What Is The Pot In Pot Method For Instant Pot?

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While reading about all of the benefits of the Instant Pot or perusing recipes, you’ve probably seen the term “pot in pot method” (usually shortened to PIP method). You might be wondering what it is and why you would ever use it over the textbook cooking method. 

Well, we’ve got you covered: in this post, we’re going to look at the Instant Pot pot-in-pot method, what the benefits are, and what specific dishes it can be used for.

What Is The Pot In Pot Method?

The pot in pot method is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: you simply place a trivet or steam rack inside of the Instant Pot, then place an oven safe pot on top of the trivet for cooking. The most obvious benefit of this technique is being able to cook more than one dish at a time, which allows you to prep an entire meal all at once with the press of a button. 

For example, you can cook a main dish, like chicken, in the steel insert of the Instant Pot, while a side dish of rice cooks in the smaller pot above. The main course is cooked in the water below, while the side dish cooks above.

Some foods don’t require additional water to be added to the pot that’s in the Instant Pot. Other dishes, like rice, do require water added to the pot that’s in the Instant Pot.

How Do I Use The Pot In Pot Method?

First off, you’ll need a couple items besides your IP to cook with the PIP method. You’ll need a trivet, which may have come with your IP – if not, they are easy to find and inexpensive. One about 2.5-3 inches tall is perfect. 

Secondly, you’ll need an oven safe bowl, which you may already have: ceramic, silicone, metal, or stainless steel will do fine. You’ll want to test this out a bit before giving the PIP method a shot, so place the trivet in the Instant Pot and the bowl you’ll be using on top of the trivet.

Make sure the Instant Pot can close securely and there’s enough space on either side of the smaller pot for steam to surround it.

In general, you will need about 1 cup of water for the IP to reach pressure. Keep in mind that, when cooking two separate foods, you’ll want to select foods that have similar cooking times. 

Also, it will take longer for the food on the trivet to cook than it would if placed in the lower pot. Rice placed up top might take around 10 minutes to cook, for example, whereas if in the IP proper it would take around 4 minutes, so be sure to account for this.

It’s also a good idea to get silicone gloves so you can lift the container out of the pot. If not, you can also make an aluminum foil sling, which you do by simply folding a piece of foil in three, placing it under the bowl, and then folding around the edges of the bowl.

Some steam racks shipped with IPs already have handles, so if that’s the case you don’t need to worry.

What Food Is The Pot In Pot Method Best For?

People usually use the PIP method to cook main dishes and side dishes simultaneously. For example, chicken and rice or fish and vegetables are classic combinations.

You can also, for instance, cook pasta in the top dish while meatballs prepare below. Or, you could cook rice in the top pot while beef cooks in the bottom pot.

The PIP method is also great for cooking things that would normally scorch the bottom of the IP, like oatmeal, tomato sauce, and gravy. In addition, it’s the only way to cook dishes that don’t require a lot of liquid, since normally you’d need this liquid to bring the IP to pressure. Meatloaf, cakes, and casseroles are great examples.

If your IP model doesn’t have a low pressure setting, PIP makes it possible to cook up delicate foods like cauliflower, broccoli or certain types of seafood with damaging them.

You can also use it for baking desserts like cheesecake, creme brûlée or chocolate lava cake. That’s because these require a “bain marie” or water bath, and PIP allows them to cook gently.

Overall, the pot in pot method greatly adds to the convenience provided by the Instant Pot, reducing meal preparation time. It also expands your options, allowing you to cook foods in the Instant Pot you might not normally be able to. Soon, you’ll feel like an Instant Pot pro!