You Finally Bought an Instant Pot! Here Are 10 Tips on How to Use It Properly

Instant Pot Photo

Some people avoid using the Instant Pot for everyday cooking, which is a shame. Some people ignore the Instant Pot because they’re familiar with traditional cooking methods. Others assume an Instant Pot is too complicated.

Instant Pots are fast, efficient, and safe ways to prepare meals if you know how to use it.

With that in mind, here are 10 tips on how to properly use an Instant Pot.

Cup of Water

1. You will always need liquids.

When using an Instant Pot, you’ll always need liquids (usually water). In general, you’ll usually need ½ to 1 cup of liquid for an Instant Pot to cook what’s inside of it.

Your Instant Pot depends on water to create steam to cook food. Without any water, you won’t create any steam, and your food won’t cook properly.

2. There are multiple ways to release pressure.

There are two main ways to release pressure in your Instant Pot. You can either release pressure using a quick or natural release system.

With a natural release system, the Instant Pot depressurizes itself. While exact times vary, it takes anywhere from five to 30 minutes for depressurization to happen.

The quick-release system is best for situations where you need to avoid overcooking your food. To use this system, simply move the Instant Pot’s venting knob from ‘Sealing’ to ‘Venting.’ To prevent steam from touching your skin, wear a set of oven mitts while doing this.

3. Don’t ignore the sauté button.

Sautéing is a cooking method that involves quickly frying food in a little fat or oil. Unfortunately, some new Instant Pot owners accidentally ignore its sauté button. 

This setting works well for sautéing vegetables, searing meats, and reducing sauces. If you’re sautéing vegetables, do this with either a low or medium setting. You can turn the heat up to high while sautéing to sear meats.

4. You will always need the buttons.

A major advantage of the Instant Pot is that it cooks foods quickly. It’s understandable that, if you’re like most adults, you have a busy life. But don’t let being in a hurry stop you from checking and using an Instant Pot’s buttons.

By doing this, you’re likely to learn about many great functions and settings you didn’t know about. Check your Instant Pot user manual to find in-depth explanations for every button.

Spoons of Seasoning

5. Start with simple recipes.

Learning how to cook with a new appliance can be a little daunting. To ensure you have the best success with Instant Pot cooking, it’s a good idea to start with simple recipes. Look for recipes that only need a few ingredients.

6. Don’t overfill the pot.

When you overfill your Instant Pot, you risk clogging the venting knob. As anyone who experiences this knows, it can be potentially dangerous. If a clog occurs, it can lead to pressurized liquid shooting out of your Instant Pot’s venting knob.

Another reason to avoid overfilling your pot is that it can end up muting your food's flavors.

7. Don’t force the pot open.

Almost everyone experiences the despair of forgetting to add an ingredient while cooking. With that in mind, you might think you can open the Instant Pot if you made a mistake. However, the Instant Pot contains safety mechanisms to prevent you from opening its lid too early.

If you have to open your Instant Pot ASAP, use the quick-release setting and wait until steam dissipates before opening your Instant Pot’s lid.

Trying to further force your Instant Pot open could lead to boiling liquids bursting all over you and your kitchen. This could lead to lots of time spent cleaning the Instant Pot. Forcing your Instant Pot open may also damage it and void your warranty.

Kitchen counter with cookbook and kitchen accessories

8. The Instant Pot cook time is always more than what is specified in the cookbook.

It’s understandable to think of the Instant Pot as a fast way to cook food. And, for the most part, it is. With that said, you’ll want to take cooking times from online recipes and cookbooks with a grain of salt.

If a recipe says cooking time is 30 minutes, that’s not exactly how long you’ll spend preparing this meal. In most cases, it will take about 10 minutes for an Instant Pot to get to temperature. As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to add about 10 minutes to any recipe’s cooking time.

9. Understand what your trivet is for.

As you take your Instant Pot out of its packaging, you’ll see an oddly shaped metal item. If you’re new to Instant Pot cooking, it’s easy to toss this item aside and forget about it.

This item is a trivet, and it’s essential for keeping your food from touching the bottom of an Instant Pot’s inner pan. You can also use a trivet as a handy way to pull out your food from an Instant Pot without needing tongs.

10. Know where to place your Instant Pot.

Part of what makes the Instant Pot so popular is that it doesn’t take up much space. Considering that, most people place an Instant Pot wherever they have counter space. While this is OK, make sure your Instant Pot isn’t under your cabinets. 

Over time, the steam released from an Instant Pot can cause long-term damage, warping your cabinet’s wood. Instead, place your Instant Pot in a location that gives steam plenty of vertical room to escape.

In closing, it’s imperative to follow the previously mentioned Instant Pot tips. Make sure to get a feel for all of an Instant Pot features, never try to force it open, and start with simple recipes. As you continue cooking with this appliance, you can try more advanced settings and dishes.

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