Velvety, rich and delicious, few desserts rule the table like cheesecake. It is a decadent dish appropriate for every occasion, and if by chance a guest refuses a slice, you will secretly be happy because that just means more for you.
But cooking it? Heating up your whole kitchen for an hour’s worth of cook time in your oven while constantly standing guard to make sure nothing goes awry is so tiresome.
Solution? The Instant Pot!
If you’ve never used a countertop pressure cooker to make a cheesecake before, prepare to have a life-altering experience.
A dessert like this caramel cheesecake comes out dense and creamy and bakes in half the time without heating up your kitchen or using up valuable oven space during holiday prep time — all to say that the pressure cooker is a fantastic appliance to use for this job year-round and not just for Christmas or Hanukkah.
Most cheesecake recipes can be adapted easily for the Instant Pot or other electric pressure cookers, but this salted caramel cheesecake is a favorite. While the time under full pressure is only 35 minutes, expect the total cooking time to exceed more than an hour, once you account for the time it takes the cooker to come to pressure (20+ minutes) and natural release once the cooker starts to depressurize (also 20+ minutes).
Some tips to make the perfect Instant Pot cheesecake
Pre-baking the crust will make it crisper and crunchier than freezing.
In order to avoid lumps in your batter, ensure that all of your ingredients are room temperature. Take the cream cheese, sour cream and eggs out of the refrigerator at least an hour before you plan to start.
Mixing is key to a perfectly smooth cheesecake free of air bubbles and cracks. Do not overmix! Mix on low speed, and add the eggs in one at a time.
A springform pan or round cake pan with a removable bottom works best, and if you line both the bottom and the sides of the pan with parchment paper, you should be able to get that perfect, smooth look along the outside of your cake.
The size pan you choose will depend on the size of your Instant Pot. An 8″ pan works well with the 8-quart, while a 6″ to 7″ pan is perfect for the 6-quart.
Wrap a sling made of foil around the pan to make removal easier. Fold a long piece of foil in at least thirds, lengthwise. Place the pan in the middle of the foil strip and pull up over either side. When placing the pan on the trivet in the inner liner, make sure the ends of the foil sling are sticking up over the sides.
Making a foil sling for the Instant Pot
When your cook time stated in the recipe completes, use a natural pressure release (NPR), then open the lid slowly. This will slow down the shift in temperature that occurs within the pot. A too-sudden temperature drop can cause the sides of the cheesecake to retract from the pan quickly, making it crack.
Spray a 7-inch springform pan lightly with cooking spray.
Cut a piece of parchment paper in a circle to fit the bottom of the pan, then spray with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine the graham crackers, white sugar and butter, then mix well.
Press the mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan.
Bake at 350F for 13 minutes. Remove and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, blend the cream cheese and sugar until well combined.
Add in the sour cream and mix until smooth.
Add in the flour, salt and vanilla, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Add in the eggs, then mix again until just smooth. At this stage, don’t overmix the batter.
Pour the cream cheese mixture into the prepared crust.
Pour 2 cups of water into the bottom of the Instant Pot. Place the trivet that came with the pot into the bottom. Cut a piece of aluminum foil the same size as a paper towel. Place the foil under the paper towel, then put the springform pan on top of the paper towel. Wrap the bottom of the pan in the foil, using the paper towel as a barrier.
Next, take another piece of foil about 18 inches long folded into thirds lengthwise. Place this under the springform pan, and use the two sides as a sling to place the cheesecake into the pot. It will also make it very easy to remove the cheesecake from the Instant Pot when it’s done.
Once the pan is in the Instant Pot, secure the lid and press Manual.
Adjust the pressure to high and set for 35 minutes, ensuring that the vent value is in the closed position.
Cook the cheesecake in the alloted time, and when finished, allow the pressure to release naturally.
Remove the cheesecake from the pot using the sling you prepared, and place on a wire rack to cool the cheesecake for an hour.
Cover the cheesecake in the pan with foil, and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
When ready to serve, top the cheesecake with the caramel sauce and sprinkle with sea salt.
Using a butter knife, loosen the sides of the cheesecake from the pan and release the sides of the pan.
Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.