottom recipe calls for. A 4-minute cook time is perfect for me at 5,000 feet—start with that and add another minute if necessary.
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