I used an Instant Pot for baking cakes and cookies but I'll never do it again

Slice of carrot cake on plates next to a bundle of cinnamon sticks
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

With so many cooking functions, it seems there’s no end to the delicious meals that can be created in one of the best Instant Pots. They’re great for slow-cooked tender meat or fast pressure-cooked curries, but more often than not, we tend to dream of mouthwatering savory foods when thinking about what to cook next in this clever kitchen gadget.

An Instant Pot is one of the most versatile kitchen appliances around and with an army of fans worldwide, there are thousands of recipes online created especially for this popular multi-cooker. In fact, we've had great success cooking everything from mashed potato to hard-boiled eggs in an Instant Pot.

When I saw just how many cake recipes were on the Instant Pot website and app, I got to thinking, can you really bake a cake in one of these multicookers? Is an Instant Pot the answer to making bakes worth of the contenders on the Great British Baking Show or, if you’re in the UK the Great British Bake Off?

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Read on to discover what happened when we used an Instant Pot to bake cake and cookies, or if you’ve already decided you want to invest in one of these multicookers, check out the best prices right now:  

How do you cook cakes and cookies in an Instant Pot? 

You don’t need an Instant Pot with an air fry lid to make cakes, but I suspect you’ll get better results that way. In a classic Instant Pot without air fry capabilities, the majority of cake recipes utilize the pressure cook function.

Once you’ve made the cake batter and filled a cake pan, it then has to be covered with foil. This stops moisture from getting into the cake and affecting your bake. By adding water to the cooking pot and sitting the cake pan on the trivet, it’s kept away from the direct heat at the base of the pot and instead cooks gently in the pressurized heat.

Most of the recipes I tried, call for a 7 inch/ 18cm round cake pan, fortunately, I had one this size. However my 6 quart/ 6 liter Instant Pot was only just big enough for the pan. So while I could just about ease it in, removing it from the hot steamy pot at the end of cooking was tricky, to say the least. It involved the use of several kitchen utensils in an attempt to lever it out. So if you’re serious about perfecting cakes in an Instant Pot I’d highly recommend buying a silicone pressure cooker bakeware sling, which sits in the bottom of the Instant Pot and has handles that enable you to lift out the cake tin with ease. 

A fudgy chocolate cake baked in an Instant Pot

(Image credit: TechRadar)

So, how did the bakes turn out?

I envisioned impossibly moist and light cakes when I started this baking adventure. After all, if there’s no oven then the cake can’t burn or dry out. And it’s true, none of the cakes I made were burnt or overly dry, they just had other problems.

First up, let me tell you about my most successful creation, the fudgy chocolate cake. After following the recipe and pressure cooking for the required 30 minutes it didn’t look great. The top was bumpy and it didn’t appear to have risen much either. And while it would be a stretch to describe it as a cake, this chocolate treat actually tasted delicious. It was rich, dense, and fudgy with a pleasing brownie texture and a rich chocolate flavor, and I enjoyed every mouthful. But let’s be clear, cakes should be light and fluffy, which this was not.

Going into my second bake I was optimistic and after the rich chocolate cake, I landed on a recipe for what looked like a fresh and light orange olive oil cake. Again, I followed the recipe and pressure cooked it for 35 minutes, but this one ended up being the worst cake I made in the Instant Pot. It didn’t rise at all and what came out of the pan was very dense, rubbery, and completely inedible.

A carrot cake baked in an Instant Pot

(Image credit: TechRadar)

At this point, I didn’t know what to expect from the third cake. This time I tried one of my all-time favorites, a carrot cake, and had high hopes for a delicious bake. At 65 minutes, the cooking time for this one was double that of the previous two cakes and I wondered if this would be the key to creating the perfect cake. And the finished cake did actually rise much more than the previous two, it certainly looked far more like a traditional cake. But sadly it just wasn’t the real deal, it was denser and chewier than a carrot cake should be. I was left wishing I’d baked it in the oven instead, for a lighter springier result.

There aren’t many cookie recipes that don’t require the use of an air fry lid, but eventually, I found one for oatmeal raisin cookie which looked worth a try. Like the cakes, it gets cooked in a foil-covered cake pan using the pressure cook function. The end result did look like a giant cookie, but that’s where the similarities ended. It had the texture of a dry flat cake which although edible, was very disappointing and certainly didn’t feel like a treat.

I’d love to tell you that Instant Pot is the answer to all of your baking woes, but this experience showed me you just can’t create light and fluffy bakes in a pressure cooker. Instant Pot is a fantastic appliance for creating so many tasty dishes, but let’s face it, even die-hard Instant Pot fans have to admit that it can’t be good at everything.

A cookie baked in an Instant Pot

(Image credit: TechRadar)
Helen McCue
Freelance Contributor

Helen is a freelance writer who specializes in kitchen appliances and has written for some of the biggest home-related titles around. She has been reviewing small appliances, including blenders, juicers, and multi-cookers, for more than 8 years,  and also upholsters furniture when she's not testing the latest food tech gadgets.