I want to start using a pressure cooker. What do I need to know?

Doubling or Halving Recipes

  • Keep in mind the size of pot and do not fill more than 2/3 full for most foods and no more than 1/2 full (including cooking liquid) for foods that expand such as rice, beans, lentils, grains and dried fruit.

​​Root Vegetables

  • Trim off long roots or stems, but leave about a half inch intact to prevent bleeding; scrub but leave skins intact.
  • Large beets cook in about 25 minutes, and small beets in about 13 minutes. 
  • Whole potatoes are great! Put into pot 1 to 2 cups of water and scrubbed potatoes on a trivet; cook for 7 to 12 minutes depending on the size, age and variety of potatoes.


  • A time savings of about two-thirds compared with simmering in a covered pot.
  • Never fill more than ½ full for grains and legumes.
  • Because there is little evaporation when pressure cooking, the amount of liquid used is usually less than the amount used for conventional stove top cooking. As well, grains often need to be drained, depending on the recipe.

​Soup and Stocks

  • Add the bones or carcass with or without meat, 1 small onion, 1 coarsely chopped carrot, 1  celery stalk with leaves, approximately 8 cups water and cook on high pressure for 45 minutes.
  • Do not add salt.

Hard Cooked Eggs

  • The colour, flavour and texture of hard cooked eggs prepared in the pressure cooker are excellent.
  • They are quick and easy - just add a cup of water to the pressure cooker with a rack or trivet in the bottom and, place eggs on the rack. Bring to high pressure and cook 4 minutes. Do a natural release which will take about 5 minutes, then a quick release, if necessary. Open the cooker and cool eggs immediately in lots of ice water.
  • These are great for large batches of egg salad, devilled eggs or, potato salad.

​​Less Tender Cuts of Beef

  • Pressure cooking can be used to quickly simulate the effects of long braising or simmering.
  • Use fresh herbs wherever possible
  • Brown meats first, for added flavour.
  • Season with a minimum amount of salt and pepper. Flavours will intensify in a pressure cooker.
  • When using wine in the pressure cooker, always reduce the wine by simmering it down to reduce by half. If the wine is added without doing a reduction, it will have a more powerful intense flavour.
  • Cover with foil for a few minutes or a silicone lid (available for sale in the ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen) before shredding to allow the meat juices to set.
  • Always remember to remove the lid by turning it away from oneself when unlocking it so the steam does not go in your face.
  • Use a fat separator or refrigerate overnight to solidify the fat for easy removal.

​One Pot Meals

 In addition to being able to do chili, soups and stews, complete meals can be done in a pressure cooker. By using foil packets and steamer baskets, several recipes can be layered inside the pressure cooker and cooked all at once. Side dishes of vegetables and potatoes can even be done at the same time as a roast. Wrapping delicate vegetables in a foil will allow them to be cooked longer than if they are in the cooking liquid. Check your manual for maximum fill levels when stacking packets.

​Cooling Large Batches of Food

Before refrigerating or freezing prepared food, it is important to cool it quickly. This is especially important for a large quantity of food. Foods that are not cooled quickly have the potential to cause foodborne illness. Here are some tips on how to cool prepared foods quickly:
  • An item prepared in a Dutch oven or stockpot can be cooled quickly by placing the Dutch oven or stockpot in a sink of ice water. Stir the item frequently to allow steam to escape, but do not allow the ice water to enter the pot.
  • After an item is prepared, it can be cooled quickly by transferring it to several shallow containers. Place the containers on cooling racks to allow for air circulation while they cool and, if possible, stir the item frequently.
  • If an item, such as a soup or stew, can be diluted slightly, adding some ice cubes and stirring while they are melting will speed the cooling.
  • If an item, such as a casserole, has been prepared with the intent to reheat and serve it later, cut vents in the top of it to allow steam to escape and transfer the pan or dish to a cooling rack. Once the item has cooled for about 30 minutes on the rack, it can be placed in a rimmed baking sheet filled with ice to allow it to cool more quickly. Waiting about 30 minutes before putting the item on ice is important if the item was baked in a glass or ceramic baking dish as the sudden change in temperature could cause the dish to crack.
  • For a whole roasted turkey, chicken or duck, the meat should be removed from the carcass as soon as possible after serving. Roasts should also be fully carved after serving. This will help the meat cool.
  • Once an item has been cooled enough to be transferred to the fridge, it can be left loosely covered in the fridge to allow the cooling to continue. If possible, place the item on the top shelf in the fridge so that nothing falls into it. If the item can be stirred, periodically stirring the item in the fridge before covering it will help ensure it cools. 
Last updated on January 22, 2019