From rice and quinoa to pasta and buckwheat, learn how to cook different grains and grain-based products in your Instant Pot pressure cooker with our comprehensive 101 guides.
Let’s learn how to cook grains! Literally all the grains. Or at least we’re going to try. The Instant Pot is a fantastic tool for cooking nearly everything, but grains work particularly well.
Many grains take quite a while to cook on the stove top and require a lot of looking after. Having a hands-off approach is a valuable option, especially for those busy nights when you need a quick side dish on the table ASAP.
We think you’ll be surprised by just how many grain options there are, and just how easy they are to cook in your Instant Pot. We’re going to give you the quick rundown on cooking instructions for all types of rice, corn, pasta, cereal grains, and more. Ramen, rice, polenta, and freekeh, we’ve got your go-to recipe right here.
Long-grain rice (Basmati, Jasmine)
Let’s begin with one of the basics, and a fantastic ingredient to incorporate into your weekly meal prep. It’s plain making a versatile blank canvas, and it’s pretty nutritionally neutral meaning nothing about it really stands out, but nothing about it is particularly bad for you either.
Rice is naturally gluten-free, so many people can enjoy it. Finally, it’s a great source of quick energy. Saucy chicken dishes, burritos and burrito bowls, and stir-fried dishes all pair beautifully atop a bed of rice. These instructions work for plain white rice as well.
The trickiest part to master? The rice to water ratio, of course. Hint: it’s not the same as it is for the stove top!
- Use a 1:1 ratio of water to rice.
- Use the handy rice button, or manually set to high pressure setting the time to around 10 minutes. White rice cooks relatively quickly, but still needs some time to soak up all that water!
- To add more flavour, try cooking your rice in chicken broth or vegetable broth.
- We prefer to not leave on natural release pressure for longer than 2-3 minutes as the rice continues to cook and although it won’t have any more liquid to soak in, it might get a little softer than you like.
- Try our yellow rice with peas and corn or one of these amazing Instant Pot rice dishes.
Brown rice is generally going to act a bit different than white rice, and your cooking instructions will vary. This rice is also naturally gluten-free, but some people are more inclined to eat it because it’s “healthier” than white rice.
This claim is often made because brown rice is a whole grain which means that it contains the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. This makes it more nutritious and fibrous. It also contains more vitamins and minerals. Brown rice is higher in phytic acid than white rice, which can make it more difficult to absorb all those nutrients – namely, iron and zinc. Lastly, brown rice has a significantly lower glycaemic index compared to white rice, making it better for folks who need to manage blood sugar.
Take your pick! Here’s how to make brown rice which can easily serve all the purposes of white rice and more.
- For a fully cooked and chewy texture, use a 1:1 rice to water ratio for around 15 minutes on high pressure. Let it sit for five additional minutes before using quick release.
- If you enjoy softer rice that isn’t so chewy, simply add an additional ¼ cup of water to the pot before cooking. Cook for 15 minutes and let pressure release naturally all the way.
- Try our brown rice salad with Asian peanut dressing
- Try out Thai brown rice and sweet chilli chicken
Arborio rice (risotto)
Arborio rice is a pearly grain, mainly used for risotto. It’s short-grain rice with a high starch content, which is released during cooking, lending its richness to creamy risotto dishes. It can absorb a lot of liquid! The key to a good risotto texture is adding water throughout the cooking process and cooking slowly. Did we mention the constant stirring? What if I told you the Instant Pot means no-nonsense? It’s true!
- Arborio rice loves water and will drink it right up. Aim for a 1:2 ratio of rice to water, so for every two cups of rice, use around four cups of water.
- Like any other rice, using a broth to cook is ideal – especially when the rice is the star of the dish in something like risotto.
- Cook arborio rice for 5-6 minutes and use quick release so your rice doesn’t overcook. While it’s not as delicate as on the stove top, it’s still a process! Stir in the butter and Parmesan cheese at the end.
- Get creative with additions to your risotto. The sky is the limit, and this dish truly offers something up every season.
- Arborio rice can also be used to make delicious, nourishing, and comforting rice pudding.
This includes any harvest grain blends or black rice you’d like to cook, too. Basically, any type of rice that doesn’t fit into the above categories can be cooked per these instructions. Wild rice is a fun way to mix things up! It is undoubtedly the rice blend that takes the longest to cook, even in the IP, but it’s worth it for all the beautiful colours and variety of flavour. Naturally, it takes much longer to cook on the stove, so you’re winning either way.
