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How To Make Meat Tender In A Pressure Cooker

Published by: Maria Kelley • Updated: February 6, 2024 • Checked By: Chef Matty Riedel

Why does pressure cooking deliver astonishingly tender and juicy meats every time? It’s all about understanding the principles and applying the right techniques. This guide focuses squarely on the methods that turn stringy, tough cuts into luxurious, fork-tender delights. With clarity and precision, you’re about to master the art of “how to make meat tender in a pressure cooker”—creating meaty masterpieces with ease and confidence.

Key Takeaways

  • Pressure cooking tenderises tougher cuts of meat by creating a high-pressure environment that speeds up cooking and retains moisture, making dishes taste like they’ve been simmered for hours.
  • Suitable cuts of meat for pressure cooking include fatty cuts of beef like ribs and chuck roast, pork shoulder and ribs, chicken thighs and drumsticks; these cuts break down well under high pressure, enhancing flavour and tenderness.
  • Key preparation steps for pressure cooking meats include marinating for flavour, browning for a crust and depth of taste, and trimming excess fat while keeping some for juiciness; also, proper liquid ratio and understanding pressure release methods are crucial for optimal results.

The Art of Pressure Cooking: Unlocking Tender and Juicy Meats

Various cuts of beef, pork, and chicken with pressure cookers (How To Make Meat Tender In A Pressure Cooker)

Imagine coming home after a long day and sitting down to a tender beef stew or juicy pulled pork cooked to perfection with minimal fuss. This is the promise of pressure cooking, a time-honoured method that has been given a modern twist with appliances like the Instant Pot. At its core, pressure cooking is about simplicity and speed.

But how does this process maximize the flavour and texture of your meat dishes?

How Pressure Cooking Works

Pressure cooking creates a high-pressure environment inside the cooker, which raises the boiling point of the flavorful liquid and enables rapid, uniform cooking. This environment reduces cooking times, allows the meat to retain moisture, and tenderizes tougher cuts, leading to soft, juicy, and rich flavour. It’s a process that is as fascinating as useful, especially when cooking meat. Attending a pressure cooking school can be a great option for those interested in mastering this technique.

Benefits Of Pressure Cooking For Meat Dishes

Pressure cooking saves time and intensifies the taste of pressure-cooking meats in two distinctive ways. Firstly, the higher temperature extracts flavour from the meat quickly. Secondly, the presence of water helps break down collagen in the meat, resulting in a more flavorful and tender texture.

This is why pressure-cooked meat dishes often taste as if they’ve been simmering for hours, even though they’re ready in a fraction of the time.

Choosing The Right Cuts Of Meat For Pressure Cooking

Selection of beef cuts for pressure cooking

In learning how to make meat tender in a pressure cooker, you need to understand the suitable cuts of meat. While it’s possible to pressure cook all types of meat, certain cuts respond especially well to this method, resulting in more tender and flavorful dishes.

Now, I’ll examine the most suitable beef, pork, and chicken cuts for pressure cooking.

Best Cuts For Beef

Regarding beef, cheaper, fatty cuts are ideal for pressure cooking. These include:

  • Ribs
  • Chuck roast
  • Round roast
  • Shoulder

These cuts have a high connective tissue content, which breaks down under pressure to create a tender, juicy meat bursting with flavour.

Best Cuts For Pork

For pork, cuts like the shoulder, ribs, and pork butt work exceptionally well in a quality pressure cooker. The connective tissue in these cuts breaks down beautifully under high pressure, resulting in succulent and tender pork dishes.

Best Cuts For Chicken

With its lean meat and versatile flavour, chicken works well in a pressure cooker. Cuts like the thighs, drumsticks, and wings, especially when bone-in and skin-on, are perfect for pressure cooking. They maintain their juiciness and take on a wonderful flavour and texture.

Preparing Your Meat For Pressure Cooking

Seasoning and marinating meat for pressure cooking

After selecting your cuts, the following step involves preparing your meat for pressure cooking. This involves seasoning, marinating, browning, searing, and trimming excess fat. Each of these steps contributes significantly to delivering optimal results.

Seasoning And Marinating

Seasoning and marinating your meat can make a difference in the end result. A good seasoning blend or marinade adds flavour and tenderizes the meat.

The marinating time can vary depending on the type of meat, but generally, the longer the meat marinates, the more flavorful it becomes.

Browning And Searing

Browning and searing your meat before pressure cooking can significantly enhance the dish’s flavour and appearance. This step creates a flavorful crust and adds depth to the overall taste. It’s a quick process that can transform your pressure-cooked meat dishes.

Trimming Excess Fat

While fat can add flavour and juiciness to your meat, too much can make your dish greasy. Therefore, it’s important to trim any excess fat from your meat before pressure cooking.

However, be careful not to remove all the fat, as it enhances the meat’s water-holding capacity, lubricates the muscle fibres during cooking, and contributes to increasing tenderness of the cooked meat.

