Choosing the Right Cut of Meat for the Pressure Cooker

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 This article is part of Lesson 6: Marvelous Meats

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.

Best Meat Cuts for the Pressure Cooker Chart

Best Meat Cuts for the Pressure Cooker Chart (click to enlarge)

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?

Easy reminder of which meat cuts are best for the pressure cooker, and which are not..

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.

Best Meats to Use with the Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot


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.

Hasselback Pork Roast - stuffed with coppa and apples

So, the first secret for marvelous meat is to use the right cut of meat for the pressure cooker.


pressure cooking schoolCONTINUE Lesson 6: Marvelous Meats

Pressure Cooker Meats: Best & Tricky Cuts