5 Easy Plant-Based Instant Pot Meals You Need to Try
When you’re just starting out on your plant-based cooking journey, you might not know where to begin. With kids heading back to school, families are busy this time of year, and it can be hard to find time to try a new dish, let alone clean up afterwards. We get it!
From sautéing to pressure cooking, multi-cookers like the Instant Pot are workhorse appliances that do all the heavy lifting to get food on the table fast, keeping cleanup to a minimum. In the spirit of the seasons changing, I’ve turned some of my fall month favorites into Instant Pot-friendly dishes that you, your friends and your family can enjoy in 45 minutes or less. I hope you enjoy these recipes!
Hibiscus Hot Toddy
- 2 lemons, sliced and seeded
- 2 orange, sliced and seeded
- 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
- ½ tsp allspice berries (10-15)
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 10 cloves
- 8 cups water (2 quarts)
- ¼ cup agave nectar
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup dried hibiscus flowers
- Lemon or lime juice, to taste
- Bourbon or rum, to your liking (optional)
1. Tie allspice, cinnamon, cloves and ginger in a piece of cheesecloth or tea bag for easy removal. Add spice sachet, lemon, orange, agave nectar, brown sugar and hibiscus flowers. (You can also put the hibiscus flowers into a piece of cheesecloth or tea bag.)
2. Pressure Cooker: Cook at high pressure for 4 minutes, then release (either natural release or quick release is fine).
Slow Cooker: Cook on highest setting for 2-4 hours.
3. Strain mixture through nut milk bag or piece of cheesecloth.
4. Taste, and add lemon/lime juice, if you would like. Pour a shot of whiskey or rum into your glass, and pour hibiscus mixture over it. Best enjoyed hot, but also delicious iced.
Caribbean Corn Soup
My first taste of corn soup was at the Grove Street People’s Market in Greensboro, North Carolina, and I’ve been thinking about that spoonful ever since! Warming and rich with corn, squash and coconut milk, this recipe is sure to be a hit during the colder months. Tastes best at 2 a.m. after a fun weekend out!
- 1 medium to large onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or microplaned
- 1 stalk of celery, diced
- ⅓ c red pepper, diced
- ⅓ c green pepper, diced
- 1 large carrot, sliced into discs
- 1 butternut squash or 2 large sweet potatoes, diced
- ¾ cup corn kernels
- 2 corn cobs, sliced into 2-inch wheels
- 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
- 14 oz can of coconut milk
- 4 cups veggie stock, divided
- ⅔ cup of yellow split peas, rinsed
- 1 scotch bonnet, two small chili peppers or ½ tsp of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 3 sprigs of thyme (or 2 tsp dried)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1.5 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1 tbsp cooking oil (optional)
1. Set multi-cooker to sauté and preheat for 3-5 minutes. Add cooking oil or 2 tbsp of veggie broth. As it heats, add onion, garlic, celery, red pepper and green pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
2. Add 2 cups of broth and split peas to the pot. Secure the lid, making sure the steam value is sealed, and set your cooker to high pressure for 10 minutes. After the time has passed, vent steam valve to release the pressure. Turn off the cooker.
3. For a smoother soup, purée using a blender or food processor. If you don’t mind a chunkier soup, jump to the next step.
4. Add sweet potato/squash, coconut milk, carrots, corn, ginger, salt, pepper, thyme and remainder of the vegetable broth to the pot. Add scotch bonnet/chili pepper whole, if using.
5. Pressure Cooker: Use the glass top and set to sauté. Cook for 15-25 minutes, or until squash/sweet potato is tender. Turn off heat and perform a quick release, waiting 2-3 minutes for the steam to stop and the floating valve to drop. Open top and discard peppers, if using whole.
Slow Cooker: Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients — this spirited stew is worth the effort!
Traditionally served in Louisiana’s Catholic community during Lent, gumbo aux herbes is a Holy Thursday staple with similarities to French potage aux herbes and Afro-Caribbean callaloo. Though made with meat during other times of the year, this seasonal version is 100% plant-based. Whether you use mustard greens, carrot tops, kale, collards or spinach — anything green goes!
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp celery seed
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tbsp garlic powder
- ½ tbsp of smoked paprika (optional)
- ½ tbsp of sweet paprika (or 1 tbsp of sweet paprika if omitting smoked paprika)
- 1 package of plant-based sausage, sliced or cubed (I used Tofurky)
- 2 tbsp of peanut oil, divided
- 3 leeks, washed and sliced (white and pale green parts only)
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- 7 cups of assorted greens (mustard greens, collard greens, cabbage, turnip greens, chard, kale, spinach, etc.), washed and chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 bunch of green onions (or scallions), white and pale green parts thinly sliced, and green tops reserved for garnish
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 tbsp vegan buttery spread or Nutiva’s Butter-Flavored Coconut Oil
- ½ tsp liquid smoke
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ cup of all-purpose flour
- 4 cups of veggie broth (32 fl oz)
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- Filé powder, for garnish (optional)
- Cooked rice, for serving
1. Mix red pepper flakes, black pepper, cayenne pepper, celery seed, dried oregano, garlic powder, smoked paprika (if using) and sweet paprika together in a small bowl. Set aside.
