How To Use An Instant Pot: What You Need To Know To Get Started With Instant Pot Cooking
There are a few basic things that you need to know when using an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker. Once you use yours a few times, these will be like second nature. Depending on which Instant Pot model you own, the buttons may be labeled slightly differently. Consult the manual that came with your Instant Pot.
Minimum Liquid Required: As a general rule, you want to use at least 1 cup of liquid in your Instant Pot every time you cook with it. The Instant Pot uses steam and pressure to cook food, and you need liquid to create the steam and pressure. Some recipes may call for more or less liquid. I recommend following recipes from a trusted source while you are learning to use your Instant Pot.
Fill Level: Inside the Instant Pot inner pot, you will see a 1/2 and a 2/3 line marked. Never fill the Instant Pot higher than the 2/3 line with food or liquid . If you are cooking food that will expand during the cook time such as rice, quinoa or beans, do not fill the Instant Pot higher than the 1/2 line.
Pressure Cook or Manual Button: Depending on which Instant Pot model you own, the Pressure Cook button is sometimes labeled Manual and sometimes Pressure Cook. This is the button that you will press to start a pressure cooking cycle. Its your basic pressure cooking button.
+/- Buttons: Use these buttons to adjust the cook time.
Keep Warm/Cancel Button: Use this button to end a cooking program or turn on/off the keep warm function.
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!
Trivet Or Steamer Rack
Almost all Instant Pots come with a stainless steel steamer rack. Some with handles, others may not have handles. Its very helpful for cooking all sorts of food in Instant Pot.
The long handles on both sides make it easy for handling and removal from the pot. Its also compact, easy to store, and easy to clean.
More Info on How to use the Trivet:Instant Pot Trivet
Also Check: How To Steam Frozen Tamales
How To Perform A Slow Release
To perform a slow-release, you need to cook your food as instructed in the recipe and once your timer counts down to zero, just let the pot sit and depressurize naturally.
This can take anywhere from a few minutes to as many as 30 minutes. You will know that the pot has fully depressurized when the float valve falls down by itself.
In all these cases, you will not be able to open the Instant Pot. As already mentioned, it a safety feature that is built into it to prevent any accidents from happening.
When you are doing a slow-release, different recipes need different times to depressurize. As already stated, some foods take a few minutes while others take more time.
When the cooking time has elapsed, the display panel will show L000. From this point, it will start counting up. When you are cooking beans, you need to allow them to sit for 30 minutes.
The float valve may actually drop all the way down even before the 30 minutes are up but you need to allow the full 30 minutes in order to get the best results.
The Instant Pot Keeps Beeping
Its normal for the pot to beep as it starts to heat, beep when its starting the timer, and beep when the timer is done. If its beeping otherwise, that usually means something is wrong, and you should look to see if theres a code flashing on the screen. This most often indicates an overheating issue that your Instant Pot wants you to know about ASAP.
You May Like: Instant Pot Madras Lentils
How To Use A 6
- Make a Single Layer 6-Inch Cake from a Single Layer 9-Inch Cake Recipe. Halve any recipe written for a single layer 9-inch cake and bake it in a 6-inch pan. Be sure to check it several minutes early, as the smaller cake may bake more quickly.
- Make an Adorable Double Layer 6-Inch Cake from a Single Layer 9-Inch Cake Recipe. Keep the 9-inch single layer cake recipe the same. Divide the batter between two 6-inch pans. If you dont want to purchase two 6-inch pans, you can bake the layers one at a time. Be sure to let the pan cool to room temperature in between.
- Make an Double Layer 6-Inch Cake from a Double Layer 9-Inch Cake Recipe. Halve the 9-inch cake recipe. Divide the batter between two 6-inch pans , unless you want to make a teetering-but-impressive 4-layer 6-inch cake, in which case, I want to see photos!
- For Recipes Written for Cake Sizes other than 9-Inches, I recommend using this conversion link to compare the pan volumes and using your best judgement.
Or just bake this Instant Pot Cake! The recipe is ready to go for a 6-inch pan as-is.
Dont Miss: Instant Pot Yogurt No Yogurt Button
Your Instant Pot Is Too Full
Another reason why your Instant Pot may not pressurize is because you might have filled it too much. If there isnt enough space for the steam to circulate, then the pot wont create pressure and burn notice will be displayed on your display screen. You can avoid this problem by following the max line on your pot.
