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A Guide to Cook Meat in a Pressure Cooker

Pressure cookers have gained a tremendous amount of popularity in recent years. Home cooks are using them to cook everything from hard-boiled eggs to pot roast. The tightly sealed environment forces moisture into the food, causing it to cook more quickly and efficiently than it would in an oven. Once you have your technique and cooking times down, you can depend on your pressure cooker to do the work for you and cook your food perfectly every time.

pressure cook

The pressure cooker is my go-to for pretty much anything, whether I’m looking for a quick one-pot chicken and rice or an all-day slow cook stew. In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to cook different types of meat in the pressure cooker so that you have everything you need for perfectly-cooked meat every single time.

How to Pressure Cook Chicken

There are several ways to cook chicken in the pressure depending on the cut and whether you’re using fresh or frozen meat. For example, you would not cook a whole chicken the same way you would cook chicken wings. You also would need a different technique if you’re cooking frozen chicken breast versus thawed chicken breast. Once you have the techniques down, you can cook any kind of chicken with ease.

Chicken Breast or Thighs

To start, pour one cup of water into your pressure cooker. Lay down your trivet and then set your chicken on top in a single layer. Sprinkle your seasonings of choice onto the chicken and rub them in well so that your chicken is nicely seasoned. If you are using thawed chicken, set the pressure cooker to High Pressure for 10 minutes.

If you are using frozen chicken, you will need to add 5 minutes to your cooking time for a total of 15 minutes. It’s important to make sure you separate your chicken first if you are using frozen chicken breasts, otherwise the insides will not get properly cooked. Once the pressure cooker has completed the cooking time, let the pressure naturally release for 5 minutes before flipping the valve and quick-releasing the rest of the way.

Whole Chicken

When cooking a whole chicken in the pressure cooker, you want to cook it for 10-12 minutes per pound. So if you have a 3-pound chicken, you will be cooking it for 30-36 minutes. To cook a whole chicken, you will need to saute each side and then add one cup of water to the pot before setting the chicken on top of your trivet. When the cooking time has been completed, allow the pressure to naturally release for 5 minutes before flipping the valve and quickly releasing the rest of the pressure.

After you have finished cooking the chicken, you will need to broil it in the oven for around 5 minutes to get the skin nice and crispy.

Chicken Wings

You may be wondering how we could use the pressure cooker to make chicken wings if it won’t get crispy. Well, the pressure cooker gets the chicken cooked a whole lot faster than the oven! For cooking chicken wings, the best method is to add one cup of water to your pressure cooker before laying your chicken wings onto the trivet. Cook them for 5 minutes on High Pressure, then let the pot naturally release the pressure.

After your chicken wings have finished cooking in the pressure cooker, you’re going to then toss them with your sauce or seasonings of choice. Then, pop them into the oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for approx. 10-15 minutes until they’re nice and crispy.

How to Pressure Cook Beef and Ham

For pressure cooking beef or ham, the most important tip to keep in mind is that you need to saute it first. Otherwise, the meat will come out looking dull and gray instead of nice and brown. Once you have browned your beef, you can add your seasonings and liquids of choice to the pot before locking it in. If you are cooking chunks or smaller pieces, you can set the timer for 15 minutes of High Pressure cooking.

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If you are cooking a roast, you will need to cook your meat for a minimum of 30 minutes. To achieve a nice, tender roast, you should cook it on High Pressure for anywhere from 40 to 60 minutes.

The seasonings and liquid you use are solely based on preference. You always need liquid, as that is how the pressure cooker is able to cook food. You can separate the meat from the liquid using your trivet, or you can cook your meat in a sauce. Sometimes I like to mix my roast in with a really beautiful tomato sauce so that the flavors of the sauce inject into the meat.

Can you pressure cook pre-cooked meat?

Yes! You can absolutely use your pressure cooker to reheat meat that has already been cooked. I prefer this way over reheating food in the oven because I find that the pressure cooker does a much better job of restoring my food to the way it tasted the first time. As with any pressure cooker recipe, you will still need to add at least one cup of water to allow the device to work its magic. Place your cooked meat on top of your trivet and select the Steam option. Anything that has already been fully cooked should only need 5 minutes on the Steam preset before allowing the pressure to naturally release.

Does meat get more tender the longer you cook it?

In a sense, yes. The high pressure environment in a pressure cooker breaks down the connective tissues in meat and tenderizes it. If you cook a pot roast for 10 minutes, you would not have given the pressure cooker enough time to break down those tissues and tenderize the meat properly. Cooking the pot roast for 40-50 minutes would give it plenty of time to tenderize to perfection.

That being said, that does not mean that you should cook your pot roast for double the time to get it extra tender. It is very possible to overcook your meat in the pressure cooker and be left with a dry, tasteless mess! There’s a fine line between delicious, tender meat and meat that has been overcooked, so make sure to follow the cooking times provided in this guide for perfectly cooked meat.

Pressure Cooker Times and Temps

To guarantee proper cooking every time, follow these guidelines:

MeatCooking TimeTemperature
Chicken, pieces10 minutesHigh Pressure
Chicken, whole10-12 minutes per poundHigh Pressure
Beef/Ham, chunks15-20 minutesHigh Pressure
Beef/Ham, roast40-60 minutesHigh Pressure

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Pressure Cooker Recipes

Now that you are a pressure cooking pro, let’s get you started with some delicious recipes to cook at home! Here are 10 of the best pressure cooker recipes for meat:

  • Honey Garlic Chicken for an easy weeknight meal that will have your family going back for seconds and thirds
  • Rotisserie Chicken so delicious that no one will believe you made it in your pressure cooker!
  • Chicken and Rice for the perfect homestyle one-pot meal
  • Mongolian Chicken that is so dreamy, it’s almost too good to be true
  • Korean Beef that is juicy, tender, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious
  • Pot Roast that tastes just like how your mother made it, except that it doesn’t take hours
  • Beef Bourguignon, a savory comfort food meal filled with tender beef chunks and flavorful veggies
  • Beef and Broccoli that is salty, sweet, and way better than take-out
  • Pulled Pork flavored with beer and barbecue sauce for the ultimate comfort food
  • Pork Roast that is tender, flavorful, and only needs a few simple ingredients


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