Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker?

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I am having trouble using the Slow Cooker mode on the Instant Pot. I tried a recipe at low, and it was not even remotely cooked…am I doing something wrong?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions like this recently. And I don’t have an answer.

In all my years of using the Instant Pot1, I can count on one hand the times I’ve used it as a slow cooker. And, well… I wasn’t really slow cooking. I was reheating chili I pressure cooked the night before. I need to heat it for my annual chili potluck at work. I know that low heat is not enough – I need high heat to be ready by lunchtime. I start at “Slow Cook – High” for an hour or two, and then, once everything is bubbling, I turn the cooker down to “keep warm” until it is time to serve.

For all the things my Instant Pot can do – “It’s a pressure cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker, rice cooker…”2 I really only ask it to do two things. First, pressure cook – “manual” mode and set the time to cook. Second, use “Sauté” mode to brown meat before pressure cooking. (Or, occasionally, to simmer food after it is pressure cooked.) And…that’s it, I’m done. The Instant Pot is my favorite cooking tool because of how well it does on those two functions.3

One of the first comments on my Instant Pot FAQ asked about slow cooking mode. Like I said, I never use it, so I looked up the information. According to the Instant Pot manual, the Slow Cooker settings are: Normal mode: 9096°C/194205°F. More mode: 9399°C/199210°F. Less mode: 88–94°C/190201°F. That looks like “Low” mode lines up with a Slow Cooker set to low, and “High” mode with a slow cooker set to high. So, that’s what I put in the FAQ.

But over the last few months, the volume of Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker questions has jumped. More and more, I’m asked: “I set my Instant Pot to Slow Cook – Low mode, came back ten hours later, and the results were not good. Am I doing something wrong?”

I don’t know how to answer, yet. I’m going to test out slow cooker mode on the Instant Pot, and I will follow up on this in the New Year, but testing is going to take a while. (Ten hour slow cooks aren’t a quick answer.) But, before I start testing, I want to throw the question to my readers:

Questions about Instant Pot Slow Cooking:

  • Are you using the Instant Pot as a slow cooker?
  • Is it working?
  • What settings do you use? (I saw a Reddit thread that said “Slow cook – medium on an IP is a slow cooker at low. Slow cook – high on the IP is a slow cooker at high. Slow cook – low is a ”keep warm” mode. Does that work for you?)

Please answer in the comments below – what are your experiences? (Or, reply by email, on Twitter, or Facebook, or whatever social media platform you can find me on. Frankly, I’d prefer blog comments – I can barely keep up with Twitter as it is, and I’ve declared Facebook bankruptcy and only check it once in a blue moon.) Thanks!

 

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  1. According to Amazon order history, I bought my first IP-LUX60 in October 2012

  2. It slices! It dices! In Japan, the hand is used as a knife! But can it cut through this tomato?

  3. I have a separate rant about not trusting program modes…what is the difference between “Soup”, “Meat/Stew” and “Bean/Chili”, anyhow? What is the pot doing? Should I trust it? But, that’s a rant for another day. Back to slow cooking.

17 Comments

  1. I’ve used the IP Duo for slow cooking quite a bit and find that the medium setting works about like low mode on a traditional crockpot. Just last week needed to make kalua pork for a crowd of students and used my older slow cooker and my IP in slow cook mode; both batches turned out excellent. Beans, etc. work great on IP’s medium setting.

    Love the blog, congratulations from another Dad who cooks for his family.

  2. Susanne L /

    I tried a recipe from the Asian Slow Cooker for Sriracha Chili Chicken wings. The recipe called for 4 hrs on low but in the IP on medium slow cook it was done in 2 hours and they were just about falling apart.
    I think if you are using the IP as a slow cooker the times need to be adjusted… I’d feel uncomfortable setting it in the morning and coming back late in the day unless its a very forgiving meat.
    I regularly make congee in the IP and as I like mine very smooth. I start it manually for about a half hour and after I release the pressure I switch it to slow cook medium and let it go all night. Gets that Chinese restaurant texture that used to elude me.

  3. I’ve used the slow cook function many times. I always use the higher setting and the time that I’d use for my other slow cookers (I have at least 6). I’ve been happy with the slow cooker modeon the IP, although I’ll keep my others because I have various sizes for various uses.

  4. Bev Gagnon /

    I just used my Instant Pot as a slow cooker for the first time two days ago. I made a Mississippi Pot Roast with a 3 lb. Chuck roast, used the slow cooker function on “normal” for 6 hours. The meat was soft, tender, and flavorful. The original slow cooker directions called for cooking on “low” for 6 to 8 hours, so the IP is probably a little hotter on normal than a traditional slow cooker on low? I’ll be watching for your test results!

  5. Aaron Friedman /

    I use it quite often to cook tomato meat sauce for pasta. I’ve used Low and Medium and they’ve worked fine.

