The Instant Pot is an electric multi-cooker that promises to shrink cook times while requiring less energy and effort. It’s a popular choice for making beans, soups, grains, and tough cuts of meat, but what about baked potatoes? With the word “baked” in the name of the dish you might not think to use a pressure cooker, but there’s plenty of reasons to turn to the device for the classic side dish.
- It’s quick. Baking potatoes in the oven can take an hour. Pressure cooking spuds takes about 15 minutes, and with pressure build and release time, they’re done in around 30 minutes. Plus, the pot won’t heat up your kitchen like an oven, making it a nice summertime option.
- It’s easy. Once you program the Instant Pot and lock on the lid you can walk away knowing the device will take care of everything.
- It’s good for meal prep. Most Instant Pots have a delay start feature, allowing you to prep the potatoes, arrange everything in the pot, lock the lid, and set it to start cooking whenever you like to ensure you’ll have piping hot baked potatoes when you want them.
- They’ll cook perfectly. The high-pressure steam environment helps keep the potatoes nice and moist. Ivy Manning, author of multiple Instant Pot cookbooks including “Instant Pot Family Meals,” likes the “very fluffy interiors” you get from pressure cooking.
Picking your potato
While you can cook any kind of potato in the Instant Pot, there’s one winning choice for baked potatoes no matter how you cook them.
“If you’re looking for the classic, fluffy baked potato, choose russet potatoes,” says Manning. Sometimes labeled Idaho potatoes, look for potatoes that are firm with no soft or dark spots and give them a good scrub before using. If you’re cooking multiple potatoes, choose the same size so they cook at the same rate.
Smaller or medium-sized potatoes are best, but any size will do as long as they fit on the trivet — the stainless steel rack that comes standard with every Instant Pot — in a single layer.
“Steam circulation won’t be able to cook evenly when they’re stacked up. I’d recommend four or fewer, depending on the size,” explains Manning.
What about sweet potatoes?
While sweet potatoes can also be cooked in the Instant Pot, they have different cook times. Sweet potatoes are from a different botanical family and don’t cook the same as russet potatoes.
Depending on their size, sweet potatoes can take a range of time to pressure cook — anywhere from 15 minutes for especially small ones (6-inch or less circumference) to 45 minutes for really thick ones (10- or 12-inch circumference).
Tips for the best Instant Pot baked potatoes
- Make sure your spuds match up. For consistent results, Manning recommends “choosing potatoes that are roughly of equal size so they cook evenly.” Otherwise, you may end up removing a potato or two and returning the rest to pressure, which takes extra time and effort.
- Don’t forget the trivet. This simple piece of equipment “helps keep the spuds from burning on the bottom of the pot,” says Manning.
- Add enough water… but not too much. You’ll need at least a cup for the Instant Pot to work properly, but add too much and you’ll end up with soggy, mushy potatoes. When you place the potatoes on the trivet, double-check that they are not touching the water.
- Don’t overcrowd the pot. If you’re making medium or large russet potatoes, chances are you’ll only be able to fit two or three max in a single layer.
- Leftover baked potatoes can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat in the microwave or use to make hash, twice-baked potatoes, and more. You can also freeze baked potatoes for up to a month.
While the Instant Pot doesn’t technically “bake” potatoes, it does cook them quickly and easily and yields fluffy interiors. Make sure to choose russet potatoes of the same size and don’t overcrowd the pot. If you like crispy skin, simply coat the cooked potatoes in butter or oil and bake for a few minutes.