Comparison between Instant Pot 3qt Mini and the 6 and 8 qt models.

This nearly pocket-sized 3-quart cooker is small and cute but cooking in a world of recipes written for larger pressure cookers is definitely a challenge! Here’s how to adjust larger recipes, and get the best results from your Instant Pot MINI – or any 3-quart pressure cooker.

While the most obvious adaptation is to shrink down the quantity of a recipe – and we’ll get to that in a moment-  there are a couple of hidden differences that can have huge impacts on recipes cooked in the MINI.

Instant Pot Mini

Lower Pressure and Less Time To Reach it

The Instant Pot MINI has a working pressure of 10.1psi (70kPa) compare to all the other models and sizes of Instant Pot that operate at 11.6psi (80kPa).  The pressure difference is not a game-changer for most recipes, but when you combine it with the shorter time to pressure – the difference is evident in tougher longer-cooking foods such as whole grains, dense veggies, or the toughest meat.

The cooker being smaller and cooking at lower pressure means that it will actually take less time for it to gain and loose pressure, too.  My tests revealed that the Instant Pot MINI takes an average of 9 minutes to build pressure compared to the 13 minutes of larger-sized cookers. This difference is significant because, remember,  the food inside is cooking while the Instant Pot is both gaining and losing pressure, too! So, that 4-minute time-to-pressure difference is the equivalent of shaving 2 minutes off the food’s “pressure cooking time”.  Combine that difference with the lower pressure (cooking temperature) and you might need to add anywhere from 2 to 15 minutes to the pressure cooking time for specific recipes.

Since the 3qt MINI pressure cooks at a lower temperature for less time, the cooking time needs to be increased.

Don’t worry, no need to “guess” how to adjust the cooking times for foods cooked in the Instant Pot MINI- I’ve just added a column to the pressure cooking time chart specifically for the Mini (and the growing number of lower-pressure electric cookers which are increasingly available).

See Also: Hip Pressure Cooking Time Chart

Less Liquid Required

I sent several queries to Instant Pot to find out if the minimum liquid requirement was reduced – and every one of them was answered with, “No, it’s the same as the 6 and 8 quarts” – which I worked out to be 1 1/2 cups (12oz/375ml).

Through testing, and my experience with other pressure cooker manufactures requiring less liquid for their smaller models (i.e. Fissler, WMF), I was able to get consistent results with less liquid.

pressure cooker easy butter chicken recipe - frozen chicken breast
Easy Buttered Chicken Recipe – made in the Instant Pot MINI (click for recipe)

 

 

Though this is not officially sanctioned by Instant Pot, you can use as little as 1 1/4 cups (10oz/315ml)of liquid in mini.

As always, a portion of this liquid can come from the ingredients themselves  –  this MINI Butter Chicken recipe uses just one cup of liquid assuming the other ingredients will release more.

While we’re at it, be wary of no-liquid-added pressure cooker recipes.  The no-liquid-added recipes making the rounds bet that the cooker won’t overheat before the food releases enough liquid to build pressure. This technique does not work reliably enough for me to recommend because, beyond frequently resulting in partially burned yet under-cooked dinner, it creates additional wear and tear to the gaskets, seals, and electronics that are not designed to withstand the “dry sauteeing” of food with a closed pressure lid.

See Also: Measuring Veggies as Cooking Liquid

Less food (obviously ; )

The maximum-fill rules for the MINI are exactly the same as for any other pressure cooker size: No more than half-full for foods that expand or generate foam (rice, grains or beans) and no more than two-thirds-full for everything else.  Thankfully, all of the MINI inner-pots have these fill lines clearly marked, so let me share some stats about your 3-quart that will come in handy when you’re evaluating whether a potential recipe will fit whole, halved or not at all. BTW, when I say “cups” I mean U.S. 8 oz measuring cups (about 250ml).

  • 1/2 full is equivalent to six cups (1.5L)
  • 2/3 full is equivalent to eight cups (2L)
  • Food-wise, this means
    • max 2 cups of beans (that’s about a pound ) with 4 cups (1L) of liquid
    • max 2 cups of dry rice with 3 cups (750ml) of liquid
    • max 3 1/2 pounds of meat with 1 cup (250ml) of liquid
    • max 7 cups of veggies with 1 cup (250ml) of liquid

See Also: Pressure Cooker FAQ: Filling The Pressure Cooker

 

Adjusting Recipes to the 3 qt.

