Cookery Bookshelf

The Gluten-Free Instant Pot Cookbook Review

For eight months, the unopened Instant Pot box leered at me from a high shelf. I acknowledged it, always with a hearty dose of optimism, When I have time, I will learn how to use it. What started out as a week became six, then dovetailed into almost a year later before I made time. I needed a reason, and it came to pass in the The Gluten-Free Instant Pot cookbook by Jane Bonacci and Sara De Leeuw. I eagerly ripped open the envelope from Harvard Common Press and ended up reading the book cover to cover in one sitting, my skepticism that I might never actually take the contraption out of the box slowly warming to another outcome.

The Gluten Free Instant Pot cookbook review digs into a guide that can get you prepped for using this handy cooking tool. 
It’s not that I’m scared of new technology, although I will be the first to say I’m not keen on adding new gadgetry to my overcrowded kitchen. I believed Michelle when she first led the charge. I trusted Coco when she first wrote about how this appliance would change the game, and maybe that’s the big secret. I didn’t want the game to change. Not really. My slow cooker and I get each other. We meet up at least once a week during the autumn months mostly and I love the idea that while I’m working, it’s working. On dinner. So, in the beginning, perhaps my tepid reactions toward the Instant Pot were actually in response to not wanting to replace my slow cooker. How sentimental! (I guess). And, I thought, maybe it would be really tricky to use.

Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats will make you a fan of your instant pot for easily and quickly cooking whole grains.

I aced the hot water test and then moved onto something bigger. Sloppier. Lentil sloppy joes (p. 100) cooked up in a jiffy and we continued to eat them a few nights later, this time on savory creamy polenta (p. 60) Then, instant pot steel cut oats with golden apple raisin compote that I noshed on for a full week at breakfast. Early on, I stuck around the Instant Pot, checking to see if it gave any cues to the cooking going on inside. Apart from a few beeps, I didn’t hear burbles or see any bubbles popping along the top. Instead, it operated in silence except when the appliance indicates that the machine has come up to temperature and is starting to cook, or after cooking, starts timing down and staying warm.

Trying to eat plant-based is easy when you've got a lentil sloppy joe waiting for you.

The Gluten Free Instant Pot cookbook guided me through how to get started and then offered straight-forward recipes that I couldn’t mess up. I’ve been thinking about something a friend said recently when it comes to following recipes. They involve a silent compact of trust—that you as the reader trust the cookbook author enough to try something exactly as they wrote it. And, trust these two authors I do. Jane Bonacci authored a cookbook on making gluten-free bread in a bread machine as her first book, a feat, I can only imagine. Sara De Leeuw is a certified master food preserver, so not only does she know her stuff, but part of the certification is teaching others. I knew I was in good hands.

Instant pot polenta is far easier to make than stirring it for 30 minutes but there is a trade-off.

The cookbook delves into comfort foods like baby back ribs or mac and cheese, but with a gluten-free spin. I’m still wrapping my head around the logistics of whole baked chicken (p. 84) or double fudge chocolate cheesecake (p. 128) and while the book includes pasta recipes and other main dishes and side dishes—notably a few of them leaning toward Thanksgiving—I think where I’m landing right now with my Instant Pot is in cooking slow cooked whole grains quickly or in making stock. I’m setting my sights at Instant Pot Yogurt and very loudly nudging De Leeuw to write a preserving cookbook for my Instant Pot (goodbye, pressure canner?!). Because, here’s the dirty little secret: I like to cook and I like knowing the Instant Pot can save me time to make perfect rice (p. 64) if pressed or applesauce (p. 126) on the sly. Do I want to stir my polenta for 40 minutes—no. Do I think it will still give me a creamier pot sans cream if I stir instead of hit a button—yes. I’m willing to make trades. But, as I head into the holiday season, I have a hunch the Instant Pot will be a new pinch hitter and am grateful for The Gluten-Free Instant Pot cookbook to have been my first guide.


Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats with Golden Apple Raisin Compote

Living in the Bay area makes you a bit immune to what might be seasonal shifts around the rest of the country. October typically fans the warmth of summer with the mornings and evenings taking a dip into cooler temperatures. We jokingly tell friends and family who come visit to bring layers, knowing that inevitably, sweaters go on and jackets come off throughout the dance of the day. I gravitate toward bowls of creamy steel cut oats in the autumn months, topped with toasted nuts, fruit (either dried or chopped fresh), a drizzle of maple syrup or honey, and a splash of cold milk. This breakfast is the only one that can supplant my eggs and tortilla tradition most days and really helps me feel a shift in the season even if outside, it still resembles a long summer. I leapt at the chance to share Jane Bonacci and Sara De Leeuw’s instant pot steel cut oats from their Gluten-Free Instant Pot Cookbook because I figured that long cooking grains would be a great place to start and also because the apple compote aligned with all the apple bins at the farmer’s market. I also will admit the addition of Golden Delicious apples made my brow wrinkle in a good way–it’s not often you see that nostalgic apple variety from childhood called out in a recipe, and it really does, along with the Granny Smith apples, make this compote exceptional.

Instant pot steel cut oats may just be your new winter breakfast. This recipe makes enough for breakfasts all week.

A note here from Bonacci and De Leeuw— for this recipe, don’t think about substituting rolled or old-fashioned oats–you really want the sturdiness of steel cut to stand up to cooking at high pressure in the instant pot. Also, they call out the apples as tart and sweet, so use what you like, though they provide varietal suggestions too. You can certainly use whatever milk you prefer here too– I used Califia Farms almondmilk because aside from me making my own, its texture and mouthfeel is thickest and creamiest. Also, those golden raisins are initially called out as optional in the cookbook recipe, but I wasn’t so generous and and omitted the optional element. Their sweet and tart flavor really plays off the apples and I think the compote would be lacking without them, so think of this as an oatmeal cookie deconstructed into a bowl of oats. I bet dried cranberries might work well here too, and add a pop of color, but give sultanas a chance, even if you (like me) don’t really love cooked raisins. If you also happen to be vexed with instant pot cooking or wanting to give it a go, read my unbridled The Gluten-Free Instant Pot cookbook review. I ate this oatmeal for a week and didn’t tire of it. There’s a fresh pot of steel cut oats cooking away on my countertop in the instant pot as a break-ahead breakfast for a week leaning deeper into fall. 

Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats will make you a fan of your instant pot for easily and quickly cooking whole grains.

Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats with Golden Apple Raisin Compote

Course Breakfast


Golden Apple Raisin Compote

  • 1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith
  • 1 sweet apple, such as Golden Delicious
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins or sultanas
  • 1/2 cup orange or apple juice
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Steel Cut Oats

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups almondmilk
  • 2 cupa steel-cut oats
  • Pinch kosher salt


For the Compote

  1. Peel and core the apples, and cut into small chunks. Place in a saucepan. Add the raisins, orange juice, lemon juice, brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, and lemon zest. Stir to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are fork-tender and the liquid is syrupy. Transfer the compote to a bowl and set aside.

For the Oatmeal

  1. Lightly butter the bottom and lower sides of the inner pot to help avoid sticking. Add the water, milk, oats, and salt, but do not stir. Close and lock the lid, making sure the steam release handle is in the sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 9 minutes. When it is finished, release the pressure naturally, which will take about 15 minutes. Turn the steam release handle to venting, releasing any remaining steam. Unlock the lid and open it carefully.

  2. Scoop the oatmeal into bowls and top with a tablespoon or two of the apple compote. Serve immediately.

Reprinted with permission from The Gluten-Free Instant Pot Cookbook by Jane Bonacci and Sara De Leeuw (published by Harvard Common Press, an imprint of The Quarto Group, 2018).