Whether you’re brand new to the Instant Pot or have been using one for years, there are always going to be times when you have look up how to cook something. For instance, even though I’ve cooked hundreds of chicken breasts in my Instant Pot, I still have trouble remembering whether I should cook them for six minutes or eight! (Note to self: it’s six!)
As an antidote to my forgetfulness, as well as to make a useful resource I could share with others, I created my very own Instant Pot Cooking Times Cheat Sheet! I keep this helpful reference guide at the ready in my kitchen so it’s always there when I need it.
I’ll be sharing my Cheat Sheet, both in printable PDF format and as a mobile-friendly download, a little later in this post. But before we get to those, I thought it would be helpful to review some of the basics of using the Instant Pot first. (Even seasoned users like myself can benefit from going back to basics!) :-)
How To Use An Instant Pot: The Basics
While most Instant Pot models offer a dizzying variety of preset cooking programs, all those buttons can be a little intimidating! I always suggest sticking to using the “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” option to begin with, because it’s the best way to master the fundamentals (in my humble opinion, at least!)
Older Instant Pots have the “Manual” button, but Instant Pot changed this button to “Pressure Cook” on newer models (even though they do the same thing.) Using this setting, you have control over a number of settings that you wouldn’t be able to adjust using the other program buttons, such as setting the cooking time and adjusting the pressure level. (I almost always use High pressure, but it never hurts to have options!) ;-)
You can use “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” to cook almost any type of food in your Instant Pot, as long as you know a few basic pieces of information:
How Long Does It Take To Cook _______?
How long will the food take to cook? This can vary widely based on a number of different factors, including volume, size, and type of food. Even preference can play a role here!
How Much Water Do I Add?
How much liquid do you need to add? Generally, you need to add at least 1 cup of liquid to the pot in order to generate the steam necessary for pressure cooking. If you don’t add enough liquid to the pot, it may never come to pressure. (It can also result in a “burn” error message, which means that the Instant Pot shut itself off it because it sensed the bottom of the pot was getting too hot.)
Any type of liquid will count toward that minimum of 1 cup, including water, broth, salsa, a sauce, and even the natural liquid trapped inside fresh fruits and vegetables. You can also choose to cook your food in the liquid or above it by resting it on a trivet.
Quick Release? Or Natural Release?
Which pressure release method is best for the food you want to cook? How you depressurize the pot can make a big difference in the texture and moisture level of your food! The Quick Release is good for foods that can easily overcook, while Natural Release can be better for tenderizing tough meats (and for avoiding messy splatters from foods that tend to foam up while cooking, like beans and grains.)
Instant Pot Cooking Times
Between cooking time, liquid, and pressure release, knowing the cooking time is probably the most important piece of the puzzle. Here are Instant Pot cooking times for a number of common foods:
Meat & Seafood
- Always use Quick Release for seafood to avoid overcooking it!
- Steaming is a great way to cook seafood. Place your seafood directly onto the trivet, or use a steaming rack.
- Allow at least 10 minutes of Natural Release for meat, or a bit longer for large cuts and roasts, then Quick Release the remaining pressure.
- Use the “Sauté” setting to sear large cuts of meat before pressure cooking. It helps seal in moisture and adds extra flavor!
|Type of Meat/Seafood||Cook Time|
|Beef (pot roast, rump, round, chuck; small chunks)||13 minutes per pound|
|Beef (pot roast, rump, round, chuck; large cut)||15 minutes per pound|
|Beef (ribs)||25 minutes|
|Chicken (breasts, boneless, fresh)||6 minutes|
|Chicken (breasts, boneless, frozen)||8 minutes|
|Chicken (thighs, bone-in)||10 minutes|
|Chicken (whole)||8 minutes per pound|
|Fish (fillets, fresh)||2 minutes|
|Fish (fillets, frozen)||4 minutes|
|Fish (whole)||5 minutes|
|Meatballs (any ground meat)||8 minutes per pound|
|Pork (loin roast)||20 minutes per pound|
|Pork (butt roast)||15 minutes per pound|
|Pork (ribs)||20 minutes|
|Turkey (breast, boneless)||8 minutes|
|Turkey (breast, whole)||22 minutes|
|Turkey (drumsticks)||20 minutes|
Rice & Grains
- When cooking rice and other grains, use Natural Release for 10 minutes, then Quick Release the remaining pressure.
|Type of Rice/Grain||Grain : Water Ratio||Cooking Time|
|Couscous||1 : 2||3 minutes|
|Millet||1 : 2||10 minutes|
|Oats (quick)||1 : 2||1 minute|
|Oats (old fashioned)||1 : 2||10 minutes|
|Oats (steel-cut)||1 : 2||15 minutes|
|Pasta||Enough water to cover||4 minutes|
|Quinoa||1 : 1.25||1 minute|
|Rice (basmati, jasmine, white)||1 : 1||4 minutes|
|Rice (brown)||1 : 1||25 minutes|
|Rice (wild)||1 : 1||20 minutes|
Beans & Legumes
- When cooking beans, allow at least 10 minutes of Natural Release, followed by a Quick Release of the remaining pressure.
- When cooking dried beans, never fill the pot more than halfway, as they expand quite a bit during cooking.
- Always use enough liquid to cover the beans.