- For two cups of rice, use about five cups of water or broth.
- Cook for 30-35 minutes at high pressure and follow up with a quick release.
Last but not least, let’s cover the basics of rice pudding. Like with risotto, you’re going for a very specific texture here while cooking your rice with things besides water, so it’s important to note a few distinctions between techniques. Remember to be mindful of what type of rice you buy. Please note you can use dairy milk in place of the almond milk and coconut milk recommendation.
- Begin with a short-grain white rice, which is sometimes also sold as pudding rice. No doubt you know what to make with it!
- You’re going to want a lot of liquid. You can choose a blend of milk or milk substitutes and water that works for you. For a dairy-free version, one cup of almond milk, one cup of coconut milk, and 1.5 cups of water work well.
- You can add in additional ingredients now or later. It’s good to toss some warming spices in the pot while cooking so it really infused the flavour – cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, etc.
- Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes and let the steam manually release for 5 minutes before doing a quick release.
- Learn more about how to make rice pudding + 10 delicious variations here.
Does oatmeal really need an introduction? A staple on breakfast tables all across the world, oats are a pantry mainstay with so much nutritious and delicious versatility. Oats are a fabulous source of fibre, naturally gluten-free, and can be quick to cook. They can easily keep you full all morning with the right add-ins.
You can make quick oats or steel-cut oats in the Instant Pot, but we prefer the latter since they generally need a longer cooking time. The IP makes it much easier to make creamy, delicious steel cut oats without tending the stove. Steel-cut oats also have a lower glycaemic index.
- For one cup of steel cut oats, use 1.25 cups of water. You can use 1.5 cups of water for a more moist bowl, but the first option will give you creamier and thicker results.
- Cook the oats at high pressure for 10 minutes and let the pressure release naturally for about 12 additional minutes.
- Top with your favourite nuts, nut butters, fruits, and super foods.
Barley is a lovely, healthy grain – and not just for the beer. It contains eight essential amino acids, fitting the bill for complete plant protein. It’s a good source of both soluble and insoluble fibre for healthy digestion. Barley also contains phosphorous, copper, iron, magnesium, and selenium.
It’s a great food to include in the diet for managing blood sugar. It’s a versatile grain to make for a side dish or use as the base of a recipe. Naturally, it comes together quite nicely in the Instant Pot.
- You want to begin with a 1:2.5 ratio for barley and water. For every cup of barley, add 2.5 cups of water.
- This is one of the longer cooking times. Set on manual high pressure for 20-22 minutes for pearl barley, and do a quick pressure release.
- Try out Instant Pot tomato barley risotto with marinated feta.
- Try this Instant Pot barley, vegetable and beef soup.
Millet is a whole grain that can be used in any dish that calls for quinoa or rice, as it takes on a similar taste and texture. It’s very inexpensive and often used as birdseed, but it’s perfectly good human food. It even makes a nice alternative to oatmeal as a cereal grain. It’s relatively high in protein and also boasts some iron, zinc, and folic acid. It has a slightly nutty flavour.
- Use 1.5 cups of water per cup of millet. You don’t want it to be undercooked, and this grain is a bit more delicate than others.
- Set to manual high pressure and cook for 9 minutes.
- Use the quick release method to prevent further cooking. You also don’t want mushy millet!
Farro is probably most comparable to barley, but it does have its differences. This ancient grain isn’t gluten-free, but it contains less than regular wheat. You can soak and sprout it to essentially “pre-digest” farro, making it easier on your system. This high-fibre food is fabulous for digestion. It also contains plenty of niacin – a B vitamin, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
- You begin with a 1:2 water ratio. For each cup of dry farro grain, use 2 cups of water.
- Set to manual high pressure for 10 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for five minutes before performing a quick release.
Who doesn’t love corn on the cob? Fresh corn is abundant during the summer months. Contrary to somewhat popular belief, corn is not a vegetable. In fact, it’s a grain… and one tasty grain, especially with butter. Corn is a gluten-free grain with much versatility in the products you can make of it. Fresh off the cob is one of the best ways to eat it, and I doubt you need convincing.
- Add two cups of water to the Instant Pot and place a steamer basket (stainless steel or silicone) into the pot. Rest 2 corn cobs on top. Alternatively, you can cut the cobs in half and steam more at once.
