"Pot in Pot" Cooking (PIP)
When I first got my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker, like many of you, I joined a few Facebook groups, did the water test, boiled eggs, cooked rice and moved on to main meals. But, every now and then, I would come across the term, Pot-in-Pot (PIP) Instant Pot.
It sounded interesting, but intimidating! I read up about it, and experimented with my first PIP meal using stackable containers, Coconut Lime Chicken with Coconut Rice, and it was a huge success! So, this post is for all my fellow cooks, who want to give it a try, but don't know where to start.
In this post you will find (click on the links to jump to the section):
- Concept of Pot-in-Pot (PIP) cooking explained
- Why and when PIP cooking is useful
- What accessories you need to get started
- What combinations work best with cooking
- My tried and tested PIP instant pot recipes
What is Pot-in-Pot Method?
Let's understand the basic concept first. The Pot-in-Pot Instant pot method is exactly what it sounds like. It is cooking something in a smaller, oven-safe pot (or basket, trivet etc.), inside the main pot of the pressure cooker.
You start by adding water in the inner pot, then place a trivet, which is a metal stand that will give you a base to put another bowl or container on top. Or you can place a steamer basket instead of a trivet if you are cooking eggs or steaming vegetables.
The idea here is that the food on the trivet or steamer basket never touches the liquid at the bottom. The food on the trivet cooks by the steam formed during the pressure cooking.
For example, you could cook a curry with liquid in the main pot and rice or potatoes in a bowl on top of a trivet.
Why cook PIP? Here are a few scenarios...
Cooking rice pot in pot in the instant pot along with a stew or curry in the main pot is a very common use case. Here are a few scenarios for PIP:
- Cooking entrée and side in the same pot. For example, chicken in the main pot, and rice in a smaller bowl, placed on a trivet. Cook time: 6 mins Manual/Pressure Cook, NPR10.
- Cooking multiple items that have the same cook time. For example, broccoli and cauliflower in one pot, peas and carrots in another. Cook time: 0 mins Manual/Pressure Cook, QR.
- Steam-cooking foods that don't need to touch the main pot or liquid, for example, boiling eggs or chicken breast, salmon fillets etc.
- Making desserts like cheesecake or lava cakes, which turn out great when baked in a water-bath.
- Re-heating food is a lot easier when you can set two or more pots in the Instant Pot, to re-heat everything at the same time.
- Cooking a smaller quantity. If I'm making ½ cup of rice, I need ½ cup of water or broth for that, that's not enough liquid for the main pot to come up to pressure. Cooking PIP takes care of that. Rice cooks evenly without scorching the bottom of the pot.
- Cooking foods that stick. For example, lasagna, or any recipe with a cheese as an ingredient has a higher tendency to burn if cooked directly.
What Accessories do I need for Pot in Pot cooking?
You need a few accessories to be able to cook PIP. The good news is that the Instant Pot already comes with a one, and you may be able to find some in you kitchen cabinet. Here's is what you need for PIP cooking:
- Instant Pot: The #1 thing you need for PIP cooking, but you knew that already 🙂
- Water: You need to put 1-2 cups of water, depending on the size of your pot, in the main pot to build pressure for cooking.
- Trivet: The Instant Pot comes with a trivet, so you can start experimenting with basics like boiled eggs, or chicken breast etc, without having to buy more accessories.
- Oven-safe bowl: Any oven safe bowl will work here, ceramic, porcelain, stainless steel, silicone, even the disposable aluminum bakeware. Just remember, NO PLASTIC containers, and Pyrex is to be used with caution. I've never had a Pyrex bowl break, but have heard of some exploding, especially, when it went straight from the freezer to the pot.
- Steamer basket: If you're boiling/steaming a few eggs, the trivet should work fine, but if you're doing a dozen, then a steamer basket comes in handy, especially, when pulling out.
- Spring-form pan /Push pan: If you are planning on making a cheesecake or a lasagna, a springform pan or a push pan comes in very handy. It's removable ring makes slicing much easier.
- Stackable containers/bowls: If you're planning on cooking multiple items at once, these work out great.
Here's are some accessories that I use for PIP cooking:
Some combinations that I cook using PIP (with cook times):
Here are some my easy instant pot recipes that I use the pot in pot method for:
Dry Beans (Kidney/Red/Garbanzo) and Brown rice (30 minutes Manual/Pressure Cook, NPR)
Lentils /Dal (red, yellow, split peas) and Basmati rice (6 mins Manual/Pressure Cook, NPR 10)
- Goat Curry and Brown Rice (30 minutes Manual/Pressure Cook, NPR)
Chicken Breast/Thighs and White Rice (6 minutes Manual/Pressure Cook, NPR 10)
- Fish and Vegetables (2 minutes Manual/Pressure Cook, QR)
- Beef Curry and Brown rice (25 minutes Manual/Pressure Cook, NPR)
- Fish and Quinoa (2 minutes Manual/Pressure Cook, QR)
- Quinoa and Root Vegetables (2 minutes Manual/Pressure Cook, QR)
- Eggs and Chicken Tenders/Cubes (5 minutes Manual/Pressure Cook, NPR 5)
- Butter Chicken & Saffron Rice (6 mins Manual/Pressure Cook, NPR 10)
These instant pot pot-in-pot cooking times are based on my texture and taste preference. You can adjust it to your taste and use this chart as a guideline.
This Pot-in-Pot technique can work in a stovetop pressure cooker like Hawkins Pressure Cooker too.
My PIP Instant Pot Stacking Recipes:
Here are a few more instant pot PIP recipes:
Butter Chicken and Rice
Korean Chicken and Rice
Caramel Lava Cake
Yogurt | Tzatziki Dipping Sauce
Coconut Chicken and Rice
Molten Lava Cake
Chicken and Lemon Rice
Kidney Beans and Brown Rice
Saffron Rice Pilaf
Leslie DeMars says
How high can you fill the pot when using the PIP method? Is it okay to stack things up past the 2/3 line since there is air space around the separate containers?
Hi Leslie, yes it's ok to go past the 2/3 mark, as long as you leave room on top for the lid to close. The lid shouldn't be touching any container. Hope this helps!
Thanks for the recipe! I use this foldable steamer basket, space-saving design, plus it's much easier to clean. I got it on Amazon.
Hi M.L, thank you, glad you found it useful!
I failed to mention I used the aozita stacking pans with the clamp closure. I'm wondering if I might have used the wrong lid. The tapioca was in the bottom pan then the top empty pan and then the lid. Maybe I should have put the other lid with the holes in it on the top.... Just wondering....
Yes, I would think it needs some way for steam to circulate. Maybe that was it.
I have a question. I made tapioca pudding in the PIP and it turned out great (I had seen the recipe on FB). My problem was that a lot of the milk boiled out of the pot into the pot liner and was a mess to clean up. What did I do wrong?
Hi Louise, when cooking starches like rice and tapioca in PIP style, you have to account for the fact that they triple in quantity while cooking. If you use a bigger and deeper bowl to accommodate that next time, it won't overflow ! Hope this helps!
Looking forward to trying out your recipes - you've made the pot in pot cooking a bit less complicated:)
Thanks Kathy! Would love to hear how you like them!
Hi, Aneesha, I'm really looking forward to trying some of your recipes. You've made it easy to understand the process of pot in pot cooking! Thanks:)
Hi Kathy, Thank you! I hope you enjoy all the recipes you try. I am glad you found this post useful, hearing that always makes my day 🙂