April 9, 2020
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Cook Multiple Things at Once in Your Instant Pot | Pot in Pot Method

Hi, I’m Urvashi. My blog is
twosleevers.com, and I am going to show you
how to use your Instant Pot to do pot-in-pot
cooking, which is going to open up a whole
new huge, big, magic, delicious world for you. So I did a video on
this two years ago. The lighting was
absolutely crap, and I talked for too long. So we’re going to do
this again, and I’m going explain how this works. OK, you should trust
me because I actually know what I’m doing for
Instant Pot cooking. I have three and
Instant Pot cookbooks– Instant Pot Fast &
Easy, Keto Instant Pot, and Indian Instant Pot, all
authorized by Instant Pot, and actually all best sellers. Here’s how pot-in-pot
cooking works. So a pressure
cooker, as you know, typically what you would do is
you would put your food In here and you would cook it. And you would cook
one dish at a time. So you might make a stew. You might make some kind
of a butter chicken, maybe. However there is a way to be
able to cook more than one dish at the same time in
the pressure cooker, and that’s what’s called
pot-in-pot cooking. Why would you bother? So let me give you the
basics of how you do this. The basics of how you do
this is you take this pot, you put a couple of cups or
maybe a cup and a half of water in the center here, because
that water, as it heats, is going to create steam. That steam is going
to create pressure. That pressures is
what’s going to reduce the boiling point of water. And that’s how you cook– your
food is going to cook faster. Now in pot-in-pot
cooking, what you would do is you would put either
water or food at the bottom. You would then get a
trivet or a steamer rack and put that on here, and
then you would put food in another pot in here. Many times, this food
in the smaller pot will also have water. So let me give you an example
of when you would and would not use water in this pot. If you are making something
that absorbs water, such as anything starchy– potatoes, pasta, rice, beans,
at the very least– those things absorb water. So you’ll want–
for example, you couldn’t just put rice in here
without putting water in here. You would want it
to be able to steam. On the other hand, if you’re
making something really fast, like fish or
vegetables, those things would be able to be
cooked with just steaming. So think of this. Forget about the pressure
cooker for a minute. Just think about the
stuff that you can steam and the stuff
that you can’t steam. What’s happening in
here is essentially it’s either steaming
or it’s cooking. So if it’s an item
that on the stove top you wouldn’t put
water to steam, you do not have to put water
in here to steam it. If it’s an item that
on the stove top you would put water to
cook it, you probably need the water in here. That’s a good way
to remember it. There are four
reasons, at least, that I know of why
you would do this one. Is because, as I
mentioned earlier, you can cook multiple
things at the same time. You can make butter
chicken at the bottom; you can make rice on top. You can make beans
at the bottom, and then you could
make, potentially, brown rice on the top. So there’s a variety of things
that you can mix and match, and that allows you to cook
two things at the same time. The second reason that
you want to do that is to slow down cooking. Now, I know you bought that
Instant Pot or a pressure cooker because you wanted
to speed up cooking. Why would you want
to slow it down? The only reason you would
want to slow it down is because you
were trying to cook two different items together. I’m going to explain that. The third reason for
using pot-in-pot cooking is because it effectively works
like a de facto water bath. If you’ve ever cooked something
in the oven in a water bath, like a cheesecake
or a custard, we can talk more about
that in half a minute. And then, the other reason
that you might want to do that is because you might be cooking
or, quote, “baking” something that doesn’t have a
lot of water in it, and you want to steam a custard,
or you want to steam a cake. What kind of things can
you cook at the same time? Well, typically,
you can cook things at the same time that have
roughly the same amount of cooking time. So for example, the butter
chicken recipe that I have, it takes about 10 minutes
to cook the chicken. Well, if you were cooking
rice by itself in the pot, the rice would take
four minutes to cook. Because you are
elevating it, you’re removing it from the direct
source of heat at the bottom, it’s gonna slow
down the cooking, and that rice, which
would ordinarily have taken four or
five minutes, now can be left in there
for 10 minutes. Same thing with dal. If you’re making
lentils, the lentils might take about five, or six,
or seven, or eight minutes. If you put rice on top, that
can cook in about five minutes. Now, instantly you realize
that you cannot, for example, cook brown rice– which
takes 22 minutes– and fish– which takes,
maybe, two minutes. Those things can’t
go well together. So when you’re trying to decide
what can go together, look at the thing that takes
the longest cooking time and look at the thing that
takes the shortest cooking time, and see, are they close enough? OK? Now, four minutes to
10 minutes on rice, you know, it’s not
that big a deal. Two minutes to 22
minutes, it’s a big deal. Some of this is going
to come with practice. Some of this is going to