- Pre-soaking your beans isn’t absolutely necessary, but it does make them cook a bit faster.
|Type of Bean/Legume||Cooking Time|
|Black beans||25 minutes (8 if soaked)|
|Chickpeas||40 minutes (15 if soaked)|
|Great Northern beans||25 minutes (8 if soaked)|
|Kidney beans (red)||25 minutes (8 if soaked)|
|Kidney beans (white)||35 minutes (12 if soaked)|
|Lentils (green or brown)||10 minutes|
|Lentils (red, split)||6 minutes|
|Lentils (yellow, split)||20 minutes|
|Navy||25 minutes (8 if soaked)|
|Pinto||25 minutes (8 if soaked|
Fruits & Vegetables
- Steaming is a great method for cooking fruits and veggies. Place the trivet or a steamer basket in the inner pot, along with at least 1 cup of water.
- Always perform a Quick Release after cooking fruits or veggies.
|Type of Fruit/Veggie||Cooking Time|
|Apple (pieces)||2 minutes|
|Apples (whole)||4 minutes|
|Artichoke (whole, trimmed)||10 minutes|
|Beans (green, yellow, or wax)||1 minute (3 if frozen)|
|Broccoli (florets)||1 minute (3 if frozen)|
|Broccoli (stalks)||3 minutes (4 if frozen)|
|Brussels sprouts (whole)||3 minutes (4 if frozen)|
|Carrots (whole or chunked)||6 minutes (8 if frozen)|
|Corn (on the cob)||4 minutes (6 if frozen)|
|Mixed veggies||3 minutes (5 if frozen)|
|Pears (whole)||3 minutes|
|Pears (slices)||2 minutes|
|Potatoes (cubed)||4 minutes (5 if frozen)|
|Potatoes (baby, whole)||8 minutes|
|Potatoes (large, whole)||13 minutes|
|Sweet potato (cubed)||4 minutes (5 if frozen)|
|Sweet potato (whole)||12 minutes|
Get My Instant Pot Cooking Times “Cheat Sheet”
As you can see, keeping track of that many Instant Pot cooking times could be a tall order indeed! That’s why I decided to put together my very own Instant Pot Cooking Times “Cheat Sheet” as a way to quickly look up the cooking times for a select number of foods I cook frequently.
But my Cheat Sheet features more than just cooking times. It has a lot of other useful information too, like pressure release designations, tips about cooking frozen foods, and more! (I’ll go over those features in detail a little later.)
I’ve made my Instant Pot Cooking Times Cheat Sheet available in two different formats, both of which you can download for free! Use the first link to download the Cheat Sheet as a printable PDF file. Use the second link to download a mobile-friendly image file that’s perfect for smartphones and tablets.
Instant Pot Cooking Times Cheat Sheet
Use the button below to download a printable PDF file of my Instant Pot Cooking Times Cheat Sheet!
Instant Pot Cooking Times (Mobile Version)
Use the button below to download a mobile-friendly image file of my Instant Pot Cooking Times Cheat Sheet for smartphones or tablets.
3 Tips For Using The Instant Pot Cooking Times Cheat Sheet
1. Pressure Release Designations
The symbol in the upper-right corner of each box tells you which pressure release method to use after cooking that item:
- Stopwatch: Use the Quick Release method by (carefully) turning the pressure release handle to rapidly release steam and pressure from the pot.
- Steam: Use the Natural Release method by simply allowing the pressure to escape naturally, until the valve drops and the lid unlocks.
- No. 10: Use a combination of both pressure release methods by allowing the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then turning the pressure release handle to release any remaining pressure in the pot.
2. Sauté Designation
Wondering which foods you ought to sauté before pressure cooking them? Look for foods that have a fire symbol in the lower-left corner of their box!
The “Sauté” function provides an easy, no-fuss way to add a deeper and more savory flavor to your food (especially meats!) Just add some oil to the pot, sear your meat on all sides until it’s nice and brown, then hit Cancel and proceed with your desired cooking method.
3. Cooking From Frozen
In the upper right corner of the cheat sheet, you’ll find a note about how to adjust your cooking time for frozen foods. A good rule of thumb is to add 1-3 minutes to your cook time if you’re cooking from frozen rather than thawing it first.
Add 1 minute to your cook time if you’re cooking a relatively small amount of frozen food, like a couple of chicken breasts. Add 2 minutes if you’re cooking a moderate amount of food, like a roast, and add 3 minutes for large quantities of food.
Keep in mind that when cooking frozen foods, your Instant Pot will take longer to come to pressure. (That’s why you only need to add a minute or two of cooking time, because the food will be thawing as heat and pressure build inside the pot.)
What’s your favorite thing to cook in your Instant Pot, or what would you like to try first?
More Useful Instant Pot Resources
- To learn more about the difference between a pressure cooker and a slow cooker, read this post.
- New to the Instant Pot? Check out my Instant Success with Jillee video course, which is perfect for new users!
- There’s plenty of dinnertime inspiration to be found in this list of 25 of the best Instant Pot recipes.
- Learn how to deep clean your Instant Pot to keep it sanitary and working properly.
- Make sure to check out my ebooks Everything Instant Pot, a practical handbooks of tips and tricks, and Instant Pot Favorites, a collection of tasty pressure cooker recipes, in my shop!