Pressure cooking is a very high-temperature cooking method, so the reality is that by the time the cooker has reached pressure, some meats will already be overcooked. Let’s take a look at a list of meats that are best for the pressure cooker and those tricky cuts.
Waaaitaminute, you’re not going to remember all of this when you’re shopping. There’s an easier way to know which cuts of meat are best for pressure cooking and which are not.
The tricky cuts are premium lean meats without bones or skin and little to no fat. They’re the ones you’d chop-up in little pieces and brown in a saute’ pan and they’d be ready in 5 minutes. And the best cuts, are usually cheap, fatty meats with bones, skin, and marbling from fat and tendons. Now, isn’t that a little easier to remember?
Example Tricky & Perfect Meats
Let’s take a look at some examples, and I’ll give you some suggestions on how to use these tricky meats in the pressure cooker. Let’s start with the chicken.
So, for chicken anything with bone-in and skin on will do fine, INCLUDING, a bone-in and skin on chicken breast – which will be lubricated by the fat in the skin and insulated by the bones on the bottom of the breast.
If all you’ve got is boneless, skinless chicken breasts you can’t just toss them in the pressure cooker and hope for the best. They’ll turn out dry and stringy. Now, you can take advantage of this if you actually WANT them dry and stringy. You can make my Black Bean Chicken & Rice Burrito Bowl and the chicken will shred nicely in that recipe and it will remain moist because it will be part of a chili.
Another way to use chicken breast in the pressure cooker is to roll them up with prosciutto to fatten them up and physically make the meat thicker so it will take longer to cook, such as in this hip Saltimbocca recipe.
For beef, I have a bit of an extreme example. I have a really thick, nervy, tough cut from the thigh of the cow. Which would make a delicious stew and then I have just a simple steak with no fat, no bone, no marbling. This steak will turn into a leather pancake if you try and pressure cook it. So, again, if you roll it, stuff it, or shred it you can use it. But just by itself, it’s not going to do well. And it’s definitely not going to be a very good stew because it will overcook as the cooker is reaching pressure.
So, there’s just no way to save that.
And, for the pork, I have what I believe to be the absolute best cuts for the pressure cooker and those are ribs. Oh my god, you can steam them, you can boil them, you can braise them… they’re going to come out delicious. You can do no wrong with pork ribs in the pressure cooker or any other kind of meat that is marbled with fat, that’s got a bone in it. All those are going to do well in the pressure cooker.
I don’t recommend pressure cooking lean pork cutlets at all. Personally, I would just flatten them, bread them and saute’ them ’til they brown on each side and serve them with a salad. These cuts actually come from pork loin roast and I also don’t recommend doing a pork loin roast in the pressure cooker. As you can see, there are almost no fat or bones in this cut. So it’ll really come out dry and crunchy and really the only way to save it is a recipe that I came up with – Hasselback Pork Roast.
As you can see we stuffed it with apples for moisture and coppa slices for fat and flavor. And, actually, that comes out really well.
So, the first secret for marvelous meat is to use the right cut of meat for the pressure cooker.
You may want to add shoulder/butt to your pork list — it’s my absolute favorite in the PC!
I knew I was going to miss a few! Thanks for the reminder – that’s a great flavorful cut, you’re right. I have updated the graphic and also made it clickable for those who want to read the detailed suggestions.
Cook those pork cutlets on top of potatoes, apples and/or gin soaked golden raisins in a cup of water/stock/juice/wine. 8 – 10 min will make a wonderful meal.
Uhm… no. Bone-in chops: yes.
I’m a little confused… ON the beef recipe you said you were going to open the cooker with the “slow open release” (to add the carrots) but isn’t that “quick pressure release” not NPR or normal pressure release? Help me get this thru my thick head..lol
Hi Deena, the pressure cooker I was using – the Instant Pot Ultra – has a new pressure release valve that releases pressure by itself but does it slowly – not full-blast as the lids on the other models. I originally had that in the script to say in the voice-over but then I decided to cut it out to make the video shorter and less bla, bla bla. Your comment is making me realize that I should have left that bit in.
Apologies for the confusion!!
No apologies needed. I didn’t realize that IP company changed things around with the new IPs that came out as I have the “jalopy” 8qt Duo! LOL Well good to know then. Thanks for all your videos, you’re the Queen of the IPs!
Daena, that newfangled pressure release on the Ultra is a “feature” you should be glad you don’t have. Seriously, my readers have had lots of problems with it!!! So yours is an oldie but goodie!