The max line is located on the inner pot and it tells you how much liquid to put in your pressure cooker. When you are using a recipe, make sure to measure the ingredients and only fill your Instant Pot to the max line. If you have already filled it too full, try taking out some liquid to make more space.
The rule of thumb is to never fill your inner pot over full. There is a silver line that is hard to see in your inner pot. That line tells you how full you can fill it. If your pot is two full, it can either make sure your Instant Pot wont come to pressure, or it will end up spewing your food all over the place when you do a quick release. Always make sure you dont overfill your Instant Pot.
Recommended Reading: Convert Soup Recipe To Instant Pot
What Does The Instant Pot Poultry Setting Do
Like the other Instant Pot Smart Programs, the poultry smart program presets the cooking pressure, heat intensity, temperature, and time.
The poultry button sets an initial cooking time and you can adjust as needed. By default, the button cooks at high pressure for different lengths of time.
- Normal Setting: 15 minutes by default, is for a very soft texture,
- More Setting: 30 minutes default and is for fall-off-the-bone texture
- Less Setting: 5 minutes by default and is for soft texture
Choose the setting based on the texture you want for your finished dish. Alternatively you can simply adjust the cooking time to achieve the same results.
Wondering How To Use Your Instant Pot Sous Vide Smart Program This Easy
Learn how to use your Instant Pot sous vide function with this step-by-step guide.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. If you make a purchase, this site may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Although the Instant Pot is most known for its ability to cook food quickly at a high pressure, most Instant Pot models boast additional options beyond pressure cooking.
But one of the newest features available on some Instant Pot models is the Sous Vide function!
Also Check: What Do I Do When My Instant Pot Says Burn
Pressure Cooking Requires Liquid
Before we continue, we must mention the most important aspect of pressure cooking. It requires liquid. This is because the pressure is built by the steam accumulating inside the pot, which is produced from the liquid.
Whether youre cooking rice, chicken breasts, pot roast, carrots, stew or cheesecake, you will need at least a cup of liquid for the Instant Pot to do its job.
This is a total amount of liquid and can be in the form of water, stock, tomato sauce, juice, wine and liquids released from the food while cooking , or a combination of those. Amount of liquid required varies depending on the recipe and amount of food but as a rule of thumb, 1 cup is always a good starting point. Also, the food doesnt need to be completely covered or submerged in liquid to cook.
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.
You May Like: Pressure Cook Tamales
The Instant Pot’s Lightning
The Instant Pot boasts some impressively quick cook times, especially for smaller vegetables and cuts of meat. According to Paint The Kitchen Red, the machine can cook asparagus in zero minutes at high pressure. Broccoli also apparently cooks in zero time, and shrimp only takes one minute. These miraculously speedy times come with a big caveat: they’re the time it cakes to cook something once the Instant Pot has come up to pressure. It generally takes at least 10 minutes for the appliance to pressurize, longer if you’re cooking a high volume of food or if your ingredients are frozen. Then you have to release the pressure to access your food, which can take up to half an hour if you’re using the natural release. Suddenly, that zero-minute broccoli has turned into 45-minute broccoli.
For this reason, it’s generally a good idea to save your Instant Pot for recipes that would normally take a long time. The Instant Pot makes foods like homemade stock, dried beans, and large chunks of braised meat all take minutes rather than hours to cook. For little things like steamed vegetables and chicken breasts, you won’t save much time or energy by using the Instant Pot instead of conventional methods.
The Science Of Cold Water On The Pressure Cooker
Pouring cold water over the top of a pressure cooker may sound counter-intuitive, especially when you account for thermal shock and having the contents under pressure. However, pressure cookers only reach 250 degrees Fahrenheit, much lower than other cooking methods like the frying pan, which reaches 350 degrees.
Steel and aluminum wont do much with cold water poured over the top of it at that temperature, from a metallurgical perspective. Cooling the lid of the pressure cooker will depressurize it faster than if you cooled it on the bottom because heat rises and will especially be near the top of the container.
The rapid condensation at the lid depressurizes as quickly as 20 seconds. You can safely open the pressure cooker after that. Looking past a jammed lid, the cold water quick-release method works especially well with steamed vegetables.
