You can pressure cook puddings, flans, cakes, rice and fish by putting them in heat-proof containers. Recipes may vary, though almost all suggest filling the pressure cooker with at least 1 cup of water (or the minimum required by your cooker)  and – for the most delicate ingredients- covering tightly with foil to keep the super-heated steam at bay and then placing the container on a steamer basket or trivet.

pressure_cooker_heat_proof_bowl
Above, pressure cooker Crema Catalana and Chocoflan recipes in action.

When using small containers or ramekins place them in a steamer basket.  If the containers are low, or the cooker is very tall, small containers can be stacked pyramid-style in multiple levels. Remove small containers from the cooker with tongs or a glove-covered hand.

Larger containers should be lowered onto a trivet or steamer basket.  If the container does not already have handles, then construct a foil sling (bottom-right photo) to easily lower and remove the container from the pressure cooker.

The height of the container and steamer basket cannot exceed the maximum fill line of the pressure cooker – this is to ensure the foil cover does not dislodge or the food therein does not interfere with the pressure cooker’s safety systems.

See Also: How Container Materials & Shapes Affect Cooking – Pressure Cooking School

Suitable heat-proof containers
As the name suggests, heat-proof containers should be heat or ovenproof- this includes high-temperature silicone, heat-proof glass (like pyrex), ceramic, stainless steel, aluminum and even copper!  The forms should not be plastic or any glass that is not tempered. There are also disposable aluminum forms specifically for Creme Caramel – they’re very handy for un-molding creme caramel (just stretch out the edges to release the dessert!)  If using large square or rectangular containers, be measure the diagonal of the shape to ensure a good fit.

Pictured above are all of the heat-proof containers used in the hip kitchen.  The containers can be anything from teacups to breakfast bowls and even small stainless steel mixing bowls!

Each material has its own heating properties: An aluminum container will heat up faster than a ceramic one, for example, so cooking times will need to be adjusted accordingly.

Top it off
Some recipes will require for this heat-proof container to be covered. Be wary of anything that is heatproof but seals hermetically, like stainless steel lunch (Tiffin) boxes, or glass jars with an attached top (as used in this recipe) – do not clamp on the lid during pressure cooking. These containers are not designed to equalize the pressure internally or let you know if the contents are under pressure, it is dangerous to open a hermetically sealed container that has been pressure cooked.

Instead, use tin foil as a top.

Measure twice, buy once
Measure your pressure cooker carefully, taking measurements of both the interior width and height with you to the store – subtracting the height of the trivet or steamer basket.

Shop for heat-proof containers

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CAKE PANS

RING MOLDS

OTHER FUN SHAPES & COMBINATIONS

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66 Comments

  1. When I first saw the picture at the top of this post, I thought the handle on what you call a “tiffin” looked like the handle of an MSR Apine Stow-away pot. A closer look showed that it wasn’t. Still, if you want a straight-sided, flat-bottomed stainless steel pot with a build-in handle, you might check out MSR. A little pricey for this application maybe, but they seem to last forever.

  2. Laura do you have any ideas for bowls from Amazon.it? I would prefer something not breakable because I am pretty clumsy. Also, can you tell me the biggest size bowl that will fit the Onstant Pot Duo 7 in 1? Mine has not arrived, but I am looking for bowls to use to make yogurt and/or tapioca if I can find it (went to the two herbalistas near me and neither had even heard of it before, but I live in a remote area). Thanks, Sz

    1. Hi Suzanne, the Instant Pot liner is 22cm wide, so anything that is 18 or 20 cm will do. You’ll be looking for something like this:
      http://amzn.to/2m3Z2ln

      However, do not close it hermetically while it is in the pressure cooker – as it will build pressure inside. Use just the base, and if you must cover it use tin foil.

      Ciao,

      L

  3. What about silicone pot lids? We have been using glass lids, but it seems like the silicone lids would leave more room on top (no handle sticking up). Are they in danger of becoming sealed during cooking?

    1. There shouldn’t be any trouble. There would only be a risk of the lid sealing if there was a partial vacuum formed in the pot. This is NOT going to happen in a pot actively cooking.

      The advantage of a glass lid is you can see inside. I haven’t seen any clear silicone lids.

  4. I was eyeing my stainless-steel, thermal travel mug this morning as a clever way to cook my oatmeal, since I had been planning to cook the oats in a bowl and then transfer them to the mug, to keep it warm until I reached the office. Then I thought twice about it — would it be safe to use a thermal (meaning double-walled) mug in the PC? I was concerned that pressure would build up in the air between the two walls. So I didn’t try it.

    Good call, or overly cautious?

    1. I am inclined to think good call.

      Depending on how the mug was made, there may be vacuum rather than air in there. If not, there will be a valve somewhere to allow pressure to equalise. (My double walled glasses have a simple valve on the base). Even so, the adjustment in pressure is likely to be slow and you are likely to drive moisture in there. Also, when you release pressure there is a possibility the container will explode.

