The Instant Pot is great for all sorts of things, but rice is one of my favorites. Here are my super-simple directions for cooking rice in the Instant Pot (video included)!
Rice is one of those super-basic dishes that most people seem to cook all the time as a side dish or as a base for a main dish. Truth be told, though, before I got my Instant Pot, I rarely cooked rice. I really can’t explain it…it certainly isn’t like it’s difficult to boil a little water on the stovetop, throw in some rice, salt, and butter, lid up, and let it simmer for a bit. For some reason it just seemed like a pain to me, which I know is completely ridiculous.
Cooking rice in the Instant Pot, though, changed my life. Well, that might be a little dramatic…but I love cooking rice in the Instant Pot and now I do it all the time. There is a rice setting on the Instant Pot, but I never use it. I find that when I cook rice using the rice setting that it gets a little gummy. You could definitely change the time setting, but I just use the manual setting (because that’s what I do for most things).
To get rice that’s just a little firm to the tooth, cook it for three minutes. If you like your rice a little softer, go for four minutes. This recipe is just for white rice, so you’ll need to up the time for brown rice (I’ll do a video on that later). For this recipe, you’ll use a quick release of the steam (turn the steam release handle from sealing to venting rather than letting the Instant Pot depressurize naturally).
Perfect white rice in the slow cooker is easy and (relatively) quick to make. It’s a pressure setting so you do have to wait a little bit for it to come to pressure, but it doesn’t take that long. All you need is water, rice, salt, and butter, and there you go – perfect white rice!
Be sure to comment below and let me know your Instant Pot questions and what you would like to see next on Chattavore!
Yield: about 2 cups rice
5 minPrep Time:
5 minTotal Time:
- 1 cup long grain white rice
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt (optional)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)
- Place all ingredients into the Instant Pot. Place the lid and set the steam release handle to sealing.
- Press the "manual" button. Use the "-" button to set the time to 3 minutes for firmer rice or 4 minutes for slightly softer rice.
- When the Instant Pot beeps, press the "keep warm/cancel" button to turn the Instant Pot off. Carefully turn the steam release handle to venting, standing away from the Instant Pot to avoid the steam. When the float valve drops, remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork. Serve immediately.
Amounts can be increased to make more rice. Just use equal parts rice and water and slightly adjust the salt and butter amounts accordingly.
If you’ve ever felt like “perfect caramelized onions” was an oxymoron or just more or less impossible, you need to check out my five tips below! Scroll down for video.
Perfect Caramelized Onions?
For years I felt like perfect caramelized onions were going to elude me forever. I always seemed to end up with what looked like blackened worms in a pan…and that was even after I was an established food blogger. I got sick of it and started studying the methods of my favorites: America’s Test Kitchen, Alton Brown, and J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. I’ve combined what I’ve learned from those places with quite a bit of practice to bring you these tips for perfect caramelized onions.
1. Turn up the heat
For years I believed that you had to caramelize onions over ultra-low heat and that it took at least an hour to get them to that perfect syrupy consistency. Following the tips below, though, I have learned that I can keep my heat on medium to get my onions caramelized in 30 minutes or less.
2. Crowd the pan
This goes against everything we’ve been taught about caramelizing food, right? When we’re cooking meat and many vegetables (mushrooms come to mind here), we want to keep plenty of space in the pan so that the moisture doesn’t ruin our caramelization. With onions, though, we want the moisture. I use the smallest pan that I can fit all of my onions in and once they shrink up I keep them all pushed together. I spent too much time burning my onions in a dry pan to let it happen again!
3. Sweeten the pot
All caramelization is is a reaction that draws out the natural sugars in a food. It makes sense, then, that adding a little sugar to the pan will just speed up that process. I don’t add a lot…about a tablespoon of sugar for every cup or so of onions. You don’t want to add so much that it will make the onions overwhelmingly sweet, just enough to amp up the caramelization process.
4. Don’t be afraid to season
A little salt will draw out some of the moisture in your onions, so I always add a generous sprinkle when I first put the onions in the pan. Later, I add a little more to taste. Black pepper is also good at the end, of course, and you can also add some fresh herbs (thyme is especially apropos).
