How To Use the Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker

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If you’re wondering how to use the Instant Pot as a slow cooker, then you’ve come to the right place. This versatile appliance is one of the most convenient tools to have in your kitchen. It offers several functions, such as the obvious pressure cooking, and the less obvious sautéing, steaming, sous vide, and slow cooking.

While we love using the Instant Pot for pressure cooking quick meals in under 30 minutes, it can also replace your traditional slow cooker to make great slow-cooked meals, like shredded chicken or venison roast. It’s a multi-functional machine that can do it all.

» You might like Instant Pot vs Air Fryer: Which is Better?

slow cook function on instant pot

If you haven’t yet tried to use your Instant Pot as a slow cooker, now’s the time to check it out. It differs from a traditional slow cooker in a few ways, you’ll need to make a few adjustments when using the Instant Pot slow cooker settings. 

You can find the necessary steps and modifications for tasty and tender meals below. If you’ve just started out with this handy kitchen helper, check out this guide on Instant Pot tips for beginners. Check out what all those symbols and display icons mean here.

Accessories for Slow Cooking

Instant Pot Tempered Glass Lid, 9.1-In, 6-Qt, Cooking Pot Lid, Stainless Steel Handle and Rim, Clear

You can use the regular Instant pot lid when slow cooking, but it’s not very convenient.

If you don’t have a glass lid that will fit your Instant Pot, you’ll want to invest in the Instant Pot glass lid that can be used instead of the pressure lid when slow cooking, sauteing, browning or using the keep warm function.

How To Slow Cook in an Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is renowned for delivering mouth-watering dishes in a fraction of time compared to a stovetop. So you have the option of pressure cooking for a quick meal.

But you don’t want to overlook the slow cooker function. This nifty tool allows you to prep ingredients, place them in the pot, and return to an inviting, slow-cooked meal, just like you would in your traditional slow cooker.

Venison roast and potatoes in the Instant Pot

So, let’s have a look at how to use your Instant Pot as a slow cooker. Here are the steps that you’ll need to follow:

  • Prepare the ingredients and place them inside the inner pot
  • Close the lid
  • Press the “Slow Cook” button
  • Press the “Adjust” button to change the heat setting to “Normal” or “More”
  • Set your desired cooking duration, using the “+” and “-“ buttons, for anywhere between 0.5 to 20 hours
  • Hang up your kitchen apron and enjoy the magic

The Instant Pot will start cooking 10 seconds after the final button is pressed and will remain on “Keep-Warm” mode for up to 10 hours after the timer runs out.

pulled bbq chicken

Tips on Using an Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker

Although the Instant Pot slow cooker instructions are easy-to-follow, you’ll have to make some tweaks when slow cooking. Here are a few things to keep in mind to safely prepare food at home.

Instant Pot Slow Cooker Setting

All of the Instant Pot models have similar functionalities and can act as a slow cooker. Keep in mind though that the heat distribution differs from a regular slow cooker, such as the Crock Pot.

Instant Pots are stainless steel and heat from the bottom only. While most traditional slow cooker pots are created with thick ceramic and heat from all sides as well as the bottom surface.

However, this won’t have a big affect on the food you’re cooking. You can still make melt-in-your-mouth meals when you slow cook in the Instant Pot.

For more information, check out this guide on the pressure cooker versus slow cooker.

chicken curry

Instant Pot Slow Cook Temperature Settings

The slow cook Instant Pot heat settings include “Less”, “Normal”, and “More” which corresponds to low, medium, and high in traditional slow cookers. Although the “Less” setting may seem fitting for slow cooking, it mainly acts as a keep-warm function.

As such, you’ll use either the normal or more modes most often. “Normal” is similar to low on common slow cookers, while the “More” mode corresponds to medium-high. Here are the approximate temperatures for the slow cooker function:

  • Low – 170 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Normal – 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit
  • More – 200 to 210 degrees Fahrenheit

Instant Pot Slow Cooker – Vent or Seal?

If you’re using the regular lid, it’s important to take note of the Instant Pot slow cooker venting and sealing positions. When closing the lid, make sure that you align the steam release handle in the venting position.

