The Instant Pot, an electric pressure cooker, keeps gaining popularity with home cooks. This little countertop appliance is winning fans because it create a lot of different meals in a shorter amount of time, but it can do much more. You'll be surprised by how much time you'll save using the Instant Pot for the following dishes.

Caramelized onions

caramelized-onions An electric pressure cooker greatly reduces the hands-on time needed to make caramelized onions. (Photo: DD Images/Shutterstock)

Caramelizing onions takes more hands-on time that most people want because you have to be at the stove constantly stirring the entire time. You can make caramelized onions in the slow cooker, but that takes nine hours or more. The Instant Pot does it in less than 40 minutes, and only a few of them require you to stir, if you use this method from Instantly Delicious.

Roasted garlic

roasted garlic Roasted garlic takes a fraction of the time when made this way. (Photo: Elena Elisseeva/Shutterstock)

It can take upwards of an hour to roast a head of garlic, but in the Instant Pot, that time is cut down to about 20 minutes. Copy Me That says all it takes is 15 minutes in the electric slow cooker and another 5 minutes under the broiler. You can then use all that soft garlicky goodness to make Roasted Red Pepper Hummus or Butternut Squash Galette with Roasted Garlic and Thyme.

Limoncello

limoncello Limoncello in two days instead of 45? That's worth trying. (Photo: Gudren Muenz/Shutterstock)

Making Limoncello is usually a long-term project. You need to start at least a month before you want to bottle it. Butin the Instant Pot, Prairie Californian has reduced the work of infusing the vodka or grain alcohol with the lemon skins from 30 days to 30 minutes. You'll still need time to allow it to cool and add the simple syrup, but after two days, the Limoncello is ready to bottle.

Ricotta cheese

ricotta cheese You probably have all the ingredients on hand to whip up ricotta cheese in the Instant Pot. (Photo: momma_mia/Shutterstock)

Whole milk, fresh lemon juice and salt is all it takes to make fresh ricotta cheese using the yogurt setting with a recipe from Hip Pressure Cooking. The fresh cheese will last up to five days in the refrigerator, but I'd use it almost immediately to make Whipped Ricotta with Chives and Garlic Toast.

Vanilla extract

vanilla extract, vanilla beans Instant Pot vanilla extract is less expensive than store-bought and quicker to make than traditional DIY version. (Photo: Maren Winter/Shutterstock)

Homemade vanilla extract takes only two ingredients — liquor and vanilla beans, but it also takes months for the alcohol to extract all the flavor from the beans before it can be used in baking and cooking. Frieda Loves Bread uses the Instant Pot to cut the time down to two hours so you can whip up Creme Brûlée Rice Pudding with it the same day you begin making the extract.

Popcorn

A blue bowl of popcorn on a wooden surface Forget the microwave ... (Photo: Maciej Bledowski/Shutterstock)

Instead of standing over the stove shaking your heavy Dutch oven back and forth, let the Instant Pot do the work of making fresh popcorn. Coconut oil seems to get the most kernels popped when this method is used, and Sisters Under Pressure say that in about six minutes, you'll have hot popcorn you can top with whatever you want.

Cough syrup

man coughing Before you reach for over-the-counter cough syrup, try this natural DIY cough syrup. (Photo: Image Point Fr/Shutterstock)

If natural remedies appeal more than the stuff the pharmaceutical companies come up with, Traditional Cooking School has a natural cough syrup recipe for the Instant Pot with a local honey base infused with thyme and ginger.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.