Instant Pot – Rice

Instant Pots and other pressure multicookers are high energy devices that saute and pressure cook, but do not necessarily perform well at simmering. An Instant Pot or other pressure multi-cooker will cook steamed rice in the pressure cooker program. A stovetop pressure cooker will too. The preheat and the time at operating pressure bring the water to a boil, and to operating temperature. Then rice boils, and then simmers during a natural release period. Using the pressure cooker progam with natural release adapts the normal approach to steamed rice cooked in a pot on a stove.

The Instant Pot web site recommends cooking rice, other than medium and long grain white rice using the pressure cooker program. The conventional advice for long grain white rice, unrinsed, is a few minutes at High Pressure, typically 3 minutes, folllowed by 10 minutes or more natual release. Some writers – e.g. Christopher Kimball, Milk Street, Fast and Slow – recommend 10 minutes at Low Pressure instead. Laura Pazzaglia’s 2009 review of the Instant Pot (which seems to loaded into the Instant Pot manual pages for all models on her site) suggested not using the Rice Program.

Pressure programs designed to cook rice and grains.  Because of the decreased evaporation, conventional rice recipes (water to grain ratios) will need to be updated for use in the cooker.  We have written a comprehensive guide for pressure cooking rice and grains with the appropriate ratios and cooking times.  If the “Rice” setting won’t let you adjust the cooking time, use the “Pressure Cook” setting and adjust the pressure to Instant Pot’s recommended “low” following the same cooking times and ratios recommended in our guide. Remember not to ever fill the inner pot more than the 1/2 full mark with rice/grains and their cooking liquid.

https://www.hippressurecooking.com/instant-pot-ultra-manual/

The usually impeccable Laura Pazzaglia incorrectly used a 1:2 ratio of long grain white rice and water (1.5 cups rice, 3 cups water) in her printed work, Hip Pressure Cooking (2014) but adjusted to 1:1.5 in her online guide (link in quote above). She recommends rinsing and soaking white Basmati. Rinsing improves white Basmati; the benefit of soaking is debateable.

Brown rice works in a pressure device, with 1.5 cups of rice and 2 1/8 to 2 1/4 cups of water, at high pressure. I find that the cooking time should be 22 minutes rather than the 20 minutes suggested in Laura Pazzaglia’s table in her guide.

There is a bain-marie method: rice and water in a heat proof ceramic or glass vessel on a trivet above water in base of the pressure vessel. Laura Pazzaglia describes this for white rice in her online guide – link in quote above). It is useful for brown rice too. Some ceramic vessels such as Corningware can be used for cooking and serving, and for storage of left-over cooked rice.

The Rice Program works for the white rice that may be available, although a pressure multi-cooker in the Rice Program is not a perfect rice cooker. Information posted by Instant Pot about the Rice program:

  • It uses low pressure;
  • It is for “the ever-popular parboiled long grain white rice”, long grain white rice, and medium grain white rice;
  • “This setting automatically adjusts the time based on the volume of rice [and water?] you add to the inner pot”;
  • There is a suggested recipe and method for steamed (white) rice using rinsed rice and water in a 1:1 ratio.

In the Rice program, in the Ultra model, the display shows a pressure cooking time of 12 minutes at the first step of starting the rice progam. The time cannot be adjusted from the control panel. The display changes to Auto in my Ultra model when the program starts to run, and through the preheat. It changes to a time, in minutes, when the device comes to pressure. I have not used a Less-Normal-More (L-N-M) Instant Pot, such as the Duo. The displayed time seems to be pressure cooking time. and is said to be based on the amount of water and rice, however the machine determines that.

ModelProgram SelectionInstant Pot explanationEffect
UltraLow≥12 minutes
UltraHigh≥14 minutes
L-N-M
e.g. Duo
Less“Tender but firm to bite”
L-N-M
e.g. Duo
Normal“Normal texture white rice”≥12 minutes
L-N-M
e.g. Duo
More“Softer texture white rice”

Instant Pot have indicated that white Basmati rice needed a different cooking time and ratio than American white Long grain, and should be cooked in the Pressure Cooker Program rather than the the Rice Program. White Basmati should be rinsed, which affects cooking. Madhur Jaffrey thought the Rice program would make steamed White Basmati rice cooked plain or in a pilaf in her Duo model, in Instantly Indian Cooking, provided the rice was rinsed. She used rice and water at the ratio of 1:1.3. Other Instant Pot Indian food recipes recommend the Rice Program for white Basmati rice: plain, in pilafs and in dry khichri (yellow and/or red lentils and rice) (also spelled khichdi in some English language cookbooks).

MaoMaoMom’s Kitchen recipe for Chicken Potato Rice presented on her web site uses the Rice program – the automatic program. The same recipe as presented in the 2018 Instant Pot Recipe Booklet said Rice Program, “set to 35 minutes”. The Rice Program cannot be set and cooking this for 35 minutes in the Pressure Cooking Program will lead to firing the burn sensor. The comments on the online recipe indicate misunderstandings about the setting, and the version of that recipe presented in the manual.

Any vessel that can hold rice and water can cook rice. Using a pressure cooker or pressure multi-cooker to cook rice may not be the best use of that device,depending on the meal being prepared. The pressure device might be used to cook something else. A plain old pot on a stove top, a rice cooker or a pressure cooker all might cook rice. For steamed long grain white rice, including Basmati, I often use a normal pot on the stove. I use the Instant Pot for brown rice. I may use the Instant Pot for white rice when I will add the rice to a wok (e.g. nasi goreng) or when I am working on another dish on the stove and want to get the rice ready at the same time.

Recipes for more complex rice dishes can be carried out in Instant Pots and other pressure multicookers, with limitations. There are pressure cooker techniques and recipes for:

  • pulao and pilaf;
  • risotto (normally made with starchy short grain white rice e.g. Arborio, Carnarolli);
  • paella (normally made with certain varieties of short grain white rice e.g. Bomba).

Resources and recipes for Instant Pot, pressure cookers and pressure multi-cookers:

Tsp. (fraction)Tsp. (decimal)Grams
1/8.7
1/4.251.4
3/82.1
1/2.52.8
5/83.6
3/4.754.3
7/85
115.7

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