- Set the pot to cook at high pressure for 2-3 minutes and do a quick release.
- Try out corn on the cob with Cajun butter.
Dried corn (popcorn)
You might be thinking, “Why would I make popcorn in my Instant Pot?” Well… why not? This nighttime snack is perfect for a night in of Netflix. Popcorn is low-calorie, making it a suitable munchie item even if you’re watching your weight. Without all the junk and butter, it’s actually fairly good for you. Of course, you can add your own butter or cook it in coconut oil for a healthier choice. First step: make sure you have a slow cooker lid.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil, avocado oil, butter, or ghee to the pot on “saute.” Set to high. Once the oil begins to heat, add in a few kernels of corn to pop.
- Add in the rest of the corn and stir. Place the slow cooker lid (or a lid that doesn’t seal) on top, and steam until cooked. Season as you like.
If you’re looking to up your servings of whole wheat, bulgur is a wonderful choice. This humble, high-fibre grain is cracked and pre-cooked, so it has a rather short cooking time. If you’ve ever had a Mediterranean fare, tabouli, you’re familiar with its texture (and with this recipe, you can make your own!). You can also use it for a pilaf or a breakfast porridge. You can find instant bulgur wheat, medium-grain, and coarse-grain. The following instructions are for medium to coarse-grain.
- Use two cups of liquid for one cup of bulgur wheat.
- For reliable results, use the ‘rice’ function on your pot and cook on low pressure for 12 minutes, followed up by a quick release of pressure.
- You can substitute water for chicken or vegetable broth if you’re using the bulgur for a savoury dish.
- Add in some butter and spices for a creamier and more flavourful end result.
This teeny-tiny grain packs a big nutritional punch! It’s most commonly used to make injera which you might be familiar with if you’ve had Ethiopian cuisine. It’s not just limited to that. In fact, this grain is quite versatile. It’s gluten-free, naturally balancing for healthy hormones, high in fibre to keep digestion smooth, and provides 360% of the recommended daily value for manganese. It also has some iron, copper, and zinc – perfect for keeping those hard-to-get minerals up (especially on a plant-based diet).
- For one cup of dry teff grain, use two cups of water or broth.
- This grain requires a very short cooking time. Set your pot to manual on high pressure for 2-3 minutes. Follow up with a quick-release.
Pseudo-cereal whole grains
This tiny but mighty bunch is where you’ll find the sneaky super foods hanging out. These are amongst the most unique grains out there, and yes – they can be eaten as a hot cereal much like oatmeal. Oh, and some are even seeds. Yeah, it can be confusing, but we’ll get to that.
Quinoa is actually a seed. This nutty-tasting food comes in both white and red varieties. It’s a complete plant protein meaning it contains all essential amino acids, so it’s a really lovely way to boost energy on a vegetarian and vegan diet – or for anyone!
It’s a little more like a grain than a seed because of the way it cooks, much like rice. It’s got a quick cooking time on the stove, so it’s even quicker in the pot. It’s also fibrous and naturally gluten-free. Quinoa can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. It makes a lovely porridge, side dish, and salad served hot or cold.
- You don’t need to soak your quinoa, but you should rinse it prior to cooking.
- Use a 1:1 grain to water ratio. For one cup of quinoa, use one cup of water.
- Set the Instant Pot on manual to one minute (yes, really!), and cook on high pressure.
- Let the pressure release naturally for five minutes before turning the valve to release the rest of the steam.
- Try our miso quinoa with mushrooms and peppers or this Mexican inspired quinoa salad.
This little grain is yet another wonderful source of plant protein and fibre. Gluten-free and packed with minerals like magnesium, copper, zinc, and selenium, it’s a little known nutritional powerhouse. It’s also high in calcium, making it a valuable addition to dairy-free diets. Its nutty, toasted flavour is delightful, making this grain a good choice for both sweet and savoury dishes.
- For one cup of amaranth, use two cups of water.
- Adjust your pot to cook on high pressure with the manual button and set the time for six minutes.
- Reduce pressure with the quick release method and stir. Reduce any residual water by simmering and letting it steam off. You can also add butter or oil at this point to deepen the flavour of the amaranth.
