Quick Dinner Recipes for Busy Nights

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Short on time? Choose one of these 40 Quick Dinner Recipes and use your Instant Pot to get a flavorful, home-cooked meal on your table even on busy weeknights!

Collage image of Instant Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup, Pressure Cooker Butter Chicken, and Instant Pot Egg Roll Bowls in the 25 Instant Pot Quick Meals post by Pressure Cooking Today

Whether you’re coming home from a long day at work or trying to squeeze dinner in between practice and bedtime, your Instant Pot can be your best kitchen tool.

We’ve compiled our favorite time-saving tips and rounded up over 35 Instant Pot recipes to keep in mind for when you’re short on time and need to get dinner on the table.

If it’s 5:30 and you need dinner now, click here to skip to the recipe roundup!

What tips do you have for making quick dinner recipes?
Let us know in the comments!

Tortellini made with fresh spinach, cooked and ready to serve from an Instant Pot.

Time-Saving Tips for Making Dinner in an Instant Pot

Planning ahead makes a really big difference when you need to pull off a quick dinner. Here are some of our favorite tips for making homemade meals on your busiest nights.

Keep Common Ingredients on Hand

If there are certain meals your family asks for over and over, keep the nonperishable ingredients on hand.

For example, in the winter my family asks for the Instant Pot Chicken & Wild Rice Soup at least once a month, so I make sure to keep a box or two of the Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice on hand all the time. I restock when I use the second-to-last box in the pantry. That way, I have a cushion if I forget.

For perishable ingredients, like carrots, onions, and celery, I like to buy a little more than what I need so I can chop and freeze the leftovers. 

Choose Quick Cooking Ingredients

For quick meals, you’ll need to use quick-cooking ingredients like chicken, white rice, and pasta. (Remember: Even though pressure cookers cook hotter and faster than stovetops, they can only do so much!)

Diced or sliced meats will cook more quickly than whole cuts of meat. For example, thinly sliced chuck roast cooks in 12 minutes at high pressure, while a whole chuck roast takes 75 to 90 minutes at high pressure.

Also keep in mind that cold ingredients or recipes with large amounts of liquid like soups will take longer to reach pressure.

Ingredients for Instant Pot chicken bacon penne, including diced chicken, chicken broth, garlic, heavy cream, butter, parmesan cheese, diced tomatoes, diced bacon, spices, chopped spinach, and penne pasta.

Prep the Night Before

If you’re planning in advance of a busy week, remember that doing things ahead of time like dicing ingredients, measuring spices, and even having the Instant Pot on the counter will help cooking go smoothly at dinner.

For meals where I’m dicing onions or other veggies, I’ll dice up the veggies for multiple meals and then put the different portions in ziplock bags in a second sealed container inside the fridge.

It might keep me up a few minutes later, but I’m always kicking myself the next day if I skip it.

(See more of my Instant Pot time-saving tricks here.)

Dice enough veggies for two different meals and refrigerate one for later

Cook Pot in Pot

Do you know how to use the pot-in-pot method in your pressure cooker or Instant Pot? Save even more time by cooking the main dish and side dish at the same time in the same cooking pot!

I love this trick for basics like making the pasta sauce at the same time as the pasta. (See my How to Cook Pasta Sauce in the Instant Pot / Pressure Cooker post for a full explanation.)

I also love to cook white rice pot-in-pot with pretty much any diced chicken recipe. (Check out how we do it in our Instant Pot Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli over Rice post!)

Cooking rice in an Instant Pot using the pot in pot method so it can cook in a cake pan over the chicken while it cooks.

Know When to Skip Steps

If you’re in a rush, there are certain steps you can skip in the cooking process, like browning the meat before cooking. (I recommend this only with meals that have a significant amount of seasoning or a very strong, flavorful sauce.)

Sometimes having the meal finished is worth skipping the flavor you’d get from browning.

an overhead shot looking into the bottom of an Instant Pot filled with browned chicken thighs, ready to add the broth

These easy recipes will work in any brand of electric pressure cooker, including the Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, or Power Pressure Cooker XL.

40+ Quick Dinner Recipes for Your Instant Pot

When you need to get dinner on the table FAST, use your Instant Pot to make one of these 40 quick dinner recipes.


🥘 Browse our collection of the best pressure cooker / Instant Pot recipes.

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🥧 If you’re interested in more than just Instant Pot recipes, follow us at Barbara Bakes. There we post amazing breakfasts, breads, and the best dessert recipes

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originally published February 18, 2023 — last updated December 16, 2023
Categories: Roundups