Pot-in-Pot Method for the Instant Pot

On April 19, 2017 by Once a Month Meals

You got your Instant Pot out of the box, you did the water test, made rice,  sautéed something, made some soup and now you’re feeling pretty good about your fancy new appliance – you are ready to take it to the next level!

You’re ready to try “Pot-in-Pot” (PIP) – but what is it exactly, why do you need to do it, how do you do it, and is it ok to stick plastic in your Instant Pot (the answer is no – by the way)?

Have no fear!

We are here to answer all your Instant Pot Pot-in-Pot questions!

So you’ll be well on your way to Instant Pot status level – Expert, in no time!

What is Pot-in-Pot Method?

PIP is essentially using an oven safe dish to cook your meal, side or dessert in, and placing it in your Instant Pot. Simply put, you are putting another “pot” into the “Instant Pot.”

When and Why would I want to use Pot-in-Pot Method?

There are several reasons you might like to use the PIP method, including but not limited to:

  • Reheating meals
  • Cooking meals not on direct heat – such as those with low liquid content or those you don’t want sitting in liquid
  • For a recipe you’ve made before that stuck to the bottom of the pot
  • Desserts such as cakes or cheesecakes
  • Preparing multiple items at once, for example: rice and honey bourbon chicken.

Here’s what you need to successfully pull off the Pot-in-Pot Method:

Things to Note about Pot-in-Pot Method:

At Once a Month Meals we’re all about that cook-from-frozen life (reason 5,430 why we love the Instant Pot) but it’s important that you know:

*You NEVER want to put a frozen glass bowl straight into the Instant Pot to pressure cook.*

You can put frozen contents into a room temperature bowl to cook, just not frozen contents in a frozen glass bowl as you risk the glass cracking due to a sudden change in temperature.

We recommend that you freeze your meal in a freezer bag, molded to your dish rather than the dish itself.

Here’s how you do that successfully:

  1. Place a freezer bag inside the dish you want to cook in. We highly recommend using an oven safe pan or dish, not glass.
  2. Fold the sides of that freezer bag over the edges of that dish.
  3. Put your meal and food contents inside the freezer bag, so the freezer bag sits full inside your dish. Seal the filled freezer bag.
  4. Place the dish with the sealed, full freezer bag into the freezer so that the meal freezes in the shape of your pan/bowl.
  5. Once frozen solid, remove the freezer bag from your dish. Place your meal back into your freezer and your dish back into storage!
  6. When ready to serve, locate the dish you originally froze your meal in, and place the frozen meal back inside of that pan or bowl.

Now that you’ve got the basics down, you’re ready to get started!

STEP 1: Stick your trivet in the bottom of your pot. If you’re cooking something on the bottom (like rice) go ahead and add that first. If not, go ahead add your liquid to the Instant Pot – minimum half a cup.

STEP 2: Earlier we referenced the sling, this is not something you have to do, but sometimes it might be hard to retrieve your container so this will help. To craft a foil sling you can fold the foil into thirds for reinforcement. Place your bowl on top of the sling and pull the sides up.

STEP 3: With your bowl in the sling, put your bowl (and foil sling) on top of the trivet. Hold the bowl steady as you put it in the Instant Pot to set and cook.

STEP 4: Set and forget! Cook according to your recipes directions and you’re good to go!

And that is Pot-in-Pot!

Below is a list of things you might want/need to complete the PIP method, but we encourage you not to buy a bunch of accessories for IP until you’re super familiar with it. That’s like buying a bunch of new gym outfits before ever having stepped foot in the gym!

See this method done in real time!

Finally, if you’d like to see Pot in Pot done live – you might like to watch this video. We might add this video was done with things already laying around the house (no new purchases!).

Pot-in-Pot Method FAQ

How do I determine how long to cook for if I’m cooking two things like rice and chicken?