come from following a recipe. So let me give you some examples
of what can be cooked together. I have a chicken biryani
recipe where we’re cooking, you know, rice and
chicken at the same time. The way I manage
that is by cutting the chicken into small bites. So you could do the
same thing here. Some things will naturally
cook at the same time together, like, for
example, you know, like I mentioned earlier,
butter chicken and rice, or fish and steamed vegetables,
steamed broccoli. Those things will cook in
approximately the same times. Other things, you can force
them to cook in approximately the same time by chopping
up the longest-cooking item into smaller bits. So for example,
if you’re wanting to steam a potato at the same– you want to make
mashed potatoes. You want to steam the potato at
the same time as you boil eggs. Well, eggs, let’s not get into
how many different ways there are to make it, but let’s say
the eggs take five minutes. A potato, a whole potato,
might take 10 minutes. You might, at that
point, chop up the potato into smaller bits. So you can make things
kind of come close, but certain things–
you would never be able to cook chickpeas that
might take 20 minutes with fish that’s going to
take two minutes. So find items that cook in
about the same time, and those can be cooked together. So you can cook white
rice and lentils together. You can cook potato cubes and
eggs together, as an example. You can cook white rice
and plain lentils together. You can cook brown rice
and beans together, as long as the beans are
soaked, et cetera, et cetera. So here are just some guidelines
for what will go together. What won’t go together
is, for example, a whole chicken and rice, OK? One takes 20, 30 minutes, the
other one takes two minutes. Not going to happen. White rice and chickpeas,
whole potatoes and broccoli, things that take a
different amount of time are not going to
happen together. So again, trying to
find good recipes that will show you how to do it. On my blog, twosleevers.com, try
the butter chicken with rice. You can try the butter
chicken with cauliflower rice. There’s a pressure
cooker rice and dal. There’s a pressure cooker
[INAUDIBLE] dal and rice. You can try those
things at the same time. When you’re making any of the
fish recipes, the steamed fish, the Chinese ginger
steamed scallion fish, you can make rice
at the same time, as long as you put the rice in
the bottom and the fish on top. So here’s an
important principle. In order to cook things
at the same time, they must have the
same cook times. They must be cut
up into pieces that will cook at the same
time, and the thing that takes the longest to
cook needs to go into the pot. The thing that takes
a shorter time to cook needs to be elevated. You’re moving it away from
the direct source of heat at the bottom,
elevating it, and that is what is going to
retard the cooking time. Sometimes you’re only
making one thing. Like for example, I just
want to steam broccoli, or I just want to steam
a few asparagus tips, and I don’t have
time to babysit it. I’m running around, I’m
trying to do six other things. Usually, in my case, I’m on
a conference call for work. You know, and I cook when I’m
on conference calls because, come on, who doesn’t
do something else when they’re on conference calls? I could play solitaire,
or I could cook. I cook. You’re cooking something
that’s really, really delicate. You want to make a fish. You want to make, you
know, steamed broccoli. You want to make something
without a ton of water in it. In that situation, when you’re
trying to make a dry dish, I actually have a
sesame ginger chicken recipe on the blog where I
use that technique, where I want the resultant
product to be dry-ish, but at the same time, I
want to pressure cook it. So in that case, in the
sesame ginger chicken salad, I wanted to pressure
cook the chicken, but I needed to be able
to shred that chicken and put it into a salad so
I did not need a soup, OK? In that case, what
am I going to do? I’m going to put not
another dish at the bottom. No, not another piece
of food at the bottom. I’m simply going to put water,
I’m going to put this up here, and then I’m going to put,
let’s say, something like this. By the way, I’m going
to do a separate video on the accessories that you
need, where on the blog, there’s a thing about must-have
Instant Pot accessories, which are the ones that I use. So let’s say I want
to steam broccoli. I’m going to put a cup of
water, a cup, cup and a half in the bottom. I’m going to put a rack on here. And I’m going to put either this
or a silicone basket on top. And I’m going to put
the broccoli in here, and I’m going to let it steam. OK? So when I’m cooking
delicate items, when I’m trying to cook
dry items, you want it elevated
away from the heat. You don’t want water in it. If something’s going
to cook really fast, you’re going to do it in a
steamer basket and a steamer rack with water at the bottom. Really good way to do
delicate vegetables. Really good way to do
seafood, typically– anything that would cook
really, really fast. You know, sometimes we use zero
minutes of pressure cooking time. That is a really,
really good time for you to be elevating
it and cooking it. The other thing,
the other situation where you might use an
elevated thing is to boil eggs. So everybody has their
own ways of doing it. Five, five, five method,
two and 20, method whatever. You figure it out, what