5. Liquid is your friend
Going back to number 3…I ruined a lot of onions back before I knew better by cooking them in too large of a pan without any liquid. Now, the second that I see that the natural moisture from my onions has evaporated, I throw in some liquid. I always always start with a little alcohol – whiskey or sherry – and then finish with plain old water. If you’d rather not, though, you can just use water, or even some chicken stock. I just add a little bit at a time, and as the liquid evaporates, I add a little more, until the onions have reached the consistency and color that I am looking for.
Yield: 1 1/2 - 2 cups caramelized onions
5 minPrep Time:
20 minCook Time:
25 minTotal Time:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup whiskey
- 1/2 cup water
- Set a medium pan over medium heat. Add the butter to the pan and allow it to melt.
- Add the onions to the pan and stir to coat with the butter. Add the salt and the sugar and stir again.
- Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until the onions start to brown and browned bits cling to the pan. Add the whiskey and stir, scraping the pan, to deglaze.
- Continue cooking, stirring constantly. As the liquid dries up, add water two tablespoons at a time. Repeat until all of the water is gone and the onions are golden and syrupy. Remove from the heat and add more salt if desired. Serve as desired.
This recipe can easily be scaled up or down. I frequently cook about half this amount, just using a smaller pan.
Deciding what’s for dinner can be a daunting task. Here’s a simple meal planning tutorial…this is how I do it, and maybe it will work for you!
When Philip and I got married, my version of meal planning consisted of (1) driving to the grocery store; (2) buying whatever looked good; (3) going home and trying to figure out how to use said things I bought at the grocery store. Needless to say, this resulted in a lot of excess trips to the grocery store, wasted food, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Granted, I hadn’t really gotten my sea legs in terms of cooking yet (though if you’d asked me back then I would have told you that I just loved to cook) so we ate a lot of Homestyle Bakes, Hamburger Helper, and Ore-Ida fries.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that this was not going to work, so I started doing this crazy thing called meal planning. Meal planning in my house has taken a lot of forms. For a while I wrote all the meals on a calendar. Then I wrote them in a notebook….or a series of notebooks, never the same one (I wish I could claim to be as consistent as Jenny Rosenstrach of Dinner: A Love Story, whose cookbook is pure inspiration and encouragement and who has written down in a diary every single dinner that she has eaten since February 1998. Granted, writing down what you had for dinner is not exactly the same as meal planning but that’s some serious consistency!). I used a couple of different websites, but always forgot my passwords. There was always a long pad of paper with a magnet backing stuck to my refrigerator on which I scrawled a list (and prior to the current meal planning method, which I’ll get to in a minute, I was writing my meal plan on the second column or the back of my grocery list).
However, I eventually got really, really tired of finding those long skinny pieces of paper crumpled in the bottom of my purse because I am terrible at cleaning it out regularly, so when I got around to it there would usually be no fewer than ten grocery lists. I looked at my iPhone and said, “There’s got to be a better way.” And there was. Here’s my simple meal planning method.
Now, I’m really sorry for all you non-smart-phone users. You can use my menu option but I guess for grocery lists you’re stuck with the paper list method. For those of you with smart phones, though….all I did was look up “list app”. Now, there are lots of apps that are dedicated to grocery lists but (a) I wanted something free; and (b) I wanted something that I could use to make lists of things other than groceries. The first thing I came up with was Easy Note, which I use to make lists of things that I would like to cook for the blog (categorized by season), restaurants I need to review (categorized by area of town), books I want to read, things I need to buy at Target (though I’ve started using my reminders for this because I always forget to look at the list!), etc., etc. Easy Note is far from being the only option, but it’s the one that works for me for simple meal planning.
