4 Simple Tips for Converting a Slow-Cooker Recipe to a Pressure Cooker

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Sometimes the exact recipe you need is one that cooks low and slow for hours. Turn on the slow cooker in the morning and by dinnertime it’s perfectly cooked, with its welcoming smell drifting through the kitchen.

Other times, you need dinner on the table extra fast. And that’s when you turn to the pressure cooker.

So is it possible to turn your favorite slow-cooker recipe into one that can be cooked up in less than an hour in the pressure cooker? Definitely! While there’s no magic formula to do so, if you follow these basic guidelines, you’ll soon be on your way.

1. Use a similar recipe as a guide.

Converting a slow-cooker recipe to a pressure cooker is a lot about trial and error. So it’s nice to have a rough guide while you go through that process. For instance, if you want to convert this chicken tikka masala recipe, look to this pressure-cooker recipe for chicken curry for guidance, as the process and ingredients are similar.

It will also give you a general idea of cooking time and the amount of liquid that’s needed to prepare the recipe. Liquids act similar in slow cookers and pressure cookers since both remain tightly closed and thus don’t allow for much evaporation, so you should be able to keep it roughly the same.

2. Sauté your aromatics.

One benefit of a pressure cooker is that you’re able to sauté your aromatics and vegetables right inside of it before adding the rest of your ingredients. A traditional slow cooker, on the other hand, isn’t able to do this, so you have to sauté them separately first. Do yourself a favor and take advantage of this feature.

3. Don’t overfill.

A pressure cooker should never be over two-thirds full, or over half full if it’s filled with food that might expand or foam like rice, other grains, or beans. So be aware of the size of your cooker and scale the slow-cooker recipe accordingly.

4. Keep dairy to the side.

If you’re looking at a slow-cooker recipe that calls for any sort of dairy, whether it’s milk, heavy cream, or even coconut milk (which is the case in the above chicken tikka masala recipe), don’t add it to the pressure cooker. Instead, wait until you’ve cooked the dish and depressurized the cooker — then stir it in. The high pressure of the cooker can cause dairy to scorch.