How To Operate Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

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Lets Try The Quick Release

How to Use Instant Pot as a Pressure Cooker

Back to our pot of water: Push the steam release valve to the venting position using a long-handled spoon or your finger. Just keep your fingers to the side and away from the top of the knob where the steam vents.

This valve should stay open on its own once you nudge it. The steam will come shooting up and be a little noisy.

Releasing all of the steam can take a minute or more. The more liquid in the cooker, the longer the release will take. With the 3 cups of water, it took mine 45 seconds.

Coco Morante

How To Use The Instant Pot For Beginners

Learn how to use the Instant Pot with step-by-step instructions and photos for manual or smart program pressure cooker settings, how to sauté foods, and how and when to select a natural release or quick release options. Plus, we cover some Instant Pot FAQs and general tips to make your learning curve as the Instant Pot beginner less steep. Lets get started!

Looking at your shiny new Instant Pot box and wondering where to start? Dont panic! This wonderful kitchen gadget might seem intimidating but its actually very friendly once you get to know it. Lets unpack the box, its time to learn how to use the Instant Pot.

As part of our Instant Pot For Beginner series, we have also covered what the Instant Pot is and how it works with its key features and cooking stages. Make sure to check them out!

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.

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Change The Size Of The Meat

Large cuts of meat require much longer in the pressure cooker than that same cut of meat diced into bite-size pieces. So if you want to cook a side with a longer cook time, consider changing up the size of the meat. For instance, the thinly sliced beef strips in Beef and Broccoli only take 12 minutes at high pressure, so theyre too long for white rice and too short for brown rice. However, beef cut into 2- or 3-inch cubes would need about 20 minutes at high pressure, making them a good match for brown rice, which has a 22-minute cook time and a 20-minute natural pressure release.

How To Store Your Instant Pot

Instant Pot Ultra 8 Qt 10

Store your cooker like this, with the lid upside down and the gasket loose. Condensation builds up in the gasket, which can become moldy if you lock a damp lid on the cooker.

This method allows for lots of air circulation. Its not so pretty on a countertop, I know. If nothing else, make sure you at least never store your cooker with a damp lid.

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Instant Pot Porridge Setting

The porridge setting on the Instant Pot can be used to cook oatmeal using old-fashioned oats and steel-cut oats, rice porridge and congee or porridge-like dishes that use a mixture of grains that expand in liquid. Ideally, you should use natural release when cooking high-starch foods that expand or a combination of 5-10 minutes natural release and quick release to follow. Below is how to use the Porridge setting on Instant Pot.

  • Turn the Instant Pot on, it will say OFF to indicate the Stand-By mode. Add the grains, liquid and spices or fat if you wish. Secure and lock the lid. Press the Porridge button. The default setting is pre-programmed to set the pot to cook at High pressure for 20 minutes. If you press the Porridge button again, you can adjust the mode from Normal to Less or More.
  • Less mode 5 minutes at High pressure this is suitable for cooking rolled oats and risotto-like porridge or rice porridge with slightly firmer to bite texture.
  • Normal mode 20 minutes at High pressure use for steel-cut oat porridge or rice porridge with a slightly softer texture and for making congee.
  • More mode 30 minutes at High pressure use for a porridge/congee that contains a mixture of beans or tougher grains.

If desired, use the / + buttons to further customize the time. The cooking time may be adjusted at any time during pressure cooking.

Here are some suggested water to rice/oats ratios for porridge and oatmeal dishes:

The Most Important Step Add Liquid

No matter what youre using the pot-in-pot method for, dont forget to add liquid to the bottom of the pot. If youre cooking a saucy dish in the bottom at the same time, this should already be covered. If you are only cooking something in the elevated pot, be sure that you add water to the pot first. Otherwise, you will get the burn message as the pot heats up.

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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.

Dont Be Afraid To Add Time

How To Use The Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

Since the trivet lifts foods up and away from the heating element on the bottom of the cooking pan, foods occasionally need an additional minute or two at high pressure. When first adjusting a recipe, I recommend starting with the original time listed in the different recipes and testing for doneness. For example, if I use a tall trivet when just cooking rice pot-in-pot, I will use a 4-minute cook time to make sure the rice cooks through.

