Milk Street Fast and Slow

Instant Pot Cooking at the Speed You Need


By Christopher Kimball

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Cook it fast or cook it slow: 150 flexible, flavorful Instant Pot and multicooker recipes designed for your schedule, from the James Beard Award-winning team at Milk Street.

Instant Pots and other multicookers can transform your routine, turning day-long simmers and braises into quick dishes that are achievable even on a busy weeknight. But did you know that the same pot is also a top-notch slow cooker, delivering make-ahead flexibility?

Milk Street Fast and Slow shows you how to make the most of your multicooker’s unique capabilities with a host of one-pot recipes that show how to prepare the same dish two ways. For the quickest meals, use the pressure cooker setting to cut down on cooking time. And if you prefer the flexibility of a slow cooker, you can start your cooking hours ahead.

Tantalize your taste buds and change the way you cook with this mouthwatering menu:
  • Vegetables shine on center stage in dozens of hearty vegetarian mains and sides like Potato and Green Pea Curry and Eggplant, Tomato, and Chickpea Tagine.
  • From Risotto with Sausage and Arugula to steel-cut oats and polenta, get slow-cooking grains on the table fast — no standing and stirring required.
  • Beans cooked from scratch now join the weeknight lineup. Skip the overnight soak and load up on flavor in dishes like Black Beans with Bacon and Tequila.
  • One-pot pastas mean more flavor and less cleanup. Cook Lemony Orzo with Chicken and Arugula right in the sauce — no boiling, no draining, no problem.
  • Cook chicken with a new world of flavor, from Chicken in Green Mole to Chicken Soup with Bok Choy and Ginger.
  • Transform tough cuts of pork into everyday ingredients — from Filipino Pork Shoulder Adobo and Hoisin-Glazed Baby Back Ribs to Carnitas with Pickled Red Onions.
  • Make beef affordable by coaxing cheap (but flavorful) cuts to tenderness. Even all-day pot roasts and Short Rib Ragu become Tuesday night-friendly with little hands-on effort.

These dishes take advantage of the Milk Street approach to cooking: fresh flavor combinations and innovative techniques from around the world. In these pages, you’ll find a compelling new approach to pressure cooking and slow cooking every day.

Praise for Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street:
“Kimball is nothing if not an obsessive tester, so every recipe has an implicit guarantee . . . Scanning the streamlined but explicit instructions, you think: easy, quick, works, boom.” — The Atlantic



At Milk Street, we use the Instant Pot to cook at the speed we need. Its marriage of sauté pan, pressure cooker and slow cooker allows us to control the pace of cooking, while keeping flavors fresh and bright. Most of the recipes in this book offer you the choice of fast or slow, with instructions for both pressure cooking and slow cooking.

Conventional wisdom is that the Instant Pot is a better pressure cooker than slow cooker. We loved both functions, and developed these recipes to make the most of each. Partnered with the sauté mode—which streamlines browning and kickstarts the cooking—we found the slow cooker produced reliably great food.

The recipes in this book were developed using a 6-quart Instant Pot. We also tested our recipes in several alternative brands of multicookers and found they worked just as well. Check the user manuals to adapt the instructions.

Whether we want it fast or slow, the Instant Pot lets us decide.


Tips and Tricks for Getting the Most Out of the Instant Pot

At Milk Street, we spent hundreds of hours working with the Instant Pot to perfect the recipes for this book. Here are some key lessons learned along the way.


For this book we developed our recipes for a 6-quart Instant Pot, using the included accessories. Though Instant Pots include a variety of preset functions, we found we got the best results using manual settings for pressure cooking, slow cooking and sautéing. Though the buttons can vary slightly between models, our recipes use directions that are universal to Instant Pots.

We also tested an 8-quart Instant Pot and several other popular brands of multicookers. We found they worked just as well, but timings may need to be adjusted. We found larger capacity multicookers, including larger Instant Pot models, cooked a bit more quickly than the 6-quart model.

The instruction booklet for an Instant Pot—or any multicooker—will advise checking all gaskets and valves to make sure everything is seated properly and moving freely before starting to cook. This is important!