works well for you. But in that situation, you
would put water at the bottom, you would use a rack like this,
you would probably stick eggs into this thing– this
is actually an egg rack– and then you would
make your eggs. So I’ve talked to you about
how you can cut up an item and make the cooking slower. I’ll give you two other tips how
you can retard cooking times. One is to actually take
whatever the food is and wrap it in foil. Foil doesn’t conduct
heat very well. It protects that. So sometimes what
I’ll do, for example, is I will take and put
rice at the bottom, and let’s say that I want
to do broccoli on top. I’ll take that broccoli
now, wrap it in foil, and it takes longer for
that broccoli to get hotter. And so you can retard cooking
times by wrapping it in foil. Now for those of you
who don’t like foil, they make silicone envelopes. You might want to put
your broccoli in there and leave a little
room for it to vent, and you might try
that in that way. The third way in which
you can slow down cooking so that you can cook
multiple items at the same time is to use frozen food. I do this a lot with vegetables. I don’t defrost my vegetables. I just kind of, you
know, take frozen ones and put them right in there. And by the time it
comes to temperature and it comes to
pressure, et cetera, it’s taken a lot longer for
those vegetables to cook. So if you’re cooking
delicate vegetables and you’re wanting to make
rice at the same time, or you put beans at the
bottom and you want to put– like let’s say you wanted
to black eyed peas, which cook in 10 or 15
minutes, and you’re trying to do spinach or
collard greens on top. I usually take frozen
vegetables, frozen spinach, frozen collard greens. I create a little foil
pouch, and I put it on there, and I put it on top. So you can retard
cooking by elevating it. You can slow down cooking
times by cutting the item into smaller pieces. You can slow down cooking
time by wrapping it in foil or in a
silicone envelope. and you can slow
down cooking times by starting with frozen items. Let’s talk about the
thing that people love to use an Instant Pot
for which, is cheesecakes. Cheesecakes are
a glorious thing. I have a keto cheesecake
recipe on the blog. I have a lemon ricotta
cheesecake recipe on the blog. Those are fantastic. The reason that that works
is that you’re putting water at the bottom, you’re
elevating this, and you’re creating this
full steam environment. And that steamed
environment allows your food to cook with indirect
heat and not direct heat. So if you’re cooking a
custard with really high heat, the custard is going
to curl and it’s going to lump, versus
putting it in a water bath. So in an oven, the
equivalent is going to be you take a baking
pan, you put water in it, and then you put your
cheesecake on top. That’s essentially
what’s happening here. Another situation where I
use this as a steam bath, if you will, is when I
make caramel custard. So if you look on the
Two Sleevers blog, there’s a recipe
for caramel custard. By the way, I’m going put
links to all of these recipes that I’m mentioning
in the bottom. But in that situation,
what’s happening is I’m putting
water at the bottom, I’m putting a custard
on top, I’m closing it. I’m not even actually sealing
the pot at that point. I’m leaving it to venting. Essentially, all I’m
doing is creating a moist, steamy, humid
environment in here, and that indirect heat is going
to be able to cook my custards. So a really, really
good situation where you want to use that. So the fourth
situation where you want to use pot-in-pot cooking
is for, quote, “baking.” So I use it a lot to make cakes. I’ve got a gluten-free chocolate
cake that’s very popular. I have a keto almond carrot
cake that’s really popular. I’ve also made, by the
way, cakes from packages. I’ve made cornbread
from packages. If you look up the apple cake
on the Two Sleevers blog, you’ll see how I use a
small package of cake mix and a few sliced apples
to make something that looks really, really pretty. So in that situation,
what’s happening is, it really baking the cake? It’s not. It’s steaming the cake. Does the cake come
out moist and gummy? It’s kind of interesting. You know what? It’s moist, but it’s not gummy. And I don’t know
how to explain this. It has the texture
of really light cake, but that moist environment
with indirect heat causes it to have a very
light, light sort of texture, and a nice crumb
that comes with it. And there’s a
moistness to it that is it is really, really delicious. Let’s talk about the types of
materials that do well in here. OK, I’m straight up going
to tell you my bias. Do not use glass in here. So there is a whole discussion
about borosilicate versus not. Is it safe, is it not? You know what? The fact of the
matter is most of us don’t know if our glass
is borosilicate or not. Pyrex just no longer
means heat-proof glass. I’ve had a delicious
pork szechuan soup– which is also on the blog– just absolutely break, and I had
glass all over everything, and My whole soup was wasted. And besides, it
could be dangerous. So I prefer not to use glass,
one because it’s not safe, but the other reason is because
it slows down cooking time. So I have a easiest-ever shrimp
curry with coconut milk recipe. And it’s a delicious recipe,
but I’ll get feedback from people going, oh,
it took me– you know, my shrimp wasn’t cooked. Well, size of the
shrimp matters. How high up it is from the
