I’ve been an Instant Pot convert for almost two years now and during that time, I’ve learned that there a few staple ingredients in my pantry that always ensure my meals come out perfect!
Do you have a particular ingredient you can’t live without? Please share it in the comments below!
Unlike a Crock Pot, food in an Instant Pot doesn’t create much more liquid than what you put into it. But I find that having a thickening agent is useful for stews and soups. Making a slurry is a quick and easy way to add some bulk to your meal. Starting with 1 tablespoon of flour or cornstarch, add an equal amount of water and mix well. Then whisk the mixture into your IP, after the meal has been fully cooked. It should only take a few minutes to thicken but don’t add too much or you’ll end up with a pasty meal!
Personally, I interchange flour and cornstarch, depending on what I have readily available. But be aware that since flour is made from wheat, it contains gluten. Cornstarch on the other hand is just starch. You can learn more about the difference between these two thickening agents here.
A Hearty Spice Mixture
Everyone has a favourite. I really love – and I mean LOVE, LOVE – the Spicy Pepper Medley by Club House La Grille. It adds just the right amount kick, with a salty-garlic undertone, to most meals. I find it works just as well for vegetables, meat and fish, ensuring our meals always have a good amount of flavour. If this sounds familiar, it may be because you’ve seen me use this in my famous Lemon Chicken à la Instant Pot recipe that’s a reader favourite. Yum.
But really, you can use whatever you prefer to use. Mrs. Dash is a good option too!
I once wrote that dairy products are a bad idea for an Instant Pot, and that’s true. There’s a high risk of it cuddling or burning under high heat. Evaporated milk is a lot thicker, containing much less water, but you NEVER add it to the Instant Pot in Pressure Cooker mode. Never ever because it will burn. Instead, it’s also a thickening agency or sorts, much like flour/cornstarch, and added after the main portion of the recipe is complete. Good eats like Creamy Ziti and Mac & Cheese all use evaporated milk using the Sauté setting. Some recipes like Dulce De Leche do use evaporated milk in Pressure Cooker mode but there’s also a serious amount of water involved.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can even make your own evaporated milk in an Instant Pot!
Room Temperature Stock or Bouillon Cubes
Stock and bouillon cubes (your preferred flavour) are essentially the same thing except that you need to add water to the cubes in order to liquify then. The KEY here is that whatever you use for your broth, it should be ROOM TEMPERATURE before you add it to the Instant Pot. If you didn’t know this already, an Instant Pot is not instant… it takes time to come up to pressure (sorry for the spoiler!). Using room temperature ingredients will help that process move much quicker.
I like to have both on hand because I find bouillon cubes are more versatile and easier to add to recipes that already have a lot of liquid in them. But if you need a specific amount of stock for a soup or stew, using a boxed or home-made broth might be a better option for you.
… now before you chew me out, I know there are differences between stock, broth and cubes. But for me and this post, I’m interchanging them. If you want a more in-depth explanation, you can find it here.
Always remember, the important thing with an Instant Pot is to be fearless. Keep trying new recipes and tweak what you don’t like. But with these four staples at your disposal, you’ll find the process of experimentation might take away some pressure (pun intended).