Quick Dinner Recipes for Busy Nights
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!
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!
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.
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.)
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!)
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.
✅ 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.
Chicken Pesto Pasta
This creamy and easy Chicken Pesto Pasta is the perfect family dinner! Made in the pressure cooker with curly cavatappi, store-bought pesto, and juicy chicken.
Chicken & Mushrooms
Instant Pot Chicken and Mushrooms is an easy and delicious weeknight chicken recipe made with garlic and parmesan cheese in a creamy tomato sauce and tender chicken breasts.
Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli over Rice
This Instant Pot Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli recipe features bite-size pieces of chicken and crisp-tender broccoli, smothered in a creamy cheese sauce and served over fluffy white rice you cook pot-in-pot. You'll have this family favorite on your table in under 30 minutes!
Rosemary Bacon Mac and Cheese
Creamy Instant Pot Rosemary-Bacon Mac and Cheese has melted Gruyere, fresh herbs, and smoky crumbled bacon on top.
5-Cheese Baked Ziti
This 5 Cheese Baked Ziti is an Instant Pot pasta recipe inspired by Olive Garden’s cheesy, crispy baked ziti with alfredo and marinara sauce.
This Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole has a crispy crumb topping from Ritz Crackers, and a creamy, cheesy center with sour cream, parmesan, and cream cheese.
Shrimp Alfredo Pasta
This easy Shrimp Alfredo Pasta is an Instant Pot dinner made with juicy shrimp and rotini in a creamy parmesan-garlic sauce.
These quick and easy Instant Pot Meatball Sandwiches are made with frozen meatballs and homemade marinara, served on toasted sub rolls with melted cheese.
Easy One-Pot Tortellini in the Instant Pot is a fast and flavorful weeknight pasta dinner with tomato sauce and cheese-filled pasta perfect for Meatless Monday.
Frozen Ground Beef Chili
This is the easiest Instant Pot Ground Beef Chili, made using frozen ground beef, beef broth, dried spices, and canned tomatoes for a weeknight meal you'll love!
This easy Cheeseburger Soup starts with frozen ground beef and pre-chopped potatoes and is finished with plenty of melty cheese for a family favorite dinner that cooksk up quick in your Instant Pot.
This Chicken Scampi Pasta recipe is a fast and easy weeknight dinner made in an Instant Pot with dried seasoning, red onion, bell pepper, and melty cheese.
Easy Sloppy Joes
This Easy Sloppy Joe Recipe has a mustard-spiked sauce and are made with chicken gumbo soup for a quick weeknight recipe.
Bacon Chicken Ranch Sandwiches
This Instant Pot Ranch Bacon Chicken recipe has a rich, creamy cheese sauce and smoky bacon for sandwiches, salads, and more easy dinners.
This recipe for Instant Pot Hawaiian Meatballs starts with frozen meatballs for a quick appetizer OR a full dinner when served with rice and sides.
Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs
Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs is a quick and easy 15-minute pressure cooker dinner with frozen meatballs, your favorite spaghetti sauce, and Parmesan cheese.
Chicken Bacon Penne Pasta in a Garlic Cream Sauce
This Chicken Bacon Pasta is a quick, easy, one-pot meal that's rich, creamy, and delicious! It's pure comfort food with a creamy garlic sauce, fresh spinach, and tomatoes, that's ready in about 30 minutes.
Chinese Lemon Chicken
Instant Pot Chinese Lemon Chicken cooks up quick and features tender pieces of chicken in a sweet lemon sauce, seasoned with just a hint of ginger, garlic, and red pepper.
Instant Pot Egg Roll Bowls
All the flavor of an egg roll in an easy-to-make, easy-to-serve bowl. Since the cabbage and carrots come preshredded, you can have a tasty, low-carb meal on the table in under 30 minutes!
Creamy Chicken Lazone
Chicken Lazone features seasoned chicken tenders fried in butter, pressure cooked until tender, served over pasta with a rich cream sauce. Believe it or not, you can get this decadent meal on your table in under 30 minutes!
Quick Penne Pasta & Marinara Sauce
Cook your pasta and homemade meatless marinara sauce at the same time in the same pot—all done in 3 minutes at High Pressure.
Quick Broccoli Cheese Soup
This delicious Broccoli Cheese Soup has a 1-minute pressure cook time and a creamy texture with bites of broccoli and carrots!
This Chicken Shawarma is made with spices you probably already have in your cupboard. A Middle Eastern meal, tender chunks of seasoned chicken thighs are served on lettuce leaves with Tzatziki sauce.
