[Instant Pot] Potatoes and Carrots, Upgraded!

three bowls of potatoes and carrots, seasoned with lemon pepper, garlic herb, and maple mustard.

Use your pressure cooker to make quick work of this classic side dish – then upgrade it with one of my 3 favorite simple seasonings. Whether your family gets hooked on lemon pepper, garlic herb or maple mustard – Instant Pot Potatoes and Carrots will become a staple veggie dish in your healthy meal prep rotation.

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Ingredients

Potatoes come in so many varieties; while most will work just fine in this recipe, my advice is to choose potatoes that are more waxy than starchy. If you’re not familiar with this characterization, it has to do with the structures of carbohydrate storage that differ among tubers. Waxy potatoes (like red-skinned or Yukon gold potatoes) hold their shapes better, while starchy potatoes (like russets) tend to break down more.

Carrots offer natural sweetness to the mix. If you can source them, it’s nice to use large, thick carrots for a closer match to the size of your potato chunks. But baby carrots work just as well, and they can be very convenient if you’re looking to skip peeling/chopping!

Broth or water is necessary to build pressure in your cooker. I regularly make homemade chicken/vegetable stock with my Instant Pot, so that is my liquid ingredient of choice for this recipe. It boosts both the flavor and the nutritional profile of the side dish. If you don’t have broth on hand, it is okay to use water instead – we will still have the chance to add more flavor when we add our seasonings.

Salt is essential for seasoning. It brings out the flavor of everything it touches!

Butter enriches the dish and enhances absorption of the carotenoids in your veggies. Extra virgin olive oil is a good substitute for vegans and others who prefer not to use butter.

Seasonings keep things interesting, don’t they?! Let’s talk about my top three simple favorite flavors for these veggies…

Seasoning Options

Lemon Pepper

potatoes and carrots tossed with lemon zest and black pepper.

This classic bright and peppery flavor is so simple to achieve, and it’s such a crowd-pleaser. I use freshly grated lemon zest and freshly cracked black pepper.

Garlic Herb

potatoes and carrots tossed with fresh garlic and herbs.

Freshly minced garlic cloves and herbs give this version a touch of pungent heat and green zip! These photos feature parsley leaves, but I also love fresh chives, thyme, or dill.

Maple Mustard

potatoes and carrots tossed with grainy mustard and maple syrup.

Sharp mustard and sweet maple syrup are two of my very favorite condiments! This version plays up the carrot’s natural sweetness like a candy glaze. Round it out with a sprinkle of smoked paprika – heaven!

Step By Step: How to Cook

Chop Potatoes

basket of small red potatoes, halved.

The first step is to get your potatoes into consistently sized chunks, ideally about 1-2 inches across. If you have very small baby potatoes less than 2 inches, they can be cooked whole.

The potatoes in this photo are small ones, about 2-3 inches in diameter. I mostly sliced them into halves, with just a couple of the thickest ones quartered instead. Leave them unpeeled to gain texture, fiber, and other nutrients.

Chop Carrots

peeled carrot on cutting board, shown with knife angled to demonstrate roll cut technique.

Next, make room on your chopping board for the carrots. When employing carrots in a chunky vegetable mix like this one, my favorite way to cut them is the roll cut technique – cut on the diagonal, roll the carrot over, then cut on the diagonal again to create a trapezoid-y shape with two tapered ends. It is attractive and it helps me create more even chunks when faced with different carrot sizes (varying the knife angle to account for thicker or thinner roots).

I often don’t bother to peel my carrots, but I did when I took these photos. It does give them a bit more of a polished look!

If using baby carrots, they can be cooked whole without chopping or peeling – obviously!

Pressure Cook

Instant Pot with cooked potatoes and carrots.

Throw your chopped potatoes and carrots into your Instant Pot, add a cup of broth (or water), and lock down the lid. Use the “Manual” button to set a custom cook time to 3 minutes under high pressure.

Toss with Seasoning

close up potatoes and carrots tossed with fresh garlic and herbs.

After quick-releasing the pressure, open the lid and add the butter, along with your choice of seasonings. Toss the vegetables very gently until coated evenly.

How long to pressure cook?

These potatoes and carrots cook for three minutes on high pressure mode. With this cooking time, I am confident that even the larger chunks of potato in my medley will come out fully cooked with a tender texture.

If you want vegetables with more of a bite, you may try decreasing the cooking time to 2 minutes. This shorter cook time may also help when prepping make-ahead vegetables that will be reheated later.

Meal Prep Ideas for Instant Pot Potatoes & Carrots

It’s easy to prep a big batch of this recipe – now, let’s talk about what to serve with potatoes and carrots. This balanced side is a good pairing to accompany all kinds of main dishes – meats, chicken or fish.

