Life is a little crazy right now, and I don't have quite as much time to spend in the kitchen as I might like. Fortunately, I have a secret weapon that I can turn to when I want to make awesome food with minimal effort: a pressure cooker. There's a reason that these things have become an object of obsession; there's no better way to make a quick weeknight dinner that tastes like it took all day. If you're looking to put your pressure cooker to use, check out these 26 recipes for dishes like black bean and sausage soup, Thai green chicken curry, and vegan miso risotto.
Don't have a pressure cooker yet? Check out our guide to the best stovetop and electric models.
Quick and Easy Pressure Cooker Chicken, Lentil, and Bacon Stew With Carrots
To get an idea of just how magical the pressure cooker is, I'd recommend that you make a batch of this chicken and lentil stew. Twenty minutes at high pressure makes the chicken fall-apart tender and cooks the lentils perfectly. Bacon or pancetta adds richness and a sprinkle of sherry vinegar keeps the dish bright.
30-Minute Pressure Cooker Chicken With Chickpeas, Tomatoes, and Chorizo
The secret to this recipe is the addition of canned fire-roasted tomatoes, which add lots of flavor with hardly any effort. We bolster the dish's savory side with Spanish chorizo and smoked paprika and add in chicken and canned chickpeas for a dinner that's as hearty as it is easy.
Pressure Cooker French Onion Soup
French onion soup is a simple dish that can take forever to make—caramelized onions need to cook and cook and cook. We've come up with a few different shortcuts to speed the process along, but the pressure cooker is the best way to cut down on that caramelizing time. Once the onions are done, we add chicken stock and herbs and bake the soup in bowls topped with toast and Gruyère.
Pressure Cooker American Beef Stew
If you don't have a whole afternoon to make a pot of stew, this recipe cuts the time needed in half while making a finished product that's just as good. Like in the original recipe, we brown the meat in big chunks to keep it from drying out and use separate vegetables for the cooking process and for serving.
Pressure Cooker Thai Green Chicken Curry With Eggplant and Kabocha Squash
We often think of pressure cookers as being good for tough cuts of meat, but chicken can also benefit from this style of cooking. Here, it gets rich flavor from coconut milk and Thai green curry paste, plus fresh garlic, ginger, Thai chilies, and spices like cumin and coriander. Eggplant and squash break down and thicken the excess liquid, making for a fantastically intense chicken stew. You'll stir in fresh spinach and herbs at the last minute before serving.
Quick and Easy Pressure Cooker Black Beans With Chorizo
Now that I have a pressure cooker, I can't even remember how I cooked beans any other way. It's pretty amazing that you can start with dried black beans and end up with a full meal (or at least a filling side) in just an hour. These beans get great flavor from Spanish chorizo.
Smoky Barbecue Beans
Of course, the pressure cooker works as well for pinto beans as it does for black beans. These barbecue beans aren't the way-too-sweet kind you might be used to. Instead, they're earthy, well-spiced ones made with dried red chilies, paprika, cumin, and black pepper. We also like to throw in some smoked meat, so consider making this the day after your next barbecue.
Quick and Easy Pressure Cooker Chicken and Black Bean Stew
Sort of a grown-up version of pork and beans, this stew is made with chicken legs, black beans, andouille sausage, and spicy Hatch chilies. Even starting with unsoaked beans, this whole dish comes together in just an hour. Serve it with cilantro and lime wedges for a bit of freshness, plus a dollop of rich sour cream.
Pressure Cooker Black Bean Soup With Sausage and Cumin-Lime Sour Cream
This black bean soup tastes like it's been cooking all day, but it comes together in just an hour. We make it with a little andouille plus browned mushrooms for extra flavor. Add in six cups of chicken stock, set the pressure cooker for 40 minutes, and go enjoy your evening instead of tending to the stove.
Easy Vegan Pressure Cooker Miso Risotto
Risotto scares a lot of home cooks because they've been told that it's hard to make well and requires constant attention. That's not really true, but stovetop risotto does take quite a bit of time. A pressure cooker lets you make perfect risotto in mere minutes with hardly any stirring required—we use it for this amazingly creamy vegan risotto made with umami-rich miso paste.
Pressure Cooker Mushroom Risotto
A testament to the power of the pressure cooker, this risotto takes more time to prep than it does to cook. We infuse it with tons of mushroom flavor by using fresh mixed mushrooms, dried porcini, and mushroom stock. We mix in a tablespoon of light miso and just two teaspoons of soy sauce for extra depth, plus heavy cream when we want to be decadent.
Pressure Cooker Butternut Squash Risotto With Frizzled Sage and Brown Butter
Bringing the most sweetness out of squash requires roasting it for a long time—not what we want out of a quick pressure cooker recipe. To give the squash a head start, we toss it with maple syrup and apple before putting it into the oven. We then blend it into a smooth purée and mix it into the risotto along with whole cubes of roasted squash and finish with browned butter and fried sage leaves.
