Beginners Instant Pot Basic Instructions
Release The Pressure Safely
When you release the pressure, the escaping steam will be very hothot enough to burn you. So make sure the hole on top of the steam release is facing away from you before pressing the release button. Also, the quick-release method is not suitable for soups or cereals , because quick release may cause food to splatter out with the steam.
So How Do Instant Pot Settings Work
Each Instant Pot setting button is essentially a SMART PROGRAM option. Most smart programs, or buttons, simply set the pot to HIGH or LOW pressure for a specific period of time most closely aligned with the food it is meant to cook. For example, the default SOUP button sets the pressure cooker for 30 minutes at HIGH pressure, which you could use to cook any food that requires that much time and pressure.
If you press each SMART setting button more than once, it will toggle between Normal, Less or More options, which gives you more control of time, temperature or default pressure. For example, the RICE button can be set to Less or More depending on how soft or firm you like your rice or the type of rice you might be cooking.
Some buttons dont use the pressurizing function of the Instant Pot. For example, Slow Cook and Sauté settings use the heating element that sits underneath the inner pot. They are programmed for heat level and time.
To keep it super simple, it is possible to use the Instant Pot for all recipes using just a few important buttons. With the Pressure Cook or Manual buttons in addition to the Pressure Level and and buttons, you can control the time and pressure level which are otherwise preset for the rest of the buttons. This will work for any recipe that requires pressure. For non-pressure cooking, the Sauté, Slow Cook and Yogurt buttons help you accomplish a similarly custom cooking setting.
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What Foods Are Best For A Pressure Cooker
Pressure cooking uses wet heat only. 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 wouldnt cook French fries or make a crusty loaf of bread from start to finish by pressure cooking.
But anything boiled or steamed or simmered is ace in your Instant Pot.
The Size Of The Instant Pot Matters And Heres Why:
You never want the Instant Pot to be more than 2/3 full. So a 6-quart Instant Pot holds 4 quarts, and an 8-quart Instant Pot holds 5 1/3 quarts. If you have a larger family or plan on using your Instant Pot to feed crowds , then go for the bigger one. If you dont have kids or are only feeding a few mouths, go for the small one. I only know 1 person who owns a 3-quart Instant Pot , and she lives in an RV and is cooking just for herself. So if space is an issue and you arent cooking a lot at once, you might consider the 3-quart.
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What Is Pressure Cooker Quick Release & Natural Release
During cooking extreme pressure builds up inside the Instant Pot, which makes the food so tender, yummy, and delicious in such a short time.
In order to safely screw the lid off, the pressure needs to be released. The float valve comes down by either quick release or natural release, depending on the recipe and preference.
Quick Release When the cooking time ends press or turn the button to release pressure. You do not need to hold it down. Some people use the handle of a wooden spoon to press it down and avoid risk of potential contact with hot steam.
Foods that can easily be overcooked will use quick release, such as vegetables, pasta, fish.
Natural Release Use natural release when your Instant Pot is very full , cooking meats, beans, or grains till tender.
After cooking completes your unit will either go to KEEP WARM, CANCEL, or turn off. Any of these are fine. The recipe will say, Natural release for X minutes, then quick release or it will indicate to just naturally release all the pressure.
Natural Release is leaving the pressure valve alone and letting the unit gradually release the pressure as it sits there. This can take 5-40 minutes, depending on the contents. Youll know when its done because the lid will be able to screw off.
The more full the pressure cooker is, the longer it will take to come down to pressure.
What Size Pot Should I Buy
When thinking about purchasing an Instant Pot, the biggest question becomes, which one should I buy? They serve the same functions but depending on your lifestyle that will determine which one suits your needs.
The smaller 3 quart Instant Pot will feed approximately 2 people. Its not great for batch cooking, or meal prep because it wont make more than a couple of portions and probably wont have a lot of leftovers. Then, as the sizes go up, the more food it can fit.
Ideally, a family of 4 or more will do well with either a 6 quart or an 8 quart size. This is great for feeding your crew with the possibility of lots of leftovers, especially with the larger size. Keep in mind, the bigger the pot, the longer it takes to come to pressure and it also takes up more counter or storage space.
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Instant Pot Water Test
Before you use your Instant Pot for the first time, you should perform a water test. The Instant Pot water test is like an initial test run for your Instant Pot.
The water test will both ensure that your Instant Pot is working properly and will familiarize you with using your Instant Pot.
One of the Instant Pots that I purchased was defective. A water test helped me to determine that the Instant Pot wasnt working properly. I was able to contact Instant Pot support and get a replacement.
Note: If you have the Instant Pot Ultra, you will use the dial to select cooking programs and change the cook time and then press start. Instead of a steam release valve that you turn, the Instant Pot Ultra has a steam release button that you will press if you want to manually release the pressure. The steam release valve will seal automatically on the Ultra, whereas on other models you turn the valve between a venting and a sealing position.
Whats Included In The Box
- Base Unit The casing that contains the heating element.
- Stainless Steel Inner Pot The pot in which everything is cooked. It fits into the base unit.
- Lid Fits on the top of the unit, seals with an inner ring and a valve.
- Steam Release Valve located on the top of the lid. Can be set to Venting or Sealing.
- Condensation Collector attaches to the back of the Instant Pot to collect condensation
- Trivet fits into the base of the inner pot to hold ingredients up off the bottom.
- Power Cord removable in some Instant Pot models.
- Measuring Cup & Utensils can be used to measure ingredients and stir the pot.
- Recipe Book / User Manual all you need to get started.
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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.
