How To Use An Instant Pot
People love their Instant Pot pressure cookers, but learning how to use them can feel a bit overwhelming.
Since it’s not quite like tossing food in the oven unlike say, an airfryer there is a barrier to entry for some folks. But do not fret. It’s actually quite simple once you get the hang of it.
We have 6 essential tips laid out in the order you’ll need them for using your Instant Pot that’ll make your cooking life easier. There are plenty of different models of the Instant Pot, so find one that works best for you.
How To Do A Pressure Cooker Quick Release
After the cooking cycle finished, carefully move the venting knob from Sealing Position to Venting Position to quickly release the pressure inside the pressure cooker.
Usually it takes a few minutes to release all the pressure. Wait until the Floating Valve completely drops before opening the lid.
The steam shooting out maybe intimidating at first. Using a wooden spoon or wear oven mitt/silicone glove to move the Venting Knob may help. You will get used to it
Whats the advantage?
Whats the catch?
- Not suitable for food with large liquid volume or high starch content . Food content may splatter out from the Pressure Release Valve.
- Foamy food may clog the Pressure Release Valve.
- Food, especially beans may break apart due to the sudden change in pressure/temperature.
- If the recipe is designed for Natural Pressure Release, the food may come out undercooked.
How To Use Natural Release On An Instant Pot
Ready to try natural release? Heres a step-by-step guide:
If you have kept the keep warm option on it will take even longer. If you want the natural release process to take less time, consider turning this feature off.
If the valve hasnt dropped, it means that theres still pressure inside and youll need to wait.
Turn the venting knob at this time to ensure that the pot has completely depressurized and theres no steam left inside. As said earlier, never force open the lid.
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What Is The Difference Between A Quick Pressure Release Or Natural Pressure Release And When Do I Use Them
Those are often the first questions new pressure cooker users ask. So I thought it would be a perfect time for a post explaining it for all those who have an electric pressure cooker or multi-cooker like the Instant Pot waiting for them under the tree.
When the cook time ends, your pressure cooker will beep. At this point, the recipe will direct you to release the pressure in the cooking pot. You can release the pressure two ways: a quick pressure release or a natural pressure release.
I really like the way the Instant Pot summarizes the two pressure releases:
Now for the details:
What Size Should I Get
The 6-quart Instant Pot is the most popular size by far, and the one we recommend for most folks. It offers plenty of capacity for weeknight dinners, soups and stews, a pot of beans, or even a whole chicken, yet doesnt take up a crazy amount of counter space or shelf space.
But the choice is entirely up to you, and dependent on your cooking habits and storage space. Both the Instant Pot Duo and Ultra also come in a 3-quart Mini size and an 8-quart size.
The 3-quart Mini version is a good option for one or two people, or folks with limited kitchen storage. But the appropriately named Mini has a tiny pressure-cooking capacity that tops out at 2 quarts. For foods that expand when they cook, such as beans and grains, the total volume cant exceed 1½ quarts.
If you cook for a lot of people or frequently make stock or broth, consider the 8-quart size. The hulking 8-quart Instant Pot will take up as much space on your countertop as a dish rack, which is why it isnt for everyone, but it can yield almost 1 gallon of stock. If for some reason you want to go even bigger, the Duo Nova model also comes in a 10-quart size.
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The Instant Pot Is A Multi
I bought my first pressure cooker in 1993. It was old fashioned compared to the Instant Pot. Still, I loved it for all of the reasons outlined above. I cooked grains in it until I went grain-free in 2001. After that I used my pressure cooker for bone broth. Since my husband doesnt like the smell of our house when I slow cook a batch of bone broth for 48 hours, the pressure cooker is the perfect tool.
Still, I traded in my beloved decades old pressure cooker for the Instant Pot for a number of reasons. Why? Well, you simply cant beat the Instant Pot when it comes to functionalities. It is everything from a pressure cooker, to a slow cooker, to a yogurt maker, which I think is totally crazy in the best way!
So when I bought the Instant Pot I gave up my traditional pressure cooker, yogurt maker, and slow cooker. I was so happy to gain back some kitchen real estate for a change! When the boys set up their own homes, this will be one of the first things I buy them.
What Is The Timer Button For
Some models have a button that reads Timer. While you may think that this is the button that sets the cooking time for your Instant Pot, it actually delays cooking time and will start the cooking when the timer counts down. You can set the cooking time with the plus/minus buttons or the dial, depending on the model.
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Smart Program Pressure Cooking
If you choose to use one of the pre-set smart program options, the steps are even simpler. Please refer to our post on Smart Program Instant Pot Buttons Explained for how to adjust each setting.
Step 1. Start the Instant Pot. Insert the inner pot into the cooker base.
