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 t