How To Use Your Instant Pot: Everything You’ve Wanted To Know
It’s not just a supercharged pressure cooker — it’s a way of life.
Like a microwave or an electric kettle, the Instant Pot has become a kitchen staple. This versatile pressure cooker replaces so many countertop appliances, from rice makers to slow cookers. It’s introduced a new generation to pressure cooking, and shown us just how quickly it can cook a healthy meal.
Whether you’re a new Instant Pot owner or it’s long been stored away in a cabinet, this guide is for you. A longtime Instant Pot owner myself, I’ll guide you through the basics, including explaining those strange buttons and some basic recipes.
To kick things off, let’s walk through Instapot basics. Even if you’ve owned yours for a while, there’s something here for you, too. Let’s get started.
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How Much Water Do I Need To Add To My Instant Pot
We all know that different sizes of pots need different amounts of water in order to cook food properly. After all, theyre using steam and pressure to cook things quickly. Here are the breakdowns of water needed in order for each size pot to function correctly.
- The 8 Quart Models need 2.5-3 cups of liquid
- The 6 Quart Models need 1.5-2 cups of liquid
- The 3 Quart Models need .75-1 cup of liquid
- these numbers came from the Instant Pot website. The numbers have changed over the years and as of 8/2021 they are what I can find directly from Instant Pot.
Ive mentioned it before and Ill mention it again, your Instant Pot is going to be at least a tiny bit different from every other one out there. Do your own test to see how much water your pot needs in order to come to pressure and hold for 5 minutes. Use the amounts above as a general guideline.
Instant Pot Pork Shoulder Times & Instructions:
- Preheat the pot on saute with some oil. Cut your pork butt into large, uniform chunks and season liberally with salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you like.
- After 3-4 minutes of heating, add the loin to the pot to brown the sides.
- Remove the pork loin and add 1.5-2 cups of liquid to the pot. Then, add the trivet or steamer basket and place the pork inside.
- Cook for 15 minutes on HIGH pressure per pound of meat .
Try this recipe: Instant Pot pulled pork
Also Check: Poultry Mode Instant Pot
Instant Pot Recipes For Two
Im often asked if its possible to halve Instant Pot recipes in order to make a smaller batch that would feed just two people, so lets take a look at how that can work.
It may require some adjustments and modifications, but often times, its quite simple to tweak the recipe so that it will produce fewer servings.
Want a shortcut? Grab a copy of Instant Pot Cooking for Two, which includes all of these tips and tricks, plus printable cheat sheets and 25 Instant Pot recipes written just for 2-3 servings!
How Do I Clean The Instant Pot
As far as care and maintenance go, the best way to keep your electric pressure cooker working correctly is to keep it clean. I recommend giving it a light cleaning after each use by washing the inner pot and sealing ring, and wiping down the lid and base unit.
You should also aim to deep-clean your pressure cooker around once a month to remove food bits and residues that can build up over time. For step-by-step instructions for both everyday cleaning and monthly deep-cleaning routines, make sure to check out this post.
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How Do I Get The Smell Out Of The Sealing Ring
By now you might have noticed that the silicone sealing ring holds on to the smell of just about everything you cook in your Instant Pot. Sure, you can buy a new sealing ring, but its also pretty easy to clean it and get the smell out.
The quickest, easiest, and most foolproof way to get the smell out of the sealing ring is to add white vinegar or water and lemon rind to the Instant Pot, then run it for a few minutes on the steam setting. Running it through the dishwasher is another option, although if its been a while since you last cleaned it, it might not work as well to get the odor out.
Can I Open The Lid While Cooking To Peek At My Food
Never attempt to open or take the lid off your pressure cooker while it is under pressure. Most modern models make this virtually impossible to do, but for your own safety, never attempt it. You should always release the pressure first before removing the lid. Most recipes will tell you what the appropriate method is for that particular dish. It is advantageous to get familiar with the various release methods.
Pressure cooking is simple once you get the hang of it and will save you a great deal of time and energy.
Im super dense here.I thought 1 c. water always goes underneath pot then recipe in pot.But with eggs- water in pot with eggs and no water underneath pot,? I really need the 101 about water ha!
Read Also: Instant Pot Warning
Wondering If You Can Cut An Instant Pot Recipe In Half So You Can Make A Smaller Batch Whether You Have A 3
With a few simple tweaks, you can typically halve Instant Pot recipes pretty easilylearn what considerations to keep in mind as you make adjustments.
