Instant Pot Guide: A Beginners Guide To Using Your Pressure Cooker
Wondering how to use your new Instant Pot? In this Instant Pot Guide, Ill walk you through what you need to know to start cooking with your Instant Pot today. Safety features, how to do an Instant Pot water test, whats the difference between a natural pressure release and a quick release, and what will happen step by step through the cooking process.
Ill be honest the first time I used my Instant Pot, I was overwhelmed and a bit scared. An Instant Pot can be intimidating for a new user. There are so many buttons and safety warnings.
However, I guarantee that once you get started, youll wonder what you ever did without your Instant Pot. I love mine so much that I now own two Instant Pots!
Im going to help you get started with all of the tips and tricks that I have learned through trial, error and research. This Instant Pot manual will tell you everything you need to know to use your Instant Pot for the first time.
Instant Pot Manual Setting
Depending on the model, the Instant Pot manual setting button will either say Pressure Cook or Manual. This is the setting youre likely to use the most. The temperature, pressure level and cooking times can be adjusted on the control panel.
- Turn the Instant Pot on. It should say OFF on the screen, indicating its in the Stand-By mode.
- Select Pressure Cook button . The default settings will be Normal mode on High pressure. If you press the Pressure Cook button again, it will change from Normal mode to Less or More, which simply changes the automatically programmed cooking time. Less would be 20 minutes and More would be 45 minutes.
- Use the +/- keys to change the cooking time in each mode. In most cases, you will leave it in Normal mode and simply adjust the time as needed.
- Use Pressure Level button to adjust the pressure level press it to toggle between High and Low. For most recipes, you will use High pressure except for cooking more fragile foods like fish, seafood or fast-to-cook vegetables.
- With the manual setting, you can use Natural Release or Quick Release or a combination of both once the cooking is done.
When Should I Use Keep Warm Function
The Instant Pot can be kept on Keep Warm after cooking most foods. In fact, its very handy if you are finished cooking before youre ready to serve food. Some foods like rice, quinoa, or anything that has soaked up a lot of liquid should be monitored or warmed in a more moist environment to prevent dryness or burning. You can select Keep Warm cycle before you start cooking or after.
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Is It Okay To Thaw Meat At Room Temperature
It’s NOT recommended that you thaw meat at room temperature. Room temperature is not a cold enough environment to safely thaw frozen meats before cooking them.
The best way to thaw meat is in the refrigerator, still sealed in its packaging. Place it on a dish or pan with a raised edge to catch any drips and place this dish in the refrigerator.
If you put frozen meat directly on a shelf, fridge could raise the temperature of your whole fridge and cause other food to spoil faster.
How To Use Your Instant Pot
Are you a new Instant Pot owner? Or maybe you bought one a while ago, but havent been brave enough to open the box? I used to be intimidated by the Instant Pot myself, so today I want to share with you 10 things you must know about using your electric pressure cooker. Im hoping it will help you feel confident enough to take full-advantage of it in no time!
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How To Safely Remove The Lid
Are you worried about your Instant Pot exploding? That was my biggest fear when I got started, too. Luckily, the Instant Pot is loaded with safety features to help prevent that from happening, but the best thing you can do is learn how to use it properly to avoid any user errors.
Its NOT safe to remove the lid from your Instant Pot until all of the pressure has been released from the pot. Youll know its safe to remove the lid when the floating valve in the lid drops. This means all of the pressure is gone, and the Instant Pot lid will easily twist off.
Never ever try to force the lid off the pot if it doesnt twist easily. As a safety precaution, the Instant Pot locks the lid while the pot is still pressurized, so dont try to fight it.
Instant Pot Recipes Made Simple
Do you wish you could find one-pot meals that are simple and easy to make and your family will love?
Youre about to find out how simple it is to make healthy, one-pot meals with your Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker with my cookbook Instant Pot Recipes Made Simple. You can download it instantly to your phone, computer or e-reader, so its portable and can go with you anywhere!
With this book, youll get:
- Tried-and-true recipes the whole family will love including pot roast, spaghetti, tacos, carnitas, soups, and easy breakfast meals
- Instant Pot starter guide on how to use the buttons, tips and tricks, and more
- Printable shopping lists for ingredients
- Step-by-step video lesson on how to use your Instant Pot, pressure cooker safety, and some of my favorite tips and tricks
- Two-week meal plan that you can put into action for no-stress weeknight dinners
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Get To Know The Design
Electric pressure cookers come with an inner pot and an outer pot , as well as a lid that creates an airtight seal.