Buckwheat is a tasty gluten-free grain that can be used in sweet dishes like porridge and savoury dishes too. It’s popular because of its mild and nutty flavour and its health benefits. It makes great granola as well as being a good binding agent. It can be cooked in many ways and used in many dishes, but we’re focusing on a basic Instant Pot recipe today in order to get you acquainted with the grain. There are two main types of buckwheat: toasted buckwheat or kasha and raw buckwheat sometimes called buckwheat groats. These directions are for the latter.
- For one cup of buckwheat, use 1 and 3/4 cups of water to cook with.
- Set your Instant Pot on manual high pressure for 2-4 minutes and follow up with a quick release.
- For a porridge, substitute water for your favourite milk or non-dairy milk.
Spaghetti, penne, macaroni, bow-ties… you name it! Pasta is great and everyone knows it. It’s not exactly rocket science making pasta on the stove, but I personally hate when the water flows over and I’m constantly letting off steam. I almost always make it in my Instant Pot because it’s easy, no-mess guaranteed, and pretty much instant. These instructions can be used for most varieties of pasta. The key is to remember your liquid to food ratio. Ideally, you will use a blend of both water and the sauce you’re using for the dish to fulfil the role of liquid in the pot.
- For every 4 oz. of pasta you cook, use two cups of water.
- Add 1/2 tablespoon of oil or butter for every 4 oz. of pasta you use.
- If you’re cooking pasta in sauce in your pot, simply substitute water for the sauce. Make sure to use some of both, though!
- Make sure to read the cooking instructions for the type of pasta you’re using. You can simply convert that time to Instant Pot time by halving it and using high pressure. Finish up with a quick release.
- Try one of these 20 fabulous Instant Pot pasta recipes.
Polenta is a humble dish simply made from dried cornmeal. If you’re from down south and you enjoy your grits, you’re plenty familiar with the magic of this dish although they are made from two different types of cornmeal. Because polenta holds its shape better than grits, it can be sliced and fried later – yum! It’s notorious for being cooked low and slow on the stove top, requiring a little extra attention. The Instant Pot version makes it a simpler, hands-off process.
- For one cup of dried cornmeal or polenta, use 4.5 cups of water or broth.
- Add 4 tablespoons of butter or your fat of choice. Ghee or coconut oil would also work well.
- Add your liquid and your oil to the pot first and saute until it’s simmering. Then, stir in the polenta slowly and whisk.
- Press the manual button and cook on high pressure for 7 minutes or 4 minutes for the “instant” quick-cooking variety.
- Let the pot naturally release for 10 minutes.
- Stir the polenta well and serve.
Couscous is a dish of small beads made from crushed durum wheat, popular in Middle Eastern cuisine. Isreali couscous is delicious and nutritious! Couscous may have gluten, but it has a lower glycaemix index than white rice making it a good choice for folks who watch their blood sugar. It contains some protein and some fibre, but it’s not known for either. In any case, it’s a tasty treat to make in your Instant Pot.
- For 2 cups of couscous, use 3.5 cups of water. Official ratio recommendation is 1:2 but this will depend on the grain size of the couscous as some are smaller than others.
- Start with the Instant Pot on saute mode and add in butter or oil of choice. Then add your couscous to “toast” it.
- Next, add in water and any additional spices. Set the Instant Pot to high pressure to cook for 2-3 minutes, then do a quick release. Do 2 minutes for smaller grain couscous and 3 minutes for slightly larger size grains.
Rice noodles are a fabulous gluten-free noodle alternative. They work very well in Asian-inspired soups, stir-fries, and saucy noodle dishes. Cooking any gluten-free noodle in the Instant Pot can be tricky, but rice is especially tricky. You don’t want to overcook them or they’ll turn to mush, so short and sweet cooking time is preferred. With this method, you can add in other quick-cooking chopped veggies and everything will be cooked evenly through.
- Use around two cups of water or broth per 1/2 lb. of rice noodles you’d like to cook.
- Cook at high pressure for two minutes and let the pot naturally release for an additional four minutes before performing a quick release.
- If you’re cooking your noodles alone, drain and rinse them to prevent further cooking.
- If you’re cooking your noodles with veggies for a soup dish or something similar, give everything a stir and turn the heat off in the Instant Pot to prevent overcooking. Use veggies like chopped carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, and greens that will also cook in the brief two-minute time period.
We hope you enjoyed this feature on grains! Make sure to bookmark it for all your noodle, porridge, rice, and pasta cooking needs. Happy cooking! Anything is possible with the Instant Pot.