OK, now that you’ve gotten more details about the differences and how much will actually fit in the cooker, here’s how to shrink down a recipe – or even evaluate if it is possible.

  1. Pressure Cooking Time Doesn’t Change – except when it does.
    In most cases, you would not need to alter the recommended pressure cooking time.  The pressure cooking time is decided for most foods based on the size and density of the food.  If the food is the same size and density the pressure cooking time remains the same no matter how many of that food is pressure cooked (explanation here).However, if the food is quite dense (such as a bean, seed, grain with an outer coating, a large piece of meat) then the cooking time will need to be increased to compensate for the 3qt’s lower cooking pressure – just look-up the main ingredient in  the hip cooking time chart to be sure.
  2. Check, or split all of the ingredients – except for the cooking liquid, maybe.
    • The recipe just might fit “as is” so check the suggested quantities of veggies (calculate approximately 2 cups per pound), beans, grains and liquid, will they still fit below the 2/3 or 1/2 max?
    • If a whole recipe won’t fit, slicing it in half might work? If not, would it make sense to cut the recipe down further? To cut a recipe down to 1/3 use a calculator and multiply all of the ingredients by 0.3
  3. Scale down or adjust the liquid, if needed.
    • If the recipe contains rice or grains – the liquid ratio needs to remain the same.  What that means is if you halve a recipe, you should halve the liquid.  If you only use a third of a recipe you should use a third of the liquid. However, keep in mind that the liquid cannot go below the minimum required for the cooker to reach pressure (1 1/4 cups) or the cooker won’t reach pressure!
    • If the recipe is primarily vegetables or meat…
      • Is it supposed to be a soup or very liquidy?  Then only use enough liquid to almost cover the ingredients (without going over the 2/3 max)
      • Is the recipe meant to be a braise or a stew?  Then only add the cookers minimum liquid requirement (1 1/4 cups) as the food will contribute the rest.
    • If the recipe is meant to be steamed with a steamer basket – just use the minimum liquid requirement under the steamer basket for the cooker to build pressure.
  4. When in doubt, ask…
    If you have any qualms about adjusting a recipe for a 3qt cooker, just leave a comment below the Hip recipe you want to shrink. If the recipe comes from elsewhere online, ask the recipe author directly for guidance. I will help as I can in the comments, below, but please understand that I cannot really know what calculations another recipe author made, what the intended results should be like, or even guarantee good results from a recipe I did not write or test myself.

 

But… should a 3qt be your first multicooker?

Well, if you already have one and it’s your first cooker, this advice is going to come a little late.  My pressure cooker purchasing recommendation has always been to start with a 6qt – as that is the most flexible size in terms of doing more sophisticated cooking methods such as pan-in-pot or stacking things vertically to cook more than one dish at once.  The 6qt size has nearly the same minimum liquid requirement as the 3qt  – this means that a 6qt can make meals for anywhere from 1 to 6 people. Plus, there’s a whole body of recipes written for this size pressure cooker which don’t require any adjustments while you’re learning to pressure cook!

See Also: 5 Electric Pressure Cooker Buying Tips + 3 Recommendations

As you eventually move most of your cooking to pressure, you’ll find that just one cooker is just not enough – my recommendation is to then consider adding a smaller accessory cooker is going to be a great helper for making a side dish, steamed veggies or a single bowl of oatmeal (all things that the 6qt can do, too ; ).

See Also:  Does Pressure Cooker Size Matter? Of course!

How have you adapted?

Have a “mini”? Please share your tips for shrinking recipes with our readers by leaving a comment, below!

Instant Pot Mini Mania - shrinking recipes for the 3qt pressure cooker

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23 Comments

  1. I got an Instant Pot Lux Mini for my birthday. I specifically requested the mini because I’m just one person and I recently had weight loss surgery. I wanted something small, but I still have a lot of food despite the 3 quart size. So far I’ve made hard boiled eggs, black beans and chicken soup. With the beans I had to cook them for twice as long as the recipe called for to get them tender (the recipe was for a 6 quart pot). The chicken soup was a recipe on Instant Pot’s website that I essentially halved. Made it last week and I still have left overs.

