Easy Side Dishes You Can Make In Your Instant Pot

Sides dishes don't have to take a back seat to the main dish; they can shine brightly and dominate the dinner table. They may not be the star of the show at mealtime, but some people place a lot of thought into planning out and preparing side dishes. Each dish ought to compliment or pair well with the main dish, but can stand alone, too. A simple salad goes well with virtually anything and can become a highly sought-after side dish by dressing it up with slices of purple onions, homemade croutons, fresh cherry tomatoes, and bits of broccoli. Drizzled with an oil-based vinaigrette and the salad bowl will be empty in no time.

When tossed with a tablespoon of olive oil, spritzed with the fresh lemon juice, and blanketed with rich Parmesan, asparagus fresh off the grill tastes divine. But if you're short on time, you can't necessarily dedicate much of your pre-meal prep work to fixing time-consuming fantastic side dishes. So what is the solution? An Instant Pot.

This multi-cooker not only saves space, as it replaces some other kitchen appliances, but it also saves time. It's almost a miracle worker for mealtime and can steam, cook rice, warm up food, and more. The first Instant Pot happens to be only 11 years old but has become a staple in many kitchens. Read on to discover some exceptionally delicious side dishes and enjoy!

Spectacular Spanish rice

Bursting with flavor, Spanish rice pairs perfectly with many dishes. In fact, some people prefer to spread Spanish rice across their fajita before adding veggies and meat. If Taco Tuesday is a favorite meal at your house, then Spanish rice must make an appearance. You could stand over the stove and stir the rice and seasonings together in a pot of water, waiting forever for it to reach a boil, or you could quickly whip up a batch in your Instant Pot in no time at all.

This recipe for Spanish rice shaves 30 minutes off of the overall cooking time thanks to the use of an Instant Pot. The multi-functional cooking appliance allows you to control just how spicy — or not — your Spanish rice recipe turns out. It calls for long-grain rice, but also broth and salsa. The flavorful spices and seasonings include a finely minced clove of garlic, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Kick it up a notch and add in jalapenos, fresh cilantro, lime, and avocado.

Simply saute the rice in avocado oil in the Instant Pot, then toss in the garlic, and add the broth, spices, and salsa. Now all you have to do is latch the lid shut, seal, and pressure cook the ingredients on high pressure for 5 minutes. That's it! Once it's done, fluff with a fork and dive right on in!

Intriguing Instant Pot potatoes

If you go ga-ga for twice-baked potatoes then you'll love this recipe that speeds up the cooking process by using an Instant Pot. Not only do they taste fantastic but these twice-baked potatoes take only 15 minutes to prep before they are popped into the Instant Pot. You can even prep the potatoes in advance.

A yummy batch of Instant Pot twice-baked potatoes takes medium-to-large-sized potatoes, a cup of water, butter, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, or a similar substitute that melts well, milk or plant-based milk like unsweetened almond milk, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. The sky's the limit when it comes to the toppings. You could use bacon bits, scallions, black olives, parsley, and even red pepper flakes or sliced jalapenos if you want to take it up a notch.

The Instant Pot comes into play after you wash and dry the potatoes, then poke them half a dozen times with a fork so they don't explode, and coat the inside of your machine with potato filling. The potatoes bake inside the Instant Pot for 13 to 15 minutes, then after the timer goes off, the pot needs to naturally release for an additional 10 minutes. After cooling, slice off the top third of each tater and simply scoop out most of their insides. A little more work, some delicious toppings, and these will be ready in no time at all.

Luscious cilantro lime rice

Virtually every Mexican restaurant serves up a side of incredible rice with the main dish. Some people eat the rice alone while others swirl it around with the side of refried beans for a mouthful of deliciousness. We have a recipe for cilantro lime rice that tastes unlike any other rice dish you've enjoyed before — but with a twist. Thanks to an Instant Pot, it takes just 20 minutes to prep and cook the rice, freeing you up to fix the main dish while it's cooking. 

The beauty of this recipe is that the rice doesn't have to be the side dish superstar on Taco Tuesday or with Mexican fare, because it would taste fantastic alongside grilled chicken or baked fish, too. It can even be infused with black beans for an extra pack of protein and scooped up on tortilla chips.

All you'll need for this recipe, aside from your Instant Pot, is rice, water, butter, salt, lime juice, chopped cilantro, lime zest, and a bit more salt. The Instant Pot makes quick work of the rice in around four minutes– but be sure to allow the dish to rest for 10 minutes once it's done cooking. When it's ready, simply fluff with a fork, stir in the rest of the lime juice, cilantro, lime zest, then salt and enjoy!

