So you've opened the box and taken it out. Your shiny new kitchen gadget, but you don't know what to do next. This guide for how to use your instant pot, will show you all you need to know and hopefully in a simple to understand way.
Although this guide is written for the duo60, as this is the model that I am most familiar with, the instructions are basically the same for all the instant pot models.
The Instant Pot is undoubtedly the most popular and in our opinion, useful kitchen gadget currently available. The amazing versatility of the instant pot replaces so many other kitchen gadgets, from stovetop pressure cookers to rice makers and even slow cookers. It has enabled previously worried people to be introduced to the world of speedy, and generally healthy meals which pressure-cooking provides.
In our opinion, it is the go-to gadget for all cooks from beginner to expert and we would encourage anyone to seriously consider buying an instant pot. As long as there is an electrical supply, we even take ours on camping trips, thus further proving the instant pots' versatility.
This guide should prove useful for either instant pot newbies or people just getting going. We will also be providing further guides reviews and lots of great recipes.
To start with, let's walk through Instant pot basics. Even if you've owned yours for a while, there is sure to be something here for you as well. So let's get started.
What is the instant pot?
The instant pot is an electric pressure cooker which also has other features.
You can saute, make rice, slow cook, steam vegetables and even cook a whole chicken in less than an hour. Because most meals are done in only one pot, clean up time is much less than regular cooking methods. This saves even more time.
More than this though - whilst cooking with the instant pot you can get on with other things in your life. There's no need to worry about constant stirring, pans boiling over or food overcooking. Once you get used to it, you will wonder how you managed without it.
The Instant Pot has fast cooking times because it cooks food under pressure. This pressure locks steam created by liquid (even liquid released from your meat and vegetables).This pressure then pushes steam back into the food and thus cooking times are much reduced.
I'm sure many of you will have memories of stovetop pressure cookers, but unlike your grandparent's pressure cooker, the instant pot virtually eliminates safety concerns with a lid that locks and stays locked, until the pressure is released along with a total of 10 built-in safety features.
No more rattles and hisses, and no more adjusting the heat to regulate pressure. Now you can take the guesswork out of your Pressure Cooking because the Instant Pot does it for you. You can make delicious family meals in minutes using the 14 built-in micro-processor controlled cooking programs. Want to cook a stew – just add the ingredients, press a button and walk away. It has 3 temperature settings for slow cooking and sauté/browning so you can brown meat directly in the inner pot or reduce a sauce.
The instant pot is highly energy-efficient and you could save up to 70% on your energy usage in comparison to conventional cooking. It is virtually silent in use and transmits very little heat to the surrounding area. This is great for cooking in your RV or motorhome.
What can you cook with the Instant Pot?
With the Instant Pot, you can cook healthy and wholesome meals for all the family in less than 30 minutes. Fabulous recipes are available for dishes like creamy Tuscan chicken, beef stew, loads of different chilies and even a whole-roasted chicken. They will all cook in 30 to 60 minutes, start to finish. And amazingly you can even bake bread or make fabulous desserts like New York cheesecake in the instant pot.
Paleo and keto diet followers will love the Instant Pot for the way it is able to braise meats in such a short amount of time, whilst it is also loved by vegetarians and vegans, who can quickly cook dishes like butternut squash soup, sweet potatoes, chili, steel-cut oats, and mac'n cheese.
Even dry beans that would normally need overnight soaking can be cooked in about 30 minutes for dishes like chili and hummus.
How to cook with the Instant Pot
It is recommended to perform a water test before using the instant pot. This will help you to become more familiar with how it works. Please see the instructions below:
Pour 3 cups of water into your inner pot of your instant pot.
Put the lid on your instant pot and turn your valve to sealed.
Set to high pressure for 3 minutes. You do this by hitting
cook time or manual button and then plus or minus until the
screens reads "3."
Once pressure is reached, the instant pot will begin to count
down from 3 minutes to 0.
Once the time is done, the Instant Pot will beep and will
turn to the "keep warm" function.
To turn your instant pot off, hit the off button and your pot
will read "off."
Let the pressure release and then remove the lid and dump out
How you use the Instant Pot depends on what you're cooking. But, most recipes, especially those involving meat will generally follow this formula:
- Set the Instant Pot to Saute mode. Add oil (or other fat) and brown your meat, like beef or chicken. Next, add your onions and garlic until softened.
