5 Ways to Use Your Multi-Cooker for Faster Meal Prep

5 ways to use your multi-cooker for faster meal prep

If you still love your slow cooker, you’re not alone. But the latest (and greatest) kitchen appliance is the multi-cooker. Can it cook dinner in “an instant”? Can it really do everything? Well, almost. It’s a pressure cooker, which means it can break down big roasts or beans in a fraction of the time. But it also offers many other settings, so it can also replace your slow cooker, rice cooker, and even make homemade yogurt. Most models also have a sauté function, so you can brown meats and soften aromatics before adding other ingredients and finishing everything in one pot.  

Are you sold? Do you already have one sitting on your counter? Here are five fresh ways to start using your multi-cooker for meal prep, so you can have a healthy dinner on the table in an instant.

1. Amazingly Easy-to-Peel Eggs

Cooking eggs in the intense pressure of the multi-cooker makes them especially easy to peel, so get cracking and do a dozen at a time.

Prep for success: In a multi-cooker fitted with a steaming rack, place 6 large eggs, and add 1½ cups (12 fl oz/375 ml) cold water. Cook on low pressure for 6 minutes for soft-boiled eggs, or 12 minutes for hard-boiled eggs. Carefully quick-release the pressure. Plunge the eggs into a bowl of ice water. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Fresh serving idea: Keep eggs on hand for high-protein breakfasts, snacks, and grain bowls. For a satisfying salad, toss spinach with a mustardy vinaigrette, and top with finely chopped hard-boiled eggs.

2. Better-than-Canned Homemade Beans

Dried beans can take hours to soak and simmer, but they’re a cinch to prepare in the multi-cooker. The beans will expand and create foam, but a drizzle of olive oil can help reduce all that froth. And a few beans will burst under pressure, but the convenience is worth it.

Prep for success: For Mexican-style black beans, in a multi-cooker on the sauté setting, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add 1 chopped onion, 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, and 1½ teaspoons dried oregano and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add 1½ cups (10½ oz/330 g) dried black beans, 3 cups (24 fl oz/750 ml) cold water, 2 large cloves garlic, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook on high pressure for 25 minutes. Release the pressure naturally. Drain the beans, let cool completely, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Fresh serving idea: Use black beans as the basis for soups and tacos. For a super fresh veggie main or side, fold together black beans, cooked quinoa, and sweet corn, and top with salsa fresca and sliced avocado.

3. Whole “Roasted” Chicken in Half the Time

Forget those dry rotisserie chickens. You can pressure-roast a whole chicken in just 28 minutes, and the steam makes for moist, tender meat that’s miles better than grocery store birds.

Prep for success: In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon each olive oil, Italian seasoning, and minced garlic, and ½ teaspoon salt. Rub the mixture all over a 4-lb (2-kg) chicken. In a multi-cooker fitted with a footed trivet, place the chicken, and add 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) reduced-sodium chicken stock. Cook on high pressure for 28 minutes. Carefully quick-release the pressure. Check the chicken for doneness: An instant-read thermometer should register 160°F (71°C) when inserted in the thickest part of a breast, 175°F (80°C) in the thigh. If the chicken isn’t ready, cover the multi-cooker, switch to the sauté setting, and simmer until done. Serve the chicken warm, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Fresh serving idea: Make it a one-pot meal by adding a few carrots and potatoes to the multi-cooker. If you like crispy skin, transfer the chicken to a baking sheet and broil until browned, 4 minutes. Serve with the juices in the pot.

4. Perfect Sweet Potatoes Without the Wait

Hard roots and tubers like sweet potatoes take ages in the oven, but they’re fluffy perfection in just 15 minutes in the multi-cooker.

Prep for success: Take 4 sweet potatoes (about 6 oz/185 g each), and poke them all over with a fork. In a multi-cooker fitted with a footed trivet, place the sweet potatoes, and add 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) cold water. Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. (For larger sweet potatoes, increase the cooking time.) Release the pressure naturally. Serve the sweet potatoes warm, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Fresh serving idea: Split the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise, and fill with turkey chili and a dollop of Greek yogurt. Or for a southern spin, mound with sautéed collard greens, sprinkle with toasted pecans, and drizzle lightly with maple syrup.

5. No-Fuss Fluffy Brown Rice

Whole grains feel like they take forever on the stove, and the results aren’t always the best (ever suffered through crunchy rice?) Enter the multi-cooker, which steams up perfect, fluffy brown rice every time, in a lot less time!

Prep for success: In a multi-cooker, combine 1 cup (7 oz/220 g) short-grain brown rice, 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) water, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook on high pressure for 22 minutes. (Some models even have a special “multi-grain” setting that’s worth trying.) Release the pressure naturally. Fluff the rice with a fork. Serve the brown rice warm, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Fresh serving idea: With cooked rice on hand, you can easily throw together grain bowlsstir-fries, and faux “fried” rice. For kimchi fried rice, sizzle a little chopped bacon in a wok before adding cooked brown rice and chopped kimchi and seasoning with scallions, sesame, and soy. Don’t forget to slide a fried egg on top.

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