Considering he’s spent the past 40 years covering food culture and developing rigorously tested recipes — including more than two decades at the helm of America’s Test Kitchen — it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Christopher Kimball says his basement is “littered with failed appliances. Failed not because they didn’t work, but because they didn’t become a constant companion in my efforts to put dinner on the table.”
Kimball was convinced he’d feel the same way about the Instant Pot when his current multimedia company (the Boston-based Milk Street) was asked to write an entire cookbook around it being a multi-cooker miracle. “I was not amused, nor was our kitchen staff,” he explains. “It seemed to be a convenient way to make mediocre food. But after a few rounds in the kitchen, we discovered this device was less about saving time than it was about making really interesting delicious food in a more foolproof manner.”
The operative word there is interesting. Because that’s exactly what Milk Street’s recent Instant Pot cookbook, Fast and Slow, is: a best-in-class breakdown of boundless dishes many people wouldn’t even think of making under normal circumstances. Since picking the book up a few months ago, I’ve kicked the day off with a cardamom-spiced, apricot-laced breakfast farro bowl; slayed a spicy collard-greens stew with tomatoes and peanuts; teased layers of flavor from Tunisian-braised chickpeas and Swiss chard; and brought a box of cavatappi pasta to life with lemon juice, cremini mushrooms, white miso, thyme, parsley, and vermouth.
“We spent about a year developing the recipes, and they became more adventurous over time,” Kimball says. “Miso, gochujang, sumac, and countless other ingredients play very well in an Instant Pot.”
Kimball isn’t the only influential food-industry figure impressed with the Instant Pot’s capabilities in the kitchen. Over the past four years, the Canadian brand has sold millions of multi-cookers — breaking its own Prime Day records in the process — and inspired dozens of top-rated book titles built upon its Swiss Army–knife status. To help you find the perfect mix of recipes for your palate and figure out tonight’s dinner, we asked six Instant Pot authors which cookbooks they’ve been inspired by, including each other’s. Here, their suggestions, which cover everything from bar-setting best sellers to cutting-edge takes on Indian and Mexican cuisine.
“It does what we try to do here at Milk Street: learn from another culture and adapt those lessons to the American home kitchen. The truly iconic recipe is the Kerala Lamb Stew. (You could also use beef.) It is a road map to much of Indian cooking, although there are at least 35 different cuisines under that moniker. Jaffrey begins with whole spices sautéed in oil, then onions and ginger. The meat is added — it cooks quickly in the Instant Pot — then the carrots and potatoes, which have already been seasoned with chile powder and cardamom. They’re cooked for just three minutes. (Whole and ground spices adapt well to the Instant Pot.) Finally, she finishes with a crush of curry leaves, adding a touch of freshness just before serving and transforming a classic recipe into something approachable for any home cook. Who among us would make Kerala Lamb Stew without a bit of help?”
Recommended by: Rachel Tiemeyer and Polly Conner, co-founders of Thriving Home and co-authors of From Freezer to Cooker: Delicious Whole-Foods Meals for the Slow Cooker, Pressure Cooker, and Instant Pot
“One of the things we quickly learned while writing our own Instant Pot cookbook is that there is no consensus on how long to pressure-cook dishes. Recipes are all over the map! We found Randolph’s timing spot-on for every recipe we tried, and we appreciated her simple instructions. Her baby back ribs turn out perfectly every time. It’s definitely a go-to recipe.”
Recommended by: Laurel Randolph, recipe developer and author of The Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook: Easy Recipes for Fast & Healthy Meals
“Clark was early to the Instant Pot craze, penning expertly written pressure-cooking recipes for the New York Times before it was cool. Since she’s known for her easy and well-tested recipes, it’s no surprise that her book delivers just that. I especially love her brisket and red-curry noodle-soup recipes. Her second Instant Pot cookbook, Comfort in an Instant, is also delightful. Try the lava cakes.
“Even the best, most accomplished cooks need help when they first get an electric pressure cooker. There are rules to learn and conventions to understand before you can go your own way. A natural teacher and brilliant cook, Ram is a perfect guide to hold your hand along this learning curve. The only thing I don’t love about the book — which is chock-full of 130 perfectly tested recipes — is the title because it doesn’t do justice to its contents. Yes, Ms. Ram includes dozens of Indian classics like dals, biryanis, and even dosas. But she isn’t afraid to innovate, adding chipotle chiles to her butter chicken and Assam duck to a risotto. It’s that combination of traditional Indian recipes plus her take on contemporary Indian-inspired dishes that gives the book its irresistible charm.”
Recommended by: Bruce Weinstein, co-author of The Instant Pot Bible
“The chapters on salsas and basics like rice and bean dishes are so helpful and delicious. Most other Instant Pot books — including my own — are all about whole dishes. This book offers great recipes for condiments and ingredients that go into larger recipes. And it’s Mexican food, which I love and can’t get in rural New England. The Classic Tomatillo and Árbol Chile Salsa reminds me of the salsa served at my favorite Mexican restaurant in N.Y. from the early 2000s. This isn’t your chunky American tomato-based salsa; it’s fiery and deeply flavorful. Cooking under pressure tends to tame the heat of chiles, giving this salsa the perfect level of spice for my taste. It makes enchiladas and burritos even more amazing. I also love the Drunken Beans (Frijoles Borrachos). It represents the complex flavors that come out of something so simple — the smokiness of bacon with the bitter edge of beer bathing the sweet and creamy beans.”
“Bob Warden’s Great Food Fast was the first cookbook I ever perused for electric pressure cookers when I first got mine. It helped me learn the ropes of how cookers function and also showed me some miracles that they could perform. I learned that classics like his delicious mac & cheese and risottos were now going to be done with zero hassles and all in one pot. After trying a roast that fell apart at the touch of a fork, I was convinced that a revolutionary new era of cooking was upon us. I became addicted — part of the cult, so to speak. In a way, I feel like this book inspired me to see just how easy and game-changing it is to cook in an electric pressure cooker. Using what I learned in Warden’s book, I then began experimenting and developing recipes of my own. I could now expand my own creativity to push the limits of this magical pot.”