Before each cooking session check your lid and:

1. Make sure the lid gasket is properly inserted.

2. Make sure the pressure valve is all the way popped in and that there is no food residue clogging its holes.

3. Make sure the locking mechanism (the silver pin to the right of the pressure valve on the inside of the lid) slides easily. If any of these things isn’t seated or moving as it should be, the pot cannot seal properly and won’t come up to pressure.


Pay attention to size specifications when prepping ingredients. Sizes don’t have to be exact, but if a size is specified try to stay as close to it as possible to ensure the food cooks in the appropriate time and to the correct texture. Broadly speaking, it’s better to err on the side of too large since undercooked ingredients can be cooked longer once the lid comes off, but overcooked ingredients can’t be reversed.

Take advantage of hands-off cooking. Pressure cooking and slow cooking in the Instant Pot don’t require inter-mittent stirring or much babysitting at all. Read the recipe before you begin cooking to identify any ingredients that aren’t needed until pressure cooking or slow cooking is complete. Once the lid goes on and the timer is set, you’re free to prep those ingredients.

When braising, go low on liquid. For a rich, meaty braise, it’s not necessary to add much liquid. The meat and any vegetables will produce their own moisture. Adding too much liquid dilutes the flavors of the finished dish.

Divide and conquer larger cuts. When cooking large cuts, such as a pot roast, it’s best to divide the meat into smaller, evenly sized pieces that cook more quickly and more evenly. Tying the pieces ensures they are compact (so they fit in the pot) and won’t fall apart during cooking.


Pressure cooking is faster than conventional cooking because, under pressure, water can be heated above its natural boiling point of 212°F. The higher temperature in the pot means that food cooks faster. Meats and other sturdy proteins, beans, some grains, hardy vegetables and even pasta are excellent candidates for pressure cooking.

When switching from sauté mode to pressure cook, be sure to scrape up every bit of stuck-on browned bits from the bottom of the pot before beginning the pressure cycle. Stuck-on food can scorch, which will trigger the burn sensor and automatically shut off the pot.

During cooking, intense pressure builds up in the pot. When cooking is complete, the pot cannot be opened until the pressure is released. This can be done two ways: quickly, by opening the venting valve, or slowly, by allowing the pressure to naturally subside on its own.

Quick release is best for foods that overcook easily, or that would become mushy if not immediately removed from the pot. To avoid steam burns when quick-releasing pressure in the pot, use a pair of tongs or a long spoon to open the pressure valve. Make sure your hand or arm is not positioned over the vent when the valve is opened, as steam can cause burns.

Natural release is best for sturdy ingredients, particularly meats. The slow release allows the muscle fibers to relax and reabsorb some of the liquid they expelled during cooking. We also sometimes use a combination, starting with natural and then quick releasing at the end. This allows us to finish the cooking with the more gentle residual heat of the pot.

Check the pressure release valve after removing and returning the lid. If the lid is removed and then returned for further cooking, make sure the pressure release valve is in the correct position. It swings easily between sealing and venting when the lid is tilted or flipped.


During slow cooking, the Instant Pot heats gradually and maintains a temperature between 180°F and 210°F (depending on the setting) for a set duration. Meats, hardy vegetables and beans do well with slow cooking. Pastas, seafood and delicate grains and vegetables do not.

The Instant Pot tends to come to temperature more slowly than conventional slow cookers. This can considerably extend cooking time. To overcome this we bring the contents to a boil using the sauté setting before switching to the slow cook function. This jump-starts the heating so the total cooking time is shorter. Our start-to-finish cooking times reflect that.

If, at the end of the indicated cooking time, the dish isn’t quite done and you want to continue with slow cooking, turn the pot off, press More/Sauté and bring the contents to a boil. Press Cancel, lock on the lid, select Slow Cook, making sure the pressure valve is set to Venting, then cook until done. Heat is lost when the pot is uncovered during slow cooking and it takes some time to recover. Bringing the liquid to a boil speeds heat recovery.