The airtight seal is what creates the pressure, which will eventually need to be released, and to do so safely, youll need to read the directions that come with your pot. But generally speaking, youll either use the quick-release method , or the natural-release method .
Test Kitchen tip: A cool, wet towel placed on the lid can help speed up the release process.
How To Make Instant Pot Yogurt Cups
Yogurt cups are a convenient way to portion out your yogurt into individual or smaller servings. After adding the starter culture to the pasteurized or warm milk, carefully pour the milk into your yogurt cups and seal them tightly. Clean the inner pot thoroughly and place the steam rack/trivet on the bottom of the inner pot. Place the sealed yogurt cups on the steam rack and add water to the inner pot until the cups are submerged halfway. Follow steps in Fermenting Yogurt above.
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Is This Thing Safe
Its actually safer than conventional cooking or stovetop pressure cooking. Everyone has heard stories about old-time pressure cookers exploding. Your Instant Pot wont do that because the temperature and pressure inside the pots is carefully monitored and regulated through its internal programming.
Remember: Its your trusty cooking robot.
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Can You Meal Prep Ground Beef In The Instant Pot
Yes! Using your Instant Pot pressure cooker is for meal prep can be a huge time saver for you.
We recommend using this method for meal prepping taco meat or spaghetti sauce. You could also use this process to make chili or other types of meat sauces.
Simply make the ground beef ahead of time, and then you have it ready to add to other recipes.
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Ingredients To Cook Instant Pot Jasmine Rice
Cooking jasmine rice in the Instant Pot is simple once you know the right ratio of rice to water plus the correct cooking time. Weve listed all the information here for you so you can make it just right every time.
To make light and fluffy jasmine rice in the Instant Pot, you will need:
- Uncooked jasmine rice
Thats all it takes. Some recipes will call for added oil or salt in the Instant Pot, but you dont need those. If youd like to flavor your rice with seasonings, butter, ghee, or oil, do so after it comes out of the Instant Pot.
How To Thaw Ground Beef Ground Turkey Chicken Breasts And Other Meat Types
The best way to thaw meat is to take it out of the freezer a day or two ahead of time and place it into the refrigerator. Give it time to thaw slowly and make sure you pat any excess moisture off of the meat before cooking.
While there are other methods, they aren’t safe for all types of food. We don’t recommend thawing meat in a microwave oven or running cold water over ground beef because it can create unsafe conditions by causing temperature fluctuations.
If you forget to take it out ahead of time, cooking frozen been in the Instant Pot works perfectly fine.
How To Cook Pot
One of my favorite perks of the Instant Pot is that you can cook two dishes at the same time! Its called pot-in-pot cooking, where one dish cooks on the bottom of the pot, and then a separate bowl of food can cook on top of that. You can see an example of this with my Chipotle Burrito Bowls. In this case, the spiced black beans cook on the bottom while a bowl of brown rice cooks on top, both from scratch in a 30-minute cooking cycle.
Ive dedicated an entire blog post to pot-in-pot cooking, so you can get a better idea of which ingredients can be cooked together at the same time. There are also several recipes in my cookbook that teach you how to cook rice, cauliflower rice, and cauliflower mashed potatoes at the same time as your main entree.
How To Saute In The Instant Pot
Sauté is a non-pressure cooking program that can be used in place of a frying pan or flat-top grill. For recipes that call for browned onions or garlic, its important to sauté them before adding liquid to the pot as you will release a lot of flavor this way. Another reason to sauté first is for browning meat. Lastly, sautéeing before cooking is a great way to increase heat and reduce the amount of time your pot will take to come to pressure. Learn more about other smart program settings on Instant Pot here.
Step 1. Star the Instant Pot. Insert the inner pot into the cooker base. Do not use the lid for the next step.
Step 2. Press the Sauté button. After 10 seconds, the cooker displays ON to indicate that it has begun heating. When display switches from On to Hot, add ingredients you want to brown. Note: You can add ingredients before the Hot message appears if you do, it may not appear at all. This is normal.
The control panel will display a 30-minute countdown timer as a maximum Sauté time, you can use it for reference if you like or disregard.
The default temperature setting for Sauté function is Normal. Press Sauté again to cycle through for Less and More temperature options. Use Normal for general pan searing or sautéing, Less for simmering, thickening and reducing liquids and More for Stir-frying or browning meat.
Step 4. Add any other ingredients and liquids. Stir if needed or leave layered and continue with the manual or program settings to pressure cook the food.
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Whats The Big Deal With Instant Pots Anyway
Instant Pots are multifunction, programmable electric pressure cookers. Think of them as little cooking robots.