When cooking more than one thing while using the Pot-in-Pot method, you’ll determine your time based on what you’re cooking on the trivet. For example, if you’re making rice and chicken – you’ll cook for the amount of time the chicken will need since the chicken will be in a separate bowl on the trivet, and the rice in the bottom.

Meat usually needs to cook longer than rice, won’t my rice get soggy?

Actually, nope!

How do I determine if the trivet should be right side up or upside down?

Typically, you want your trivet to be right side up. You might like your trivet upside down if your trivet is too high or if you wanted to stack more things so you needed to watch the height. In place of a trivet, you could try a steam basket as well if you really need the space.

How do I determine which type of dish to use (Pyrex, Springform, etc.)

Determining what type of “pot” to use in your pot really depends on what you’re cooking. If you’re making a cheesecake it might make more sense to use a springform pan, whereas if you’re making meat, it might make more sense to use pyrex. It ultimately won’t make or break your meal either way! Just make sure it’s oven safe!

More Instant Pot resources:

Instant Pot Tips and Tricks 101 - FB Instant Pot Tips & Tricks 201 - FB 

  50 Instant Pot Freezer Meals  Transform Freezer Cooking with an Instant Pot

Pot-in-Pot Method for the Instant Pot - your recipe calls for this method but you need to know how to do it properly.


Join the discussion
  1. Thank you so much for posting this information. I am fairly new to the Instant Pot craze, and am anxious to expand my recipes with it. This form of freezing food is genius, thanks again.

  2. Can I us aluminum foil as the pot going into my pot? I’m thinking of a foil wrap like I use on the grill or perhaps forming a bowl from aluminum foil. Would be easier than attempting to freeze in a specific shape.

    1. Sure, you’ll just want to make sure you use enough so it’s durable. You can put anything in your pot that is oven-safe.

  3. Hi, I have a lot of pyrex storage containers. They say microwave safe and no broiler but do not specify that they are oven safe. Do you think they would be okay to put in the instant pot?

  4. I want to make scalloped potatotes pip! My recipe only calls for 1 minute when I do them right in my isp. I want to cook meat loaf at the same time wrapped in foil. How ling do you think the scalloped potatoes would take to cook pip?

  5. Is there a minimum amount of space that needs to be around the pot you are cooking in and the inner pot of the instant pot? I have a 7 inch spring form pan that “just” fits in my 6 quart pot. Is this safe? Thanks!

  6. Thanks for expanding my Horizons! I’ve been using my Electric Pressure Cooker for almost 3 yrs now; often multiple days.
    But can’t wait to give this technique a try

  7. I am hearing impaired and can’t understand the speaking. I would gratefully appreciate the ability to read what is being said.

  8. Do you have any recipes or tips for using a tiffin in the instant pot? I have a two container tiffin that fits but have not tried it yet.

  9. I have a few questions about techniques using a closed pot.

    If one has a pudding mold with a air lid – does one use the lid inside the instant pot with the instant pot’s lid on? Would it create a vacuum?

    Can we use the instant pot as a bain marie? (Steaming, Pressuring cooking, or sauteing with water higher than the trivet? Would the lid be on or off?)

    1. Hi Eliza! You wouldn’t use the lid inside of the instant pot. And yes! The Instant Pot can be used as a bain marie. Recipes will vary for how much water to use, but you would be using 1-2 cups and covering the contents with foil to keep the condensation from creeping in. I hope that helps!

  10. I understand the danger of the glass cracking when going straight from the freezer to the IP. Is there a safe way to heat a chilled Pyrex full of chilled food straight from the fridge in the IP? Start on warm for a few minutes? Or is it best just to transfer refrigerated food to a room temperature dish?

  11. I don’t want to use plastic bags to mold my food to the pyrex for freezer storage. Any other suggestions for freezer storage options that would not dirty another dish or allow me to put said dish directly from the freezer to the IP? Thanks!

    1. I’m sorry…We have not found any that would not require another dish 🙁 While the pyrex would fit, the change in temperature from freezer to cooking in the IP would cause it to break. If you find something, though, be sure to let us know!

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