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In recent years, the Instant Pot has taken the world by storm as an appliance that helps busy families get dinner on the table faster.
But the majority of Instant Pot recipes are written to yield 6-8 servings.
This is partly because a lot of the recipes are geared towards families, but also partly because pressure cookers by nature require a certain amount of liquid in order to create the pressure needed to function.
But family-friendly Instant Pot recipes pose a problem for the many users who simply dont need to feed a crowd.
I hear from countless readers who are single, widowed, or empty nesters who are only feeding one or two people, and they dont want a lot of leftovers.
The Recipes Need Liquid To Work
You must have liquid in your recipe to build up pressure for cooking. You’ll need around 1 1/2 cups of liquid for the 8-quart, 1 cup for the 6-quart and 3/4 cup for the 3-quart Instant Pot. Pro tip: To speed up the time it takes for the pot to come to pressure, warm the liquid on the saute setting first. This could save you up to 10 minutes.
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How To Quick Soak Beans In The Instant Pot
If you would like to soak the beans, but didn’t plan ahead, there’s good news! You can do a quick soak in the Instant Pot by placing 1 pound of beans and 6 cups of water in the pot. Cook them at high pressure for 2 minutes, Natural Pressure Release for 10 minutes, then release any remaining pressure. Rinse and drain the beans, then return them to the pot and cook them per soaked beans directions above.
Use Quick Release For Foamy Food Or When It Is Overfilled
Have you seen pictures of applesauce splattered all over the Instant Pot through the Venting Knob?
Mistake: Many new users are unsure when to use Quick Pressure Release and Natural Pressure Release. Theres a chance of splattering if users use Quick Release when cooking foamy food, such as grains or beans.
Solution #1: Use Natural Release for foamy food or when the pot is overfilled.
But waitmost pasta recipes call for Quick Release, what should we do?
Solution #2: Release the pressure gradually.
You dont have to turn the Venting Knob all the way to Venting Position to release pressure.
The initial release is usually the strongest. So, release the pressure gradually by turning the venting knob just a little with your hand or wooden spoon until you hear a hissing sound. Hold it at that position to release the pressure gradually.
Recommended Reading: How Long To Cook Frozen Chicken Thighs In Instant Pot
Should I Use Quick Release Or Natural Release
After cooking something in your pressure cooker, there are two basic ways to safely release the pressure from the pot:
- Quick Release: The Quick Release method involves turning the steam release handle on top of the lid to Venting. This opens a valve and allows steam to escape rapidly out of the holes in the release handle.
- Natural Release: The Natural Release method is simplejust leave the pot alone! The pressure inside the pot will drop over time as the steam and liquid cool. This take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes for the pot to depressurize naturally, depending on how full the pot is.
Which method you should use depends entirely on what youre making. Quick Release is a good choice when cooking vegetables, seafood, and other foods that are likely to overcook, while Natural Release is good for red meats, stews, and other foods that benefit from a rest period.
Whenever Im not sure which method to use, I like to split the difference by using a combination of both! Ill do Natural Release for 10 minutes, then Quick Release the remaining pressure.
To learn more about the different pressure release methods, and which one to use when, check out this post.
How Long Will My Instant Pot Take To Come To Pressure
While it may take longer for the 8 quart to come to pressure than the 3 quart and the 6 quart, once it comes up to pressure your cooking times should be the same. You might not notice any significant Instant Pot cooking differences when it comes to cooking times though. They should be relatively spot on no matter which pot you are using.
It takes an average of 5-10 minutes for my 6 quart Instant Pot to come to pressure, depending on how much food is in it and if that food is frozen. An Instant Pot with frozen food takes longer to come to pressure than one with refrigerated food.
Note: Technically the cook times should be the same. If you want to see how crazy different cook times can be, head over to the Instant Pot Facebook group and ask how long it takes to make hard boiled eggs in the Instant Pot. Youll quickly see what I mean by every pot and every size being different.
You can safely assume that unless noted otherwise, every Instant Pot recipe online is made for a 6 quart size. If youre using a 3 quart size or mini Instant Pot, divide the recipe in half and the cook time stays the same. If youre using an 8 quart Instant Pot, you can easily double the recipe youre cooking and the cook time stays the same.
