Thank goodness I started the soup early.
My friend had been under the weather for far too long, so I was planning to surprise her with just what she needed. Some chicken and vegetable soup. Whole30 Instant Pot Chicken Soup to the rescue.
It was cold and rainy outside, and I thought the soup would definitely do the trick, to warm her from the inside out, and give her a night off of cooking for her family.
The recipe said it’d take 10 minutes to cook the chicken in my new kitchen gadget (oh, man was I glad I had invested in an instant pot!), then I’d shred it, throw some veggies in there with the shredded chicken, pressure cook it for just 2 more minutes, and we’d be in business.
Two hours later…the soup was finally done.
What I did not know was how long it would take my beloved new appliance to “come to pressure.” That’s a little known fact they don’t tell you in the instant pot manual. Which of course I had read cover to cover. Yeah right.
So, that was my first lesson in instant pot cook times. And I am utterly certain that I am not the only one who has found themselves thinking dinner will be ready in a jiffy, only to discover an hour later that their pot has just started cooking the meal!
I mentioned in last week’s post that I wanted to share with you the first recipe I made in the instant pot that really sealed the deal (no pun intended) in my love affair with my instant pot.
I needed to pick Jonah up from baseball at 6:00, which I am certain you can agree is the absolute worst timing for a pick up. But. Enter the magic pot.

{photo credit Skinnytaste}
For this recipe, you cook the meat first, add the sauce, and finally the water and dry spaghetti noodles.
So, I sauted the meat in the pot, added my sauce, and put the operation on hold, to keep warm. Left to pick up Jonah. When we got home, we were just 9 minutes away from sitting down at the table! I simply opened the lid of the pot where the meat sauce was hanging out, warm and savory, added the spaghetti noodles and water, cooked for 9 minutes on high–of course it took some time to come to pressure, so I’d say about 15 minutes total–which was about how long it took everyone to wash hands, set the table, and pour the milk. By that time, we were ready to enjoy a hot meal!
I don’t know about you, but anytime I get to eat a hot meal during normal dinnertime hours is a moment to celebrate!
So, let’s talk instant pot cooking times. I searched for a clear cut answer as to how long it’ll take the instant pot to come to pressure, but since there are so many variables–the type of pot, the cut of meat, the amount of liquid–I don’t have any definites. But I can tell you these things, from experience.
The instant pot can take from 5-30 minutes to come to pressure.A pot that is very full, contains a lot of liquid, or frozen meat will take the longest to come to pressure.If you want your pot to cook in the least amount of time, use warm liquid, and meat that is already thawed. The “keep warm” function is your friend. Better to start the pot on the early side, and allow the food to keep warm while you gather your gang, than to keep everyone waiting.Be careful not to not overfill your pot.

*The website Hip Pressure Cooking, where I got this infographic, has loads of info about how long to cook a variety foods and whether to do a natural or quick release when the pot is finished cooking. Check it out!
I think the most important lesson I learned when it comes to using my instant pot is that when it says it’ll take 10 minutes to cook my chicken on high pressure, I need to build in some extra time for the pot to come to pressure. Once I have factored in the amount of liquid (a lot means longer to come to pressure) and the state of the chicken (frozen will need more time), then I can manage my time better, and have dinner ready on time!
After last week’s post, I am excited to share that I’ve added a couple more recipes to my instant pot binder! I had made hard boiled eggs in it before, but was not happy with how they turned out. Thank you, Melissa, for sharing the 5-5-5 cook time with me. Perfect eggs. Click here for Skinnytaste’s recipe for hard boiled (and soft boiled) eggs.

And thank you, Heather, for the amazing mac and cheese recipe. EVERYONE loved it, and it made so much, we ate it all weekend. Perfectly cheesy and delicious. Comfort food at its finest. Click here for This Old Gal’s Instant Pot Mac and Cheese.

{photo credit This Old Gal}
I guess when it comes down to advice on instant pot cooking times, I’d tell you to start at least 30 minutes earlier than you think you need to. One of the best features of the instant pot is that it can keep your food warm until you’re ready to eat. And it’s always better to have dinner ready too early, than too late.
Ask any mom of a hungry toddler.