      If it is a true vacuum flask, the extra external pressure may crush the container depending on the materials used to make it.

      Also, remember that the whole idea behind double walled flasks is to slow down heat transfer. Even if the container is not damaged, you are likely to prevent the oats from cooking.

      Stick to plan A

      1. if you heat up your thermos with boiling water for a few minutes, drain it then add your dry oatmeal and any additives, raisins, brown sugar, etc… add your regular amount of boiling cooking water and close it up tight, you will have perfectly cooked oatmeal by the time you get to the office. I don’t think this will work for steel cut oats.

  5. Thanks for your reply.

    Turns out it’s a vacuum mug. http://www.gocontigo.com/16-oz-autoseal-randolph-stainless-travel-mug-1.html

    Just as well I decided not to try it. Washing an extra bowl isn’t that big a deal.

  6. I have a pressure canner. How is it different? You say not to use hermetically sealed containers. Am I missing something?

    1. When you’re canning jars, they are not hermetically sealed – yet. The foam ring inside the lid of the jar lets steam and air escape and as the jars cool down the vacuum in the jar pulls the lid down to seal hermetically (it’s the popping you hear as the jars are cooling). When the jars are loaded in the canner they are “finger-tip-tight” not hermetically sealed.

      I think that’s what you were missing. ; )

      Ciao,

      L

  7. I have read must use tempered glass , the bowls I have are oven safe to 350. Can I use these in my IP?

    1. If it is oven-safe, it can be used in the pressure cooker.

      Ciao,

      L

      1. Thank you!!

  8. Will my Anchor Hocking bowls work in a stop top pressure cooker for custards in a steamer basket? The directions say not to use them on the stove top, and only in an oven up to 375 degrees. Thanks!

    1. Yes, if the container is oven-safe it can be used in the pressure cooker. : )

      Ciao,

      L

  9. Could I use those silicone cheesecake pans for rice?

    1. Yes, but be aware that it may need a slightly longer time to fully cook. At the very least do the first run with low expectations, and plenty of time to continue cooking if needed. ; )

      Ciao,

      L

  10. We have reached out to Corelle Brands (maker of Corelle, Pyrex, Baker’s Secret, etc); Oneida (maker of Anchor Hocking); and Pampered Chef and they universally told us that even though their glassware was preheated oven safe, they were not safety approved for pressure cookers of any sort.

    None of them gave a specific reason, there are some possibilities though:
    1. Simple CYA; they haven’t tested it, and don’t want to be liable.
    2. Thermal Shock; if you’ve ever seen what happens when you put a hot glass cookware down on a cool surface, you know they don’t handle thermal shock (quick temperature change) well. In fact, glass is generally bad at it and it’s commonly used to intentionally cut glass. It could be that the speed that it comes up to temp or cools down on quick release can be excessively hard on the glassware. This could cause stresses that can fracture or explode the glassware under the right conditions.
    3. Internal imperfections; it’s common to see small bubbles in glassware, the air in the bubble changes temp slower than the glass and can cause issues as in #2.

    1. Thanks for sharing this information, Gayle. I do think it’s CYA because you can’t thermally shock something that is slowly heated up with steam.

      Ciao,

      L

  11. Totally off the subject of recipes: First I want to say I love your advice and recipes. You are my “go-to” person. Secondly in your videos and other pictures you are so very attractive. I NEVER criticize or give a bad review, so for me to say this is difficult. The picture you use in your responses does not do your attractive face justice. Would you consider a different picture, because you are so much prettier than that pictures shows.

    1. Hahaha! I will update my pic soon. I usually do it when I’m all done-up to record a video. When you see the profile pic updated, you’ll know the next episode of Pressure Cooking School will follow soon. : )

      Thank you for your compliments and feedback!

      Ciao,

      L

  12. Hi Laura, do you need steamer basket for ramekins? Your heart ramekins seem quite big and fit perfectly around each other. I couldn’t find exact same kind I have some regular round ramekins but if I have to put them in my steamer basket Then only 2 fit but without the steamer basket three fit.It really doesn’t yield a lot of dessert if theyre only 5-8oz each… but I read that it cooks much faster(what If you just put less quantity of ingredients in a big one quart pan?Would it still take much longer? Would be more cost-effective and more dessert this way..)
    Would you stack 8oz ramekins pyramid style?

  13. is it possible to use cast iron coquettes like the staub ones? and with or without lids? Thank you!

  14. Just found this article and it is very informative. My question, I would like to sort of do pot in pot with two oven safe bowls with corelle plates inbetween and on top?

    1. Yes, you could stack them this way. Just be sure that if the plate covers the bowl completely it will slow down the cooking time of the ingredients inside – there are some techniques where you would want to do this anyway but just be aware that a steamed covered bowl the ingredients inside won’t match the cooking time given on the chart, they will take longer.

      Ciao,

      L

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