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How do you make meat tender in a pressure cooker?

Why Use A Pressure Cooker For Tender Meat?

A pressure cooker is one of the best tools for getting meat incredibly tender and succulent in a short amount of time. The high pressure environment inside a pressure cooker allows the temperature to rise well above the normal boiling point of water, to around 250°F or more. This high heat denatures the proteins in meat, effectively “pre-chewing” it and making it incredibly tender.

The moist heat environment also helps meat retain moisture and prevents it from drying out. Traditional braising or oven roasting can take hours to break down tough connective tissues. But a pressure cooker can do it in a fraction of the time, while still resulting in fork-tender meat in gravy or sauce.

Tips For Tender Meat In A Pressure Cooker

Here are some tips for ensuring tender, fall-apart meat in a pressure cooker:

Choose The Right Cuts Of Meat

Tougher, collagen-rich cuts of meat work best, as they benefit the most from the high heat and moisture. Great options include pork shoulder, beef chuck or brisket, lamb shoulder, and chicken thighs. Avoid lean cuts like pork loin or chicken breasts, which can easily overcook.

Cut Meat Into Uniform Pieces

Cut meat into 2-inch chunks or large pieces of uniform size. This allows meat to cook evenly. Leave connective tissue and fat intact, as it will break down and baste the meat.

Sear Or Brown The Meat First

Searing or browning meat before pressure cooking develops flavor and color through the Maillard reaction. Season meat with salt and pepper, then sear in batches in a hot pan with oil until well browned.

Use A Flavorful Braising Liquid

The braising liquid provides moisture and also big flavor. Use broth, wine, tomatoes, onions, herbs and spices. Make sure the liquid covers the meat about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way.

Cook For The Recommended Time

Cook meat according to recipe directions, adjusting time for amount of meat and size of pieces. Do not overcook, as meat can become dry. Allow pressure to release naturally for best results.

Let Meat Rest Before Serving

Let meat rest about 10-15 minutes after cooking to allow juices to redistribute. This makes meat extra moist and tender. Slice or pull meat apart gently to serve.

Tender Pressure Cooker Meat Recipes

Here are some excellent pressure cooker recipes for incredibly tender, fall-apart meat dishes:


  • Pressure Cooker Beef Stew
  • Pressure Cooker Pot Roast
  • Pressure Cooker Beef Brisket
  • Pressure Cooker Beef Shredded Tacos


  • Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork
  • Pressure Cooker Ribs
  • Pressure Cooker Carnitas
  • Pressure Cooker Pork Chili Verde


  • Pressure Cooker Chicken Thighs
  • Pressure Cooker Chicken Soup
  • Pressure Cooker Chicken Chili
  • Pressure Cooker Chicken Breasts


  • Pressure Cooker Lamb Shanks
  • Pressure Cooker Lamb Curry
  • Pressure Cooker Lamb Stew
  • Pressure Cooker Lamb Chops

Tips For Buying A Pressure Cooker


Choose a 6-8 quart size cooker for flexibility to cook for just yourself or a family. Larger sizes are bulkier and harder to store.

Stovetop Or Electric

Stovetop models heat up quicker and are less expensive. Electric models have more safety features but take longer to pressurize.


Look for presets, adjustable pressure levels, keep warm setting, and delayed start timer if desired. Not necessary for basic pressure cooking.

Safety Features

Locking lid, pressure release valve or float valve, and pressure indicator are essential safety features. Overheating protection is also good to have.


Popular, high quality brands include Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, and Breville. Check reviews and choose one that fits your budget and needs.


A pressure cooker is the secret weapon for incredibly tender, fall-apart meat in record time. Choose the right cuts, properly season and brown the meat, use flavorful liquid, and cook for the recommended time. Letting meat rest before serving also maximizes tenderness. Follow a recipe or experiment with cooking times for your desired texture. With a pressure cooker, you’ll enjoy restaurant-quality brisket, ribs, pulled pork and more from the comfort of home.