Recommended Reading: Pressure Cooking Conversion Chart
You Always Use Quick Release
We’re all in a hurry to get dinner on the table, but sometimes using the quick pressure release function isn’t the best option. According to Instant Pot, “Quick Release is not suitable for food with large liquid volume or high starch content . Food content may splatter out from the pressure release.” They do recommend using quick release for quick-cooking vegetables and delicate seafood, since the cooking is more immediately stopped. Moral of the story: If you don’t use natural release, maybe keep a sponge nearby.
You’re Underestimating The Time A Recipe Takes
Yes, the Instant Pot is fast, but you might be a little disappointed when the mac and cheese recipe that promises to cook in five minutes takes longer than five minutes. This is because the time needed for the machine to come to pressure isn’t taken into account but there is a way to shave a few minutes off the process. Just turn on your Instant Pot right as you begin your recipe, even if you’re not ready to close the lid yet. Make sure you have whatever cooking liquid in so you’re not heating an empty pot, then finish the remaining prep. The pot will start to heat up while you’re working, and won’t have to start from cold once you do close the lid. Now you’re that much closer to cheesy pasta goodness.
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Using Too Much Liquid
While your pressure cooker needs liquid to function properly, beware of adding too much. Because food is cooked in a closed environment in the electric pressure cooker, theres significantly less evaporation than there would otherwise be in an open pot on the stove. Adding too much liquid can leave you with a finished dish that lacks flavor, or a sauce thats too thin.
Follow this tip: While at least 1/2 to 1 cup of liquid is essential to well-cooked food in the pressure cooker, too much liquid will pull the flavor out of foods. Unless otherwise specified in the recipe, use just enough liquid to bring the cooker to pressure.
What If You Can’t Make It
Don’t worry. You can catch the replays or listen to the podcast!
- Come back here to AskWardee.TV all replays will be up within hours of airing live the print notes are always posted at the same time I go live.
- Go to to view the Facebook Live replay or go to on your phone or tablet .
- Subscribe to the #AskWardee podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, , or the Podcasts app. While you’re there, be sure to leave a rating and review!
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You Can Make Pasta In Your Instant Pot
I was always told this was a no-no when I got mine but we make it ALL the time. Different pasta cooks differently, so using spaghetti will be different than a more substantial pasta. We havent done spaghetti but penne pasta works great as does bowtie, macaroni & more. There is NO boiling water required, and no straining and rinsing.
To make pasta, just put in the inner pot and fill with water JUST above the pasta. Dont put too much extra water you just want the water to barely touch the top of the leveled pasta. Put the lid on, close the valve and set for 4 minutes on manual . Let it sit for 3-4 minutes after it beeps then release the pressure.
Whats The Minimum Amount Of Liquid Needed To Cook In The Instant Pot
First, you must add liquid to the Instant Pot before cooking. Without sufficient liquid, pressure wont build and youll likely get the dreaded burn error. Unless otherwise specified in the recipe, youll need just enough liquid to bring the cooker to pressure. The Instant Pot manual suggests 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups, depending on the size of the cooker.
Also Check: How To Cook Fish In Instant Pot
Overfilling The Pressure Cooker
Despite its size, your pressure cooker isnt meant to be filled all the way. Packing in ingredients too tight and loading the cooker with too much can result in uneven cooking. It can take significantly longer for it to come to pressure, or if its too full, it might not come to pressure at all.
Follow this tip: When cooking beans or other foods that expand, fill no more than halfway, and for all other foods, fill the cooker no more than two-thirds of the way full. Your pressure needs open space for the pressure to build in order for it to function.
Instant Pot Ground Beef Times & Instructions:
- For plain ground beef, from fresh: Place the trivet or a steaming basket into the pot along with 1 cup of water. Then, place the beef in the trivet. Cook on high pressure for 6 minutes. Finish up by quickly releasing the pressure.
- For plain ground beef, from frozen: Repeat the first steps above, then cook 1-2 lbs. of frozen ground beef on high pressure for 20 minutes. Finish up by quickly releasing the pressure.
- For meatballs, from frozen or fresh and raw: Place meatballs in a steamer basket. Cook on high pressure with 1 cup of water for 8-10 minutes per pound of meat.
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How To Sort And Clean Beans
A bag of dried beans may contain rocks, debris, or old, shriveled beans that won’t soften well when cooked. To properly sort through them, pour onto a sheet pan in one layer. This will keep them contained and make sorting easy. Place the sorted beans into a colander and rinse with cold, running water before cooking.