Making a healthy multi-cooker recipe

Grilling may be synonymous with breezy summer cooking, but multi-cookers are poised to become a new favorite warm-weather kitchen staple. As with grilling, you don't need to turn on the oven, and multi-cookers are more versatile in terms of functions (steaming, sautéing, slow-cooking, and pressure-cooking) and the types of food it can make.

You can use them to make big batches of healthy foods, like beans and whole grains, to serve as the basis for salads, grain bowls, and side dishes during the week. Or you can make an entire healthy meal—lean protein, whole grains, and vegetables—in one pot. To get you started, here are three healthy multi-cooker recipes from Consumer Reports' test kitchen. These recipes will work in any multi-cooker, but we used one of our top-rated models, the Instant Pot Max.

The recipe for each dish appears under the photos below.

Indian Spiced Kidney Beans

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 yellow pepper, chopped

1 tablespoon ginger, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium tomato, chopped

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 cup dried red kidney beans (soaked for 4 hours or overnight in water), drained

1½ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

5 ounces baby spinach

¼ cup chopped cilantro

16 ounces steamed riced cauliflower

1. Start the multi-cooker in sauté mode. Add oil, onion, pepper, ginger, and garlic. Stir and sauté for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and spices; sauté for 2 minutes more.

2. Add the soaked beans and broth to the multi-cooker; stir well. Close the lid with vent in sealing position. Change setting to pressure mode. Set timer for 25 minutes at high.

3. Once the multi-cooker beeps, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then manually release any remaining pressure by opening the pressure valve. Or if you have a model with a touchpad, touch the quick-release button, steering clear of the steam. 

4. Remove the lid and stir in spinach until wilted. Spoon the bean mixture over riced cauliflower or quinoa, garnish with cilantro, and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: 260 calories, 4 g fat, <1 g sat. fat, 44 g carbs, 17 g fiber, 6 g sugars, 17 g protein, 290 mg protein.

Roasted Chicken With Potatoes and Carrots

1 whole chicken (about 3 pounds)

1⁄2 lemon

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 pound small red potatoes, quartered

3 medium carrots, sliced into thick rounds

2 large leeks, cut in half lengthwise, white parts sliced into rounds, rinsed

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 bay leaf

¼ cup chopped parsley

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1. Dry chicken and squeeze lemon inside cavity, leaving it inside. Using butcher’s twine, tie the legs of the chicken together. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and half of the dried thyme and rosemary.

2. Set the multi-cooker to the sauté function and heat oil. When hot, sear the chicken, breast side down, for 3 minutes until well-browned. Using tongs to hold the chicken, brown the tops of the legs.

3. Remove chicken from the cooker and add potatoes, carrots, leeks, remaining thyme, and rosemary. Sauté for 2 minutes; add broth and bay leaf.

4. Place chicken on top of the vegetables. Close the lid with vent in sealing position. Set to manual high pressure for 6 minutes per pound (18 minutes for a 3-pound chicken).

5. Once the multi-cooker beeps, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then manually release any remaining pressure by opening the pressure valve. Or if you have a model with a touchpad, touch the quick-release button, steering clear of the steam. 

6. Transfer chicken and vegetables from the multi-cooker to a platter. Serve with the broth spooned over and sprinkled with parsley.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: 430 calories, 24 g fat, 7 g sat. fat, 21 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 4 g sugars, 31 g protein, 340 mg sodium.

Summer Farrotto

1 pound of asparagus, ends discarded, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1½ cups farro

2¼ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 cup frozen peas

1⁄3 cup grated Asiago cheese

juice of ½ lemon

¼ cup chopped parsley

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1. Start the multi-cooker in sauté mode. Add 3 tablespoons of water to the cooking insert, then add the asparagus. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until bright green. Remove asparagus to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Add butter and onion to the cooker and sauté for 3 minutes. Then add the garlic and farro and cook for another minute, stirring often.

2. Add broth; stir. Close the lid with vent in sealing position. Set timer for 10 minutes at high pressure.

3. Once the multi-cooker beeps, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then manually release any remaining pressure by opening the pressure valve. Or if you have a model with a touchpad, touch the quick-release button, steering clear of the steam. 

4. Remove the lid. Stir in the asparagus and peas and stir until they are warmed. Add the cheese, lemon juice, parsley, salt, and pepper. Serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 350 calories, 6 g fat, 4 g sat. fat, 59 g carbs, 9 g fiber, 6 g sugars, 18 g protein, 480 mg sodium. 


If you're planning to buy a multi-cooker, check out these top performers from Consumer Reports' tests. 

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Instant Pot Max 6Qt.

Price: $200

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Ninja Foodi OP302

Price: $230

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