10 Healthy Foods to Get You Started With Your Pressure Cooker

Carrie Forrest Founder of Clean Eating Kitchen | Vitacost.com/Blog

by | Read time: 4 minutes

It can be a little intimidating to get started with pressure cooking. There are a lot of people out there who’ve bought one, or received one as a gift, and still haven’t even taken it out of the box That’s OK! It’s time to dust off that handy gadget and give it a go. These are my 10 favorite grocery items to keep on hand for quick, easy and healthy pressure cooker meals.

Overhead View of Hand Pouring Can of Milk Into Pressure Cooker with Other Curry Ingredients for Healthy Pressure Cooker Meals | Vitacost.com/blog

What to Cook in a Pressure Cooker

Steel cut oats

If you’ve ever made steel cut oats on the stovetop before, then you know that they often need at least 30 minutes of cooking time. On a busy morning, that can feel like forever. That’s why you should definitely consider making steel cut oats in a pressure cooker. You only need to cook steel cut oats at high pressure for 8 minutes. I like to cook the oats with frozen berries and almond milk or coconut milk for a hot, creamy breakfast that is so nourishing and satisfying. Check out my Tropical Steel Cut Oats recipe. I recommend buying gluten-free, non-GMO steel cut oats.

Vegetable or chicken broth

If you’re new to pressure cooking, one thing you need to know is that 99% of recipes will require at least one cup of liquid. The liquid is necessary to help create the steam that pressurizes the pot. You can always use water, but using broth adds so much more flavor to savory dishes. I recommend choosing a low-sodium versions of either vegetable broth or chicken broth. I always keep at least several cartons of broth in my pantry.


Once I started making rice in my pressure cooker, I gave away my rice cooker. It’s so easy to just add the rice and water, pop on the lid, and set the timer, and I appreciate not needing multiple appliances on my countertop. Brown rice cooks in 22 minutes and it turns out so fluffy and perfect. You’ll need 1 cup of rice to 1 ½ cups of water for brown rice. White rice only takes 6 minutes to cook in the pressure cooker and uses a 1:1 ratio of rice to water. I recommend organic rice from California

Assortment of 10 Pressure Cooker Staples for Healthy Pressure Cooker Meals | Vitacost.com/blogQuinoa

Believe it or not, but quinoa cooks in the pressure cooker in just 1 minute cooking time! I love to make a big batch of quinoa at the beginning of the week and then use it in a variety of dishes, from easy salads to quinoa patties that I sauté on the stovetop. Quinoa is very versatile and it’s a great source of plant-based protein. Vitacost has an excellent organic quinoa. Don’t miss my Lemon Quinoa Vegetable Salad that is perfect for meal prep lunches or to take to a potluck.


Don’t you just love noodle dishes for a satisfying lunch or dinner? I do, but most noodle dish recipes are meant to be made on the stovetop and require a lot of effort. I think it’s much easier to make them in the pressure cooker where you can set it and forget it. These are some of the best one-pot meals I’ve ever had! You can use rice noodles or traditional spaghetti noodles in most pressure cooker noodle dishes, but it’s best to refer to a recipe to make sure you get the cooking times correct. You might like my gluten-free and dairy-free Instant Pot Noodles with Chicken recipe that uses rice noodles with a creamy almond butter sauce.


One of my husband’s favorite dishes is lentil soup, and it can be made in the pressure cooker quickly and easily. Lentils cook in only 15 minutes at high pressure and are so versatile. Besides making them into a soup, lentils can be used to make lentil burgers and in the filling of vegetarian casseroles. They’re rich in plant-based protein. Look for organic brown lentils or green lentils for a firm texture; red or yellow lentils will have a mushy texture.

Chia seeds

One of my favorite snack recipes to make in the pressure cooker is a coconut chia pudding using chia seeds, frozen berries, coconut milk, and rolled oats. Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber and nutrition. I like to make a big batch on the weekend and then portion out the puddings for snacks or a grab-and-go breakfast throughout the week. The exact recipe for my Coconut-Blueberry Chia Pudding can be found on page 39 of my new book, the Healthy Meal Prep Instant Pot Cookbook.

Black beans

You’ll never buy canned black beans again once you see how easy it is to cook them from dry beans in a pressure cooker. I do recommend soaking dry beans for at least 8 hours before cooking them. After you’ve soaked your black beans, give them a rinse and then add them to your pressure cooker, with fresh water to cover. Soaked black beans only need 15 minutes of cooking time at high pressure to give you the most tender, delicious beans you’ve ever eaten.


Powdered starch like cornstarch can help thicken sauces to add more versatility to pressure cooker meals. The easiest way is to make a slurry is to mix about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with about ½ cup of water. Then, when your pressure cooker meal is done cooking, you can add the slurry and use the “saute” feature to thicken the sauce right in the pot. I recommend organic cornstarch.

Diced tomatoes

The pressure cooker makes killer chilis and stews, so I recommend having diced tomatoes on hand to add to the other ingredients. The tomatoes do double duty by adding both liquid and flavor to a pressure cooker meal. Choose organic, BPA-free canned tomatoes whenever possible.

Carrie Forrest with Pressure Cooker Ingredients | Vitacost.com/blog