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How to Use Your Instant Pot to Save Time This Thanksgiving

Give thanks for saving time and space.

If you're not a full-on Instant Pot® multi-cooker convert yet, chances are you've at least heard of it, as this popular brand of multi-cooker has gained cult-like status in kitchens across America. Home chefs swear by its ability to quickly cook food while maintaining nutrients and producing superb flavor. But is it worth plugging in for the most important meal of the year—the exulted Turkey Dinner?

Short answer: Yes (though you should practice using it before the big day). These Instant Pot Thanksgiving time-savers may have you re-thinking your holiday prep—because who couldn't use a helping hand on Thanksgiving day? We'll share tips for using your Instant Pot, plus 14 time-saving recipes to try.

 Thanksgiving Dinner

Photo by Meredith

Related: Best Instant Pot Thanksgiving Recipes

Instant Pot: Help or Hype?

Skip this part if you're already on Team Instant Pot—but for those wondering why everyone loves their multi-cooker, it comes down to a few things. For the price—and counter space—of just one kitchen appliance, you get many appliances, as the Instant Pot serves as an electric pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, and yogurt maker all in one (hence the term multi-cooker). If this gives you visions of a rattling stovetop pressure cooker with steam streaming out, looking like it might explode, take a breath: unlike older stovetop version, the electric Instant Pot is virtually foolproof and much safer to use.

Many foods—like stews and dried beans—cook in a fraction of the time as conventional methods when you use a multi-cooker. Other recipes may not save you much time once you factor in the time it takes for the multi-cooker to come up to pressure and then to release that pressure. But even if you don't save much overall time, using a multicooker means you're off-duty when it comes to watching and stirring the pot, which on a big holiday like Thanksgiving, is a big plus. Additionally, food cooked under pressure maintains a fresher taste and more nutrients than slow cooking. Ready to give it a try?

Instant Pot Thanksgiving Time-Saving Tips
Photo by Meredith

Instant Pot Thanksgiving Time-Saving Tips

Here are some ways you can use your multi-cooker this Thanksgiving to save time (or at least oven or stovetop space):

  • Saute veggies, make gravy, or brown meat in your Instant Pot, all without lighting a single burner.
  • Use the "keep warm" setting for anything from gravy to mashed potatoes. You can even put a layer of aluminum foil between layers of sturdy foods (say, mashed potatoes on the bottom, then green beans) then put the lid on to keep multiple items warm.
  • Embrace the "set it and forget it" mentality. Even if a multi-cooker doesn't save you time overall, it may be worth it if it keeps your hands free to attend to other details.
  • Use it to force yourself to plan ahead. What can you make ahead? And in what order should you make it? For example, if you make gravy a couple of days ahead in your Instant Pot, you can then use that to flavor the stuffing).
  • Embrace multitasking! This may be an advanced move, but if you really want to save time you can actually cook multiple things at once in your Instant Pot. To see how it's done, check out this tutorial to learn how we made an entire Thanksgiving meal in one pot by separating layers with foil "rafts."
  • Adapt favorite recipes you wouldn't otherwise make for Thanksgiving. Some basics: When using the pressure cooker setting, make sure there is at least 1/2 cup of liquid in the pot so it can come up to pressure. Also, learn how to use the trivet in your multi-cooker. Many recipes (such as stuffing and cheesecake) call for putting a casserole dish or quick-release pan on the trivet to cook. Get to know how your trivet works, and you'll be able to adapt many recipes to suit (and save yourself some time in the process).

Check out our collection of the Best Instant Pot Thanksgiving Recipes.


More Instant Pot Ideas

Give Thanks for Thanksgiving Dinner in the Instant Pot
A Beginner's Guide to Instant Pot
7 Essential Recipes for Mastering Your Instant Pot

Katherine Martinelli

About Katherine Martinelli

I grew up learning to cook in a cramped NYC kitchen from my dad, and now love cooking with my two boys. I've been writing about food for a decade and can be found on Instagram at katherinemartinelli.