Feel free to combo cook. If a dish isn’t quite done at the end of the recommended slow cook time but you’d like to hurry it along, you can switch to the sauté or pressure cook function to get it across the finish line. Keep in mind that when pressure cooking the pot will take time to pressurize, so if only a few more minutes of cooking is needed the sauté function may be the better option.


Take note of residual heat. When using the sauté function, the heating element will continue to generate heat through the base of the pot. It can maintain a simmer for about another 5 minutes after cutting power. If something goes wrong and you are concerned about scorching or overcooking, don’t just turn the machine off. Also remove the inner pot from the housing and transfer to a heat-safe surface. Similarly, if the inner pot is removed in the process of serving food, don’t put the empty pot back in the hot machine. The residual heat may scorch any remaining food, making for a challenging cleanup.

Also, take advantage of residual heat. Even after turn-off, the pot retains a fair amount of heat, which can be used to gently cook or warm through delicate items such as shrimp.

Pay attention to stirring instructions. Cooking is more even if the pot’s contents are evenly distributed and solids make good contact with liquids. So before locking on the lid, make sure that, for instance, the beef chunks in a stew aren’t piled on one side of the pot. In some recipes that call for tomatoes and where liquid is scant, we add the tomatoes on top of the other ingredients and do not stir them in. Tomatoes, if not diluted, have a tendency to burn on the bottom, so keeping them on top prevents this.

Use a kitchen towel or tongs to protect your hands when using a steam rack with handles. The rack makes it easy to add and remove large single items, such as a whole head of cauliflower or whole chicken, but the handles are hot after cooking. We find that a potholder or oven mitt can be too bulky.

If you open the pot and the dish appears too thin and watery, let it rest for a few minutes to give the ingredients a chance to absorb some of the liquid. If after 5 or 10 minutes the mixture still is too dilute, use the sauté function to bring it to a simmer, then cook until the excess moisture evaporates and the consistency has thickened.


Caramelized Carrot Soup with Fennel Seeds and Cumin (here)

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

Basque Leek and Potato Soup Vegetarian

Caramelized Carrot Soup with Fennel Seeds and Cumin Vegetarian

Two-Corn Chowder with Green Chili and Scallions

Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes Vegetarian

Mashed Potatoes with Cabbage, Caraway and Dill

Mashed Potatoes with Fontina, Asiago and Black Pepper

Mashed Potatoes with Celery Root and Tarragon

Spicy Collard Greens with Tomatoes and Peanuts Vegetarian

Mushroom and Toasted Sesame Noodles

Eggplant, Tomato and Chickpea Tagine Vegetarian

Potato and Green Pea Curry Vegetarian

Braised Red Cabbage with Apples Vegetarian

Spiced Sweet Potatoes with Cashews and Cilantro?Vegetarian

Steamed Whole Cauliflower Vegetarian

Steamed Whole Cauliflower with Miso and Honey

Steamed Whole Cauliflower with Mustard, Parsley and Feta

Steamed Whole Cauliflower with Harissa and Mint


Many people buy an Instant Pot with visions of making hearty, beefy stews without spending a lot of time in the kitchen. And it certainly is a great tool for turning out near-effortless braises and ragus. But we were pleasantly surprised to find that vegetables shine just as brightly as heavier fare. The Instant Pot brings the same fast, no-fuss approach to hearty root vegetables that it does to chunks of meat, and it can really tease out the full, rich flavors of classics such as collard greens. On the lighter side, it’s also a good choice for brightly flavored vegetable chowders and soups.

To make the most of vegetables we steam with a scant amount of liquid. Our mashed Yukon Gold potatoes cook in just ½ cup water. The result: the potatoes really taste like potatoes because the flavor doesn’t go down the drain with the cooking water. (Added bonus: We also skip the bother of draining.) We came up with some flavorful variations, including a cabbage and caraway version and another that balances the rich creaminess of two types of cheese with sharp black pepper. Our steamed cauliflower also uses ½ cup water and comes with three seasoning pastes, including a salty-savory blend of miso and honey.