bottom is going to matter. And then, the type of
container you use matters. Glass is going to
take the longest. So if you make a recipe off
of the Two Sleevers blog and you use a glass
container, you’re going to have to
adjust for time. My preferences are
actually aluminum. See how much you use [INAUDIBLE]
and see how grubby it is. It’s grubby not
because it’s dirty, but because it was
aluminum that I put into the dishwasher, which
you’re not supposed to do. But, hey. I’m a real person. I have to use a dishwasher. I hate doing dishes. So I use aluminum, and then
I use stainless steel– which, again aluminum
and stainless steel are lightweight. They conduct heat
really quickly. They retain heat really quickly. And I use silicone when I’m
using baskets, et cetera, or when I’m using a lid. So those, to me, are the
safest things to use. So to recap, aluminum,
stainless steel, and silicone do really, really, really
well in a pressure cooker. Aluminum foil does
really, really well, also. And I use that a lot. And let me mention that. Many people are not
wanting to run out and make a huge investment
in utensils to put inside here because they’re not
sure they’re going to use it. You know, you already
have a small kitchen. Buy yourself these. Little aluminum containers,
I use these a lot. So this, by the way, is
a small mini loaf pan. It’ll make half a cup of
rice really, really easily. And you can actually
fit two in here. See that? You can do that. The little pie pans fit. So you start with
these, and if you like doing pot-in-pot
cooking and you find you use it often
enough, like I said, there’s a link there’s, a
post on the blog that says, you know, the Instant Pot
must-have accessories. You can go look at that. OK, let’s talk about sizes. So this is a
6-quart Instant Pot. Pretty much anything
you want in here is going to be about 6 to
7 inches across and no more than 3 or 4 inches tall. So 6 by 3, 6 by 4, 6 by 2,
those kind of containers fit really, really well. If you have an
Instant Pot Mini– which I do, and I love– the widest one it’s going to
take is a 5-inch to 6-inch pot. So it’s not going to
go 7 inches at all, and you can’t do anything
that’s more than 1 or 2 inches in a mini. This one that I
have is a 7 by 3. You see it fits really well. There’s enough place
around the sides. It’s great. This one that I have
is about a 6 by 1. This also fits. It doesn’t hold a lot of food. I’m going to switch out for my
mini and show you what happens. First issue I’m going to
have is this big thing is not even going
to fit in here. Anything that goes into the
Mini has to be under 6 inches. As you can see, the 7-inch thing
is not going to fit in here. The 6-inch one, however,
if I had a smaller rack– which I do– this is going to fit just fine. Which brings me to
the other point. When you put a pot in
there, do not put it straight onto the bottom. You have to have a
rack to elevate it. Otherwise, everything
in this pot is going to scorch
really, really easily. So you always need
a steamer rack. I have another one that
I use for the mini. This fits in here. So in the interest of
efficiency, actually, to be honest, what I do is,
everything I have is 6 inches. So I get 6 by 1, 6 by
2, 6 by 3, and then I get a smaller trivet. Because not only do the
6 inches fit in the mini and in the 6 quart, they also
fit in most of my air fryers. So I tend to use the same
utensils for all of those, and that way, I
don’t have to have 16 million different varieties. Four reasons why
you would do it– to cook multiple items
at the same time. You can do so many
different varieties of food at the same time. You can do it– you can
you elevate something that is a delicate cooking item. Just steam it. Just cook it at the same
time as something else. You can use it as a water bath
for custards and cheesecakes. And you can use it to,
quote, “bake” items. Lots of recipes on the blog
at twosleevers.com for this, and I hope this is
helpful for you to watch. I’m going to do another
video on the accessories that you need, but please watch
the other videos on cooking in a pressure cooker, including
a video on the Maillard reaction, why you
don’t need to brown, and how to adapt recipes
to a pressure cooker– which, by the way, I have
it in a three-part series. I’m going to redo that, but
you can watch those videos right now. I also have another
video on, why did I get the Burn
signal in my Instant Pot? You can watch that. I hope this was helpful. Thank you for watching. Please be sure to subscribe. Thank you.

Randall Smitham



  1. Sheila M Posted on August 30, 2019 at 1:54 am

    I've measured the inside of my inner pot (side to side and up and down) so I know the maximum sized dish or roast I can put in there but until I put it in there I really won't know what kind of manuvering room I'll have for taking it back out. You know the old "it's easier to do than to undo". For me when you showed the 7", 6" and 5" dishes going in and out is exactly what I like to see. Thanks.

  2. Avi Bonn Posted on August 30, 2019 at 11:16 am

    Excellent video Urvashi. So much great information. I enjoy your videos.

  3. Jane Clay Posted on August 30, 2019 at 2:12 pm

    So helpful. I’m a fairly new user and this explains so much. One question – if I haven’t got a suitable trivet, could I use balls of rolled up foil to raise the pip?

  4. Anne Krause Posted on August 31, 2019 at 3:01 am

    Please slow down! You've a lot of good info to share but talk way to fast!