Step 2. Add ingredients and liquids to the inner pot. Stir if needed or leave layered.
Step 3. Secure and lock the lid. Make sure everything feels well sealed.
Step 4. Select one of the Smart Program buttons. Pre-set cooking time and pressure level will display. You can leave it as is or adjust things like the pressure level from HIGH to LOW. You can press the Smart Program button again to cycle through the Less, Normal and More time options or use the and + buttons to adjust the cooking time further. If you make any adjustments to the selected Smart Program, they will be remembered next time you use it.
Step 5. Preheating & pressurizing stage begins followed by cooking under pressure as per program settings. Once the Instant Pot beeps again and the timer has reached zero, the cooking process is done.
Step 6. You can do a quick release or allow the built-up pressure to release naturally , or do both depending on the food/recipe.
Step 10. Once pressure is released, open the lid and stir or remove the contents.
Instant Pot Natural Release Vs Quick Release
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
What is the difference between Natural Release vs. Quick Release for the Instant Pot?
Dont have an Instant Pot yet or new to Instant Pot? Read What is The Instant Pot for more info! .
If you are lucky enough to have recently become the owner of an Instant Pot, then congratulations! There are a ton of amazing recipes available from Instant Pot Ribs to the most delicious Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe!
But maybe pressure cooking is new to you. If so, youll need to get familiar with natural release vs. quick release.
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So How Do You Know When It Is Safe To Open A Pressure Cooker
Whenever a liquid under pressure is depressurized suddenly, the gases contained in the liquid , will expand rapidly. If the proper steps arent followed, the contents of the pressure cooker can explode when the lid is removed. This could be quite harmful to individuals nearby and could also create a huge mess. However, this is not an actual explosion caused by combustion it is the almost immediate expansion of gases.
To prevent this from happening, there are certain steps that can be taken. Below are three of the safest and most frequently used approaches to safely opening a pressure cooker:
Slow Normal Pressure Release
This is a relatively fast opening method and can take from 5 to 6 minutes depending on the pressure cooker type and fill level . Similar to Normal release, this method releases pressure using the cookers valve, or the pressure releasing mechanism, but pressure should be released very slowly. If the valve only allows for pressure to release full-throttle, the cook should release it in very short bursts- if anything other than steam sprays out of the valve , the valve should be closed for 10 seconds before the next slow release or short burst. The Slow Normal release is for occasions where its just not practical or convenient to wait for the full Natural or 10-Minute Natural release or for tricky foods .
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My Pot Is Kind Of Stinky
The rubberized sealing ring of the Instant Pot can absorb odors easily, especially when pressure cooking. If you are cooking a particularly pungent meal, the ring may retain the smell, which is annoying when making a different meal. Garlic smells may be the most common, but it can happen over time with a variety of odors.
If the odor is causing problems, take your sealing ring out and try washing it in the dishwasher. This can remove some of the worst of the smell and get the ring back into working order. You may also want to try soaking it in a pan of warm water mixed with baking soda to absorb as much of the odor as you can. Some people even choose to purchase a spare sealing ring and use one for meals and one for desserts.
How To Release Instant Pot When Pressure Cooking
You can release pressure in the Instant Pot in two ways. There is the natural release method, and the quick release method.
The natural release method allows the pressure to naturally dissipate on its own. The quick release method is engaged when you turn the valve on top of the pot from the sealing setting to the venting setting.
According to the company, the Instant Pot naturally depressurizes by dissipating heat from the cover, specifically the metal parts. Depending on the volume of liquid in the cooking pot, it takes approximately 10-30 minutes to depressurize naturally. The more liquid content, the longer it takes. According to Instant Pot you can also place a towel soaked with cold water on the metal part of the lid to cool the cooker down. This method is referred to as natural release in pressure cooking recipes.
The quick release method is used by manually turning the steam release handle to the venting position to let the steam out of the cooker for fast cooling. With quick release the Instant Pot takes 1-2 minutes to depressurize. According to the company, the Instant Pots steam release handle is a safety device that lets the steam escape quickly from the pot. The company does not recommend using the quick release method if youre cooking food with a high starch content, e.g. porridge, as this may cause food to spill out from the steam release handle.
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My Instant Pot Isnt Searing Very Well
Sautéing with your Instant Pot is convenient, but it can be challenging to get a decent sear on specific cuts of meat. We recommend opting for a different appliance entirely to sear most larger-cut foods, like steak, because your Instant Pot wont get hot enough to execute a deep sear. Smaller cuts of meat may prove to be successful, but we cant promise that the meat wont become chewy or soggy. Searing is not the Instant Pots strong suit, so you should leave that job up to your trusted frying pan.