OK, thats it! Do you have any questions about cooking pot-in-pot? Leave me your questions in the comments!

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Instant Pot Multigrain Setting

This setting is best suited to cooking tougher, whole grains like brown and wild rice, farro, millet and steel-cut oats it can also be used to cook dry beans and a mixture of grains and legumes. We find that this is one of the most confusing functions for people because some of the recommended manual cooking times for grains dont match the pre-programmed setting times, so its hard to know when to use this function. Below is how to use the Multigrain setting on the Instant Pot.

  • Turn the Instant Pot on, it will say OFF to indicate the Stand-By mode. Add the grains, liquid and seasoning if you wish. Secure and lock the lid. Press the Multigrain button. The default setting is pre-programmed to set the pot to cook at High pressure for 40 minutes. If you press the Multigrain button again, you can adjust the mode from Normal to Less or More.

If desired, use the / + buttons to further customize the time. The cooking time may be adjusted at any time during pressure cooking.

If cooking dry beans, ensure they are completely submerged in water the same if youre making a mixture of grains and beans.

Get More Intense Flavour With Less Work: Heres How To Use Your Instant Pot Like A Pro


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A few years ago, when pressure cookers became trendy again, Toronto-based food stylist and recipe developer Annabelle Waugh remained skeptical. Still, she picked one up to test for work, used it a few times, then sort of forgot about it she didnt dislike it, but she wasnt blown away either.

All that changed when, one day, she realized she forgot to soak some beans she needed for a recipe and popped the dry ingredient and some water into her Instant Pot 9-in-1 Duo Plus 8-quart pressure cooker. About 35 minutes later, she was eating the best beans shed ever had.

Waugh has been using the kitchen appliance avidly ever since, on dishes like flavourful curries and a vegan spin on Bolognese using lentils. When something is pressure cooked, everything is all sealed in there, she says. The flavour intensification is pretty remarkable.

And, of course, theres the convenience factor. The Instant Pot and similar devices arent necessarily the fastest way to cook a meal, even for shorter recipes, Waugh says: it can take a while for the required amount of pressure to build up, and also for the steam to release at the end. That said, they do eliminate the need to stand over your stovetop with a watchful eye on dinner.

Annabelle Waughs Weeknight-Easy Lentil Bolognese

Prep time: 10 minutes

2 1/2 cups water

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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.

Why Do Most Recipes Use Manual Settings Instead Of Smart Program Buttons

How to Use the Instant Pot Duo Plus

One size does not fit all in most scenarios. This is true of the smart one-touch buttons on the Instant Pot too. While some may come in handy down the line, you should learn more about specific recipes before you begin relying on them. Using Manual/Pressure Cook button and adjusting time and pressure level by yourself gives you more control. Having said that, you can also adjust time and pressure level once youve selected once of the Smart Program function.

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What Can You Cook In An Instant Pot

You’d be amazed at what you can cook in an Instant Pot with a little creativity. Most people will use the Instant Pot to make chili or stew. That’s just the beginning. Instant Pot cooking can be healthier since you don’t use much oil. You can steam rice, cook a whole chicken, boil eggs, sauté vegetables, make spaghetti and cook nearly anything you can think of. The best part is that cooking in an Instant Pot means faster cooking times and far less mess. Most recipes are ready in 30 minutes or less and make cleanup easier.

What Is Best To Cook In A Pressure Cooker

So wondering what are the best instant pot recipes you can make?

The list of delicious foods you can cook in an Instant Pot range the gamut: rice, stew, chili, soup potatoes, oats, mac and cheese. You can even bake bread in an Instant Pot. Plus, weve got a round-up here of the Best Instant Pot Chicken Recipes and the Best Instant Pot Vegetarian Recipes you can make.

There are loads of accessories available like trivets, pans, egg cookers, and specialty steamers and slings that open up your options even more! Additionally, just about any oven safe pot or pan can also be used in your appliance as long as it fits securely inside the sealed pot. Basically, the options for cooking in your Instant Pot are endless.

