Wondering if you can cut an Instant Pot recipe in half so you can make a smaller batch? Whether you have a 3-quart, 6-quart, or 8-quart model, we show you how to do it.
With a few simple tweaks, you can typically halve Instant Pot recipes pretty easily–learn what considerations to keep in mind as you make adjustments.
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In recent years, the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker has taken the world by storm as an appliance that helps busy families get dinner on the table faster.
But the majority of Instant Pot recipes are written to yield 6-8 servings.
This is partly because a lot of the recipes are geared towards families, but also partly because pressure cookers by nature require a certain amount of liquid in order to create the pressure needed to function.
But family-friendly Instant Pot recipes pose a problem for the many users who simply don’t need to feed a crowd.
I hear from countless readers who are single, widowed, or empty nesters who are only feeding one or two people, and they don’t want a lot of leftovers.
Instant Pot Recipes for Two
I’m often asked if it’s possible to halve Instant Pot recipes in order to make a smaller batch that would feed just two people, so let’s take a look at how that can work.
It may require some adjustments and modifications, but often times, it’s quite simple to tweak the recipe so that it will produce fewer servings.
Want a shortcut? Grab a copy of Instant Pot Cooking for Two, which includes all of these tips and tricks, plus printable cheat sheets and 25 Instant Pot recipes written just for 2-3 servings!
Can You Cut an Instant Pot Recipe in Half?
The good news is, yes, many Instant Pot recipes can be successfully halved to yield fewer servings.
However, there are some things you’ll need to take into account when adjusting the recipe.
Consider the Amount of Liquid
First and foremost, the most important thing we have to consider if halving the ingredients will leave enough cooking liquid.
This is because pressure cooking only works if there is enough liquid in the pot to boil, which creates steam, which is necessary for creating pressure in the inner pot.
Not only that, but if there isn’t enough liquid in the pot, your food can scorch on the bottom of the pot, giving you the BURN message.
In general, the recommendations for amount of liquid for different sized Instant Pot models are as follows:
- 3-quart Instant Pot: 1/2 cup liquid
- 6-quart Instant Pot: 1 cup liquid
- 8-quart Instant Pot: 2 cups liquid
As you can see, the amount of liquid needed for the 3-quart model is the smallest amount.
While you certainly can make smaller batches in a larger Instant Pot, if you are going to be making small batches of food regularly, I recommend investing in a 3-quart mini Instant Pot, since it will be easiest to cook half batches in.
How to Halve Liquid in Instant Pot Recipes for the 3-Quart, 6-Quart, or 8-Quart Models:
First, take a look at the amount of liquid listed in the ingredients list of the recipe.
When you cut the amount of liquid in half, will it still be enough to bring your model of Instant Pot to high pressure?
If so, you can easily halve the recipe.
If not, you have a couple of other options for halving the recipe.
- You could cut all ingredients in half except for the liquid. Then, after cooking, you can add a thickener or simply simmer for a bit longer to help reduce the additional liquid. Keep in mind you may need to increase the amount of seasonings if you go this route.
- You could cut all ingredients in half, including the liquid, and use the pot-in-pot method for cooking. In this method, you add water to the insert pot and set the trivet in place. Then place your ingredients in a smaller dish that rests on the trivet during cooking (See my list of recommended accessories for pot-in-pot cooking).
Some measurements are difficult to cut in half with mental math–for instance, how do you figure out what is half of 3/4 cup?
I recommend checking out this resource for how to halve ingredients if you need a conversion chart.
Consider Whether the Foods Release Moisture
When considering whether or not you’ll have enough liquid after halving the ingredients, consider the foods you’re cooking.
Be sure to take into account the fact that some foods (often meats, vegetables, and fruits) release moisture while cooking.
This released liquid counts toward the minimum liquid requirement!
So even if you have a little less than the minimum amount of liquid needed, be sure to consider whether or not the food will release juices as it cooks.
Consider the Cook Time
Next, the question most people have is, “If you cut a recipe in half, do you cut the cooking time?”
Generally speaking, the amount of time for cooking will remain the same for your recipe whether you are making a full batch or a half batch.
This is because the cook time remains the same for a particular food, regardless of how much of that food you are cooking.
However, in some cases, you may find that the ingredients come to pressure faster when halved, since the pot is less full (if using a 6-quart or 8-quart model).
For the majority of foods, this will not have a noticeable effect.
For other foods that truly need a longer cook time, such as tough meats or grains, you may need to increase the cook time.
Of course, the inverse of this is true as well.
If you are using a 3-quart model, your pot may actually be more full, which could take a little bit longer to come to pressure.
In this case, your food may need a slightly shorter cook time.
But in general, this won’t have a significant effect on most foods, so I recommend keeping the cook time the same for simplicity’s sake.
Don’t Overfill the Instant Pot
Many people who are halving Instant Pot recipes wish to do so because they have the smaller 3-quart mini Instant Pot, and don’t want to overfill it by cooking a full batch of a recipe.
Regardless of the size of Instant Pot you own, it’s important to never overfill it.
Luckily, there are guidelines marked on the insert pots to help remind you (and of course, always follow the guidelines in your user’s manual).
For all models of Instant Pot, you’ll want to never fill beyond 2/3 full.
If you’re cooking foods that foam or expand during cooking, be sure to not exceed the 1/2 full mark so the pressure release valve doesn’t get blocked.
- For the 3-quart model, half full is about 6 cups and 2/3 full is about 8 cups.
- For the 6-quart model, half full is about 12 cups and 2/3 full is about 16 cups.
How to Halve Instant Pot Recipes for Two People
To recap, if you want to make smaller batches of your favorite Instant Pot recipes, you’ll need to follow these simple steps before adjusting a recipe:
- Consider the amount of liquid. When halved, is it enough to create pressure? If yes, halve the recipe! If no, consider using the original amount of liquid or using the pot-in-pot cooking method.
- Be sure you aren’t overfilling your Instant Pot, which is particularly easy to do with the 3-quart mini Instant Pot. You don’t want too much liquid or other ingredients.
- Keep the cook time the same.
- Keep the type of pressure release the same, whether quick release or natural release, as specified in the recipe.
Instant Pot Mini Recipes and How to Convert
To make it even easier, I’ve created Instant Pot Cooking for Two, which covers all the basics for halving recipes.
It gives you printable cheat sheets PLUS 25 delicious Instant Pot recipes written for just 2-3 servings!
I’ve included many of our favorite recipes so you can easily get started.
You can get your copy here!
More Instant Pot Resources:
- How to Convert Slow Cooker Recipes to Instant Pot Recipes
- Learn How to Reheat Food in the Instant Pot
- How to Proof Dough in the Instant Pot
- How to Use the Instant Pot Sous Vide Function
- How to Steam Stinky Dishcloths in the Instant Pot
- How to Saute in an Instant Pot
- The Best Instant Pot Steamer Basket Options
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