How to Use An Instant Pot to Cook Grains

An Instant Pot can provide a great solution in the kitchen for cooking up whole grains as part of a healthy, plant-based diet—learn the basics on how you can use this handy kitchen appliance to turn whole grains into fabulous meals.

There is so much goodness to embrace in whole grains—they offer variety and versatility, nutrient-rich profiles, health benefits, satisfying taste, and delicious flavors. Whole grains are filled with B vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants, and they help promote good digestion and gut microbiota, control blood glucose levels, and protect against heart disease, which is why the Dietary Guidelines for 2020-2025 recommend getting at least three servings per day (depending on your energy needs). What’s not to love about healthy, delicious whole grains, from amaranth and brown rice, to quinoa and teff? Well, one issue comes into play: the time challenge of cooking whole grains, which can take up to an hour to cook. Bring on the Instant Pot to transform any whole grain from dry to cooked and delicious in no time. For those of us in a rush or who have little to no time to prepare a scrumptious plant-based meal with whole grains, Instant Pots have come to the rescue and are here to stay.

Your Instant Pot can take whole grains to the next level in no time!

Get to Cooking Whole Grains with an Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is a seven-in-one multi-functional cooker that has gained popularity for their pressure-cooking function, which cooks whole grains quickly. It can also serve as a slow cooker, baking container, rice maker, Dutch oven, and yogurt maker. But it’s the pressure cooking aspect that people really love when it comes to cooking up whole grains, because it can fully cook any type in less than thirty minutes. The time factor is the true benefit of an Instant Pot, which means you can get a healthy meal on the table in about half the time. You also can use the rice maker or crock pot function in the same appliance to cook up rice and oatmeal. In fact, with your Instant Pot you can do it all.

Use the Instant Pot to cook up oatmeal to make recipes like this Savory Steel Cut Oats with Spinach, Mushrooms and Tofu.

While conventional stove top cooking for grains and rice can seem simple, while preparing multiple items for dinner, it can become overwhelming to keep track of your grains. The next thing you know, your quinoa is burning, or your barley is overcooked and mushy. One way to avoid this headache in the kitchen is to cook your grains or rice in an Instant Pot; just mix with the appropriate amount of water, set the timer, then walk away to work on other parts of your meal.

Try this recipe for Instant Pot Vegetable Barley Soup, which turns dried barley into a fabulous meal in no time.

Health Benefits of Instant Pots for Whole Grains, Too

Besides being extremely convenient and quick, the Instant Pot ensures that all of the nutrients from your grains or rice stay in the pot too. For example, the pot reduces the amount of air that comes in contact with the food, which helps preserve vitamin B6, a water-soluble vitamin that is volatile in air. Another benefit is that the pot helps grains retain their color and keeps their structure more intact. Lastly, the pot cooks foods evenly and fully, making foods more digestible.

Try this delightful Instant Pot Banana Brown Rice Pudding for a healthy treat.

Tips on Cooking Grains in the Instant Pot

When it comes to using your Instant Pot to cook grains and rice, it is extremely important that you put the correct amount of water or vegetable broth into the pot. There is a specific grain to water ratio recommended for each item, which will ensure that your grains do not become overly soggy or turn into a thick paste. The amount of water required for some grains is different than the amount normally used when preparing it on a stove top. To ensure you are using the correct amount of water for each grain, refer to the cooking table below.

Another tip for preparing grains and rice is to avoid filling the pot more than half full with food, since grains and rice normally expand during the cooking process. 

Use your cooked grains for grain bowls, such as this recipe for Chipotle Tomato Rice Power Bowl.

Instant Pot Grains Cooking Guide

Refer to this cooking guide from Instant Pot for the appropriate amount of water and time for cooking grains using the pressure cooking manual setting with timer.

Grains Grain: Water Ratio Cooking Time (minutes)
Barley, pearl 1: 2 ½ 20-22
Barley, pot 1:3 to 1:4 25-30
Congee, thick 1:4 to 1:5 15-20
Congee, thin 1:6 to 1:7 15-20
Couscous 1:2 2-3
Corn, dried/halved 1:3 5-6
Kamut, whole 1:2 10-12
Millet 1: 1 ¾ 10-12
Oats, quick cooking 1:2 2-3
Oats, steel-cut 1:3 3-5
Porridge, thin 1:6 to 1:7 5-7
Quinoa, quick cooking 1: 1 ¼ 1
Rice, basmati 1:1 4
Rice, brown 1:1 20-22
Rice, jasmine 1:1 4
Rice, white 1:1 4
Rice, wild 1:2 20-25
Sorghum 1:3 20-25
Spelt berries, unsoaked 1: 1 ½ 25-30
Wheat berries, unsoaked 1:3 25-30


Try this recipe for Summer Vegetarian Chili, which is a meal in one that can be cooked in the Instant Pot.

Once you get more familiar cooking whole grains in your Instant Pot, use it to create a variety of whole grains, such as wheat, amaranth, teff, quinoa, oats, sorghum, millet, brown rice, buckwheat, and rye. You can then use your cooked whole grains in grain bowls, porridges, smoothie bowls, and with curry dishes, or try using the Instant Pot to create a mixed dish, which includes grains, vegetables, and sauce all in one! Try this recipe for Summer Vegetarian Chili, which includes beans, oats, and a variety of vegetables that can be cooked in the Instant Pot. Put that Instant Pot to good use by turning that bag of whole grains into a fabulous meal in minutes!  

Try these whole grain recipes in your Instant Pot for more fabulous ideas for cooking:

Easy Cumin Brown Rice
Mulberry Hazelnut Oats with Molasses
Tex-Mex Sorghum Chili

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