It’s so easy to reheat leftovers in the Instant Pot pressure cooker! This is a great way to warm food easily, especially without a microwave!
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You can also keep food warm in the Instant Pot!
I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that I could also reheat food in my Instant Pot!
The Dilemma: Instant Pot vs. Microwave to Reheat Food
I’ve written before about how our journey to get out of debt, which has obviously impacted the decisions we make about how we spend money. Recently, the microwave we received as a wedding gift nearly ten years ago gave out. It would not work at all.
No big deal, I thought…we can just buy a new one. Ummm….have any of you priced microwaves lately?
I was absolutely floored at the cost of a new microwave. Even used and refurbished microwaves were way more expensive than I expected.
Because I really didn’t want to shell out the money for an appliance I only occasionally used, I decided not to replace it. After all, I figured anything you can do in a microwave can be done on a stove, in an oven, or in the toaster oven.
Really, I surprised myself by not missing the microwave at all.
It did take a little bit of getting used to, though. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and that was true in my case as well.
I learned how to make my oatmeal in the Instant Pot, began steaming food on the stove top for homemade baby food, and started boiling water on the stove top for my morning tea. That took care of the things I had most commonly used the microwave for.
The one thing that was a little inconvenient though was reheating leftovers.
Without the microwave, I would typically remove the leftovers from the refrigerator, take them out of their storage container and put them in a pan or pot on the stove to reheat.
This worked fine, but it obviously took longer and dirtied another dish. Seeing as how we also don’t have a dishwasher (our home was built in the 1940s and there just isn’t space for one), I try to dirty as few dishes as possible.
Can You Reheat Food in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker?
As I’ve been learning just how versatile my Instant Pot pressure cooker is, I decided to do some research to figure out if I could use it to easily reheat food.
And I found out that YES, you CAN reheat food in the Instant Pot! Not only does the Instant Pot help me make easy pressure cooker recipes, but it also reheats my leftovers!
In my case, this was a huge discovery in terms of kitchen convenience. I know there are other people who avoid using microwaves due to health concerns. The Instant Pot is a viable option for reheating food for anybody who doesn’t have access to or desires not to use a microwave!
Keep reading to find out how to reheat food in the Instant Pot!
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How to Reheat Leftovers in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker
There are a few different options for reheating food, depending on your needs. If you want to warm something slowly over a longer period of time, you can simply use the Slow Cook function or the Keep Warm function.
But if you want to reheat food faster, the Steam function is the one!
Keep in mind that this is not an exact science, but these are a few tips for reheating food with your Instant Pot’s Steam function:
First of all, you have to use some water.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you need water to make steam. So add at least a cup of water to the bottom of the insert pot of your Instant Pot.
Next, put your trivet in place in the insert pot.
Depending on what kind of container you use for reheating, you may need to use a foil sling. If the container will not be easy to remove with potholders or tongs, definitely use a foil sling, as that will make it easier to lift the container out of the insert pot. Which brings me to the next point….
Use heatproof containers.
Using containers in the Instant Pot is known as the “pot in pot” method. It’s important to make sure you’re using heatproof containers.
When you have leftovers, simply go ahead and put them in these types of containers to store them in the refrigerator. Then they’ll be ready to reheat whenever you want them. No extra dirty dishes (Happy Dance!)!
Add a bit of water or fat, if needed.
Depending on what type of food you are reheating, you may need to add a bit of water or fat to the food. This is especially true if it’s something that is prone to become sticky, such as pasta or rice.
Depending on the amount of food being reheated, I add 1/2 – 1 Tablespoon of water to the contents of the jar or bowl. Something like macaroni and cheese may also benefit from a small drizzle of olive oil to keep it from sticking.
Food that already has a good bit of liquid in it, such as a soup, will likely not need water or oil added.
Next, cover your container with a piece of foil.
This helps to ensure that condensation from the steam doesn’t drip into your food. Depending on the size of your containers, you may be able to stack more than one in the insert pot.
Set your steam time.
Place the container into the insert pot on the trivet. Close the lid to the Instant Pot, and set the vent to “sealed.” Using the Steam function, select your time.
I generally use 5 minutes for most things. However, remember that this is not an exact science. If you are reheating something pretty delicate, like pasta or vegetables, you can probably use a shorter steam time of 2-3 minutes. Likewise, if you are stacking a few containers full of pretty cold food, you may need a longer time, such as 8-10 minutes.
After the steam time is complete, allow a natural pressure release. Once the valve has dropped, you can open the vent and lid to test your food’s temperature. If needed, you can steam for 1-2 more minutes.
Just look at this warm, melted goodness! There’s no way this food would have been as evenly heated in a microwave.
How to Keep Food Warm in the Instant Pot
Maybe you’ve already reheated the food, or just cooked it, and you want it to stay warm until it’s time to serve it.
The fabulous thing about the Instant Pot is that there is a button exactly for that! The Cancel/Keep Warm button is your best friend in this case.
If you press the Keep Warm button, it will default to a 2 hour time frame where it will keep the contents of the pot warm. I use this button all the time! For instance, if I make an Instant Pot soup recipe, I can use this function to keep it warm until dinnertime.
The Keep Warm button can also be used to reheat food slowly. Just add the leftovers to the insert pot and press the Keep Warm button, and it will gradually warm the food. You may need to stir every so often, just to distribute the heat more evenly, but it works like a charm if you don’t need to reheat quickly!
Recommended Equipment for Reheating Leftovers in the Instant Pot:
Reheating leftovers in the Instant Pot is such an easy way to warm food without using a microwave. Who knew there could be so many uses for an electric pressure cooker? I continue to find more and more reasons to love this versatile appliance!
- Heatproof containers with leftovers in them
- Use some water. You'll be using the Steam function of the Instant Pot, so you'll need water to create steam! I use 1 cup of water.
- Put your trivet into the insert pot of the Instant Pot.
- Use heatproof containers. This allows us to use the "pot in pot" method of reheating food, where the food is in a container that goes into the insert pot.
- Add a bit of water or fat, if needed. Some foods, particularly those that are prone to becoming sticky (such as pasta or rice), may need some extra water or fat added. I generally add 1/2-1 Tbsp of water to these foods, and maybe a drizzle of olive oil if needed.
- Cover the containers with foil. This helps prevent condensation from dripping into the food. It also allows for stacking of containers, depending on their size.
- Set the steam time. Use the Steam function and select a time, depending on the type of food. Most often, I use 5 minutes. However, some more delicate foods (such as vegetables) may be able to steam for just 2-3 minutes. If your food is very cold or if you're reheating multiple containers, you may need to steam for 8-10 minutes. Afterward, allow a natural release and then check the temperature of your food. If necessary, steam for 1-2 minutes more.
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