How to Use an Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker

Discover how to use an Instant Pot as a slow cooker, including the liquid levels required, the temperature conversions, and any extra equipment you need.

Meatball Sandwiches
Photo: Brie Passano

Yes, you can use your multicooker as a pressure cooker, but our Test Kitchen says it’s not as easy as just hitting the “Slow Cook” button.  Just as “Crockpot” is an appliance brand that’s so ubiquitous it’s essentially become a synonym of “slow cooker,” “Instant Pot” is a brand that initially rose to fame due to their multicooker products that include a pressure cooker function. So if you’re wondering how to use an Instant Pot as a slow cooker—and are unsure if you can do so—the answer is a firm “yes!” Slow cooking is actually one of the cooking functions that “multi” moniker refers to.

That being said, there are some things you need to know to properly master how to use an Instant Pot as a slow cooker. So we tapped our Test Kitchen to share their complete guide for how to convert or adapt slow cooker recipes so you can whip them up in your multicooker, the one piece of gear that will make it easier, and how much liquid is essential to ace any recipe. 

How to Use an Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker

A slow cooker is a countertop appliance that simmers ingredients in a pot at a low temperature for an extended period of time. While they come in handy for everything from party dips and barbecue recipes  to Thanksgiving menu additions and even desserts, slow cookers are particularly adept at tenderizing tougher cuts of meat. They’re also remarkably handy to help you meal prep while accomplishing other tasks simultaneously. Set and forget! 

Test Kitchen Tip

Don’t completely forget, of course! We recommend staying in the home as you slow cook, if possible, to ensure that the appliance is working safely and appropriately. It’s also best to set a timer for the earliest-possible completion time so you get a nudge in the nick of time.

Slow cooker recipes generally perform best when prepared in the appliance they’re designed for, since there are some basic differences between the tools.

  • Instant Pots are made of stainless steel. Slow cooker pots are often ceramic or porcelain, so they conduct heat differently.
  • Instant Pots heat from the bottom only. Slow cookers usually cook from the bottom and around the sides.

Still, most electric pressure cookers and nearly all multicookers do have a “Slow Cook” button as part of a whole suite of options on the pot. And yes, almost as well as using a separate slow cooker.

As you study up on how to use an Instant Pot as a slow cooker, however, one of the most common mistakes is thinking that the temperatures on both appliances allow for a direct conversion. That’s actually incorrect: Low on one is not equivalent to Low on the other. 

Here are the conversions you need as you learn how to use an Instant Pot as a slow cooker:

Slow Cooker Instant Pot Approximate Temperature
 Warm Slow Cook Low  170° to 190° F
 Low Slow Cook Normal  195° to 205° F
 High Slow Cook High+ (sometimes listed as More)  200° to 210° F

If you are adjusting a slow cooker recipe to prepare in an Instant Pot using the slow cook function, and the slow cooker recipe calls for cooking on Low, set the Instant Pot to Slow Cook Normal and cook for the same amount of time suggested in the original recipe. If the slow cooker recipe calls for cooking on High, use the High+ or More setting on the Instant Pot and add 15 minutes to every hour listed in the slow cooker recipe directions. (For instance, if the slow cooker recipe calls for cooking on High for 2 hours, use the Instant Pot High+ or More Slow Cook setting and let the ingredients simmer for 2 ½ hours.)

After you dial in the settings to get your recipe slow cooking in the Instant Pot, 10 seconds after the last button is pressed, the appliance will automatically start heating. When the time is up, the Instant Pot will beep and shift to “Keep Warm” for 10 hours.

The One Extra Piece of Equipment You Need to Use Your Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker

If you own an Instant Pot, you’re familiar with a few rules to using it:

  • A certain amount of liquid is essential for food to pressure cook.
  • The lid locks into place and creates a tight seal that allows for the pressure cooking to occur.
  • It’s impossible to peek at the results midway through.
  • The vent knob position is vital to guarantee the Instant Pot recipe is pressure cooking (or releasing steam) properly.

No need to worry about the exact amount of liquid in the recipe if you’re using your Instant Pot as a slow cooker; as long as it has 1 cup or more total, you should be safe. You can use the standard Instant Pot lid set to vent, but you’ll get even better results if you invest and trade in a tempered glass lid with a stainless steel rim. This will allow you to monitor progress. 

Test Kitchen Tip

Does the slow cooker recipe call for adding additional ingredients or stirring part of the way through? No problem. Unlike with other Instant Pot recipes, where it’s dangerous to remove the lid, you’re more than welcome to take off the lid as you slow cook in the Instant Pot.

Now that you know how to use an Instant Pot as a slow cooker, after you finish preparing and enjoying your dish, it’s time to tidy up so you’re ready to use the pot again. Regardless of the function you use on the multicooker, our guide for how to clean an Instant Pot (including the parts you might miss) will walk you through the process.

Slow Cooker Jalapeño Popper Chili
Jason Donnelly

Our Best Slow Cooker Recipes You Can Prepare in an Instant Pot

As you embark on practicing how to use an Instant Pot as a slow cooker, use these recipes as a guide. Our Test Kitchen includes instructions for using either appliance, so you can get comfortable with the process before converting on your own.

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