The Instant Pot has quickly become one of America’s favorite kitchen appliances. It can do it all as a pressure cooker, steamer, slow cooker, rice cooker and more. But one of the best and sometimes underlooked use cases for the Instant Pot is cooking mouthwatering BBQ.
What Type of BBQ Dishes Can I Cook in the Instant Pot?
You can essentially cook any BBQ dish that you would prepare on a grill or in a slow cooker in the Instant Pot. One of the best benefits of the Instant Pot is how quickly it cooks dishes. A pork shoulder made in the slow cooker could take 6 to 8 hours to cook. In the Instant Pot, it takes an hour and 30 minutes with the steam-pressure setting. Instant Pot BBQ is always a hit and any picnic or cookout.
One thing to remember is that there are sometimes still additional steps to do before or after cooking a meal in the Instant Pot. For instance, for the best pulled pork you’ll need to put the rub on the meat and brown it on all sides instead of sticking it directly in the multicooker. Many people mistakenly think that every part of every meal can be cooked all at once in the Instant Pot, but not all dishes are like that.
You can prepare poultry, pork, and beef including ribs. You can also think of the Instant Pot as your summer prep cook because you can prep all of your meats and sides before they go on the grill. Your imagination is the only thing that limits you in what you can BBQ and prep.
How to Pressure Cook BBQ in Your Instant Pot
Whether your prepping food for the grill or making Instant Pot BBQ, the primary cooking function that you’ll use is pressure-steam. Pressure cooking means that quinoa finishes in 60 seconds, rice cooks in 4 minutes, and soup is ready in just 10 minutes. There are 3 stages of pressure cooking:
- Pressurization and Heating: First, the cooker heats the cooking liquid and turns it into steam pressure. After the Instant Pot builds up pressure, the float valve rises on its own, and the multicooker pressurizes.
- Cooking: The Instant Pot beeps once within 5 minutes of the pressurization and starts the cooking time countdown.
- Depressurization and Warming: Like traditional pressure cookers, the Instant Pot needs to depressurize and release steam after its finished cooking.
Pro Cooking Tip: Whether you preselect warm or not, the Instant Pot naturally cools over time to release the pressure. It cools faster if Keep Warm is off.
Using Your Instant Pot to Prepare Sides for the Grill
There are many traditional BBQ sides that people love to prepare on their grill, and the multicooker makes it easy. You can use your Instant Pot to braise, boil, or steam.
Corn on the cob is an excellent side for any grilled meal. You don’t need to bring a pot of water to boil to make tender corn on the cob. Using the pressure-steam function, simply add 1 cup of water to the cooker and place you husked and halved corn, standing up in the trivet and put it in the Instant Pot. Standing them up on end ensures even cooking. Cook them for 10 minutes, and they’re ready to burnish on your grill.
Grilled potatoes are another common side for summer meals, but they often need to be pre-cooked before you finish them on the grill. Use your Instant Pot to steam whole baby potatoes or quartered potatoes and then finish cooking them on the grill. Just place them in the Instant Pot for approximately 8 minutes on the quick release, high-pressure setting.
Using your multicooker for sides may take an extra step, but it reduces the total amount of cooking time which is great for busy families who still want great grilled food. Cook potatoes, grains, or lentils for delicious summer salads too. Cooking any vegetable in the Instant Pot first and then finishing it on the grill allows you to have that great grilled taste in a lot less time.
Using Your Instant Pot to Prepare Meats for the Grill
Just like vegetables, use the Instant Pot to start cooking meats and then finish them off on the grill. Knowing some of the basics of cooking meat in a multicooker can help.
Traditional ribs are the perfect grilled meat to prep in your Instant Pot. For cookouts, prepare a few batches of ribs in advance and then sauce them and finish the meat on the barbecue grill.
Your secret season weapon should be smoked salt. Every cook should have it in their pantry because it works like liquid smoke but doesn’t take as much effort.
Steps for Preparing Instant Pot Ribs
- Properly prepare the ribs for cooking. Pork ribs have a membrane that lines the bone side. No matter how long you cook it, you can’t tenderize it. You must peel it away before seasoning the meat. Do this by placing the ribs, bone-side facing up and then slide a butter knife beneath the membrane layers between two of the bones until you can grip it. Use a paper towel for a better grip and gently pull the membrane off like you would the label on a jar.
- Prepare your rub. There are many rubs that you can use, but a dry rub is the best for ribs because the Instant Pot steams them, washing any wet seasoning away. The dry rub stays on the meat in the pressure cooker. Here is where you can use the smoked salt.
- Steam the ribs in a circle. Don’t cut and stack the ribs for cooking. The ribs won’t cook evenly. Roll them up and stand them up on the trivet in the multicooker. It may look odd, but your pork will cook evenly.