Cooking Times When Using an Instant Pot as Slow Cooker

When you slow cook on an Instant Pot using the “Normal” mode, the cooking times will remain the same as the time it takes to cook in a slow cooker. You can cut down the cooking time by using the “More” mode. Something that would take 4 hours on normal might take more like 3 hours when you press “more”.

slow cooking roast

Instant Pot Slow Cooking – Quantity of Liquid

The Instant Pot requires some form of liquid to power up and cook properly, delivering delicious results. But, you may notice your dishes being a bit watery on the first few attempts.

A possible reason for this is that the water does not evaporate the same as a traditional slow cooker would. This is because the lid is tightly sealed, so the steam does not release in the same way.

If you’ve tried a recipe with the same amount of water or liquid as the original slow cooker recipes, it may deliver the same texture and tasty results. But, if the final dish is more on the watery side, you can try using less liquid or a different lid that isn’t as tight.

Here is the minimum amount of liquid required when using your Instant Pot slow cook setting:

  • 3-quart Instant Pot – 1 cup of water
  • 6-quart Instant Pot – 1 cup of water
  • 8-quart Instant Pot – 2 cups of water

Note: Food and water content shouldn’t exceed the maximum level of the inner pot. Generally, the maximum limit is around 66% full. For healthy cooking with foods that expand, such as dried veggies or beans, you should avoid filling the pot more than halfway.

Ready to Try Slow Cooking in Your Instant Pot?

The Instant Pot is certainly an appliance that can do it all. It may seem intimidating at first, but with these tips and tricks, you’ll feel like a professional chef in no time.

Now that we’ve covered how to use an Instant Pot as a slow cooker, what mouth-watering meal will you be trying first? Consider sharing your thoughts below, I would love to hear them.

If you’re looking for some inspiration for dinner, check out these tasty Instant Pot chicken recipes.

Why Use An Instant Pot?

The Instant Pot is one of the most useful kitchen appliances you can buy, because it drastically cuts down on the cooking time for developing flavors in soups and stews, getting tough cuts of meat tender, and even baking a cheesecake. If you don’t have one, check out our guide on which one to buy. Also see our guide to How to Use an Instant Pot and the many accessories you can buy for it.

Instant Pot Duo Plus

Tips & Notes

  • Keep in mind though that the heat distribution differs from a regular slow cooker, such as the Crock Pot.
  • You still have to use water in the Instant Pot while slow cooking. The water helps the Instant Pot to heat properly.
  • The slow cook Instant Pot heat settings include “Less”, “Normal”, and “More” which corresponds to low, medium, and high in traditional slow cookers.
  • You can use the regular Instant Pot lid for slow cooking. However, the tempered glass lid offers the best results.
  • If you’re using the regular lid, make sure that you align the steam release handle in the venting position.
  • If you are using the “Normal” mode, the cooking times will remain the same. But, you’ll have to add 15 minutes to every hour when using the “More” setting.
  • You may notice your dishes being a bit watery on the first few attempts. Water does not evaporate the same as a traditional slow cooker would. This is because the lid is tightly sealed, so the steam does not release in the same way.
  • You won’t need your trivet, just put all of your ingredients right into the Instant Pot.
Instant Pot Display

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you seal the Instant Pot when using it as a slow cooker?

You don’t seal the Instant Pot while slow cooking like you would if you were pressure cooking. You can use a tempered glass lid or your regular Instant Pot lid. The tempered glass lid is very much like the lid you would have for a Crock Pot. If you use your regular lid make sure to move the steam release handle to the venting position.

Does Instant Pot use pressure for the slow cooker function?

No. The Instant Pot does not use pressure to cook on the slow cooker function. For that reason you can use any tempered glass lid as well as your Instant Pot lid.

How do I slow cook low in the Instant Pot?

The Instant Pot has 3 different heat settings, “Less”, “Normal”, and “More”. They more or less correspond to the traditional slow cooker settings of low, medium, and high. The “Less” setting is really more of a keep warm setting and “More” is medium-high.. “Normal” is the low setting, so if you are wanting to cook on low this is the setting you would want to use.