If youre not familiar with pressure cooking, the entire point of an Instant Pot can be confusing.
The big sell here is pressure cooking is up to 70 percent faster than other ways of cooking. Pressure cookers reach higher temperatures because their lids lock into place without steam escaping, which creates a pressurized environment inside the pot. In this environment, the cooker reaches 250°F .
With pressure cooking on a stove, you have to keep a close eye on the cooker because you regulate the heat source. But with an electric Instant Pot, the cooker regulates its own heat via sensors. Thats the other win. Program the Instant Pot and once its going, youre free to go for a walk, vacuum the living roomyou get the idea.
Instant Pots can do other things besides pressure cook, too. With the lid off, you can sauté ingredients before pressure cooking. You can also use it as a slow cooker or for making yogurt. Were not going to worry about doing those things here, though. This guide is all about pressure cooking.
Other Useful Buttons To Know
- +/- Button To adjust cook time.
- Saute Button Used for sauteing and browning ingredients before pressure cooking. And simmering, thickening and reducing liquids after.
Never have the lid on when sauteing . It will cause the pot to pressurize eventually and is not necessary for sauteing.
- Adjust Button Switches between Less, Normal and More to control the amount of heat during Saute mode.
- Keep Warm/Cancel Button Once a cooking program is selected, the Auto Keep Warm function is on by default but it can be turned off by pressing this button again before you begin pressure cooking. Cancel button ends cooking program at any time.
Even if you dont need to keep food warm, it is handy to leave this function on when you are not around during cooking. So, when you come back to the kitchen you know exactly when Instant Pot has finished cooking. Display will say L and number of minutes.
- Pressure Level Button This button switches between Low and High pressure levels that is available on all Instant Pot models except Lux.
- Delay Start Button Set the delayed time before a cooking program starts.
1. Press Delay Start button.2. Use the +/- buttons to set the hours.3. Press Delay Start again.4. Use the +/- buttons to set the minutes.
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How Do I Get Into This Thing When Its At Pressure
Now you need to release the pressure. There are two ways:
- Natural release: That means you do nothing but wait. The more food in the Instant Pot, the longer it takes for the pressure to come downas long as 30 minutes if you have, say, a big batch of chili. In a lot of recipes, this time is actually part of the cooking time, and the recipe will specify natural release in the instructions. Think of it as carryover cooking. Youll use natural release with dried beans, a lot of soups and stews, most meats, steamed desserts, and long-cooking vegetables.
- Quick release: With this method, you use the quick release valve and steam shoots up out of it. Once again, the more food in your Instant Pot, the longer it takes for the steam to release. Youll use quick release for quick-cooking foods like tender vegetables and seafoods.
Should I Use The Rice Button On My Instant Pot
The Instant Pots rice button is best used for white rice, as it is specifically calibrated to weigh white rice and water and cook the rice accordingly. This is ideal for weeknights when you truly want to set and forget your rice, but not great for cooking different varieties of rice on the fly.
Luckily, you can use your Instant Pots manual pressure function to cook white, brown, or wild rice on high pressure in just a few minutes. Heres how to do it.
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How To Cook On Manual
When you use a manual setting, you are in charge of selecting the cook time, and the pressure in some models, rather than relying on one of the preset buttons like rice or stew. Older models of Instant Pot have a Manual button and newer models have a Pressure Cook button, but both buttons do the exact same thing.
To cook on manual, all you have to do is press the Manual or Pressure Cook button and then use the + or buttons to set the cook time. The Instant Pot automatically cooks on high pressure, but some models have a separate Pressure button that allows you to cook at low pressure if youd like to.
Make sure you secure the lid and move the steam release valve to Sealing, to ensure the pot will come to pressure. Its also important that you follow a trusted Instant Pot recipe, so that you have sufficient liquid in the pot and that your ingredients are layered properly.
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Keep Warm / Cancel Button
Once the Instant Pot is done cooking, you can use the Keep Warm / Cancel function to keep food hot or to cancel the pressure cooking mode.
Keep Warm ButtonWhen pressure cooking is done, the Instant Pot will beep and automatically go into the Keep Warm function. It will display an L in front of a number to indicate how long its been warm e.g. L0:30 for 30 minutes. Its a great feature to keep food warm for up to 99 hours, 50 minutes. Its perfect for pot lucks.
Cancel ButtonAt any time, you can cancel cooking and return to standby mode by pressing the Keep Warm / Cancel button. This is a great option if you selected the wrong time for pressure cooking and need to stop to make adjustments to the pressure or time.
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