- Cool the ribs by laying them flat- Set the ribs to cook for 20 minutes and pressurize in 15 minutes. That’s a total cook time of 35 minutes and then do the quick pressure release. Remove them from the Instant Pot and lay them flat before you put sauce on them.
- Know when your ribs have finished cooking. When the ribs, have finished they should bend gently and not break when you lift them. The pork should just pull away from the bones.
After applying sauce, finish your ribs by putting them on the grill for a few minutes, before enjoying your delicious BBQ creation.
BBQ Recipes for the Instant Pot
Here are some tasty BBQ recipes to try in your Instant Pot:
Instant Pot BBQ Chicken Legs
These chicken legs are tender and mouthwatering. The Instant Pot breaks down the meat perfectly making it succulent and juicy.
After prepping the chicken legs for cooking, combine the following ingredients to create a rub and rub it all over the chicken. The rub includes:
- Dry mustard
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
Next, place the chicken on the trivet inside of your multicooker. Then, brush your favorite BBQ sauce on the drumsticks.
Seal the lid of the Instant Pot and set it on high pressure for approximately 10 minutes with an additional 10-minute natural release. Once the pin drops, take the cover off, and your chicken is ready. You can perform an extra step which is definitely worth it.
Pro Cooking Tip- Place the cooked chicken on a baking sheet lined with foil. Brush the chicken with more of the BBQ sauce and place it under the broiler for about 10 minutes or until the sauce begins to bubble.
Source: Jennifer Banz
Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Pork
This tender, juicy pork cooks in an hour and 30 minutes taking much less time than the 6 to 8 hours it would cook in your crock pot slow cooker. It’s a terrific one-pot meal for picnics and dinners in the summer. You're left with juicy pork after you set the Instant Pot and turn your attention to the next task on your list.
Pork shoulder is the best meat for this dish. The first step is to rub a spice rub all over the pork shoulder and let it sit for around 30 minutes so the spices can work their magic. This recipe calls for a spice rub that includes:
- Chili powder
- Garlic powder
Next, you’re ready to cook. Stick several cloves of garlic into the meat and sauté it in a pan until you’ve browned every side. Then, add chicken broth or water and a cup of BBQ sauce to the Instant Pot. Close the lid and set the Instant Pot to cook for 60 minutes. After the hour, shred the pork and stir it in the cooking juices. This recipe is great on sandwiches or eaten on its own for fewer carbs.
Instant Pot BBQ Like a Pro
Use the Instant Pot to help prepare meats and sides for the grill, and you’ll impress your friends with your cooking prowess. You can even forget the grill and prepare scrumptious Instant Pot BBQ in your multicooker using the pressure-steam setting. Either way, it's just a few more examples of how the Instant Pot makes your life easier by helping you put quick, delicious meals on the table. The Instant Pot is both a time and sanity saver.
Here are some tips for pressure cooking in your Instant Pot.
- Several factors affect how long it takes your multicooker to depressurize and pressurize. Therefore, the heating cycle may vary from 5 to 40 minutes and sometimes longer.
- Foods that are frozen or cool increase the time that it takes for your Instant Pot to pressurize and this means that it may take a few additional minutes to cook.
- Pressure cooking liquids should be water-based such as stock, juice, or broth.
- Recipes for the Instant Pot may use the Pressure Cook Program or manual settings.
- Make sure that the quick release button or steam release valve/handle are in the “Sealing” position or the Instant Pot won’t seal.
- Some foods may spatter, foam, froth or clog the steam release valve or handle such as cranberries, applesauce, noodles, oatmeal, split peas, pearl barley, and more. Use extreme caution when venting and cooking these foods. Don’t fill the multicooker over the “1/2” line.
- Pro Cooking Tip- When cooking foods that expand such as rice or beans don’t fill the Instant Pot over the “1/2” line.
- After the cooking cycle, leave the lid on for another 5 to 10 minutes before releasing the pressure when cooking rice.
- Pro Cooking Tip- All programs except for Rice automatically default to high pressure.
- Never fill the inner pot more than the “PC Max-2/3” line marked on the inside of the cooker.
- For the best cooking results, use the venting method recommended on the recipe once your dish finishes cooking.
- If pressure cooking dry pasta, use noodles that have a minimum of 8 minutes cooking time and then reduce that time by half (10 minutes becomes 5). Follow the recipe for the amount of liquid and submerge the pasta if you can, Don’t stir it though. Dry pasta with a cooking time of fewer than 8 minutes doesn’t pressure cook as well.
- Pro Cooking Tip- Always keep 2 authentic Instant Pot sealing rings at home. Use one for savory and one for sweet dishes.
- Pro Cooking Tip- Use the Instant Pot steam rack to keep foods up out of the liquid to ensure even heat distribution. Keeping foods above the cooking liquid also prevents nutrients from escaping into the liquid as well as keeps the bottom of the inner pot from burning.