Can a Pressure Cooker Brown Meat?

beef chunks inside the instant Pot

Pressure cookers have certainly grown in popularity among the professional culinary community as well as seasoned home cooks.

beef chunks inside the instant Pot

Instant Pot pressure cookers typically cook various food items through a tightly sealed vessel that works significantly faster than conventional methods--and saves energy. A small amount of water or broth is boiled within the pressure cooker, packing in flavor and avoiding the tendency for foods to dry out.

Pressure cooking is often used to quickly simulate the often lengthy process of long braising. Additionally, virtually any food under the sun that can be cooked in steam can benefit from pressure cooking.

ground beef inside black pot

That said, there is a popular, lingering question: can a pressure cooker brown meat?

So does a pressure cooker brown meat?

The short answer is yes--however there are some considerations. You can quickly and easily brown meat in most electric pressure cooker models, however you will need to verify if your pressure cooker supports that particular function.

There should be a small element on the base of your pressure cooker that can switch to a 'brown' setting if the model you own is specifically designed to brown beef. If not, don't fret. You can still use your pressure cooker to brown your dinner--you will just do so without using the unit's lid.

How to Brown Meat in a Pressure Cooker

So, how do you do it? It is actually quite simple.

First things first, be sure you deglaze the cooking area of the pot. Scrape out any browned bits or crumbs clinging to the bottom of the pressure cooker. It helps to use a small amount of chicken or vegetable broth, cooking wine, or even water, so these flavor packed crumbs loosen. During the cooking process, these will add rich, mouth watering flavors to your food. They will also discourage an overcooking or scorching.

How to brown beef in the Instant Pot with salt

Next, it is time to season the meat. Keep in mind, this could be anything from pork, poultry, and steaks. You may even chose to brown some select vegetables --- like bell peppers, chopped onions--both red and white--or carrots.

Whatever food you chose to brown, simply add your favorite dry rub. Some people prefer a spicy and vibrant Jamaican Jerk seasoning rub, while others like a New Orleans inspired Cajun rub made up of fresh garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, and dried thyme. If you have a less adventurous palate, it is perfectly ok to stick to a simple salt and pepper rub. Be as creative as you like!

beef chunks inside the instant Pot

Use Your Saute Function if you Have One

Now it is time to cook. Instead of using water or broth, it typically works best to add a small amount of oil to your pressure cooker to brown meats. Cold pressed, virgin olive oil works great, however you can also use organic coconut oil or canola oil. Less is more. Start with a about a tablespoon and add more oil as needed. Heat the oil in the pressure cooker over high to medium heat or press the saute button if you have an electric model.

See this post for the differences between electric and stovetop pressure cookers.

When the oil is warm, gently add the meat. Add the food slowly and ensure it browns in the oil on all sides. Leave the lid off and continue this process for about 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes has passed, take the meat out of the pressure cooker using tongs and set aside in a bowl. Now is time to use liquid. Use a small portion of your preferred pressure cooking liquid: water, stock, beer or cooking wine (about one cup is usually perfect). Once the liquid is warm, add your browned meat back in.

Now you can cook under pressure as you typically would (with the lid on). Cooking time will depend on the particular meat you are cooking, but this method guarantees a delicious, juicy and mouth watering meal. It is almost guaranteed you'll never revert back to traditional cooking methods.

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