- Press the cancel button and tap Manual, followed by Pressure. Tap it again to go into High-Pressure mode (which most recipes require.) Use the plus and minus buttons to set the cooking time. Low-pressure mode is used for things like rice.
- Place the lid on the Instant Pot and lock it into place. You will hear a beeping noise to let you know that the lid is locked.
- Make sure the pressure valve built into the lid is in the sealing position.
- When the Instant Pot builds up enough pressure, the countdown timer will begin. Now the cooking time has officially started.
- Once the timer reaches zero the instant pot will keep your food warm for up to 10 hours.
These steps above can vary quite a bit, depending on the recipe, but most of what I cook in my Instant Pot follows that sequence. There are also quite a lot of "bung and go" recipes that are even simpler.
The next step is to decide whether to naturally or quick release the pressure in the instant pot
There are two ways the pressure can be released. With natural pressure release, the valve on the lid stays in the Sealing position and the pressure reduces gradually over time. This can take anywhere from 5 minutes to more than an hour, depending on what you were cooking. Low-liquid meals (like a pot roast) take much less time than high-liquid meals, like soup or chili.
The other option is manual pressure release (also known as Quick Release). Here, you will carefully move the valve into venting position and watch as steam shoots out of it, releasing the pressure. This method is much faster, but very high-liquid meals, like soup, can still take a few minutes to release pressure this way.
To decide which one to use consider that with natural pressure release, the Instant Pot is still full of pressure, so the food will continue cooking (albeit at a slower rate) while the Instant Pot is in sealing mode. Manual pressure release is useful and necessary when you've built in enough cooking time and cooking needs to be stopped as fast as possible.
If the goal is to cook a meal quickly, set enough time on the Instant Pot to cook your food and release the pressure manually when the time is up.
Most good recipes will let you know whether to use natural or quick release.
This might all sound complicated, to begin with, but believe me, it all becomes second nature soon enough.
Some more Instant Pot tips
I have owned my Instant Pot now for more than 2 years, I've made a few mistakes and learned lots of lessons that I'd like to pass on. Here are some general tips to help you unleash your Instant Pot learning.
The instant pot has lots of buttons.
In my experience, you won't generally use most of them. Saute, pressure level, cancel and cook are the 4 most useful buttons and have been covered earlier. The other buttons are all self-explanatory and recipes will generally say which one to use. Delay start can be useful, but personally, I don't like to have fresh ingredients, especially meat out of the fridge for too long before cooking begins.
Make sure recipes have at least some liquid in (100ml or half a cup). Pressure-cooking requires liquid to build pressure in the pot. So, even when you're trying to keep things simple with something like chicken breasts or thighs, make sure to add a ½ cup of sauce, broth or water to the Instant Pot before going into Pressure mode. If you don't you are likely to find your food stuck to the bottom.
Make sure the lid valve is set to sealing. Pressure will never build if the valve is set to venting position. This is a really easy mistake to make and I still occasionally do it even now. Ensure it's in sealing position when you lock the lid in place for pressure-cooking.
Clean your Instant Pot! After enough delicious meals, your Instant Pot will start to acquire a smell, and maybe even some food stains.
You can convert your old pressure cooker recipes for the instant pot. Stovetop pressure cookers are generally slightly quicker. As a rule of thumb, use the recipes suggested times minus 10%.
You can cook frozen food. Non-Instant Pot recipes generally advise against cooking protein from frozen. That's because traditional cooking methods take too long to heat the protein, subjecting it to too much time in the dangerous temperature zone. With the Instant Pot, though, you can safely cook food from a frozen state as the cooking time is so much less (Just be sure to add some extra cooking time).
You can convert many slow cooker recipes. Now, an 8-hour recipe can be made in less than 1 hour.
Get to know the actual cooking times. Just because the recipe says to cook for 20 minutes, it may take up to 10 minutes to reach pressure. You will also need to add about 10 to 15 minutes for the pressure to release. So in the end, a 20-minute recipe can take more like 40 minutes.
You've probably guessed by now that we absolutely love the instant pot. It's not perfect but used well it will become an indispensable kitchen friend.
Its time now to begin your journey into the wonderful world of instant potting.
I hope you have enjoyed our article about how to use the instant pot and I hope you will find plenty more useful resources on our website.
Please feel free to comment below if you need any further advice or if you have any constructive feedback. We would also love to hear about your experiences with the Instant Pot.