Place your food inside the inner pot, close the lid, press the slow cook button. Use the adjust button to change the heat setting, select your desired cooking time, and wait for the magic to happen.


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Instant Pot Condensed Milk Dulce de Leche
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Instant Pot Sushi Rice (Perfectly Cooked)

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19 thoughts on “How To Use the Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker

  1. Pat says:

    I’m frustrated. this does not match my appliance. I have the large instantpot with air fryer. i just replaced the qt. the new one is not listed on the app to get recipes. and, I have not been happy with the slow cooker on my old one, so I thought I’d make sure I was doing it right. but I cannot!! my appliance does not have an adjustable button. the manual is useless. this site isn’t helping. really? can’t afford to create instructions for each appliance or update your app? argh.

    • Laura says:

      I’m sorry that you’re having trouble Pat. There are many different Instant Pots and we cook with a 6-quart Duo. It’s not possible for us to provide manual-level instructions for each one. If you use the slow cook button on the 8-quart pot with the multi-cooker lid, it should work the same way we suggest in this article. You can also get a tempered glass lid to put on the pot instead of the multi-cooker lid, if that’s helpful for you.

  2. Grateful says:

    I often will read blogs and appreciate and utilize that information. But I just wanted thank you for sharing this. Yours is the third blog I came across on the subject but was the only one that was helpful! You explained everything so simply yet it made sense without over explaining. Thank you so much for this post – you have no idea how much it’s appreciated! I will definitely be returning here first in the future.

  3. Ted V. says:

    We have had the instant pot for 2 or 3 years. I have cooked soup, made yogurt, and have made various bone broths. Every time I’ve tried to make chili in it I’ve got the burn message. However, this is the first time I am trying out the slow cook function. I’m making beef stew with potatoes, carrots and onions. Thanks for the info.

    • Laura says:

      Hi Ted. I hope the slow cooker chili turns out well for you. Some Instant Pots just don’t like to cook if the liquid is thick, like chili. You could try adding more water, but risk it being liquidy, so the slow cooker is a great work around.

  4. June Senior says:

    I’ve used my instant cook as a slow cooker for 1st time today. I’m cooking a gammon in cokeacola I’ve sat it on the trivet and used a glass lid set it for usual 8hrs but worried I’ve done it wrong. on another site it says 10hrs. I wish when you buy appliances like this it came with more instructions.

    • Angela Morris says:

      I understand your frustration June. The more you use it the more familiar you will become with it. I hope your gammon was delicious.

  5. Mitch says:

    This is super helpful to those who have just got themselves an Instant Pot! Thanks for sharing some insightful information and tips on how to maximize our IP.

  6. Jolene says:

    I’m frustrated. I have the exact same model Instant Pot you have pictured. I have no +/- button nor any adjust button. I’ve been slow cooking for 4.5 hours and it is still flashing “preheating” with the pot contents still raw.

    • Laura says:

      Hi Jolene, Which model do you have specifically? We pictured many different models in this article, however even the duo has adjust and +/- buttons. I’d say there might be something wrong with your pot if it’s still flashing preheating. It shouldn’t take long to preheat and after 4.5 hours it should be done.

  7. Connie says:

    I don’t understand why you would have to add 15 minutes to every hour if you’re cooking on the “more” or higher temperature. Doesn’t make sense that the lower temperature would take less time.

    • Angela Morris says:

      Thanks for drawing our attention to this Connie. You are right, it is incorrect. It should be that cooking at the higher temp cuts down on the cooking time. It has been updated.

  8. Jonathan says:

    Thanks for the advice! I just got my IP yesterday and am excited to try it out. I primarily got it for the slow-cooking function and the other functions (pressure cooking, sauteeing, etc.) are just the icing on the cake for me. I got an 8 qt. Pro, if that info helps in any way. I found the article (post? Idk what this is called) to be extremely informative and helpful as a first-time user.

  9. nicole says:

    Hello! Do you have to have the trivet in there for the slow cook function since there is liquid at the bottom or do you place the meat in the liquid?

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