The secret to making the most of a mini or 8 Quart Instant Pot 

Follow these simple rules for scaling Instant Pot recipes for 3 Quart and 8 Quart cookers 

By far the most popular size of Instant Pot is the 6 Quart, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place in your home for a few different sizes of cooker. Yes, the bigger Instant Pots are perfect for big batch cooking and meal prep, and yes, it’s true, the smaller Instant Pots are especially good for side dishes—“But wait!” you exclaim, “Don’t I need recipes specifically created for the 8 Quart to use it?” Absolutely not! Scaling 6 Quart Instant Pot recipes for 3 Quart or 8 Quart cookers is easy. 

If you’re thinking about taking the plunge into a bigger or smaller Instant Pot but aren’t sure what or how to cook in them, you’ll be happy to learn that there are simple rules for scaling recipes to work in any size. 

Adjust amounts, keep the time 

There are only two things you need to remember to use any recipe you want in any Instant Pot.  

  1. Adjust quantities of each ingredient 
    • Use half as much ingredients for a 3 Quart 
    • Use at least 2 cups of water-based liquid for an 8 Quart 
  2. Keep cooking time the same

Most recipes you’ll find for the Instant Pot are designed for a 6 Quart cooker. The amount of liquid suggested in the recipe is the right amount to bring a 6 Quart up to pressure and properly cook the dish. But that doesn’t mean they can’t also be used in a 3 or 8 QuartAnd it’s easy to do! 

Halve it all for a 3 Quart

Generally speaking, halving the quantity of each ingredient (including liquid, such as water—to a minimum of 1/2 cup total liquid) is all you need to do to turn any normal recipe from the Instant Pot site (or elsewhere) into a 3 Quart mini-friendly version. 

Told you it was easy.  

At least 2 cups liquid for an 8 Quart

If you’re trying to convert a recipe to use in an 8 Quart model, you can similarly scale things up. You’ll need at least 2 cups of liquid for the cooker to pressurize, so if there’s already at least 2 cups, you don’t need to change a thing. However, if there’s less than that you will need to adjust quantities until you have at least 2 cups of liquid.  

Most recipes can be doubled for easy scaling, just make sure your ingredients don’t exceed the MAX PC – 2/3 line. 

Don’t change cooking times

No matter what size of Instant Pot you’re using, the cooking time listed in the recipe doesn’t change. If it takes 10 minutes in a 6 Quart, it still takes 10 minutes in a 3 Quart or an 8 Quart. Only the amounts of ingredients would change. 

Really? The time stays the same?

Yep! Regardless of the size, once an Instant Pot pressurizes they all require the same amount of time to cook no matter how much food there is. So whether you want to cook one carrot or one bushel of carrots, it will take the same amount of time to cook. That said, with more ingredients, it may take a bit longer for the cooker to come up to pressure, and similarly, to depressurize after cooking. 

Just make sure it all fits without going over the MAX PC—2/3 fill line, and that there is enough liquid for the cooker to pressurize, and you’ll be fine 

How much liquid do I need?

Depending where you look, you may find different recommendations for the amount of liquid required to pressure cook in an Instant Pot. 

After considerable experimentation, the experts in our Instant Pot test kitchen consider the minimum liquid amounts to be ½ cup for a mini (3 Quart), 1 cup for a 6 Quart, and 2 cups for an 8 Quart cooker. Unless otherwise directed in your recipe, ensure there is at least this much liquid present. Any less, and you’re asking for less-than-optimal results. Not only will your cooker struggle to ever reach pressure, but at best you’ll get a crummy meal; at worst, a ruined cooker.  

Less liquid = faster pressurization

The advantage to using less liquid is that it takes less time to reach pressure – you know, that awkward waiting period while things heat up before your Instant Pot beeps and the time starts counting down. 

We are busy, hungry people. We like fast. 

What are the exceptions?