Tantalizing Thai fried rice

Whether you're a whiz with chop sticks or have to revert to using a fork, you won't be able to shovel this Thai fried rice into your mouth fast enough. It's truly a spicy bowl of deliciousness that will have you clamoring for seconds. What's even better than this dish's tantalizing taste is the fact that it's bursting with veggies, protein-packed chicken bites, and takes hardly any time at all thanks to the Instant Pot. 

All you'll need for this Instant Pot Thai fried rice recipe is jasmine rice, water, olive oil, half a white onion, a red bell pepper, crushed ginger, chicken thighs, eggs, cashews, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sriracha, and scallions. The first thing you'll do is dump the rice and water into the Instant Pot, stirring to combine, then pressure cook for three minutes. Allow it to naturally release and meanwhile, dice up the chicken. When the rice is ready, remove it from the Instant Pot and place in it the olive oil, onion, bell pepper, and ginger, then saute. Toss in the chicken and cook another 10 minutes. Put the rice back in along with two beaten eggs, for that classic fried rice flavor.

Once the soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sriracha have been mixed together, pour over the fried rice then infuse the dish with cashews and scallions, stir one last time, and voila! It's now ready to eat.

Instant Pot baked beans are the bomb

If you love baked beans with your burgers, ribs, or shredded bbq pork sandwich, then you'll fall hard for these baked beans prepared in the Instant Pot. They're great for a picnic, barbecue, tailgating party, or other fun event where a saucy side dish is needed. Just grab a bag of dry beans — preferably Northern, pinto, or navy beans — along with salt, bacon, a yellow onion, a green bell pepper, ketchup, spicy brown mustard, your favorite barbecue sauce, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and liquid smoke.

This is probably one of the easiest side dishes you'll ever make and the beans cook in just 25 minutes. Once the 25 minutes are up, remove the lid off the pot, strain, and rinse the beans. You can saute the bacon in the Instant Pot until crispy, then add in the chopped onion and bell pepper. The bacon grease will help soften the veggies and add a scrumptious flavor.

When added to the veggies and bacon, the barbecue sauce, ketchup, spicy brown mustard, vinegar, liquid smoke, and brown sugar give this dish that sweet flavor that really comes through. Be sure to return the beans to the Instant Pot for another 15 minutes so that every ounce of flavor can meld together. Trust us, every forkful of Instant Pot baked beans will have you clamoring for more.

Magnificent loaded mashed potatoes

Most of the time, mashed potatoes are a bland side dish unless they're smothered with gravy. Sure, you can add cheese or garlic for a little bit of a kick, but that's nothing compared to the flavor found in this recipe for Instant Pot loaded mashed potatoes. Homemade mashed potatoes require you to boil peeled potatoes in a pot on the stovetop, but with this version, you simply pop the peeled potatoes into an Instant Pot, which cuts both prep time and cook time in half.

You'll slip slices of bacon into the oven on a baking sheet until sizzling, then cook chopped-up potatoes with whole garlic cloves in the Instant Pot. For extra flavor, slip in a veggie bouillon cube and water, then cook the taters on high for 20 minutes. This method helps keep your stovetop clean, because almost always the pot for mashed potatoes boils over.

This exceptionally delicious recipe gets a flavor boost from the garlic, but they reach a whole 'nother level when you add in the bacon, cheese, and green onion, along with the warmed milk and sour cream. Another great thing about this recipe is it can be modified to fit your taste buds, so you can leave out the diced onions or add in jalapenos. You'll love how easy it is to prepare and clean up after whipping up this loaded mashed potato recipe in the Instant Pot.

Rich and aromatic lentils and rice

If your cooking routine has become mundane and you need to spice it up a bit, try this Instant Pot lentils and rice recipe that's perfect when you're short on time. It tastes fantastic fresh out of the Instant Pot and even better warmed up as leftovers the next day. The entire recipe comes together in just half an hour, making dinner a breeze. 

Full of flavor, this recipe uses vegetable stock cubes, long-grain rice, green lentils, an onion, bell peppers, curry powder, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Turmeric offers a multitude of health benefits, not to mention it casts an orange-brown hue on the rice. After you wash the rice to rid it of any extra starch that can make it sticky, pour it into the Instant Pot and add the chopped veggies. Add in four cups of water, the vegetable stock cubes, green lentils, and the rest of the ingredients, then turn it on and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes.

When the rice is done, allow the Instant Pot to release for 15 minutes then fluff the rice. This vibrantly colored side dish pairs perfectly with grilled chicken or steak, even a pork chop or fish. It even tastes terrific as a topper on a salad or as a sidekick to hummus and pita chips.