How to Do Pot in Pot Cooking in the Instant Pot

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Pot in Pot cooking in the Instant Pot opens up so many new and useful possibilities for cooking in your electric pressure cooker. The pot in pot method (PIP) of cooking in the Instant Pot can be extremely useful and versatile. It allows you to cook foods that normally would be baked or steamed, and you can even cook multiple things at once.

When you first start out with Pot in Pot cooking, it can be a bit intimidating. But it’s so worth learning this technique. You will get so much more out of your Instant Pot when you add this method.

»Try this great cooking method with this Instant Pot New York Cheesecake recipe.

steaming broccoli

What is Pot in Pot Cooking?

Pot in pot cooking is a method that allows you to cook things in your Instant Pot within another pot, that you wouldn’t be able to cook by placing directly into the inner pot. You put the water or liquid that is needed to build pressure into the inner pot, but you put the food you’re cooking into another pot that you set on top of the trivet.

This allows you to cook dishes that don’t have liquid in them or cook multiple things at once.

For instance, with the pot-in-pot method, you could:

  • Cook your sauce in the bottom of the inner pot, while cooking rice or pasta in a second container on the trivet.
  • Make lasagna or casseroles that don’t use liquid and would burn if cooked directly in the inner pot.
  • Bake a cake.
  • Cook chicken in the bottom of the inner pot, rice in another pot, and potatoes in another pot.
  • Reheat a meal without using the microwave.
 
Lasagna in spring form pan in Instant Pot
Use Pot-in-Pot method to make a lasagna in the Instant Pot

What “Pots” Can Be Used in the Instant Pot?

The biggest hang up that keeps people from using this method is not knowing what type of “pots” or dishes you can use inside the Instant Pot. No one wants to have a glass dish explode under pressure or ruin their Instant Pot by using a non-pressure safe pot in it. More information on which containers to use here.

The good news is that most pots are actually perfectly safe to use in the Instant Pot.

  • Oven-safe dishes – generally anything labeled oven-safe can be used in the Instant Pot
  • Food-safe dishes – only use dishes that are made to contain food
  • Stainless steel
  • Certain glass and ceramic dishes (must be pressure-cooker approved)
  • Steamer basket or bamboo steamer

What you don’t want to use is:

  • Anything plastic – it’s not made to withstand this much heat
  • Anything with lettering that might dissolve or flake off into the food
  • Anything that seals (with a lid) or is not oven-safe
  • Non-approved glass and ceramic that might shatter when put under high pressure
steamer basket
Use a stainless steel or bamboo steamer basket

Pot in Pot Accessories for Instant Pot

You’re probably wondering if there are containers made explicitly for use in the Instant Pot. Yes there are. If you want to keep the choices easy, you can just purchase one of the stackable stainless steel inserts, like the one pictured below.

These stackable pots are made for use in the Instant Pot. They contain 2 trays, lids, and a safety handle/sling that allows you to easily remove the pots from the Instant Pot.

You can also use a bundt pan, a spring-form pan, or silicon baking pans in the Instant Pot. Use ones that are 304-grade stainless steel or ceramic.

How to Do Pot in Pot Cooking

This method of cooking in the Instant Pot is actually quite easy. Once you try it, you’ll see that there’s nothing to worry about and that it is way easier than you expected.

To do pot in pot cooking in the Instant Pot:

  • Place the trivet into the Instant Pot
  • Choose what type of container you need
  • Add your food to the container
  • Pour the water into the inner pot, under the trivet
  • Place the container on the trivet
  • Lock the lid and set the time according to your recipe

One consideration to make before starting to cook is how you will get the pot out of the Instant Pot. Since most bowls or pots don’t have handles, it can be hard to remove it, especially if it fits tightly into the inner pot.

You may want to buy a heat-proof sling or create one yourself.

This will help you get the container out of the instant pot after it’s done cooking. You can purchase the one pictured above on Amazon. That’s the official Instant Pot silicon sling.

To make one yourself, fold a strip of aluminium foil into a long rectangle and make sure that it fits under the container with room on the sides to grab it later.

Tips for Pot in Pot Cooking

  • When you do pot-in-pot cooking, whatever is in the top bowl will take 2-3 minutes longer to cook, especially if you put a lid on it.
  • If you’re cooking two things at once, in a double-stack tray, and each has a lid on it, it can take 2x as long to cook. You may have to play around with the timing a bit to get it right.
  • Remember that you can’t cook something that needs a lot of time with something that doesn’t, because they won’t cook at the same rate – so one will be overcooked while the other is undercooked. For instance, rice and broccoli cook in vastly different times.
  • Make sure that whatever you’re cooking in the bottom of the instant pot won’t burn or be ruined if it has to have a few minutes of extra cooking time.
  • Certain containers retain heat better than others and will include carry-over cooking, which can overcook your food. Glass and ceramic holds heat longer than stainless steel. So take that into account in your cooking time. Similarly, silicon doesn’t heat up as much or as quickly and it can take longer to cook foods in silicon.

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. And there are many accessories that will help you get more out of your Instant Pot.

If you don’t have one yet, check out our guide on which one to buy. Also see our guide to How to Use an Instant Pot for more information.

» You might also be interested in Instant Pot vs Air Fryer: Which is Better?

Conclusion

As you can see, using the pot in pot cooking method in the Instant Pot opens up so many new and useful possibilities for cooking in your electric pressure cooker. It’s a great way to maximize on the space and get your whole meal cooked quickly.

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pot in pot cooking instant pot

2 thoughts on “How to Do Pot in Pot Cooking in the Instant Pot

  1. Sara Lynn says:

    Hi. I have a question. I have a 6 qt. Instant pot. Getting ready to purchase an Inner Pot so I can do Pot in Pot cooking. I should get the 3 qt. Size vs. the 6 qt. Size correct?
    Thank you.

    • Laura says:

      Sara, you don’t need to get another inner pot to do this. Check out our post on pot-in-pot cooking. You should find some good stainless steel bowls to cook in instead. All stainless steel and silicon baking dishes are good to use. You can get whatever size and shapes you like that fit.

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