How To Use The Instant Pot Settings
There are 16 settings on the Instant Pot, which is why I said that its front looks like the dashboard of a rocket ship. Heres my guide for how to use the Instant Pot buttons. It will show you what the words on the front of each button mean and how to use the settings on the Instant Pot.
Each button designates a type of cooking. Basically the buttons have preset cook times to make things easier for you. The setting on the buttons also indicate if the pot will be locked to capture steam when you pressure cook, or if you will be using the Instant Pot like a regular pot and cooking without pressure.
The below is a quick summary I created of the Instant Pots buttons, along with the pressure setting and cook time for each one.
In the table above under the column that says pressure setting, youll see the words high and low. This indicates that the Instant Pot is cooking at high pressure with the lid sealed into place. Yes, even when the setting says low the Instant Pot is using its pressure cook feature. When the Instant Pot is on normal it is not sealed or cooking using pressure.
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To Keep Warm Or Not To Keep Warm
A lot of people, myself included, have wondered if the Keep Warm setting has an impact on how pressure is released from the Instant Pot. After plenty of research and experimentation on my own, Im ready to share what Ive learned! 🙂
The Keep Warm function is active by default, meaning that unless you turn it off, the Instant Pot will engage that function as soon as the cooking timer goes off. When Keep Warm is activated, it uses the heating element to maintain a low level of heat, and it starts a reverse timer that displays how many minutes have elapsed since the cooking process stopped.
The Keep Warm mode does NOT have a significant impact on how long it takes for pressure to release fully, regardless of which method youre using. That means that if youre using Natural Release after cooking a big pot of chili, you wont have to wait longer just because Keep Warm is active.
In my opinion, theres really no harm in leaving Keep Warm on when youre cooking in your Instant Pot, and it can be useful for keeping dinner warm between first and second helpings. And a lot of times that timer function can really come in handy, especially when using Magic Release!
Important Instant Pot Safety Tips
What Is Natural Release On An Instant Pot
On the other end of the scale, there is a natural release for instant pots, this is the way that is most commonly used as it is slow, steady and much safer.
The natural release happens when you turn the black nozzle on the lid to venting, once it is as venting it will slowly depressurize naturally and will take anything from 10-15 minutes.
The natural way is safer, causes less mess with water spewing everywhere and easier. Once the pot has reached a certain level and has depressurized this will then trigger the metal tab to fall and click.
During the natural release you will see the screen turn to L000 this is the timer for how long the food has stopped cooking and the natural release has taken place. Different foods and recipes with require different release times so make sure to look out for that while you are releasing your instant pot
This timer will go up in minutes as time goes on, this does not indicate that the release is done, which can only be identified when the metal valve has dropped.
This will indicate it is ready to open, even once the instant pot is ready you should still take care when opening the lid for access steam.
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Any Other Variations You Need To Know
- If you get the 8 quart model of the DUO, it will have longer pressurizing times, longer release times for it to depressurize, etc.. Thats simply because its bigger. And theres even a smaller 5qt version, but unless youre single I would at least opt for the 6qt.
- There is also a bluetooth model to control your pressure cooker remotely.
- If you cook bread a lot or anything that needs to rise, the 7-in-1 is a better option because the yogurt function can be the warm spot to proof your dough.
In the end, if you havent already purchased one, get the one that fits your budget and lifestyle the best. Theyre all great.
If youre looking for a great place to find recipes and get help, check out my co-run group,Instant Pot Recipes for Busy Parents & Families.
How To Safely Travel With An Instant Pot
words Al Woods
It may be surprising to know that many people out there inquire whether it is okay to take your instant pot when traveling or not. The answer to that question is, yes, of course, you can. You just need to make sure that you are taking the necessary steps to keep your instant pot from being broken and securing the food inside from spilling when you are on your way to your chosen destination.
Traveling with your instant potscan be very convenient for you to cook meals while on vacation Corrie, whoauthors CorrieCooks states that many instant pots have timers. This can be helpfulin certain recipes and can also be extremely helpful in your travels, as youcan leave meals cooking while you enjoy your day out and come back to yourrented place to a ready-cooked meal.
Here are steps to ensure that you safely travel with your instant pot.
The most important thing to dobefore moving your instant pot is to depressurize it.Depressurizing your pot means letting air back into it so that the pressureinside the pot is the same as the air pressure outside. You can either do thatusing the pressure release button on your instant pot lid, or you can do itmanually by turning the dial until it is completely depressurized. Whicheverway you choose to go about doing this very important step, make sure that it isfully depressurized before taking it with you, especially if you are travelingby air.
Place the rightamount of food
How to handle
Traveling by car
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