2. Turn on Instant Pot or other multi-cooker and set to sauté. Preheat for 2 minutes, then add 1 tbsp of peanut oil and plant-based sausage. Sauté until browned, about 7-10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
3. Add remaining peanut oil and buttery spread/oil along with flour and whisk constantly for about 15 minutes, or until the roux is a rich, medium brown. If it’s too thick to whisk, add ½ tbsp of peanut oil or buttery spread. Watch it carefully! If you see black specks in your roux, you’ll need to start your roux over.
4. Once color is achieved, add onion, sliced leeks and celery. Sauté until veggies are softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add green onions and garlic and sautée for 2 more minutes.
5. Add bay leaves, thyme springs, spice mix and broth. Stir until mixture is silky and cohesive. Add in sausage and all of your chopped greens.
6. Pressure Cooker: Set your multi-cooker to manual or “pressure cook” mode and set time for 20 minutes, making sure that the vent is sealed. Release steam via quick or natural release, then remove lid.
Slow Cooker: Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
7. Remove thyme stems and bay leaf. For a smoother soup, pulse with a blender. For a chunkier texture, go to the last step.
8. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Serve with rice and filé powder at the table.
West African Groundnut Stew
Sweet, savory, nutty and spicy, West African flavors collide in this hearty, delicious dish. Make it a complete protein by adding chickpeas, pressed tofu cubes or your favorite meat substitute! I recommend trying this dish with flatbread or fufu, a traditional African staple — just make sure you have something to soak up all that delicious stew!
- 2 tbsp cooking oil (i.e., coconut, peanut oil)
- 1½ tsp smoked paprika
- 1½ tsp turmeric or curry powder
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp of cumin
- ½ tsp white pepper
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1½ tsp salt, or to taste
- 1 lb. of sweet potatoes (about 3-4), peeled, large dice
- ½ lb of carrots, diced or cut into discs
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1-inch piece of ginger, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, diced
- ½ cup natural peanut butter or sunflower seed butter (nut-free)
- 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped or 1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
- 3 cups of veggie broth
- 2 cups collard greens or kale
- 14-16 oz of protein such as chickpeas or pressed tofu (optional)
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped finely
- Roughly chopped nuts, for garnish (optional)
1. In a small bowl, mix smoked paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, white pepper, cayenne pepper and 1 tsp of salt together. Set aside.
2. Set your multi-cooker to sauté and allow to preheat for 2 minutes. Add cooking oil, onion and tomato paste, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sweet potato and carrot, and sauté for 2 more minutes. If anything starts to stick to the pot, add a splash of veggie broth.
3. Add ginger, garlic and spice mix and cook for 1 minute. Turn off multi-cooker. Add peanut butter to the hot mixture, stirring until dissolved. Add tomatoes, broth, greens and optional protein to pot and stir until combined.
4. Pressure Cooker: Close and lock the lid with the vent sealed. Select the manual or “pressure cook” mode on your multi-cooker and set cooking time for 10 minutes. Perform a quick pressure release, then unlock and remove the lid.
Slow Cooker: Heat on high for 4 hours, medium for 6 hours, or low for 8 hours.
5. Stir in parsley. Taste and add salt as desired. Serve hot with rice and garnish with chopped nuts.
Bourbon Apple Dump Cake
A short and sweet treat! We start by making our own boozy pie filling, then we layer veg-friendly cake mix and plant-based butter (like Earth Balance or Miyoko’s) on top and set it to steam in a multi-cooker. You’ll have more space to make this in a slow cooker, so I recommend doubling the recipe if you’re using that method. Apples are in season right now in North Carolina, but you can swap the fruit for peaches, cherries or other berries as well!
- 3 cups of apples, peeled, cored and sliced
- ¾ cup organic sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp mace, or nutmeg
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ cup bourbon whiskey, chilled, divided
- 2 heaping tablespoons of cornstarch
- ½ of 15oz box of veg-friendly cake mix (check Duncan Hines brand!)
- ⅓ cup of plant-based butter, cut into thin pats
- 2.5 cups of water
1. Set multi-cooker to Sauté and preheat for 2 minutes. Add apples, sugar, lemon juice, mace or nutmeg, cinnamon and 2 tbsp of the whiskey in the pot and stir to dissolve the sugar, about 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, mix cornstarch and the remainder of the cold whiskey to form a slurry. Add to pot before the apple mixture comes to a boil, and mix well. Continue to stir until it just comes to a boil and is thick and glossy.
3. Turn off multi-cooker and remove apple filling. Clean pot thoroughly.
4. Spray a round, oven-safe baking dish with cooking spray (or oil pan thoroughly with a neutral-tasting oil). Spread apple mixture at the bottom of the dish. Top with about ½ of the dry cake mix. Don’t use the whole box!
5. Top with pats of butter in a single layer, covering as much of the cake mix as possible.
6. Place a trivet in the bottom of the multi-cooker, and put the baking dish on top of it. Add 2.5 cups of water. Set to manual mode and set timer for 25 minutes.
7. Do a quick release, and insert a toothpick into the cake mix (it should come out clean).
8. Scoop out a serving with a big spoon and serve plain or with non-dairy ice cream.
4. Spread ½ box of cake mix onto the top of the filling, then cover cake mix with pats of plant-based butter.
5. Cook on low setting for 4 hours, or until top is golden brown.
6. Scoop out a serving with a big spoon and serve plain or with non-dairy ice cream.