Read This Before You Use Your Instant Pot!

instant pot tips

I know, I know…what’s all of this hoopla about the Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker?  Is it “the next big thing” like a slow cooker?

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instant pot tips

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Well yes, in my opinion, it is!  I’ve had my Instant Pot for a few months now and it has been a game changer in the kitchen.  For instance, tonight I am making a pot roast.  But instead of letting it cook all day in the slow cooker (and let’s be honest, forgetting to turn it on until 10 or 11), I am going to put the roast in my Instant Pot around 5 o’clock.  This will yield me an amazingly tender pot roast right in time for dinner.

Please, don’t be intimidated by your Instant Pot and please take it out of the box!  I have read so many stories of women leaving their Instant Pot in the box or sending it back after it arrives.  Let it live on your counter (if you have room)!

I use mine for Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs, Instant Pot Yogurt,and Instant Pot Chicken Thighs

I am going to confess that before I placed my order for my pressure cooker, I researched it like crazy.  I knew everything there was to know about everything Instant Pot.  I was obsessed and I still am, if you couldn’t already tell.

So what is an Instant Pot?  Well, it is an electric pressure cooker.  You know, like the ones your grandma probably used.  Except hers was used on the stove.  The Instant Pot can also be used as a rice cooker, to sauté, slow cook, and some have the ability to make yogurt.  You begin by putting your food in the Instant Pot, closing the lid, setting the valve on top to sealing, and then selecting your time according to your recipe.  Most recipes use high pressure.  After the pot comes to pressure, the lid will lock and it cannot be opened unless all of the pressure has been released and the pin on top has dropped back down.

So, why do I want you to read this before you use your Instant Pot?  Because I am about to tell you all that I learned before I even opened the box.

Is it safe?  Yes!  The Instant Pot has 10 safety mechanisms so you can rest at ease while using it.

How do I set the cook time and what are all of those buttons for?  To set the cook time, 9 times out of 10 you are going to use the manual button.  You press this button and then use the + or – buttons to select your time.  All of the other cook buttons are just convenience buttons with pre-selected times.  Most recipes use the manual button.

How do I release the pressure?  You can do this by either natural release (NR) or quick release (QR).  Natural release is when you let the pot sit and release the pressure on its own gradually.  This can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes or more.  Quick release is turning the knob on top to release the steam.  This stops the cooking process quickly.

How do I know which to use (QR or NR)?  Natural release is best for meats like so all of the juices stay in.  Like letting your meat reset after cooking it any other time.  Also, you would use natural release when you cook something like beans, or bone broth because those items can foam and spray out of the release valve.  QR is best for quick cooking foods like vegetables and pasta.

But the manual says I can’t cook pasta.  What the heck?  They put that in the manual for the reason I stated above.  They can foam up and spit out of the valve.  I have cooked pasta several times and I never have a problem.  I’m not saying do it…I’m just saying that I do so with no problem and you can do so at your own risk.

How do I use the sauté function?  I love tho use the sauté function when I want to brown some meat or a roast and then I can cook it under pressure.  One pot cooking!  Press the sauté button, press the adjust button to select more or less (more being hotter), wait until the display reads “hot”, add your cooking oil, then your food.  Easy peasy!  Make sure you deglaze the bottom of the pan before you try to bring it up to pressure.  If any food is stuck on the bottom the Instant Pot uses one of its safety mechanisms and it could give you trouble.

Do I need to add any liquid to the pot for pressure cooking?  yes!  Most recipes needs 1 cup of water or broth to come to pressure.  If you add a can of diced tomatoes you probably wouldn’t need the full cup.  You just have to use some judgement.  If your recipe calls for a thickener such as flour or corn starch, wait until after the food is cooked to add those.

Can I use different containers in the Instant Pot?  Yes, as long as it is oven safe and it fits with a little room around the edges and on top.

What foods would you not recommend I cook in the Instant Pot?  I’ve seen some people get so excite to use their Instant Pot for anything and everything, they go a little crazy!  Please don’t cook expensive meats like ribeye or beef tenderloin in the Instant Pot!  Your stove or grill is still the preferred cooking method.  Also, any milk products get pretty yucky so I would add stuff like milk, cream, or cream cheese after cooking under pressure.

Help, my pot won’t turn on!  Check to make sure the cord is plugged into the back of the pot.  Happens a lot!

Here are some things to check if you are having trouble getting your pot to come to pressure:

  1. Do you have enough liquid?
  2. Is your sealing ring in the lid and seated right?
  3. Did you deglaze the pan?
  4. Have you waited long enough?  Sometimes when your pot is really full (but shouldn’t be more than 2/3 full), it can take 20-30 minutes to come to pressure.  It also takes a few minutes for the countdown to start after the pin comes up.

I hope this post gave you some insight on the mysterious Instant Pot.  Share this post with someone who you think could use some Instant Pot help!


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    • Bonnie Daniel
    • January 2, 2018

    My instant pot did not come with a manual button, but it seems that most recipes call for it. What button should I use instead? Mine is a DUO 6 qt.

      • jenniferbanz
      • January 4, 2018

      I didn’t realize they had replaced that button! Looks like you will need to possibly press the “Pressure Cook” button.

    • Tess
    • November 23, 2017

    Very helpful! Thanks!

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