All hail the mighty InstantPot, right? I don’t know about you guy but my news feed is jam-packed with people asking if they should purchase this trendy piece of kitchen equipment. Friends and family sing the praises of it, throwing out phrases like “life-changing” and “miraculous” and “I’ll never cook in anything else again.” Many of my blogging friends are taking the plunge into InstantPot-friendly recipes, because that’s what we do – we give our audience the recipes they’re asking for. And by golly, InstantPot is where it’s at!
I have some thoughts.
First of all, I like my InstantPot plenty, but my good old-fashioned crockpot is still pretty awesome in my opinion. I like to make my stocks in that still, because while I appreciate the quick work my InstantPot makes of things I can just plain make MORE in my crockpot. Plus it doesn’t really get in my way because with both appliances the hands-on time for making stock is still about 30 seconds.
I have also found that, with the limited number of recipes I’ve made in my InstantPot (more on that later) it still takes less time to pull out a skillet and a sheet pan and make a quick dinner. Here’s what I haven’t seen anyone mention about the InstantPot (or pressure cookers in general): it takes a while for the pressure to build up enough to cook things in 5 minutes. So yes, the cook time is significantly lower, but it might take 20 minutes to get to the point where that 5 minutes actually starts. Then there’s the pressure release time – sometimes it’s quick, but sometimes it’s not. I know I can kick out a meal the old-fashioned way in 25 minutes (or less), which makes it hard for me to want to try new recipes in my InstantPot.
All of that being said, I do LOVE the InstantPot for things like weekly meal prep – beans, lentils, rice, quinoa, steel cut oats, chicken (both the kind in this recipe and the shredded variety), the occasional stock. I will be completely honest and say that the shredded meat that comes out of this appliance is the best that I have ever had – tender and juicy, never overcooked. I’ve tried cheesecake made in it and it’s pretty darn tasty, too! The bulk of my uses for the InstantPot are meal prep related, though, and I do appreciate what it does for me there.
I want to start a series on here that explores InstantPot cooking and that really answers the questions that I get frequently about it and the ones that I see people asking in general, namely: is it worth it? This means I’ll have to actually get outside of my comfort zone and start cooking some of these recipes that my blogging friends are posting, making some of my own, and using it for something other than meal prep. However, to start it off I thought why not share one my tried-and-true favorite recipes for meal prep a la InstantPot: seared chicken breasts.
These chicken breasts are insanely tender and juicy, much more so than those that are roasted or grilled. They store really well, making the perfect addition to any meal later in the week. I typically slice mine thin and eat them on a salad, but we also will reheat them (microwave and stove both work well for this) and serve alongside roasted vegetables. You can also cube them up and use the cooked chicken in any kind of casserole or chicken salad you would normally make with canned chicken as well. You could even cut it up and add it into one of my favorite soups of all time!
It’s important to note that I only recommend cooking 4 chicken breasts at a time to make sure that they cook thoroughly but also so they remain intact. I’ve found that when you pile a bunch of them in there – even on the rack – they come out more shred-able than an intact chicken breast. Feel free to season these however you like, although I’ve added my favorite combo in the recipe below. Allow the chicken to cool completely before placing it in any plastic container for storage, although I would always recommend glass storage if you have it!
PERFECTLY SEARED CHICKEN BREASTS IN THE INSTANTPOT
Makes about 4 breasts at a time
- 1-2 pounds chicken breasts (or more – you decide!)
- 1-1/2 cups chicken stock, veggie stock or water
- seasoning of choice (I typically use 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon paprika for ever 2 chicken breasts)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Plug the InstantPot in and press the “Saute” button. Allow to preheat until hot.
- While the InstantPot is heating, season both sides of all the chicken breasts you’ll be using.
- When the InstantPot indicates that it’s hot, add the oil and then sear the chicken breasts for about 4 minutes on each side. I typically can do 2-3 breasts at a time, so you may need to do this step in batches.
- When all of the chicken has been seared, turn off the “Saute” function.
- Place the rack in the bottom of the pot and add the stock or water.
- Place the seared chicken breasts in an even layer on top of the rack.
- Put the lid on the InstantPot, make sure the valve is shut, and turn it on “Manual” for 8 minutes.
- After the timer goes off allow the pressure to release with the natural release function – DO NOT QUICK RELEASE!
- When the natural release is done (about 10 minutes or so) your chicken breasts are perfect!