It’s especially practical to cook this side dish with Instant Pot when your main course doesn’t use your oven… It’s a much more efficient path to traditional roasted potatoes and carrots when your oven is cold because you’re serving something like a pan-seared steak, sauteed chicken breast or grilled salmon.
If you have leftover potatoes and carrots, they are also super handy for adding to soups, stews or curries.

Double Decker Dinner with Potatoes and Carrots!

Double Decker Dinner is a personal favorite Instant Pot recipe theme, all about finding the right combination of foods that pair together as a balanced meal and that can be stacked and cooked at the same time in the same pressure cooker. It’s one-pot wonderful! 

This side dish recipe can easily be cooked together with an entree. Instead of cooking with broth in the main pot of the cooker, place the potatoes and carrots in a steamer basket. Let them cook on a rack over top of another Instant Pot recipe with a compatible cooking time. After pressure cooking, pour the vegetables into a large bowl to toss with the butter and seasonings

Because the steamer basket is elevated and not in direct contact with the heating element at the bottom of the pot, the vegetables can tolerate longer cooking times without getting as mushy as they would in the main pot. I would stack this side dish with any recipe calling for a cook time in the range of 2-5 minutes.

That means this recipe can be a good match for chicken breast or thigh, most types of soaked beans, or even something like braised sausages. You can serve potatoes and carrots instead of the polenta with my chicken marsala recipe, or pair it with my saucy chicken tinga.

Nutrition Insights

Food for thought, from your friendly neighborhood Registered Dietitian Nutritionist + food science buff!

This vegetable medley balances starchy potatoes with non-starchy carrots for a side dish that is both nourishing and satiating, at about 160 calories per serving.

Potatoes aren’t just empty carbs – they provide valuable potassium and vitamin C, along with dietary fiber when you let them keep their skins.

Carrots get their reputation for supporting eye health because of their abundance of carotenoids; these pigments are building blocks in the creation of vitamin A, which is directly involved in the physiological reactions of vision. The pat of butter that we toss into the veggies lends a bonus dose of pre-formed vitamin A, too!

Broth is another low-key MVP of this dish… Real chicken stock provides a protein boost and supports your joints, skin and hair with natural bioavailable collagen. I’m a hardcore broth nerd and have lots more to say in my post on Instant Pot Bone Broth!

Budget Analysis

For what it’s worth… here’s what it cost me! (at May 2022 inflation rates)

  • 1 1/2 pounds organic red potatoes: $2.49
  • 1 pound organic carrots: $1.56
  • 1 cup broth: homemade/quasi-free!
  • 2 tablespoons butter: $4.98/lb * 0.03 = $0.16
  • seasonings: negligible.

Yield: 6 servings

Cost per serving: $0.70!

More Instant Pot Vegetable Side Dish Recipes

raw kale in instant pot

Dark leafy greens are a mainstay of my meal prep rotation. Kale, collards, chard, beet or mustard greens – all of them can be Insta-Greens!

cooked artichoke garnished with fresh herbs and lemon.

Instant Pot Artichokes make appearances on my dinner table when they get beautiful in the spring.

raw zucchini noodles in instant pot

You can even cook zucchini noodles with Instant Pot! This is the quickest-cooking veggie side dish of all.

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three bowls of potatoes and carrots, seasoned with lemon pepper, garlic herb, and maple mustard.

Instant Pot Potatoes and Carrots, Upgraded

Mary Clare Fraker, MS RD
Use your pressure cooker to make quick work of this classic side dish – then upgrade it with lemon pepper, garlic herb or maple mustard.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 3 mins
Time to Build Pressure: 7 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Side Dish
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 160 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes waxy varieties like common gold or red skin potatoes
  • 1 pound carrots
  • 1 cup broth chicken or vegetable stock of your choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or adjust based on salt level in broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Lemon Pepper Seasoning:

  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Garlic Herb Seasoning:

  • 3 medium cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or other fresh herbs like chives or dill

Maple Mustard Seasoning:

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons grainy dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Instructions
 

  • Chop potatoes into consistent pieces about 1-2 inches across – halves, quarters or wedges depending on the potato’s size.
  • Trim ends from carrots and remove the peels if desired. Chop carrots using a roll cut technique, slicing on the diagonal before rolling and slicing again for wide wedge shaped pieces.
  • Add the potatoes and carrots into the pressure cooker, along with the broth and salt. Close the lid, with the valve set to sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 3 minutes.
  • When the cooking time is complete, carefully open the valve to manually release the pressure. Add the butter and your choice of seasoning ingredients, and very gently toss the medley until the butter is melted and the seasonings are evenly mixed.

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