How to Use Instant Pot to Cook Raw Chinese Herbs

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Instant Pot Chinese Herbs

Properly cooking, or decocting, Chinese herbs is essential for accessing the full effectiveness of the herbs. Many raw Chinese herb formulas work just like a simple cup of hot tea, however, some require a more intensive cooking process.

In the past, cooking herbs could be tedious, time-consuming, and extremely fragrant—sometimes not in a good way! However, now there are several easy ways to prepare herbs that use equipment you have in your kitchen. Read below to see how to cook herbs using an Instant Pot and browse other ways to prepare your herbs.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Yields: 14 cups

Benefits of Raw Chinese Herbs

Chinese herbal medicine has been used for thousands of years to safely expedite the healing process, strengthen, support and tonify the body. They are effective in not only treating the symptom but also in working to address the underlying root cause of various medical conditions, whether acute or chronic. Individual herbs are combined in order to enhance their actions and effects upon the body. When combined, a unique synergistic formula is created that amplifies the benefits of the formula. When prescribed and used correctly, Chinese herbal formulas rarely cause unwarranted side effects.

What You’ll Need

  • Electric Pressure Cooker (Such as an Instant Pot) 
  • Raw Chinese Herbs
  • Water (Filtered or bottled is best) 
  • Wire-Mesh Strainer 
  • Funnel
  • Glass Storage Container(s) 


When cooking Chinese herbs in an Instant Pot, they are divided into three groups: pressure cook group, low boil group, and steeping group. Heavier herbs like Sheng Jiang, Da Zao, Ban Xia, Dang Shen, Fu ling, and Gan Cao do well under the heat of pressure cooking. Herbs like Cang Zhu and Chen Pi need to be soaked in warm water and cooked at a low boil to activate. More delicate, aromatic herbs such as Sha Ren, Bo He, Gui Zhi/Rou Gui, or Jing Jie only need to be simmered. 

To prepare, divide your herbs into these groups and determine how much water is needed. To make a 7-day supply to be taken twice daily, you will need to make 14 cups of tea. For cooking, you will need 17 cups of water. 

The final volume of finished decoction (14 cups) + 20% (3 cups) to account for water evaporation. 

Instructions for Cooking Chinese Herbs in an Instant Pot

Once you have your herbs divided and your water ready, cooking raw herbs in an Instant Pot is easier than making soup! 

  1. Add your herbs in the pressure cook group to the pot.
  2. Put your low boil group in a bowl and put your steeping herb group in a separate bowl. 
  3. Pour just enough water over each group of herbs to get them barely submerged. Most of the water should be in the cooking pot so do not add too much to the bowls. 
  4. Pour the remaining water into your pressure cooker over the pressure cook group of herbs. Secure the lid and set the cook time to 20 minutes of low-pressure cooking. 
  5. Allow the pot to go through its complete cook cycle, and DO NOT vent the steam. Once the safety pin drops you can open the lid to add your soaked low boil group to the pot. 
  6. Set your Instant Pot to saute and cook at a low boil for 15-20 minutes. 
  7. Turn the heat off and add the steeping group to your pot. Allow the herbs to steep for 5-8 minutes.
  8. Strain into glass containers when the herbs are finished cooking. Discard your herbs. 
  9. Store the tea in the refrigerator. When the tea settles, there may be sediment in the bottom of the bottle. 
  10. Enjoy! It’s best to drink the herbs warm; however, if you prefer, you can also drink them at room temperature. 

Alternative Ways To Prepare and Enjoy Chinese Herbs

There are several other ways to cook Chinese herbs. Although many patients love this Instant Pot method, we know each person has a preferred preparation method. Click the links below to see which cooking technique works best for you. 

Better Health, Naturally 

Cooking raw Chinese herbs is a time-tested method for unlocking the power of the Earth’s natural medicine.  Choose your favorite cooking method and enjoy the soothing practice of taking care of yourself through Chinese herbal remedies. 

Dr. Adam Miramon, DACM, DiplOM, LAc

Dr. Miramon is a Certified Acupuncturist and Herbalist who is the Chief Clinic Director & President at Transformational Acupuncture Clinic in Washington D.C. They have devoted their life to expanding their knowledge in a variety of facets from reproductive health, labor and delivery, to Chinese herbal knowledge. Through a desire to better serve patients and practitioners, they founded Transformational Herbal Pharmacy in 2023.

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