Essential Tips For Successful Pressure Cooking

High-pressure aluminum cooking pot with safety cover
High-pressure aluminium cooking pot with safety cover

With your meat now prepared, we’ll examine some valuable advice for successful pressure cooking. These include maintaining the proper liquid ratio, adhering to cooking time guidelines, and understanding natural and quick-release methods.

Proper Liquid Ratio

Maintaining the appropriate liquid ratio is a key factor in pressure cooking. This is because the liquid in the pot creates the steam necessary to build and maintain pressure. While the exact amount can vary based on the type of meat and the recipe, a general rule of thumb is to use at least 1 to 1.5 cups of liquid, ensuring there’s enough liquid for the process.

Cooking Time Guidelines

Like conventional cooking methods, the cooking duration in pressure cooking is important. However, adjusting your cooking times is important because pressure cooking is much faster. Many online resources provide general cooking time charts for meats in pressure cookers, covering a variety of meats, including:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Turkey
  • Chicken

Natural vs. Quick Release Methods

How you release the pressure in your pressure cooker can significantly impact your meat’s texture and flavour. The natural release method allows the pressure to decrease gradually, helping the meat to relax and reabsorb its own moisture, while the quick release method can lead to less tender and less juicy meat. Understanding the difference between these two methods and the role of the pressure release valve can help you achieve the best results.

Popular Pressure-Cooked Meat Recipes

Delicious pressure-cooked beef stew

You’ve learned the basics of pressure cooking, chosen the right cuts of meat, prepared them properly, and mastered the essential tips for successful pressure cooking.

Now, I’ll combine all these tips and tricks with some favoured pressure-cooked meat recipes.

Beef Stew

Nothing says comfort food quite like a hearty beef stew. With your pressure cooker, you can achieve tender, succulent chunks of beef in a rich, flavorful broth in a fraction of the time it would take with traditional cooking methods.

This recipe uses ingredients like cubed beef stew meat, onions, crushed tomatoes, carrots, celery, and potatoes. All pressure-cooked to perfection.

Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is another favourite that’s made easily with a pressure cooker. This simple recipe involves mixing vinegar, sugar, spices, garlic, onion granules, ketchup, and mustard.

Add a pork shoulder to the mix and pressure cook it to achieve flavorful and tender pulled pork.

Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs are a versatile and flavorful cut that is perfect for pressure cooking. This easy recipe uses simple seasonings like paprika, oregano, garlic powder, butter and mushrooms to create a dish that’s sure to impress.

10 Quick & Easy Pressure Cooker Recipes for Busy Weeknights

Troubleshooting Common Pressure Cooking Mistakes

No matter how careful you are, mistakes can happen when cooking. But don’t worry; most common pressure cooking mistakes are easy to remedy. Here, we’ll address several frequent issues, including overcooked or undercooked meat, excess liquid, and meat adhering to the pot’s bottom.

Overcooked Or Undercooked Meat

If your meat turns out overcooked or undercooked, don’t panic. Overcooked meat can be simmered in a little bit of liquid or broth or cooked longer over low heat to help tenderize it.

To properly cook meat, undercooked meat can be cooked for a little longer until it reaches the desired level of doneness.

Too Much Liquid

If you find too much liquid in your pot after pressure cooking, you can use the Saute mode to evaporate some excess cooking liquid. This will help to concentrate the flavours and thicken your dish to the desired consistency.

Meat Sticking To The Bottom Of The Pot

If the meat sticks to the bottom of your pressure cooker, you can prevent this by using a wire rack to elevate the meat or lightly coating the bottom of the cooker with a non-stick cooking spray.

If the meat does stick, soaking the pot in warm, soapy water can help to loosen the food and make cleaning easier.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Keep Meat Moist In A Pressure Cooker?

To keep the meat moist in a pressure cooker, add enough liquid, such as broth, water, or juices, to create steam and soften the connective tissue in the meat, helping it stay juicy.

Should Meat Be Covered With Liquid In A Pressure Cooker?

Yes, meat should only be covered with enough liquid for the pressure cooker to reach pressure, as the meat will release its own juices and braise in that flavorful liquid. Using fresh herbs is also recommended.

Is Meat More Tender In The Slow Cooker Or Pressure Cooker?

Meat is more tender in a slow cooker because it excels at turning tough cuts of meat into fork-tender delicacies.

Do I Need To Brown Meat Before Pressure Cooking?

Browning meat before pressure cooking isn’t necessary, but it adds rich flavour. It’s recommended for enhancing the taste but not essential if time is limited.

Which Cuts Of Meat Are Best For Pressure Cooking?

For pressure cooking, ideal cuts of meat include beef ribs, chuck steak, round roast, shoulder, and pork shoulder. These cuts are cheaper and fatty, making them perfect for cooking under pressure.

How To Make Meat Tender In A Pressure Cooker: Summary

Pressure cooking is an incredible method that can transform your home cooking. By understanding the basics, choosing the right cuts of meat, preparing them properly, and following essential tips, you can master the art of pressure cooking and create tender, juicy meats that will impress your family and guests.

Maria Kelley