Chicken Enchilada Pasta
This Chicken Enchilada Pasta is a fusion of Tex-Mex and Italian. It’s a quick, one pot meal, perfect for a busy weeknight. If you have an air-fryer lid, you can even brown the cheese on top right in the cooking pot.
Pulled BBQ Chicken
I’ve adapted one of my 30-minute meals, the Instant Pot Shredded Barbecue Chicken recipe from my cookbook, The Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook. I often use this chicken for both sandwiches and salads—it’s one I often keep on hand.
American Chop Suey (aka Beefaroni)
American Chop Suey is a classic comfort food made with macaroni, ground beef, onions, and bell peppers—then loaded with mozzarella and crisped until golden brown. Makes a big batch to feed a crowd and ready in under 30 minutes.
Easy Instant Pot Pasta and Sauce
Instant Pot Pasta and sauce is the perfect weeknight meal—quick, easy and delicious! The bow-tie pasta cooks in the sauce so you only have one pot to clean up.
Stuffed Green Pepper Casserole
This Stuffed Green Pepper Casserole has all the flavors of stuffed green peppers BUT it's much easier to make in this Instant Pot casserole.
Honey Sesame Chicken
Make this quick, easy to make Instant Pot dinner that tastes like one of your family's favorite Asian carry-out meals! This Honey Sesame Chicken features tender, bite-size chunks of chicken in a sweet, sticky sauce.
Thai Chicken Thighs
These tender Chicken Thighs are cooked in a Thai-inspired peanut sauce—cooked in your Instant Pot and on your table in under 30 minutes!
Chicken Taco Filling
This chicken taco filling is so versatile! It's great for taco salads, enchiladas, burritos, and more! And it's SO convenient for busy nights—you don't even have to remember thaw the frozen chicken!
Hawaiian BBQ Chicken
If you love BBQ chicken and Hawaiian chicken teriyaki, you'll love this easy-to-make Hawaiian BBQ Chicken. A mash up of flavors with tender chunks of chicken and sweet pineapple in a tangy barbecue sauce.
This tender chicken recipe is a juicy, flavorful alternative to Kalua Pork. You can have these easy Instant Pot chicken thighs on the table in 30 minutes.
Pressure Cooker Pork Tenderloin Marsala and Penne Pasta
This Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin Marsala is a quick and easy dinner that's also gluten free.
Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Pressure cooker chicken and wild rice soup is a cream-based soup loaded with chicken, long grain and wild rice, carrots, onion, and celery. A quick-cooking, hearty soup recipe you'll want to make again and again!
Pressure Cooker Pepperoni Pizza Pasta
This Pressure Cooker Pepperoni Pizza Pasta is a perfect family meal. It’s a 30 minute meal with an irresistible golden, cheesy top. It cooks up even quicker when you brown it in your Ninja Foodi or with your Mealthy Crisp Lid!
Artichoke chicken is a quick, easy, Instant Pot chicken dinner recipe. Smoked paprika gives this Artichoke Chicken tons of flavor as well as a pretty color—plus, you can make it in your Instant Pot with ingredients you likely have in your pantry!
Homemade Beef and Broccoli
This dish features tender, thin-sliced beef and broccoli in a rich sauce that is salty and sweet, with just a little heat from the red pepper flakes. It's better than take-out and comes together in about 30 minutes!
This is our pressure cooker version of PF Changs' popular mongolian beef recipe. We make it with thinly sliced flank steak cooked in a lightly sweet, garlic ginger sauce until tender. Plus, it's ready in about 30 minutes!
Pressure Cooker Indian Butter Chicken
This Butter Chicken has classic restaurant flavors but it's easy to make at home. You'll love the combination of tender chicken thighs and a creamy, buttery tomato sauce—and it's ready in about 30 minutes!
Cauliflower Fettuccine Alfredo
This Olive Garden recipe is packed with a TON of veggie goodness! Dreamy, creamy fettuccine alfredo—ready in under 30 minutes!
Easy French Dip Sandwiches
French Dip Sandwiches don't get much easier than this! Just toss the meat ingredients into the cooking pot and walk away while dinner makes itself. These Easy French Dip Sandwiches work great in the Instant Pot or any brand of electric pressure cooker.
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One of the easiest ways to put dinner on the table when you have no time is your freezer. If you make extra one day and freeze what you do not eat then, you have another meal on the table in virtually no time. Putting the frozen meal in the refrigerator at the start of the day thaws it by dinnertime, but even if you forget to do that, your microwave at low power can thaw it in just a few minutes while you set the table.
Thanks for sharing this tip Douglas. We love to have a meal ready in the freezer too.
So many great recipes on this list I’ve made…and some I forgot ALL ABOUT! Thanks for the great dinner ideas Barbara, 🙂