The First 4 Things to Cook in Your Instant Pot… in Order!

instant pot with vegetables
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If you’re new to electric pressure cooking, the success (or failure) of the first recipes you create can make or break you. Below are the first 4 recipes that you should make in your Instant Pot….in order! This sequence will help you get familiar with your machine, take those first baby steps towards success, and build confidence to become an Instant Pot Superstar!

Instant Pot with mac and cheese inside.

Howdy! Chef Alli here.  Let’s Get You Cookin’….Shall We? 🙂 

Your First Instant Pot Recipes: Pass or Fail?

I’ve discovered that the reason most of us purchase an Instant Pot (or any brand of electric pressure cooker) is because we long to enjoy a big ole pot roast with all the fixin’s… just like Grandma made.

So, we jump out there and try to cook that roast in our Instant Pot first thing, only to be disappointed with the outcome… our roast turns out like a rubber ball! Such a bummer.

Sadly, because this disappointment causes total disillusionment with Instant Pot cooking, we want to quit, and often do. This is such a tragedy and one that can be completely avoided by following a different and easier path.

The First 4 Recipes to Make for Gaining Success and Confidence with Your Instant Pot

Preparing the recipes below in the order that’s laid out helps ensure your success. Each recipe builds on the previous one and the more you conquer, the more confidence you gain!

Along the way, you’ll get to experience some delicious foods that give the incentive you need to continue using and learning about this awesome small appliance workhorse….the Instant Pot.

Recipe #1: Water!

Cooking water in your Instant Pot as soon as you get it out of the box is a must…..for two reasons:

  • It lets you quickly learn and experience just how your pot works, exactly.
  • If you burn water (as opposed to dinner), it’s no biggie!

Cooking Water in Your Instant Pot to Learn How it Operates –

  1. Place a couple of cups of water into your Instant Pot, locking the lid into place. Check the pressure release knob to be sure it’s set to the SEALING position.
  2. Now, use the Manual button on your Instant Pot display to choose High Pressure for 1-2 minutes of cooking time (or whatever amount of time you feel like since you’re just cooking water!).
  3. As your Instant Pot works to build up pressure inside, watch the valve stem in the back (near the pressure release knob). At the moment the Instant Pot pot becomes fully pressurized, the valve stem will pop up as an indicator.
  4. Once your pot is pressurized, you will see that you cannot even begin to unlock or remove the lid – such a great safety feature.
  5. Now it’s time to perform your first Quick Release of pressure.  Carefully turn the pressure release knob to the VENTING position.  Be ready – when steam and pressure escape it can be rather startling at first!
  6. When all the pressure is removed from the pot, you will immediately see and hear the valve stem drop, now indicating the pressure is gone and you can carefully unlock and remove the lid.
  7. You’ve done it – YOU COOKED WATER! (Happy Dance)

Recipe #2: Easy Instant Pot Hard-Boiled Eggs

You will love how quickly and easily hard-boiled eggs cook in your instant pot!

Easy Instant Pot Hard-boiled Eggs

If you’re new to the Instant Pot, making hard boiled eggs should be one of the very first foods that you make. It's fast, easy, and the slickest way in the world to make hard-boiled eggs.

Course Breakfast, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword instant pot
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 12 eggs
Author Chef Alli


  • 1 cup water
  • 12-18 eggs


  1. Place one cup of water into the Instant Pot; add the trivet to the bottom of pot. Stack the eggs on top of each other on the trivet.

  2. Lock the Instant Pot lid into place, choosing High Pressure for 6 minutes, bringing the Instant Pot to full pressure.

  3. When the timer sounds, perform a quick release to remove all the pressure from the Instant Pot.

  4. Immediately pour the entire contents of the Instant Pot into a large bowl of ice water.

  5. After 2-3 minutes of letting the eggs chill a bit, remove the eggs, one at a time from the bowl of water, cracking the shells of each egg on the counter. Re-submerge each egg beneath the cold water in the bowl, gently peeling and pulling all the shells from each egg with your fingers.

Your hard-boiled eggs will taste great in these delicious recipes:

Sarah Jane’s Spicy Deviled Eggs – Sarah Jane’s spicy jalapeno mustard gives these eggs just the kick in the pants they’ve needed.