The best foods to cook in your Instant Pot will be those that are boiled, steamed, or simmered.

Here are a few things that would usually take hours that the multi-cooker cooks up in less than an hour:

  • Braised Meats Full of flavor as if its been braising for hours.
  • Whole Chicken You can even cook this from frozen!
  • Beans No need to soak them overnight.

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How To Wash Your Instant Pot

When you’re doing dishes after dinner, be sure to remove and thoroughly clean the sealing ring to ensure it doesn’t hold onto flavors. You can do this quickly by hand-washing using a mild detergent.

For a deeper clean, add a cup of water, a cup of white vinegar, and a few lemon peels to the clean inner pot and run the unit on Steam for two minutes. Release the pressure naturally and let the lid and ring air dry.

When Is It Okay To Open The Lid

Instant Pot Programmable Pressure Cooker

One of the biggest fears people have with the Instant Pot is getting burned, and thats a valid concern because the steam built up in the machine is ultra pressurized and it can burn you in an instant. The good part, though is that with a little precaution, you dont need to worry about this.

The Instant Pot has a float valve that shows when its under pressure. If the float valve is up, that means its not safe to open the pot. The vent is set to sealing and if you open the vent, that hot pressurized steam will start blowing out the top of the machine. Its that steam that can burn your arm, particularly if you open the valve with our hand in the way.

The best way to prevent getting burned is to know when its okay to open the pot.

Float valves on Instant Pots may be red or silver, depending on the model. Under pressure, it may rise above the level of the lid, or it may rise to be flush with the top of the lid. Normally, the silver float valve in my 6 quart LUX is below the lid level and pops up when it is pressed. As you use your Instant Pot, you will become more familiar with it.

As you can see in the photo above, my 6-quart DUO has a silver float valve that is at lid level when pressurized and drops down below the lid level when not under pressure. When the float valve is up, never attempt to open the lid.

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How To Do A 10 15 Minutes Natural Pressure Release

After the cooking cycle finished, wait 10 15 minutes before moving the Venting Knob from Sealing Position to Venting Position to release the remaining pressure.

Always make sure the Floating Valve completely drops before opening the lid.

Whats the advantage?

  • Compare to Quick Release: Significantly reduces the chance of food splattering out from the Pressure Release Valve.
  • Compare to Natural Release: Faster release method when the pressure cooker is full of food with high liquid volume.

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How To Convert A Slow Cooker Recipe To An Instant Pot Recipe

Since the Instant Pot exploded onto the home cooking scene a few years ago, many people have chosen to get rid of their slow cooker in favor of the multi-functional appliance. You can cook your favorite recipes no matter which setting you’re using, but you’ll need to adjust the cook time.

  • To convert a slow cooker recipe for the Instant Pot: Multiply the High setting cook time by 60, then divide by 10.
  • To convert an Instant Pot recipe for the slow cooker: Multiply the Instant Pot cook time by 10, then divide by 60.

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The Two Most Important Safety Instructions For Your Instant Pot

The Instant Pot manual is filled with safety instructions, but these two are the critical ones to remember:

First, never put your face near the steam release valve or float valve while the Instant Pot is on. When I toggle the steam release valve, I use a long handled wooden spoon so my hand and arm are not near the valve opening. Any kitchen utensil with a long handle will do. Alternatively, you can use an oven mitt to carefully turn the steam release valve to the venting position when you are ready to release the pressure in your Instant Pot.

Second, never open the Instant Pot lid until the pressure has been released through the steam release valve. You will know that all the pressure has been released when the float valve drops down.

Depending on which Instant Pot model you have, the float valve may be red or silver. It may pop up above the level of the lid when the pot is pressurized, or it may pop up to be flush with the level of the lid. In my 6 quart LUX, the silver float valve is below lid level normally and pops up to be flush with the level of the lid when pressurized. You will get to know how your Instant Pot model works.

These photos show my 8 quart DUO and you see that the float valve is above the lid level in the left photo, which shows a pressurized pot.

Never attempt to open the lid of your Instant Pot while it is pressurized.

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