The Instant Pot Recipe I Make Over and Over Again (2024)

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Christine Gallary

Christine GallaryFood Editor-at-Large

Christine graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France, and she has worked at Cook's Illustrated and She lives in San Francisco and loves teaching cooking classes. Follow her latest culinary escapades on Instagram.


published Sep 21, 2021

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The Instant Pot Recipe I Make Over and Over Again (1)

One of my favorite comfort foods is Vietnamese pho. It hits the spot every time with its perfect combination of meaty, fragrant broth, slippery rice noodles, and fresh garnishes. I’ve made beef pho a few times, but found I didn’t like having to track down the different cuts of meat and bones that really make for a flavorful soup, so I just go out to eat it when the craving hits. But chicken pho? Now that’s a different story. A few years ago I made Andrea Nguyen’s dead-simple Instant Pot chicken pho and have never looked back. It’s one of the recipes I make most often in my pressure cooker, and we even had it last month for dinner on my daughter’s first day back at school when everyone needed an extra dose of comfort.

Andrea Nguyen literally wrote the book on making pho (here’s her beef pho recipe), and her recipes are always meticulously tested and easy to follow. This Instant Pot chicken pho is no exception. All of the ingredients can be easily found in most grocery stores, and you end up with lots of fragrant broth and perfectly cooked chicken with the press of just a few buttons. In fact, you get so much chicken it’s enough for serving with the noodles plus more for chicken salad or sandwiches.

The chicken is obviously the star of this soup, and it’s also where you want to make sure to follow the recipe. Get a 3-pound whole chicken, and don’t be tempted to get something bigger, even though I know that’s easier to find. A 3-pounder fits well in a 6-quart standard pressure cooker, and the timing in the recipe and amount of water needed is calibrated for this weight so that the chicken is not over- or under-cooked. Get the highest-quality chicken you can, as I’ve found it really makes a difference in the flavor of the meat and the final broth.

To make the chicken pho, start by toasting coriander seeds and dried cloves in an electric pressure cooker (no oil needed), then add ginger and onion and cook until fragrant. Put the whole chicken, a peeled and chopped sweet apple, cilantro, and some salt in the pot, then add about seven cups of water (I never bother to heat it up first), making sure you don’t go past the fill line in the Instant Pot. The whole process to get everything into the pot usually only takes me about 10 minutes, but do plan to start making the pho at least an hour and a half before you want to eat.

Pressure cook on the low setting for 15 minutes, and then it’s just really a waiting game (this is a great time to soak the noodles and prepare any garnishes). Let the pressure naturally release for 20 minutes after the cook time is up, then let everything cool with the lid off for 5 minutes before you transfer the chicken to a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking and help cool it down.

Strain the solids out of the broth, then season the broth with fish sauce, maple syrup, and more salt as needed. Take the meat off the bones, and finally assemble the bowls with cooked rice noodles, sliced or shredded chicken, piping-hot broth, and fresh garnishes. I like a little sliced jalapeño and some Thai basil, but mint, bean sprouts, cilantro, scallions, or sliced onion are also great toppers.

Why You Need to Make Instant Pot Chicken Pho

There are so, so many things to love about this recipe. It’s gluten-free and can be made-ahead, making it a perfect weekend project that needs very little hands-on cooking. Diners can customize each bowl just the way they like it, so my spice-averse daughter can skip the spicy toppings but I can load up on them. The broth is nourishing and warming, but delicate at the same time.

It also makes enough for two dinners for my family of three. After we have it the first night, I freeze some chicken directly in the remaining broth to keep it from drying out and make sure I have some dried rice noodles in the pantry for when we need a quick weeknight meal. Oh, and did I mention our dog is also super-happy when we have chicken pho for dinner? She waits at my feet as I’m taking the chicken off the bones, knowing that a few tasty morsels will find their way to her if she’s patient enough. It’s a win-win, chicken dinner for all.

Get the recipe: Instant Pot Chicken Pho

At Kitchn, our editors develop and debut brand-new recipes on the site every single week. But at home, we also have our own tried-and-true dishes that we make over and over again — because quite simply? We love them. Kitchn Love Letters is a series that shares our favorite, over-and-over recipes.

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The Instant Pot Recipe I Make Over and Over Again (2024)


What foods should not be cooked in an Instant Pot? ›

In fact, there are a handful of foods that just shouldn't be pressure-cooked. Among them are dairy and fried foods, as well as burgers and steaks.

How do I reset my Instant Pot? ›

The Instant Pot remembers your most recent setting for each cooking program for a more personalized experience. To reset to factory default settings of all cooking programs, press Cancel so that the Instant Pot displays Off, then press and hold the Adjust button until it beeps.

What happens if you cook too long in Instant Pot? ›

Unfortunately, once you overcook a piece of meat in the pressure cooker, there's no going back. You'll be left with a pile of dry, crunchy, tasteless fibers and no amount of additional pressure cooking is going to put that moisture back into the meat. Earlier, I explained how ingredient size affects the cooking time.

What happens if Instant Pot overflows? ›

Also, an overly-full Instant Pot can lead to a clogged pressure release knob, because food and liquid can get sucked up inside. To stay on the safe side, don't fill your pot over that two-thirds line, and stay below half full for foods that expand while cooking, such as beans and lentils.

Why potatoes should not be cooked in pressure cooker? ›

Mostly we boil potatoes in a pressure cooker, but like rice, potatoes also contain a lot of starch. This is the reason why boiling or cooking in this pressure cooker is not considered good for health. If you still plan to use cooker for the same, add a lot of water and wash them thoroughly post cooking.

What is the best meat to cook in a pressure cooker? ›

You can still pressure cook leaner pieces – like eye of round and top sirloin – but these work best if they've been stuffed, shredded or rolled (with other ingredients). Best cuts of beef to use: Chuck steak, Round Roast, Shoulder, Pot roast, Ribs, Brisket, Oxtail.

How long do instant pots last? ›

The average lifespan of an Instant Pot ranges from 2-5 years, but it can last longer depending on how often it's used and how well-maintained it is. So it's safe to say Instant Pots aren't commonly being replaced, and may even be a one-time purchase.

Can bacteria survive a pressure cooker? ›

The pressure cookers used can inactivate up to 1010 CFU/mL bacteria and 107 CFU/mL fungi.

What happens if the pressure inside a pressure cooker exceeds the maximum pressure limit? ›

The pressure inside the cooker builds up rapidly, exceeding the safety limit. The sudden release of this excessive pressure can result in an explosion, sending hot steam and food flying in all directions. Not only can this cause severe burns and injuries, but it can also damage your kitchen.

Why does Instapot say burn food? ›

The Instant Pot's burn message simply means that your Instant Pot has detected that its inner pot has gotten too hot. There may be a slight amount of burned food at the bottom of your pot, but not enough to ruin whatever you're cooking.

How do I stop my pressure cooker from overflowing? ›

If liquid is filled more than the optimum level required based on the weight of the ingredients, it results in overflowing on top of the lid. It is important to keep space for the steam to build up. Based on the type of food you are cooking, never fill up your pressure cooker more than half or three quarters at most.


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