What Do You Need To Use An Instant Pot
The accessories you use with your electric pressure cooker are up to you. I do most of my pressure cooking with the Ninja Foodi. The appliance came with a dual-layer reversible rack and small silicone oven mitts for taking the pot out of the appliance while it’s still hot. I’ve found these accessories are quite useful, and I rarely need others.
However, depending on what you plan on using your unit for, you may want to pick up additional accessories. Amazon has hundreds of pressure cooker accessories. This kit includes steamer baskets, a springform pan, a dish clip that works well for canning, silicone oven mitts, and magnetic cooking time cheat sheets.
One of the biggest complaints about Instant Pots is that the sealing ring in the lid retains flavors, which can affect how your meals taste. If you plan on making a variety of meals with dramatically different flavors, you might consider buying extra sealing rings.
If you’re looking for meal inspiration, there are several Instant Pot cookbooks. “The Ultimate Instant Pot Cookbook” is a particularly popular option.
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Wow That Was No Big Deal Which Recipes To Make Now
Great job! Take the tape off the front of the cooker and read the owners manual.
Heres the scope of whats possible in your Instant Pot, and eventually youll hone in on what makes sense for you: You might cook primarily beans and grains, shaving minutes off cooking components of other recipes. You might steam vegetables most often . You might lean toward multicomponent one-pot meals. Youre the boss of this thing, so have fun!
- Hard-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot are actually steamed. The plus with them? So easy to peel!
- Do you love cooking dry beans from scratch? In the Instant Pot, they are fast and plump in the pressure cooker. A game-changer.
- Regular steamed rice in an Instant Pot frees you to focus on cooking the rest of the meal. An IP is essentially a rice cooker on steroids.
- Chicken soup from scratch, ready in 60 minutes.
- Classic chili is weeknight-compatible in an Instant Pot.
- Need cooked butternut squash or other winter squash? Steam it in a pressure cooker!
- Cheesecake is a breeze in an Instant Pot, because you steam itno messing with tipsy water baths and multiple pans like you would in an oven.
- Steel-cut oats are an everyday luxury if you program it to cook right when you wake up. Your oatmeal is ready once your coffees brewed and youre dressed!
Want more recipe ideas? Check out our full list of Instant Pot recipes!
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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Want More Practice Bring It Back To Pressure
Try it again with the same hot water. This time, press Manual and then adjust the 30 minute default time by pressing the button, then press the + button to go up. Lets do 10 minutes.
You may notice how, if you press Manual and take too long before pressing the other buttons, the cooker will just beep on its own and proceed for 30 a minute pressure cooking time. If you need to re-start, just press Cancel/Keep Warm and start over.
Since the water is in your cooker is already almost boiling to begin with, the cooker will come to pressure a lot faster than it did the first timewithin a minute or so. Itll hiss, then the hissing will abruptly stop as the pressure indicator button goes up. If the hissing just keeps on going, its probably because you left the valve in the venting position instead of sealed. Just use your spoon handle to nudge it back.
What next? Same as before: the cooker beeps, the readout will say 10, and then it will switch to LO:00. You can do quick or natural release, whichever floats your boat.
Instant Pot Bean/chili Setting
The Bean/Chili setting button can be used to cook larger dry legumes such as beans and chickpeas in liquid or to cook chili or another type of stew that uses dry beans. The program settings use High pressure and result in different doneness of beans. When cooking beans, always use NR to release pressure after cooking is done. Below is how to use the Bean/Chili setting on Instant Pot.
- Turn the Instant Pot on, it will say OFF to indicate the Stand-By mode. Add dry beans, liquid and salt to the pot. Secure and lock the lid. Select the Bean/Chili button. The default setting is pre-programmed to set the pot to cook at High pressure for 30 minutes. If you press the button again, you can adjust the mode from Normal to Less or More .
- Less mode 25 minutes at High pressure for a firmer bean texture or to cook black beans, dry lima beans, Navy beans, black-eyed peas, Adzuki, anasazi, dry peas.
- Normal mode 30 minutes at High pressure for a softer bean texture or to cook red kidney beans, white kidney beans , Pinto beans, black-eyed peas .
- More mode 40 minutes at High pressure for a very soft bean texture or to cook harder legumes like chickpeas and soybeans .
Ensure dry beans are completely submerged in water. Dried beans double in volume and weight after soaking or cooking. To avoid overflow, please do not fill the inner pot more than to the ½ mark to allow for expansion.
Note: You can also use the Multigrain setting to cook most beans.
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How To Store Your Instant Pot
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.
What Can Be Cooked With The Instant Pot
With the Instant Pot, you can cook a hearty meal for a whole family in less than 30 minutes. Dishes like rice and chicken, beef stew, chili and even a whole-roasted chicken cook in 30 to 60 minutes, start to finish. And, yes, you can even bake bread with the Instant Pot.
Paleo and ketogenic diet followers love the Instant Pot for its ability to “braise” meats in such a short amount of time, but it’s also loved by vegetarians and vegans who can quickly cook dishes like butternut squash soup, sweet potatoes, chili, steel cut oats and mac-and-cheese.
Even dry beans that usually require overnight soaking can be cooked in about 30 minutes for dishes like chili and hummus.
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What Comes In The Box
Depending on your specific model of Instant Pot, in the box you should generally find:
- An owners manual, for one. Its boring and confusing, which is why you are reading this. But dont get rid of it!
- A recipe booklet. Some of these recipes are good, some arent so hot, but they all work. Still, hang onto this, too.
- A big ol lid.
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.
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