    1. Jessica, for beans it’s always best to soak them if you can. If you don’t have time to do it the night before, you can also “quick-soak” them in 20 minutes following these instructions I link to, below. Beans is the only part of the time chart I have not updated yet – as I haven’t had a chance to test soaked/unsoaked cooking times with the mini’s lower pressure, yet. They’re definitely one of the MOST affected foods simply because of their density.
      https://www.hippressurecooking.com/soaking-beans-pressure-cooker-pcs/

      Ciao,

      L

    2. Thanks for the bean tip. Beans are the reason I got one of these, but I also got a mini because there are only 2 of us. I had no idea it would be harder than just halving things! ;)

  2. Laura, thank you so much for taking the time to do the research and for posting this to your blog. You make a lot of really great points and recommendations and I enjoyed reading this piece.

    Someone shared your link onto my FB group page dedicated to the Mini (although all are welcome), I was hoping you would join us! We would love to have your company amongst the group.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1963726987225247/

    Happy IP Cooking!
    Lori
    Instant Pot Mini Groupies

    1. Lori, thanks for sharing a link to your group. I hope anyone who is interested will join as well.

      I’ll come for a visit, but unfortunately, I cannot read all the posts. If there is ever a difficult-to-answer question, feel free to mention me in the comment I’ll read and answer to the best of my ability.

      Ciao,

      L

  3. Oh Laura!!! Words cannot express how grateful to you for taking the time & effort for specifically addressing the mini! OMGosh! You are the ONLY & I do mean ONLY resource for the mini that I’ve seen. And I am obsessed with searching, lol! I’m not on FB, but see from comment above, there is a mini group, who knew. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. Always cutting edge, you are (yoda voice). So excited to see the mini vids you’ve posted recently, but those were just a tease, for THIS.

  4. Recipe shrinking tips
    Cooking for 1-2 with (2) Instant Pot Ultra Mini, newbie, pressure cooking for 1 year. I mostly just lurk here, which is a good thing, because I tend to ramble.

    I love ‘Paprika’ recipe app, it can automatically convert recipes up or down. Most recipes half successfully as written. For those that don’t, I add notes in the recipe in the ‘Paprika’ app what I did & adjust recipe for my mini. Pasta recipes seem to need a minute or two more than recipe in the mini. You can download Laura’s recipes to the app or type in manually. For apple, android, kindle fire (I use this), etc. Now that Laura has added mini cook times, HUGE help.

    Minimum liquid/water IP mini = 1 cup
    Went to Instant Pot Blog for rice cooking tips. I make rice pot-in-pot only. I wasted pounds of rice in a Cosori 2 qt, so haven’t even tried cooking rice normally in the IP. Pot-in-pot is perfect! 1:1 ratio water/rinsed rice, any amount of rice. IP blog comment 1/10/18 Rachel “What is least amt of rice that is safe to cook?” In the response, Instant Pot mjun responded “the Mini should only require a minimum of 1 cup in order to function under pressure. We apologize for the confusion and are working to update our manuals in order to avoid this miscommunication in the future.” The Ultra Mini manual calls for 2 cups (18 fl. oz.) liquid minimim, purchased mine 3/18/18. I now use only 1 cup minimum liquid & mini comes to pressure every time. The only time I use less or more is when the recipe calls for it based on other ingredients as per Laura’s explanation in the article. Laura, do you think it is ok to use the 1 cup minimum liquid? Also always use hot/heated liquid, comes to pressure faster.

    Weird measurements
    Age old problem, right? Download recipe conversion charts, tape to inside cabinet door. Just google ‘recipe conversion’ or ‘half recipe’. Now Laura has mini recipes, easy peasy! You always end up with some weird measurements though. I have only standard measuring tools. For the weird ones, I use “smidgen” measuring spoons: smidgen, pinch, dash. Ex: 1/8 tsp. I use salt, see how many will fill 1/4 tsp equally, divide that amt by half. 4 pinch spoons = 1/4 tsp, so 2 pinch spoons = 1/8 tsp. I buy cheapy, clear plastic measuring spoons & cups from dollar store. Toss the 2 pinch spoonfuls into the smallest clear sppon that will fit, level, then carefully mark the outside with a sharpie, voila, 1/8 tsp. Write on the handle “1/8 tsp” with sharpie. Rewrite as it fades from washing. Or you can just eyeball it, or use the two pinches, I guess, but what’s the fun in that? Also, for me, eyeballing things doesn’t result in a consistent recipe & taste can vary. Write this info down to cabinet chart. I get tired of measuring all the tbs/tsp when halving recipes & screw up because I lose count or I mess up on a conversion, so this helps. Same with the infamous 1/8 cup = 2 tbs. Take one of the cheapy clear measuring cups, toss in the 2tbs salt, level, mark the outside with a sharpy, label cup as “1/8 cup”. You only do all this once to get your modified measuring cups/spoons. Not perfect, or scientific, but seems to work. On the other hand, I really should just get a life instead or vow to stop over thinking this stuff

