After a long day that may include some or all of the following: work, cleaning, bill pay, laundry, taking this one to soccer practice and that one to dance class—the last thing you want to do is spend an hour over a hot stove top cooking an elaborate meal that will disappear in minutes.
The Instant Pot is the best invention since the double espresso Frappuccino, cutting down on cooking time without sacrificing flavor—giving you more time to spend with family at the dinner table and an evening to relax.
Here are some easy, kid-friendly Instant Pot meals that will fill your family and make for easy clean-up. Pro Tip: Get your kids to help in the cooking process, to avoid boredom and the dreaded question, “Is it ready yet?” If some of the steps are for adults only, try entertaining your child with a coloring book or puzzle at the table while they wait to help.
Chicken Taco Bowls
This hearty, healthy recipe is perfect for busy nights, and can be adjusted to your taste by adding toppings like avocado, cheese and Greek yogurt or sour cream. You’ll need:
- 3 teaspoons chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (Add more for extra heat)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup diced, yellow onion
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 1 1/4 cup long-grain, white rice rinsed and drained
- 15.25 ounce can whole kernel corn rinsed and drained
- 15 ounce can black beans rinsed and drained
- 16 ounce jar tomato salsa
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
In a bowl, Mix the chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and cayenne together. Rub both sides of the chicken breasts with the seasoning mixture and set the chicken aside.
Plug in your Instant Pot and press the “Sauté” button. When the display reads “HOT,” add the olive oil to the liner. Then add the onions and cook until they start to soften (about 3 minutes). Add the garlic, stir, and cook for one minute. Pour in the chicken stock and press the “Cancel” button. Scrape the bottom of the liner to remove any browned bits, so they incorporate into your chicken stock for added flavor.
Place the chicken breasts in the pot. With supervision, have your kids participate and add the rice, salsa, black beans, and then the corn into the pot as well.
With all ingredients added, seal the lid and check to make sure the knob is in the “Sealing” position. Press the “Manual” button, check to make sure it is on High Pressure, and adjust the time to 8 minutes using the + and – buttons.
When the pressure cooker beeps, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes. Turn the knob to manually release any remaining pressure. As you wait for the pressure to release, you and your kids can help prepare the toppings.
Remove the chicken breasts and shred them using two forks. Return the shredded chicken to the pot, stir to combine, and stir in the cilantro. You can service this in a bowl, or make chicken tacos by serving it in a flour or corn tortilla!
Honey Garlic Chicken
With few ingredients and a powerful flavor, this Instant Pot Meal will become a family favorite! You’ll need:
- 1/3 cup honey
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 cup no salt ketchup
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
- 4 to 6 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs or 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
- sliced green onions, for garnish
Combine the honey, minced garlic, soy sauce, ketchup, oregano and parsley in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat your Instant Pot by pressing the “Sauté” button. Add sesame oil to the pot. Season your chicken thighs with salt and pepper and place them in the Instant Pot. Cook the chicken for 2 to 3 minutes, on each side.
Add the prepared honey garlic sauce to the pot. Then cover and lock the lid. Choose “Poultry” mode and cook for 20 minutes.
Turn off the Instant Pot and allow the pressure to release for about 5 minutes. You can then transfer the chicken to a separate plate and spoon the sauce over the chicken. Invite your kids to garnish the dish with toasted sesame seeds and green onions.
If you want to add a grain to this protein, serve the chicken over a bed of rice. To avoid another pot to clean, look for microwavable sticky rice bowls at your local grocery store, which can be ready in one minute!
What child doesn’t love a cheesy slice of pizza? Put a fresh spin on a classic favorite by turning pizza into a hearty pasta dish—easy to heat up for leftovers. You’ll need:
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 pound of mild Italian sausage
- 8 ounce can pizza sauce
- 16 ounce jar spaghetti sauce
- 1 pound pasta (suggested: cavatappi)
- 28 ounces water
- 8 ounces mozzarella
- 20 slices pizza pepperoni
- salt and pepper to taste
Heat your Instant Pot by pressing the “Sauté” button. Melt the butter in the pot. Then add the garlic, Italian seasoning and sausage. Cook until the sausage is no longer pink.
Add both the spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce to the sausage mixture. Then add the pasta (uncooked).
Add the water and stir to combine. Then put on the lid and be sure to set the toggle switch to “Seal.”
Set on “Manual” mode for 5 minutes. Do a Quick Release and open the lid after the silver pin has dropped. Add HALF the cheese and HALF the pepperoni. Your kids can participate and add the cheese and pepperoni during this step! Mix them into the pasta/meat mixture.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese and pepperoni over the top of the mixture. Replace the lid and wait for the cheese to melt and the pepperoni to warm through. Add salt and pepper to the pasta to taste and serve. To make an everything pizza pasta, try adding green pepper, black olives, and any other ingredients you love on pizza!