For textural contrast, we toast nuts and seeds to intensify crunch and flavor. No need for an extra skillet; we do this right in the Instant Pot. Toasted almonds help garnish our carrot soup; toasted sesame seeds add flavor to our mushroom noodle dish. And we balance sweet with heat. Warm curry spices and the sharp heat of jalapeños add contrast to our sweet potatoes with cashews and cilantro. Cumin, paprika and cinnamon bring spicy depth to our eggplant, tomato and chickpea tagine inspired by the stews of North Africa.

To amplify flavor, we add baking soda to accelerate caramelization, a technique we picked up from the crew at “Modernist Cuisine.” We use it in a carrot soup and find it really amplifies the flavor. Adding a small amount of alkaline baking soda to carrots during cooking speeds up cooking, creates more browning and deepens flavor.

Vegetables may be the best-kept secret of the Instant Pot. Taking inspiration from cooks around the world, we look for easy ways to concentrate flavor and use high-impact ingredients like spice mixes that deliver complex—but not complicated—flavor.


Active time: 30 minutes

Fast start to finish: 1¼ hours

Slow start to finish: 4½ to 5 hours

Servings: 4 to 6

This aromatic, colorful soup, inspired by a recipe in “Bollywood Kitchen” by Sri Rao, gets its rich flavor from two spice blends (garam masala and curry powder), plus coconut oil and whole-milk yogurt. If you like, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth to make the dish vegetarian. Toasted pumpkin seeds sprinkled on just before serving add color contrast, nutty flavor and crunchy texture. You can use store-bought roasted pumpkin seeds (plain or spiced) or you can toast raw ones in the Instant Pot before you begin cooking the soup. Simply cook them on More/High Sauté, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and fragrant, about 4 minutes, then transfer to a small bowl; the seeds will crisp as they cool.

Don’t add the yogurt directly to the hot puree, as the heat will cause the yogurt to separate. Gently warming the yogurt by whisking it with about 1 cup of the puree, then adding the mixture to the pot will prevent it from curdling.

2 tablespoons coconut oil, preferably unrefined

1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon curry powder

2 teaspoons garam masala

2-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks (4 cups)

1 quart low-sodium chicken broth

½ cup plain whole-milk yogurt, plus more to serve

½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds (see note)

START: On a 6-quart Instant Pot, select More/High Sauté. Add the coconut oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to brown, about 7 minutes. Stir in the ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the curry powder and garam masala, add the squash and broth. Stir to combine, then distribute in an even layer.


Press Cancel, lock the lid in place and move the pressure valve to Sealing. Select Pressure Cook or Manual; make sure the pressure level is set to High. Set the cooking time for 10 minutes. When pressure cooking is complete, allow the pressure to reduce naturally for 10 minutes, then release the remaining steam by moving the pressure valve to Venting. Press Cancel, then carefully open the pot.


With the pot still on More/High Sauté, bring the mixture to a boil. Press Cancel, lock the lid in place and move the pressure valve to Venting. Select Slow Cook and set the temperature to More/High. Set the cooking time for 4 to 4½ hours; the squash is done when a skewer inserted into the largest piece meets no resistance. Press Cancel, then carefully open the pot.

FINISH: In a blender and working in 2 batches, puree the mixture until smooth, about 30 seconds, transferring the first batch to a bowl; return both batches to the pot. (Alternatively, use an immersion blender to puree the mixture directly in the pot). Select More/High Sauté and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, then press Cancel to turn off the pot. Remove the insert from the pot. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt and about 1 cup of the puree, then stir into the soup. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with a dollop of yogurt and sprinkled with the pumpkin seeds and additional pepper.


Active time: 25 minutes

Fast start to finish: 50 minutes

Slow start to finish: 3 to 3½ hours

Servings: 4

Porrusalda, a rustic soup from Spain’s Basque country, takes a few humble ingredients and transforms them into a light but satisfying vegetarian meal. Leeks’ many layers tend to trap dirt and sand, so make sure to thoroughly rinse the sliced leeks, then drain them well in a colander so excess water doesn’t dilute the soup. Sliced crusty bread drizzled with olive oil and toasted until golden is a great accompaniment. Or to make the soup more substantial (although no longer vegetarian) garnish bowls with flaked smoked trout, a nod to traditional versions made with bacalao, or salted cod.