    Mini accessories
    Laura, it would be great to provide links to mini accessories so you get ‘credit’ Sometimes hard to find for the 3 qt, even Instant Pot doesn’t have much. I’m not sure if a link in comments will give you credit, so not including. These accessories will fit any brand 3 qt. pressure cooker. I have no affiliation with Amazon or the sellers, just a regular joe-ette consumer.

    My main gripe with the instant pot mini is that the handled trivet is not included, just a regular trivet. I found this one on Amazon, the only one I’ve seen, love it! Use for all pot-in-pot, fits 3 qt. perfectly.
    Alamic
    Steamer Rack Trivet with Handles for Instant Pot Duo Mini/Lux Mini/Ultra 3 Qt/Duo Plus 3 Qt and Other Electric Pressure Cookers 3 Qt 5 Qt

    Cooking & storage. These are great for portion control & 2 fit stacked in mini, ½ cup each compartment. Great for pressure cooking. For freezing stock, remove to ziplock, no measuring, straight to pot. I cook rice in them, then freeze in ½ cup portions. Kelsey Adele King Cube Ice Tray with Lid – Premium Silicone Mold for 2″ Large Cubes, Best For Whiskey Bourbon Scotch Lovers; Good For Baby Food Freezer Storage, Freezing Instant Pot Broth – 1/2 Cup, Perfect Square, Stackable, No Spill, Set of 2 Trays

    Aozita Silicone Egg Bites Molds for Instant Pot Accessories 3 Qt – Fits Instant Pot 3/5/6/8 Qt Pressure Cooker, Reusable Storage Container and Freezer Tray with Lid

    ekovana Stackable Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker Steamer Insert Pans – For Instant Pot Accessory. (You can also use without pans as a sling)

    Hatrigo Instant Pot Accessories 3 qt Steamer Basket [6qt 8qt available], Fits InstaPot Pressure Cooker, Insta Pot Ultra Egg Basket w/Silicone Handle and Non-Slip Legs (IP Mini 3 Quart)

    Fat Daddio’s Anodized Aluminum Round Cheesecake Pan with Removable Bottom, 5 Inch x 3 Inch (6″ fits in mini also, but not with the handled trivet, you will need to use a foil sling)

    1. Can you possibly say the exact “Paprika” app that you use ?? There are many on the Apple App Store so don’t know which one to use. Am newer to the mini so any help is appreciated.

  5. Thank you for this write-up! The minute the Mini came out, I passed the 6-quart Instant Pot along to my parents — the smaller size is so much more convenient for me, as I usually only cook for one or two, and don’t like eating the same leftovers twice.

    One comment: I regularly make hard-boiled eggs using only one cup of water (12 minutes low pressure, quick release) based on instructions I can’t recall where I got. I think my 3.5-litre stove top Kuhn Rikon only needs 1/2 cup of water, so a full cup for the Mini seemed reasonable since many pressure cookers lose more water than the Kuhn Rikons.

  6. @Jan – Thank you for all the tips, all very helpful!!

    @Laura – I checked the user manual that came with my Mini and it states in the “Safety and Cooking Tips” section that the minimum amount of water is 1 cup / 250mL. Not sure why, but the Instant Pot site no longer seems to have individual manuals for the various sizes in the Duo series, but I do have a PDF of my Duo Mini manual if you’d like a copy.

    1. @Claudia, thanks to you too! Info on your manual very helpful. I was so confused & came across the 1 cup min. thru blind luck on IP blog. I didn’t see that documented anywhere else, so was unsure if the 1 cup is accurate. Thanks for solving that mystery by confirming! I’ve only been using IP since March, but my Ultra Mini manual does seem to be for all sizes & not size specific for the mini.

      1. This is good information to share and Jan keep sharing, we’re interested.

        However, I should point out, that some of Instant Pot’s previous manuals for 6qt size also said 1 cup / 250ml at one point, and then other manuals said two, even three cups (sometimes not even stating the cup size – meaning the “rice” measuring cup). There doesn’t seem to be a concentrated effort to figure this out on the part of Instant Pot.

