10 things you should never cook in an Instant Pot

The best instant pot Multicookers have transformed home cooking with their simple, one-touch operation. Not only can they press and slow cook meat stews to perfection, they can also steam, sauté, cook rice and more.

Whether you’re a novice or an avid cook, Instant Pots are designed to reduce the time it takes to prepare delicious meals, which also means less prep work and less time spent in the kitchen. But while Instant Pots offer a wide range of programs for cooking almost anything, there are some things you simply should never cook in an Instant Pot. You will likely find that the results are not as good as traditional cooking and will only result in wasted time, not to mention a disappointing meal.

So before you start cooking, here are 10 things you should never cook in an Instant Pot.

1. Fried chicken

Chicken wings two ways

Chicken wings two ways (Image credit: Steven Asarch/Tom’s Guide)

Although you can use the stir-fry program to fry meat, an Instant Pot should never be used for frying. Unless your model has a specific air fry function, the Instant Pot is not designed to heat oil to the higher temperatures needed for frying. This could burn your food or, even worse, set the appliance on fire. Likewise, you cannot cook other breaded or battered foods such as fish. If you like fried foods, you better invest in one of the best air fryers to do the job.

2. Bread

Breads in a bread box

Breads in a bread box (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Although there are many recipes for making bread in an Instant Pot, the results will never be as good as you would expect from traditional baking or using one of the best bread makers. Since you’re steaming rather than baking, you just won’t get the crispy crust on the outside of the bread, which is always the best part!

3. Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese on table

Mac and cheese on table (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Not all dairy-rich foods that use milk as their main ingredient will work well in an Instant Pot. This is because the high heat of the pressure cooker can cause the milk to curdle, which will spoil the flavor and appeal of the dish. Thus, classics such as macaroni and cheese or creamy soups are prohibited. Most Instant Pot recipes recommend adding cream and cheese at the end of cooking.

4. Stir-fry

Stir-fried in wok

Stir-fried in wok (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Although you can technically fry meat and vegetables in an Instant Pot, you won’t get the high heat needed to sear your favorite beef or chicken stir-fry. This is why stir fries are always best cooked in a wok, as the large pot and high heat provide the right texture and taste.

5. Pasta/noodles

Boil noodles in water

Boil noodles in water (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Despite many recipes online, avoid cooking pasta or noodles in an Instant Pot. These can foam and froth during the process and may become gummy or unevenly cooked. Stick to traditional methods of boiling pasta or noodles in a pot on a stovetop for best texture and results. Additionally, these spitting foods can also clog the pressure relief valve, causing excessive pressure buildup.

6. Seafood

Set of seafood favorites

Set of seafood favorites (Image credit: Omaha Steaks)

Delicate seafood such as fish, oysters, shrimp, muscle and clams do not cook well in a pressure cooker or slow cooker. These foods need to be cooked quickly to the right temperature, which is often tricky to do with an Instant Pot. If you get the timings and temperature wrong, your seafood can turn into mush or chewy bits. The only exception is pressure cooking tougher octopuses and squids, to make them tender and juicy.

7. Bake cookies

Cookies on a napkin

Cookies on a napkin (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Although you can bake cakes or desserts in an Instant Pot, baking cookies won’t be as successful. This is because the cookies need to be baked on a flat baking sheet that leaves room to spread, which simply can’t be done in an Instant Pot. Plus, you won’t be able to get the soft center and crispy outside of cookies that you would get from baking.

8. Yellow and red lentils

Red lentils in a wooden bowl

Red lentils in a wooden bowl (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Although brown and green lentils can handle pressure cooking well, avoid cooking yellow and red lentils. These are more delicate, so they may become soft and mushy as they cook quickly. Of course, it’s ideal if you’re making lentil soup! Instead, cook red and yellow lentils on the stovetop to preserve their texture and taste.

9. Grill

Omaha Steaks

Omaha Steaks (Image credit: Omaha Steaks)

Instant Pots can sear well, but won’t give your food the classic charred grill marks you’d get from broiling. Also, while an Instant Pot does well for pressure cooking tougher cuts of meat, this is not the case with tender cuts which are best eaten medium-rare like a steak. So if you want that aromatic, toasty flavor and texture, you’ll need one of best grills for delicious results. Moreover, these 11 tips and tricks for grilling can be useful too.

10. Jams, jellies and preserves

Variety of jams in glass jars

Variety of jams in glass jars (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you want to keep your fruit fresh for a tasty spread, you’ll need to watch the temperature closely while you cook. Unfortunately, that’s something you can’t do with an Instant Pot because it only measures pressure. It is advisable to avoid any canning recipe with your Instant Pot, as improper cooking and sealing can lead to the growth of bacteria, which could lead to food poisoning.

To help you decide which device will meet your needs, see Instant Pot vs Air Fryer: Which Should You Buy?. Where are Are Instant Pots Worth It?, How to use an air fryer and 11 air fryer mistakes you’re probably making — and how to avoid them.