Don’t substitute russet potatoes for the Yukon Golds. High-starch russets will turn mealy as they break down. If Yukon Golds aren’t an option, use red potatoes instead.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

3 medium leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, sliced ½ inch thick, rinsed and drained

4 bay leaves

1½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1- to 1½-inch chunks

3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick

6 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to serve

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

START: On a 6-quart Instant Pot, select Normal/Medium Sauté. Add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the leeks and bay and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, carrots, garlic, pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper and 5 cups water, then distribute in an even layer.


Press Cancel, lock the lid in place and move the pressure valve to Sealing. Select Pressure Cook or Manual; make sure the pressure level is set to High. Set the cooking time for 3 minutes. When pressure cooking is complete, quick-release the steam by moving the pressure valve to Venting. Press Cancel, then carefully open the pot.


Select More/High Sauté and bring the mixture to a boil. Press Cancel, lock the lid in place and move the pressure valve to Venting. Select Slow Cook and set the temperature to More/High. Set the cooking time for 2½ to 3 hours; the soup is done when a skewer inserted into a chunk of potato meets no resistance. Press Cancel, then carefully open the pot.

FINISH: Remove and discard the bay. If you prefer a thicker consistency, use a wooden spoon to gently crush some of the potatoes against the side of the pot, then stir to combine. Taste, then season with salt and black pepper. Serve drizzled with additional oil and sprinkled with additional pepper flakes.


Active time: 20 minutes

Fast start to finish: 1 hour

Slow start to finish: 3¾ to 4¼ hours

Servings: 4

This soup is simple to make but gets amazing depth of flavor thanks to a technique from the encyclopedic cookbook “Modernist Cuisine.” The recipe uses baking soda, an alkali, to accelerate the caramelization process of the carrots’ natural sugars; the soup takes on a sienna hue because of this browning. The fennel seeds and cumin add complexity without taking the spotlight away from the carrots. Garnishes of butter-toasted almonds and cilantro add texture and freshness; if you like, for added creaminess and a touch of tartness, top each serving with a spoonful of plain whole-milk yogurt.

Don’t substitute water or broth for the carrot juice. The juice bolsters the carrots’ sweet, earthy flavor as well as their vibrant color. Use shelf-stable bottled carrot juice or fresh-pressed sold in the refrigerator case; both yield good results.

4 tablespoons (½ stick) salted butter, cut into 4 pieces, divided

½ cup sliced almonds

3½ cups carrot juice

1½ pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch sections

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus cilantro leaves, to serve

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

2½ teaspoons ground cumin

½ teaspoon baking soda

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons lime juice, plus lime wedges, to serve

START: On a 6-quart Instant Pot, select Normal/Medium Sauté. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and let melt. Add the almonds and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Press Cancel. Using a large spoon, transfer to a small bowl or plate. To the pot, add the carrot juice, carrots, cilantro, fennel seeds, cumin, baking soda and 1½ teaspoons salt. Stir to combine, then distribute in an even layer.


Lock the lid in place and move the pressure valve to Sealing. Select Pressure Cook or Manual; make sure the pressure level is set to High. Set the cooking time for 20 minutes. When pressure cooking is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then release the remaining steam by moving the pressure valve to


On Sale
Apr 7, 2020
Page Count
288 pages

Christopher Kimball

About the Author

Christopher Kimball's Milk Street is changing how we cook by searching the world for bold, simple recipes and techniques. Adapted and tested for home cooks everywhere, these lessons are the backbone of what we call the new home cooking.  We are located at 177 Milk Street in downtown Boston, site of our editorial offices and cooking school. It also is where we record Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street television and radio shows, and is home to our online store, which curates craft food and cookware products from around the world. Visit to shop and for more information.

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