        The representatives I contacted to get the minimum liquid information were the CEO and Marketing Manager and besides hmms and haws they could not give me the factory spec’d (tested) minimum liquid requirement for the 3qt.

        When a cooker is brand new and all the parts are working at maximum efficiency even an 8qt can be brought up to pressure with just 1 cup of liquid. But no cooker can maintain its “brand new” state indefinitely. In fact, as the gasket and valve seals begin to harden and, unable to form a complete seal, the cooker will eventually need more liquid to build and maintain pressure until the silicone parts completely fail to eventually be replaced.

        I have only had the MINI since February so at the moment I’m not confident stating a lower minimum liquid requirement until either my cooker has aged a bit, or Instant Pot puts out an official specification.

        Meanwhile, I’d love to hear the experience of cooks who have had their MINI for longer. The more information, the better.

        Keep using what works for you, but if it stops working… use more. : )

        Ciao,

        L

  7. Thanks for this, Laura!
    This article has some great info.
    I got a Mini about 5 months ago & I love it. I had been using the 6qt InstantPot (which I also love), but I’m generally just cooking for me (and prefer not to eat leftovers for several days) so I got the Mini. It’s just right to make something for “today and tomorrow.” One advantage for me is that I use the pressure cooker to make oatmeal and/or rice almost everyday so the mini takes up less of my limited countertop space. Even though I *could* make smaller recipes in the 6qt, the Mini is a little easier for clean-up. I still use the the 6qt when needed (for flan, for example), but the Mini has become my everyday “go-to” pressure cooker.

    FYI: Amazon has lots of accessories for the 3qt – I found a rack with handles and small metal bowls that can stack

    1. Hi Gloria, I am wondering if I can use mini recipes in my 6 qt InstantPot. I see great recipes for the mini but own only the 6 qt. Are there any changes in the cooking time to be made if using a mini recipe in the 6 qt pot?

  8. I have a 6 qt instantPot and and have seen some wonderful mini recipes. Can I use the mini recipe in the 6 qt – what adjustment in timing need to be made if any? Thanks!!

  9. Thank you for information on the mini. I bought the Cooks Essential from QVC and haven’t really used it from fear of ruining food. This morning I decided to go for it. My steel cut oats steamed out the pressure hole making a bit of a mess but now it’s in natural release mode, so we’ll see shortly. Used 1c of oats, 2c water and 1c almond milk. This was my 2nd try. I used half the amount previously and it still spurted.

    Today I also made chana dal with ham hock. It said 20 mins but I think I added too much water, it called for 3cups to 1\2cup beans. I added extra water. It was thin and beans were cooked nicely but ham needed more time. I put the ham in my Dutch oven, pureed the beans and now have it reducing on stove.

  10. Is https://instantpot.com/product-comparison-chart/ wrong when it wasys that the mini has a high-pressure range of 10.2-11.6 psi? My Duo Mini’s manual also has the same 10.2-11.6 psi range listed in it as the manual for my Duo 6-qt.

    1. The “DUO Mini Manual” is just a basic DUO Manual. When I noticed my mini reached pressure faster and at a lower temperature I contacted Instant Pot for the explanation. I recommended to Instant Pot to print a separate manual for the Mini with the correct cooking times and reduced minimum liquid requirement – if they didn’t, or if they list the wrong information on their comparison chart, I can’t do anything about that.

      All I can do is share this information and the appropriate cooking times so that your recipes will always turn out well.

      If you happen to have both the mini and any regularly-sized Instant Pot, just compare the ticket behind them to see the pressure range. If you don’t here is a photo of mine:

      mini pressure comparison

      Ciao,

      L

  11. I routinely use 6 quart recipes in my Ultra Mini and have never failed a recipe yet. For the most part, the differences seem minor with no catastrophic results.

  12. So happy to see I can cook two cups of beans in my mini. Most recipes say only one cup. My Peruvian beans are started as we speak. Guessing 35 minutes as I found no info on this type of bean. Thank you!

    1. Chris, how did your Peruvian beans turn out at 35 minutes?

      Ciao,

      L

  13. I just bought the mini and am soooooo thankful you posted this.

  14. Thanks for all of the helpful comments. I just bought a mini and i am excited to get started!

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