Converting Recipes to the Pressure Cooker

Just follow a few simple rules and you'll be able to convert your traditional recipes to the pressure cooker - you just need to make sure you have one cup of liquid.

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Converting From Traditional Recipes

Converting traditional recipes into pressure cooker recipes is easy.

  • First step is to make sure you have one to one and a half cups of liquid included in the recipe (check your pressure cooker manual for the minimum liquid requirement specific to your cooker). There is very little evaporation during pressure-cooking, so you don’t want a lot of liquid, but you do need the minimum required to steam and build the pressure. 
  • The next step is to simply cook the dish for one-third of the time called for in the original recipe.
  • Finally, use the appropriate release method for whatever it is you are cooking based on the Releasing Pressure explanation section on this page. For example, larger pieces of meats (like pot roast or ribs), dried beans and anything with a lot of liquid will benefit from a natural pressure release.

Converting From Slow Cooker Recipes

Converting slow cooker recipes into pressure cooker recipes is also easy. There is very little evaporation from either slow cookers or pressure cookers, so they tend to have similar liquid quantities.

  • Make sure the recipe has at least one to one and a half cups of liquid (check your pressure cooker manual for the minimum liquid requirement).
  • Then use the cooking charts on this site or a similar recipe from one of my pressure cooking books to determine the cooking time for your meal. For instance, if you are converting a chilli recipe from a slow cooker to a pressure cooker, take a look at a pressure cooker recipe for chilli and use the timing from that recipe.

Converting to Stovetop Pressure Cookers

Stovetop pressure cookers reach full pressure a little faster than electric pressure cookers and also drop their pressure a little faster than electric pressure cookers. Because of this, the actual cooking time of foods in a stovetop pressure cooker is shorter than when using an electric pressure cooker. However, stovetop pressure cookers often reach a higher pressure level than electric pressure cookers, so it almost evens out. You won’t find much difference in the timing for many recipes, but if you are cooking big pieces of meat, beans or grains, reduce the cooking time by a couple of minutes for stovetop cookers.

Converting to Smaller Pressure Cookers

Converting recipes for different sizes of pressure cookers can be tricky, but it doesn’t need to be. The rule of thumb about pressure cookers is that you need to have at least one to one and a half cups of liquid in the recipe. (Check your pressure cooker manual for the minimum liquid requirement.) That liquid is needed to create the steam that will then create the pressure in the cooker. So, if you are decreasing the recipe, divide all the ingredients equally and then take a look at what you’re left with. If there is less than one cup of liquid, increase just the liquid to the minimum amount required and leave the other quantities alone. Understand that you will probably have more sauce with your finished dish, or the final result of your cooking will be wetter than intended, but you can simply either reduce the liquid by simmering the sauce after the cooking time or just use less of the sauce on the plate.

Here are a few tips on converting recipes:

  • First of all, if your cooker can handle the quantity specified in the recipe, why not make the full recipe and freeze any leftovers for another occasion?
  • If the liquid involved in the recipe is in proportion to the solid ingredients (such as rice or grains), do not make less than what one cup of liquid will permit.
  • If you are making a roast or stew, you can decrease the meat quantity, while keeping the sauce ingredient quantities the same. Then, just use less sauce when you serve the dish.
  • Because flavors can be intense in a pressure cooker, cut back on flavoring ingredients like dried herbs and spices when you are converting a regular recipe to the pressure cooker.

Converting to Larger Pressure Cookers

Recipes are easy to increase if you’re cooking for a crowd and have a bigger pressure cooker. Just multiply all the ingredients by 1.5 or 2 times, but keep the cooking time the same. It may take longer for the cooker to come to pressure since it takes longer to bring more food to a boil, but the cooking time should be the same.

Converting Pasta Recipes

Lots of folks love cooking a one pot pasta recipe in the pressure cooker, making a meal without having to boil the pasta separately while making the sauce in another pan. You can convert pasta recipes to the pressure cooker with a little ingredient and time adjustment. 

  • Ingredient change: For every ¼ pound (4 ounces) of pasta, add an additional ¾ to 1 cup of liquid. I often add stock as my liquid, but you could add water.
  • Time adjustment: Determine the cooking time by cutting the cooking time on the pasta package in half and subtracting a minute or two. If the pasta package gives a range of cooking times, use the lower number.
  • Release method: Use the quick-release method for reducing the pressure (it’s good to have a towel nearby in case liquid starts to spurt out of the cooker).

Converting for High Altitudes

Anyone cooking at a high altitude knows that water boils at a lower temperature because of the decreased atmospheric pressure. This affects the pressure inside a pressure cooker as well. So, when using a pressure cooker at higher altitudes, increase the cooking time by 5% for every 1000 feet over 2000 feet above sea level.

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