Over-Loaded Deviled Eggs – Make your deviled eggs heavenly with bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, and sour cream… need I say more?

Recipe #3: Homemade Applesauce

Getting the hang of it now? Let’s try applesauce! If you have an immersion blender or food processor, you don’t even need to peel your apples before pressure cooking them! Just process the cooked apples until smooth and enjoy the added nutrition.

Awesome Instant Pot Applesauce

If you’re new to Instant Pot cooking, applesauce is one of the very first things you'll want to make - it's amazingly simple, and you don’t even have to peel the apples!

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword instant pot
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author Chef Alli


  • 8 apples, quartered and seeds removed (I like to use a blend of Granny Smith and Jonathon and I leave my peelings on)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon, or 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 cup water, or sub apple juice or cider for the water and reduce amount of sugar used
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup granulated sugar, depending on how sweet you prefer your applesauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


  1. Place the water into Instant Pot; add the cinnamon, sugar, and apples. Lock the lid into place choosing the High Pressure setting for 5 minutes; bring the Instant Pot up to full pressure.

  2. When timer sounds, perform a quick release to remove all the pressure from the Instant Pot. Unlock and carefully remove the Instant Pot lid.

  3. Using an immersion blender, blend the contents of the Instant Pot until smooth.

    *If you don’t have an immersion blender, a food processor works great too. Or, if you prefer not to use either of these kitchen appliances, peel your apples before pressure cooking them. This way you can use a potato masher or mixer to process your cooked apples until smooth.

  4. When applesauce has cooled a bit, stir in the vanilla and serve at once!

Recipe #4: Little Smokie Mac and Cheese

This recipe is cheesy and creamy…..straight-up comfort food! What’s the best thing about making pasta in the Instant Pot? It only takes 5 minutes and you don’t have to drain the pasta after it’s cooked! Simply stir the remaining ingredients into the cooked pasta and it’s ready to eat.

Instant Pot Little Smokie Mac and Cheese

What could make a belly more happy than a big warm serving of cheesy, creamy, mac and cheese?? This Instant Pot Little Smokie Mac and Cheese thrills my family to no end and I'm a happy camper because it only takes 5 minutes to cook in my electric pressure cooker! #InstantPot #MacaroniAndCheese #SpeedyMeal #LittleSmokies

Course Kid Friendly, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword instant pot, macaroni and cheese, Pasta
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 8 servings


  • 3 cups rotini pasta, or your favorite pasta of choice
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar (or any cheddar cheese you prefer)
  • 1 can Campbell's Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup, 10 3/4 oz. (or substitute 10 oz. cubed Velveeta cheese)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1 Tbs. spicy brown mustard
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 lb. Little Smokie all-beef sausages, browned off in a bit of oil first (may also substitute slices of kielbasa sausage that have been browned off a bit)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • your favorite bbq sauce, for drizzling over the top of each serving, if desired


Instant Pot Cooking Method

  1. Place the broth into the Instant Pot; use the saute setting to get the broth boiling, then stir in the pasta. Lock the Instant Pot lid into place. Using the manual button, choose High Pressure for 5 minutes, bringing the Instant Pot to full pressure.

  2. When the timer sounds, use a quick release to remove all pressure from the Instant Pot. Carefully remove the lid and give the pasta a quick stir; you will notice that the pasta has absorbed all the broth (or nearly all of it), so therer's no need to drain it.

  3. Add the beaten egg to the sour cream, then stir this mixture into the hot pasta. Add the cheddar cheese soup, shredded cheddar cheese, spicy brown mustard and the evaporated milk, mixing to combine all the ingredients together. To serve, place the mac and cheese into serving bowls; drizzle with your favorite bbq sauce, if desired, and enjoy.

Slow Cooker Cooking Method

  1. Combine macaroni and chicken broth in a large pot; bring to a boil over medium high heat and cook for 5 minutes. Do not drain water from macaroni! Stir in the cheese, soup, and sour cream/egg mixture, and spicy brown mustard; combine well, then fold in kielbasa; season macaroni and cheese to taste with salt and pepper.  Place macaroni into a pre-heated slow cooker and  cook on low for 2-3 hours, until the pasta has absorbed most of the extra liquid the pasta is tender. To serve, place the mac and cheese into serving bowls; drizzle with your favorite bbq sauce, if desired, and enjoy.