Classic Pulpo Gallego (Galician Octopus Tapa)
Tenderizing an octopus in boiling water takes an hour, but with a pressure cooker you can do it in 25 minutes. Have your first glass of wine (or sidra) while the octopus cooks, then top the slices with olive oil, salt, and smoked paprika for easy tapas at home.
30-Minute Pressure Cooker Split Pea and Ham Soup
This easy soup can be made in half an hour with onion, garlic, celery, ham, chicken stock, and dried split peas. The pressure cooker makes short work of the dried split peas, but the coolest part is that by using the quick release on your cooker, the soup comes to a sudden, vigorous boil that is strong enough to purée it without the need for a blender.
Pressure Cooker Beef Barley Soup
This hearty, warming soup is excellent with chuck or oxtail, but especially delicious with bone-in short ribs. While our classic beef barley soup is made without a pressure cooker, the recipe adapts wonderfully. The big difference is that you can decrease the chicken stock because the meat and vegetables release so much moisture in the cooker.
Colombian Chicken Stew With Potatoes, Tomato, and Onion
Pressure cookers are indispensable in Bogotá, Colombia—up 8,000 feet in the mountains, cooking on the stovetop can be incredibly slow. This stew is delicious even if you're cooking at sea level, though. It's made with just chicken, potatoes, tomatoes, onion, and a bay leaf, which release enough liquid to make a flavorful broth with no stock or water added.
Quick and Easy Dairy- and Fat-Free Colombian Vegetable Soup (Ajiaco Negro)
This creamy vegan soup is made with potatoes, carrots, corn, fava beans, peas, and broth. The potatoes break down and make the soup as creamy as dairy would, without covering up the flavor of the vegetables. This is actually a pretty easy dish to make on the stovetop, but it's even more weeknight-friendly in a pressure cooker.
Pressure Cooker Corn Soup
The pressure cooker is so good at extracting flavors that you can make an intense corn soup even off-season. The key is to cook not just the kernels but also the cobs—they add flavor and release starch that helps thicken up your final product.
Easy Pressure Cooker Chicken and Chickpea Masala
My first significant exposure to pressure cookers came on a visit to India, where virtually every cook I met used one daily. In this recipe, we use the pressure cooker to make short work of an Indian-inspired chicken and chickpea curry. Rather than take the time to put together an elaborate curry powder, we go with a simple mixture of cumin, paprika, coriander, turmeric, and black pepper.
30-Minute Pressure Cooker Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)
Making pho the traditional way means letting it simmer for hours and hours, but in a pressure cooker you can do it in just 30 minutes. Flavored with star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, and coriander, this broth is great ladled over noodles and topped with fresh herbs.
1-Hour Pressure Cooker Texas-Style Chile Con Carne
Chili recipes call for all kinds of ingredients: sometimes beans, sometimes tomatoes, sometimes even sweet potatoes. But if you ask a Texan, the only things that belong in chili are beef and peppers. Here's a fast technique that makes a great Texas bowl of red.
The Best Tamale Pie With Braised Skirt Steak, Charred Corn, and Brown Butter Cornbread Crust
Classic tamale pie—chili topped with cornbread—is usually made with ground beef. This recipe goes a step further and replaces the ground beef with tender skirt steak, which we pair with charred corn, dried chilies, olives, and cheese. We cook it all until the beef is falling apart (which is much faster in the pressure cooker), then top it with nutty cornbread that's flavored with browned butter.
Easy Pressure Cooker Green Chile With Chicken
This tart tomatillo-based green chile is made with a trio of peppers: earthy poblanos, spicy jalapeños, and grassy Anaheims (or Hatch chilies, if you can get them). The recipe couldn't be easier—just cook everything together, remove and shred the chicken, blend the sauce, and it's ready to eat.
Easy Pressure Cooker Chicken Enchiladas
A pressure cooker is one of the best tools for enchilada making—use it to cook down chicken and vegetables and you'll get a filling and a sauce at the same time. We dump everything into the pot without searing because the ingredients are plenty flavorful as is. After the chicken and sauce are done you just have to roll up the enchiladas, dip them, and bake them for 15 to 20 minutes under a blanket of cheese.
Pressure Cooker Ragù Bolognese
This method gives you a rich Bolognese in half the time it would take in a Dutch oven. We make our ragù with pork and beef—some recipes use veal, but it's expensive and mostly just adds gelatin. We leave it out and just add in a few powdered gelatin packets instead.
Pressure Cooker Tomato Sauce
Homemade tomato sauce on a weeknight in March? It's totally possible—the pressure cooker excels at making things taste like they've cooked for hours. We're obviously not using fresh tomatoes this time of year; just make sure you're working with high-quality whole peeled tomatoes. Then sauce your pasta the right way!