  6. Mike –
    I have not at this point ever used my LUX60 as a “slow cooker” but I soon plan to. So this topic is of great interest to me. Am looking forward to seeing what the conclusions are.

    – augustwest

  7. I tried using my 6 quart duo to slow cook some split pea soup, and the peas were still hard when I got home from work 9 hours later. I used low, and I only tried it because I was curious. Next time I’ll try it on medium.

  8. Margaret /

    I have only tried the Instant Pot for slow cooking twice.
    neither times successsful.
    The first was a scalloped potato recipe, followed all the directions, after the specified time 5 hours potatoes still hard and had turned black.. Added two more hours, Nothing. Next day put them in the oven with more milk. No good. They did turnout in a potato soup very succssfully.
    Today I tried , Golabki, unstuffed cabbage roll recipe. six hours on high, meat not cooked cabbage still hard. I have put them back in for another twohours. We will see.

    What is the problem with the cooker?

  9. Jillian Rocchio /

    My first time slow cooking a pot roast, I put it on the lowest setting because I was going to be out all day…. when I came home, it was not at all close to done. I still had to pressure cook it.

    Today, I tried a pork roast on the medium slow cook setting for 7 hours. When I came home 9 hours later, the screen said “OFF”. The manual says it should stay in a “keep warm” mode for 10 hours after the slow cooking is done, so I’m not sure why my slow cooker was off.

    For now, I am going to stick to pressure cooking with it and use my slow cooker for slow cooking…. but I wish I could trust it to be more reliable with slow cooking!

  10. I’m returning my IP but wanted to report my findings in case it’s helpful to someone else. I really only cook two things in my slow cooker: kalua pork and Trader Joe’s pot roast. I’ve done this probably close to 100 times so I know what kind of results to expect after 10-24 hours (depending on size of meat). So first, I tried pressure cooking kalua pork. After 90 minutes, the meat was not shreddable, not even close. Kept adding more and more time and finally the meat was shreddable with a fork, but the meat was just not as tender as when cooked in a slow cooker. In fact, the meat felt dry and stringy, like the fibers had not broken down. So I thought fine, if it works on the slow cooker setting, then I’ll keep it. I did a side by side test, 4lbs pork butt in the IP on slow cooker mode “normal” setting and 4lbs pork butt in a crockpot low setting. I set the timer for 18 hours and went to sleep. 10 hours later, the meat in the slow cooker was absolutely tender and shreddable as expected. The meat in the IP was not even close. I left the meat in the IP for the entire 18 hours, adjusting to “high” for the last 3 hours and still struggled to shred the meat, which was just dry dry dry! So, I’m returning my IP and sticking to my crock pot!

    A couple things to note: when my crockpot is on low, it gets hot enough to boil liquid. The IP did not even come close to boiling when on normal, and I saw one or two bubbles on high. So it seems even when the IP is on high, it’s not even close temperature-wise to low on my crockpot.

  11. I tried the slow cooker mode on high for 6 hours and it wasn’t even warm. I contacted IP help and did a water test which did warm the water with the slow cooker. IP help said that when using the slow cooking mode that you need to have at least 1 1/2-2 cups of water. I have not tried the slow cooker with water yet but it does seem to defeat some of the recipes that don’t require that kind of liquid

  12. I had a similar experience when cooking beef stew on the slow cooker mode. I used “low” temp for 6 hours which used to work with my crockpot. I checked the stew and it was nowhere near done so I bumped it up to “medium” left it a couple more hours and still the potatoes were nowhere near done. I finally just transferred the stew to a dutch oven and put it on the stove and simmered it another 2 hours. Finally done enough to eat but potatoes still hard. Seems the slow cooker feature on the IP just does not get hot enough. Might try another recipe on “high” and see if I get anywhere. This is disappointing thus far because I was hoping to have one appliance to work as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, etc. and it’s not seeming to work that way.

  13. I used the slow cooker function twice on low and had the same results that many people are reporting, the potatoes, carrots, celery and even onions in the stew were not cooked after eight hours. The second time I used it, the liquid was lukewarm and the meat wasn’t even cooked, let alone the vegetables. I turned the temp up to high and cooked for another hour. There was no change in the vegetables.
    I contacted InstantPot and they had me run some tests with water and said to make sure not to touch the timer function, lid on venting position, etc. I followed all their instructions, did another stew and still ended up with uncooked vegetables after eight hours. I’m very frustrated because I really liked the idea of a multi-function pot, especially with the browning feature.

  14. As a follow-up to my earlier post, after reading Bonnie’s post and noting that my email from InstantPot said the same thing as hers about the liquid needing to have the consistency of water, I did a test today in which I cooked only potatoes in water, and they were cooked after 7 hours on low. So it does seem to have some connection with the liquid, but I agree entirely with Bonnie that it does seem to defeat some of the recipes like some stews and other recipes that that have a thicker liquid in which the ingredients cook.

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