So what are the problems? I just got my Ultra and want to know what problems I might encounter.
BTW, today I made your tomato sauce, I had 6 lbs of Roma tomatoes I bought the other day as well as some boneless/skinless chicken thighs, and today I watched your video about meats so I decided to make your chicken Tetrazzini. Well stupid me, after watching the video, added too much water to the IP and ended up with Chicken Tetrazzini soup! It was great!
Nice video Laura – very useful to see all the “lessons learned” in one place – especially on this particular subject.
I saw some of the comments on the bone-in pork chops. I like to make these but they give me fits in the PC. I need to place them on a wire rack with feet so that they do not come in contact with the bottom of the PC. This usually works to prevent the pork chop from becoming too dry. But it also requires a very short cooking time and natural release method. Very labor intensive – I sometimes wonder if it is worth the trouble.
Sandro, the point I tried to get across in this part of the video is that – no, sometimes it’s not worth it. And that’s OK.
Mine is not a popular view because there are lots of websites out there will give you 35 steps for dong something that would be easier to make without the pressure cooker. In the end, pressure cookers are not magic they’re a tool. And it still holds true that there’s the right tool for every job – it’s not always a pressure cooker! ; )
Something totally unrelated which may have been addressed in earlier blogs. How do I get the smell of the last lamb shanks I cooked in the pressure cooker out of the gasket? Thank you.
Getting odours out of the gasket can be a real problem. It has been raised a few times over in the associated forum. Mostly it is not an issue but every now and then it can be real problematic. For me it is curries that are the usual suspects.
From memory the best solution is to soak it in vinegar. But personally, I remove the gasket from the PC and hang it out to air between uses. I have several pressure cookers and a few extra gaskets so if one is still smelly, I just switch to another one for a while
Speaking of which you neglected lamb in your meat selection.
Any suggestions for good lamb cuts to use while pressure cooking? Lamb is an easy meat to dry out, but I’d love to find a good cut to use for pressure cooking so I could prep it before going to work in the morning.
As with other meats, the bits that the animal uses to do all the work. So cheap tough and fatty cuts.
Shoulder, Shin and neck come to mind.
I am puzzled by your comment about doing the prep before going to work. This seems to imply you are thinking of a slow cooker . ( put a meal on in the morning so it will be ready in the evening) Not a pressure cooker. (I want to eat NOW!!!)
That’s super helpful, thanks Greg! And I like to meal prep ahead of time, so I’ll get a few things ready for the pressure cooker on sunday night. then i set the timer on my instant pot before I go to work so it starts right around when I leave the office. By the time I get home it naturally releases and it’s ready to go!
Aaron, unless you only work for 2 hours it is not safe to leave meat in the pressure cooker without cooking for longer than that. Greg touched on a good point and something I will address in the last lesson in these series: Some make-ahead recipes just don’t work with a pressure cooker, but a slow cooker is a good option to start it and have it piping hot when you get home.
The only exception to this rule is cured meats (such as salami and prosciutto) – since they are already preserved and (originally) designed to be stored at room temperature for days and months at a time.
Aaron, to be honest, the graphic showing the meat types in the video is just a prop to introduce the basic concept of “why” certain meats do better than others in the pressure cooker (bony, nervy, tough cuts). However, I am updating the graphic on this page so that everyone who wants the actual names of the cuts can see them.
Would meaty spare ribs be the same as short ribs as far as prep and cook times?
Every Fall, I buy a 1/2 beef cow that has been grass fed, so very low fat meat that I’m told to use “slow cook” methods with. Does that mean that none of my cuts, other than the short ribs or ground beef or stew meat will likely work well in the pressure cooker I just recently purchased?
Sandy, the cuts will still be tough and nervy. Just watch out for over-cooking (maybe reduce the recommended pressure cooking times) and lean towards stewy-soupy type recipes.
I purchased an 8 qt. instant pot pressure cooker. I have a 6 lb. chuck roll roast that I wanted to cook in the instant pot. It is approximately 6″ tall by 6″ in circumference. Is this a good cut of meat, and how long should I cook it. And at what temp? I want to have this for my Christmas dinner on Saturday. Help please. Thank you. I need to know by Friday.
Hi Dolores, you can find the cooking times by choosing “Pressure Cooking Times” on the menu, above. It will take you here:
It depends on the type of pressure cooker you have, but a chuck roast would take “minimum” 30 minutes in a stovetop and 40 minutes in an electric, followed by Natural Release. Make sure to take the internal temperature with a meat thermometer before serving.
Have a lovely dinner. : )
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!