Are you feeling the pressure to try out a pressure cooker? Once you learn how to handle a few of the methods and buttons, you’ll be well on your way to quick and crowd-pleasing weeknight meals. 

Decoding Pressure Cooker Recipes

Some pressure cooker recipes are riddled with acronyms that can make a newbie nervous. Have no fear! Here’s a quick guide to quick releases and more: 

Quick Release (QPR or QR)

For recipes that call for Quick Release, you will manually move the venting knob on your cooker’s lid from the sealing position to the venting position when the cooking time is done. HEADS UP: This will create a lot of steam. No worries, you are NOT creating a volcano in your kitchen. 

Quick Release helps prevent overcooking. It’s great for:

  • Vegetables like broccoli, bok choy and corn

  • Delicate seafood like salmon, crab and lobster 

It’s not great for: 

  • Soups or any food with a large amount of liquid that may splatter

  • Foamy food that could clog the release valve

  • Food that breaks apart easily like beans

Natural Pressure Release (NPR or NR)

For this release method, you simply wait for the Floating Valve on your cooker’s lid to drop before opening. This is great for soups and foamy dishes that may splatter or clog your machine. Depending on your dish, this can take 10-25 minutes. 

The Hybrid Release: 10-15 Minute Natural Release

There are also recipes that call for 10-15 minute Natural Release. In this case, you wait the allotted time after cooking is complete to manually release the rest of the pressure. This method both reduces the chance of splatter with a Quick Release and cuts down on wait time with a Natural Release. 

Watch for Hidden Additional Time:

Instant Pots are a quick way to get food on the table, but they aren’t actually instant. Some recipe developers do a great job of factoring in all the “hidden” additional time using your pressure cooker will take. Don’t forget: 

  • It takes 8-10 minutes to build up pressure.

  • Natural Release can take anywhere from 10-25 minutes.

  • Hybrid Releases can add 10-15 minutes to your cooking time. 

And now, five family-friendly recipes: 

Instant Pot Cheesy Chicken Pasta 

This one offers a lot to love. It’s easy for the cook and delicious for your family, that is if your kids happen to enjoy cheese and pasta. 



  • 2 pounds of skinless boneless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch chunks (approximately 5 breasts)

  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil 

  • 4 tablespoons of salted butter

  • 1 bag of orecchiette pasta (1 pound bag)

  • 2 cups of whole milk

  • 2 cups of water or chicken broth

  • 1 tablespoon of yellow mustard

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 4 cups of shredded mild cheddar cheese

For the full recipe, click here

Instant Pot Pork Roast and Potatoes

Weeknight-worthy timing and affordable ingredients make this delicious recipe a must-try. 



  • 1 pound pork shoulder (or pork boneless ribs)

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 teaspoon Pappy's seasoning (you can substitute taco seasoning)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • freshly ground pepper

  • 5 medium potatoes

  • 1 cup corn (frozen, canned or fresh)

For the full recipe, click here

Instant Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup

A wide variety of fun topping options lets your kids customize their meal. 



  • 6 slices of bacon

  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped

  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2.5 pounds of potatoes (about 6 medium potatoes)

  • 2 cups chicken broth

  • 1 cup cream

  • 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)

  • Pepper, to taste

  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  • 4 green onions, finely sliced

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

For the full recipe, click here

Instant Pot Chana Masala (with Extra Veggies) 

This recipe is a wonderful way to introduce new spices to your kids without the dish actually being spicy. Plus, extra veggies? We’re in. 



  • 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes

  • 1 cup water

  • 4 cups peeled and diced sweet potato

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 3 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

  • 1 cup light canned coconut milk

  • 2 cups fully cooked rice

  • Plain greek yogurt, pita or naan, and diced cucumber, optional for serving

For the full recipe, click here

Instant Pot Weeknight Chicken and Rice Burrito Bowls

Whether you do Taco Tuesdays or Tacos All the Days, this Mexican-inspired bowl is a great dish to add to your rotation. 



  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth, divided

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels

  • 16-ounce jar salsa

  • 1 cup long-grain white rice

  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

For the full recipe, click here