Congratulations… You Did It!

You finished your first 4 Instant Pot recipes, and I hope they were a smashing success. Now that you’ve built up some confidence, it’s time to come back to that pot roast. 

Below is my favorite Instant Pot Roast Beef recipe – just 2 ingredients! 


Easy Instant Pot Italian Beef Pot Roast

This is an easy two-ingredient pot roast, designed to make your Instant Pot do all the work! You'll love how easily and quickly this roast comes together and gives you perfectly tender beef for any dish your heart desires.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword beef, instant pot, pot roast
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 8 servings


  • 1 chuck roast, approx. 3 lbs.
  • 16 oz jar sliced pepperoncini peppers, with juices (If you prefer something less spicy, use a jar of pickled banana pepper rings instead)


  1. Pour half of the jar of pepperoncini and their juices into the Instant Pot; add the roast to the pot, then pour the remaining pepperonincini and juices over the roast.

  2. Lock the Instant Pot lid into place. Using the high pressure setting, set the timer for 60 minutes, bringing the Instant Pot to full pressure. (Allow 15-20 minutes pressure cooking time for each pound of uncooked roast. If you are cooking the roast from frozen, increase the pressure cooking time to 25-30 minutes per pound of roast, still using the natural release.)

  3. When the timer sounds, perform a natural release, which allows the pressure in the Instant Pot to naturally come down on it's own. Open the Instant Pot and test the roast - the beef should be very fork-tender.

  4. Remove the beef from the Instant Pot to a cutting board. Using two forks, shred the beef to eat as desired.

Recipe Notes

Yes, this roast still takes 60 minutes in the Instant Pot... but it's not 4-5 hours like a slow cooker or oven pot roast. 

**If you are cooking the roast from frozen, increase the pressure cooking time to 25-30 minutes per pound of roast, still using the natural release when the timer sounds. 


Once you’ve made that delicious pot roast, it’s time to really start enjoying the fruits of your labor! A beef roast can go a long way in these delicious dinners:

What to Do When Your Instant Pot Won’t Pressurize

Print my FREE Instant Pot/Electric Pressure Cooker Troubleshooting Guide. It’s a simple 6-Step Checklist of the most common pressure cooker problems you’ll face.

Instant Pot Won't Pressurize? Print a FREE troubleshooting guide now and get dinner done!

Download Free Guide

Print the guide, then read about each step in more detail here: The Top 6 Reasons Your Instant Pot Won’t Pressurize… and What To Do About It 

Free Printable Quick Cooking Chart

As you start using your Instant Pot more and more you’ll begin to understand how the timing and pressure release works.

You’ll get to a point where you only need to know a few important things to cook food fast: Timing. Type of release. And a few basic prep instructions.

That’s where my Quick Cooking Chart will come in super handy! This full-color PDF has basic Instant Pot cooking times for 14 common foods. Just print it, tape it inside your cabinet door, and you’ll be well on your way to Instant Pot Pro!

This FREE Printable Cooking Chart makes quick work of 14 common Instant Pot foods and will ensure Instant success for any new Electric Pressure Cooker user!


Other Instant Pot Resources You Will Find Helpful:

Find All My Favorite Instant Pot Recipes Here!

We love hearing from our readers and followers, so leave us a comment if you’d like. And, if you don’t hear back from us shortly, know that we may not have seen your comment. Feel free to reach out to us by email:

Let’s Get You Cookin’,
Chef Alli

We do use referral and affiliate links here for products and services that Chef Alli loves and recommends.

**Please note:  the cooking time stated for this recipe does not include the time required to bring the Instant Pot up to pressure since this can vary. This recipe was made using a 6-quart Instant Pot. 


Chef Alli

Chef Alli is a home-grown Kansas girl on a mission to strengthen families through enabling kitchen confidence, educating the family cook, and encouraging better food relationships. She believes with her whole heart that time spent with our loved ones and our overall quality of life is greatly enhanced by nutritious food made at home with simple, wholesome ingredients. She loves being able to connect and share this passion with others through her website, her social media presence, and her coveted speaking engagements.

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