Warning: Never attempt the cold water release with electric pressure cookers. Water and electricity dont mix. Also, you shouldnt submerge an electric pressure cooker in water even with it unplugged because it will ruin your pressure cooker.
Don’t Miss: How To Boil Milk In Instant Pot
Try To Open The Pressure Cooker Lid
Once all of the excess steam has escaped from underneath the lid, it is time to try and remove it. With the towel and mitt still in place, try and open the pressure cooker as usual if this does not work, place some pressure around the edges and try to open simultaneously.
If you have a stovetop pressure cooker and the lid is still stuck, you could try placing it in the sink and running some cold water on the lid. This should work!
If, however, this does not work or you have an electric pressure cooker, try tapping on the edges of the appliance with a rubber mallet or something that will not damage it. Then try pushing down on the lid and opening.
As a last resort, I have found that closing all the release valves and putting the pressure cooker back on the heat source to build up pressure may help loosen the lid.
Always Deglaze The Pot
If use the Sauté function on your Instant Pot before pressure cooking something, its essential that you deglaze the bottom of the pot. This simply means that you add a splash of water to the pot and use a wooden spoon to scrape off anything that might be stuck to the bottom. Onions, dried spices, and ground meat are common ingredients that will stick to the bottom of your pan, so its important that you get every little bit un-stuck to avoid getting the dreaded burn error during your pressure cooking cycle.
Once you become familiar with your Instant Pot, making dinner can be as easy as adding your ingredients to the pot, pressing a button, and walking away. I love how the process is totally hands-off! Check out my earlier post, 6 ways I use my Instant Pot, to see how I use it on a real-life, regular basis.
Don’t Miss: How To Saute Meat In Instant Pot
If Your Silicone Ring Is Sticking To The Lid
The silicone ring thats located around the pressure cookers rim is exposed to a lot of different foods and temperatures over the course of a year. Which, of course, means that the ring itself can be quite sticky.
If your float valve has dropped, but youre still having problems opening the lid, the lid may have stuck to the silicone ring.
Opening up a pressure cooker lid thats stuck to the silicone ring is an easy task. Do the following.
- Firmly turn the lid back and forth to separate the lid and the sticky silicone ring.
- Wash the silicone ring, in the dishwasher or the sink to keep it clean.
Make sure that the float valve has dropped before you start turning the lid back and forth. You dont want to force a pressurized cooker open. It is nearly impossible to open a pressurized cooker but I strongly advise against trying for your safety.
What Foods Are Best For A Pressure Cooker
Pressure cooking uses wet heat. You gotta have liquid in the cookerthe steam creates the pressure. No liquid, no steam, no pressure.
Pressure cooking is for boiling, steaming, and braising. For example, you couldnt cook French fries from start to finish by pressure cooking.
But anything boiled or steamed or simmered is ace in a pressure cooker.
Recommended Reading: Idli Batter Instant Pot
When To Use Quick Pressure Release
When you use this method, the pressure releases as soon as the cooking time stops. Hence, you must use this method when you want to avoid overcooking vegetables or rice.
Some of the recipes you can cook using the quick pressure release method are steamed dumplings, sausages, corn on the cob, potato salads etc.
Never use this method with ingredients that are fatty or thick or those which foam.
Inspecting Your Instant Pot Before Each Use
1. Remove the stainless steel inner pot and look inside the instant pot base. You will see the heating element. The heating element should always be free of debris and dry before you use you the Instant Pot. After washing, I always dry my stainless steel inner pot thoroughly before returning it to the base unit.
2. Check that the silicone sealing ring is fitted properly onto the lid and is clean and free of tears.
3. Remove the steam release valve from the Instant Pot lid by gently pulling it straight up. Make sure it is clean and free of debris. Some foods, such as applesauce, pasta and oatmeal may froth and foam when you cook them and can clog the steam release valve. Check the steam release valve each time you use your Instant Pot. If it is dirty clean it under running water and then put it back on the Instant Pot lid.
4. Check the float valve to ensure it is clean and free of debris. Clean it with warm water as needed. You may place the lid under running water as needed to wash it.
Making sure that all parts of your Instant Pot are clean and in good working condition can help you to have the best success with pressure cooking. My post about the Instant Pot burn message tells you both how to prevent getting this warning and what to do if you do get a burn message.
You May Like: Pressure Cooker Frozen Pork Roast