As far as writing out menus, I bought a pack of chalkboard decals from WallCandy Arts (another idea I got from Dinner: A Love Story). They can be easily moved from one area to another and I have three separate ones: To Cook, To Do, and To Buy, though admittedly I only regularly use To Cook. As I think of things I want to make, I write them on the list until I have enough meals to get us through a week. I’ll always ask Philip what he would like to eat through the week and he usually has one or two suggestions (when we first got married, he always said spaghetti which always made me want to strangle him). If I don’t have anything I’m just dying to eat, I’ll refer to my list of things I want to blog about, then look at my Pins and/or a cookbook or two. When I have a full menu, I start making a list. As we eat a meal (and its subsequent leftovers, if there are any) I draw a line through it.
I used to make a new list every week, but I decided around October or November that this was a silly waste of time when I buy so many things regularly. As I check items off the list, they are sent to the very bottom. When I need to add something to the list, I can scroll through to see if it’s already on the list and then I just uncheck it. When I finish my list, I arrange it by sections of the grocery store. Laugh if you must, but this prevents the otherwise inevitable running back to the produce section because I forgot to get a jalapeño when we are already in the dairy aisle. Now, no more annoying pieces of paper floating around in my life.
I realize that none of this is earth-shattering information, but simple meal planning looks a little different for everyone. There are people who are way more organized than me when it comes to groceries. This works for me, though…we always have the food that we need (aside from the occasional grocery trip to buy milk because our itty-bitty fridge doesn’t hold two gallon jugs very well or half-and-half because we drink a lot of coffee) and can quickly refer to our menu to decide what to have for dinner.
Do you have a simple meal planning system?
A quick internet search brought me to a statistic that an estimated forty percent of food grown/produced in the United States is wasted. I’m going to be honest…I am not immune to waste. It frustrates me to no end….for one thing, I work really hard to buy my groceries. For another, there are a lot of hungry people in the world-heck, there are a lot of hungry people in our city. The biggest offender in my fridge tends to be fresh herbs and salad greens. And if my Facebook and Twitter followers can be trusted to provide an accurate assessment of what most of you are throwing out too, we’re in the same boat. So…how about a tutorial on storing salad greens?
A couple of things to consider up front is what sort of salad greens you are buying. Bagged greens are extremely tempting, I know…and if you can’t spare the ten minutes to chop, wash, and spin your greens, then by all means, you can still wrap your greens in paper towels (I gave away a step!) and it will extend the life. However, if you can find ten minutes to do the chopping and washing, you’re likely to find that storing salad greens this way will help your greens last longer, especially if you wait until you are ready to start using them before you do the chopping (I have managed to store uncut bags of romaine hearts in my fridge for a month before). So, buy a whole head of lettuce, or some packaged hearts of romaine.
So, here’s how I go about storing salad greens:
1. Lop of the bottom of your lettuce. Cut it in half down the center, then turn the halves and cut them down the center as well. Chop the quarters crosswise about an inch thick.
2. Drop the chopped lettuce into a salad spinner and fill it with cold water. Give it a few swishes with your hands, then pull out the basket and drain the water. Put on the spinner and give it a few spins. If you don’t have a salad spinner, rinse your greens in a large colander, shake off the excess water, and proceed to step three.
3. Spread a clean, absorbent kitchen towel out on your table or counter. Spread the greens down the center of the towel and roll them up in the towel.
4. Rip off a few paper towels. Spread about 1/4 of the greens down one edge and roll them up in the towels. Repeat this step until all of the greens have been wrapped, then seal them up in a gallon-sized bag and stick them in the fridge.
These should keep well for about a week (you can expect a slight bit of browning at the edges from cutting the lettuce, but this won’t affect the taste).
By the way, I love to make these Mason jar salads a few at a time for a grab-and-go lunch. This one is green goddess dressing, feta cheese, leftover Thanksgiving ham, sunflower seeds, alfalfa sprouts (sprouted in my own sprouter because I also used to waste lots of sprouts-not an issue anymore since I can sprout just a little at a time on my kitchen counter!), broccoli florets, and chopped romaine. Just make sure the dressing or any other “wet” ingredients don’t touch the lettuce and you’re golden!
Have you ever tried any other methods for storing salad greens? Comment below and tell me about it!
More salad tips from Chattavore: Perfect salad!