Like all general rules, there are times when it doesn’t always work. For example, some recipes require specific amounts of liquid because the food is absorbing it, such as pasta, rice, or oatmeal. In these recipes, make sure the ratio of liquid to absorbing ingredient stays the same, whether you’re scaling down to a mini or up to an 8 Quart.  

Why would I want a Quart mini?

Apart from being really, really cute, the 3 Quart mini size is actually great addition to your kitchen! The smaller size uses up less countertop real estate and makes it easier to store. Plus, if you’re cooking for only 1 or 2 people, it might be all you ever need.  

A lot of families find that having a 3 Quart as a secondary cooker is really useful for making side dishes. You can cook rice or steam veggies in the mini while its bigger, brawnier sibling is making quick work of your main course. 

What’s good about an 8 Quart?

The best thing about the 8 Quart is its capacity for “more”More food, more family, more leftovers!  

The bigger volume of an 8 Quart cooker means you can cook a ton of food at once, making it a breeze to feed a larger family or make big batches for parties, freezing, or weekly meal prep. 

The only thing you don’t get “more” of is clean-up—the true beauty of one-pot cooking! 

Go forth and cook!

There you have it. If not knowing how to adjust recipes was the only thing stopping you from getting or using a different sized Instant Pot, consider that problem solved.  

Just remember—adjust the amounts, keep the time. It’s that easy. 

Give me recipes!

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Learn more tips and tricks 

If you found this information useful, think about subscribing to The Dish, Instant Pot’s weekly newsletter. You’ll get more tips and tricks like this, along with great recipes and meal plan ideas sent directly into your inbox. 

21 replies
    • Instant Pot
      Instant Pot says:

      Hi Janet,

      It is up to you.

      If the smart program doesn’t stop after cooking time is up, automatic keep-warm was selected when setting the program.

      You can cancel when the cooking time is complete or leave it on as it is in automatic keep warm for up to 10 hours.

      Please note that with automatic Keep-warm on, it will take longer to depressurize.

  1. Shirley Hopkins
    Shirley Hopkins says:

    I read a review about the app that said the subscriber was charged a fee without being told in advance. Can you elaborate on that issue?

  2. iris
    iris says:

    I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find answer to this question:
    Can I bake IP cake recipes in an 8 qt IP? Seems like recipes indicate to put into a 6 qt, and I just bought an 8 qt.
    Please answer my question. Thank you in anticipation of a response.

    • Instant Pot
      Instant Pot says:

      Hi iris,

      Yes they can be made in the 8 quart. Follow the same recipe but add half a cup more water to the bottom of the inner pot.

  3. Catherine
    Catherine says:

    Can I cook Beans in an Instant Pot mini (3quart) if I just half the recipes for the 6 quart one? There doesn’t seem to be a button that says beans on mine.

    • Instant Pot
      Instant Pot says:

      Hi Catherine,

      That is correct, just ensure the water and beans when added doesn’t pass the 1/2 mark which is the maximum for expandable foods.

  4. V. J. Heins
    V. J. Heins says:

    What are the guidelines and rules when cooking frozen foods? Veggies, mwars/roasts, 1/2 chickens, fish fillets, etc.??

    • Instant Pot
      Instant Pot says:

      The guidelines and rules are the same.

      You may have to increase the cooking time. Due to the time difference between Fresh and frozen isn’t exact we recommend a meat thermometer to ensure it was cooked and reached a safe temperature.

    • Instant Pot
      Instant Pot says:

      The recipes are typically designed for the 6 Quart as it is the most popular size.

      Our app has the ability to alter the serving size which will automatically alter the ingredient amounts. Increase for 8 Quart, or decrease for the mini. If you would like to cook the 6 Quart recipe in an 8 quart simply increase the liquid amount called for so there are at least 2 cups total.

    • Instant Pot
      Instant Pot says:

      Our pleasure! Check back here regularly for a new blog post and join our newsletter for more great information!


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