Instant Pot holiday meals make the season merrier

The only time being under pressure equals less stress.

Jen Wheeler Editor / Chowhound
After 10+ years in customer service, Jen is now an editor at Chowhound and still can't believe she's basically living her childhood dream (of writing for Gourmet magazine). Naturally, she loves to eat, cook, read, and write. Baltimore-born and raised, Pacific NW-matured, she still prefers blue crabs to Dungeness.
Jen Wheeler
5 min read

'Tis the season. 

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More often than not, the holiday season is a whirlwind of tasks, from finding the perfect gift to planning and preparing at least one major meal. When it comes to cooking those holiday dinners, the Instant Pot can be a huge help -- not only making food faster and less hands-on, but freeing up your oven for all the other things you're baking, roasting and reheating.

We've covered Crock-Pot Christmas dinners, all of which will work in the Instant Pot too (since it functions as a slow cooker in addition to a pressure cooker and all the rest), but these Instant Pot Christmas dinners are designed to save you time, oven space and a measure of manual work. All the classics are accounted for, from ham and turkey to beef roast and pork loin, plus vegetarian and vegan options and even seafood if you're doing the Feast of the Seven Fishes.

Read more: The best Instant Pots of 2019

CNET editors' 2019 holiday picks

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Any of the meaty mains would be perfect with Instant Pot mashed potatoes and a simple veggie side like Instant Pot green beans. But since your stove is free, you can also make the sides and desserts in the conventional way -- unless you're lucky enough to have friends and relatives you trust to contribute to the feast. If not, no pressure. Well, you know what we mean.

Instant Pot spiral ham

A holiday ham is a must on many tables, but it doesn't have to take several hours in the oven. Make it in the Instant Pot and it comes out perfectly juicy (with a delicious pan sauce to boot) in under 30 minutes. This one is extra special thanks to the easy dry rub you apply before pressure cooking it. Get the Instant Pot spiral ham recipe.

Instant Pot roast beef

If you're more apt to ask "Where's the beef?" when it comes to the holiday dinner, Instant Pot experts Amy + Jacky have you covered. This beautifully medium-rare roast beef will leave your oven free for muffin pan popovers and will make a gorgeous gravy (but we still recommend an additional side of horseradish cream sauce, particularly for the leftover roast beef sandwiches). Get the Instant Pot roast beef recipe.

Instant Pot balsamic pork tenderloin

You might not be able to make a pork crown roast in the Instant Pot, but it turns out a peerless pork tenderloin, especially when you add a balsamic glaze. You'll want plenty of mashed potatoes to catch every last drop of that sauce. Get the Instant Pot balsamic pork tenderloin recipe.

Instant Pot turkey breast

If you have an 8-quart Instant Pot (or larger), it is possible to cook a whole turkey (albeit a small one) in the pressure cooker, but an Instant Pot rotisserie chicken is an easier alternative for smaller cookers. If you must have turkey, then this Instant Pot turkey breast recipe is a happy medium that's festive, delicious and incredibly easy. What more could you want? (Okay, maybe drumsticks.)

Instant Pot brisket

Bubbe's brisket may be hard to live up to, but a buttery Instant Pot brisket just might eclipse the gold standard. This one includes a barbecue sauce, but its honey, cinnamon, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar all taste holiday appropriate. You can leave out the liquid smoke if you want a less BBQ-forward flavor. Get the Instant Pot brisket recipe.

Instant Pot lasagna

A steaming pan of lasagna is a welcome sight on any table, and no one will mind if it's in a new circular shape due to being cooked in the Instant Pot. It won't feed quite as many mouths as the standard massive baking pan, but it's great for smaller groups or as part of a bigger spread. If you need a vegetarian main, just leave out the ground beef. Get the Instant Pot lasagna recipe.

Instant Pot lobster tails

Maybe turkey and ham just don't do it for you, or you're looking for a fancy yet low-fuss celebration dinner for New Year's Eve. Instant Pot lobster tails are great for any occasion, as long as you don't forget the melted butter. Get the Instant Pot lobster tails recipe.

Instant Pot salmon with lemon dill sauce

Don't do shellfish but still want a seafood option? This perfectly moist Instant Pot salmon feels special thanks to the creamy lemon dill sauce, but is so quick and easy it could become a new favorite weeknight dinner. Get the Instant Pot salmon with lemon dill sauce recipe.

Instant Pot vegan shepherd's pie

These individual vegan shepherd's pies are a fabulous plant-based holiday option. You cook the tempeh and mushroom based filling and the potatoes for the mashed topping in the Instant Pot, then combine them in ramekins to broil in the oven for the finishing touch. This makes enough to fill 6 ramekins, or you can make it in an 8-inch square baking pan to serve family-style. Get the Instant Pot vegan shepherd's pie recipe.

Vegan Instant Pot stuffed acorn squash

Another impressive vegan option, these stuffed acorn squash halves can be the centerpiece of a meal, or can serve as a side dish that everyone will love, meat eaters included. The chickpeas and wild rice add heft to the filling, while the crunchy pecans and sweet-tart cranberries make it even merrier. Get the vegan Instant Pot stuffed acorn squash recipe.

Instant Pot French onion soup

Soul-satisfying French onion soup can be made much more quickly in the Instant Pot, plus it only dirties one pan (not counting the soup crocks, of course, which you'll broil once each portion is topped with bread and cheese for that classic crunchy-custardy cap). Get the Instant Pot French onion soup recipe.

Instant Pot mushroom stroganoff

Another cozy comfort food option, this vegetarian stroganoff swaps in mushrooms for the usual beef -- and is humble and homey, yet rich and creamy enough to count as festive food for the holidays. Plus, it'll warm you up from the inside out. Get the Instant Pot mushroom Stroganoff recipe.