How To Set Up An Instant Pot

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An Error Code Message Has Appeared

How to Set up an Instant Pot — so Easy the Kids Can Do It

If your Instant Pot shows an error code message, such as a C1 error code, this means your temperature sensors are not functional. Similarly, a C5 error code message means the inner pot does not have sufficient water in it. Always check in with customer support for help on other additional error code messages.

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.

How To Use Your Instant Pot: Everything You’ve Wanted To Know

It’s not just a supercharged pressure cooker — it’s a way of life.

Like a microwave or an electric kettle, the Instant Pot has become a kitchen staple. This versatile pressure cooker replaces so many countertop appliances, from rice makers to slow cookers. It’s introduced a new generation to pressure cooking, and shown us just how quickly it can cook a healthy meal.

Whether you’re a new Instant Pot owner or it’s long been stored away in a cabinet, this guide is for you. A longtime Instant Pot owner myself, I’ll guide you through the basics, including explaining those strange buttons and some basic recipes.

To kick things off, let’s walk through Instapot basics. Even if you’ve owned yours for a while, there’s something here for you, too. Let’s get started.

More tips:15 healthy Instant Pot recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner | Does the Instant Pot destroy nutrients in your food while cooking? | The best paleo Instant Pot recipes | Best Instant Pot accessories you need right now | Best air fryers of 2020

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Why Use An Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is one of the most useful kitchen appliances you can buy, because it drastically cuts down on the cooking time for developing flavors in soups and stews, getting tough cuts of meat tender, and even baking a cheesecake. And there are many accessories that will help you get more out of your Instant Pot.

If you dont have one yet, check out our guide on which one to buy. Also see our guide to How to Use an Instant Pot for more information.

  • Dont Have an Instant Pot Yet?This guide can help you choose the right one.

The Two Most Important Safety Instructions For Your Instant Pot

How to Set Up Your Instant Pot {VIDEO}

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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Smart Program: Sous Vide

Sous Vide is a French cooking term that describes cooking vacuum sealed food at a controlled temperature. The instant pot can be used to do this! To access this program, close the lid on the instant pot and choose SOUS VIDE, then use the dial to choose a preset option. Press start to allow the water to begin heating. Once the water temperature is reached, the IP will display the word HOT. At this time you can remove your lid and place your vacuum sealed food inside. Close lid to complete the sous vide process.

Safety Time Steam Is Hot

Steam is hotter than boiling water, and it can burn you badly. Keep your hand clear of the steam release valve when you do a quick release. Current Instant Pot models have a button that triggers the valve for you, keeping your hands at a safe distance from the valve.

If you have your Instant Pot near cabinets, be mindful when you do a quick releaseit can get a lot of condensation on your cabinets, which can damage them over time. To keep the steam at bay somewhat, you can tent the valve with a kitchen towel during a quick release. Foods like oatmeal, beans, and porridges can sputter goop through the steam valvethe towel trick is handy for those times, too.

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Smart Program: Steam And Slow Cook

These two things have the same process. Slow cook just uses a lower temperature for a longer amount of time than Steam does. When steaming, ensure that you start by placing the steam rack in the bottom of the pot. Add your ingredients per your recipe, close and vent the lid, and choose either STEAM or SLOW COOK. Use the dial to select from the preset options that match your food.

Instant Pot Slow Cook Setting

Instant Pot DUO Tips and Set Up

The Slow Cook is a non-pressure cooking setting that is compatible for use with any common slow cooker/Crockpot recipe. The pot is heated but is not pressurized and the Less, Normal and More modes correspond to Low, Medium and High slow cooker settings but you will need to adjust the time manually.

You might want to use this setting for making dishes ahead of time while youre away from home or overnight. There are times when slow-cooking might work better for certain recipes than quicker pressure cooking. Below are the steps for how to use the Slow Cook setting on Instant Pot.

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Instant Pot Homemade Yogurt

One of the coolest features of the Instant Pot is that it can make yogurt. But know that, unlike many quick and speedy Instant Pot recipes, its an all-day process. The incubation time takes eight hours, and then the yogurt needs an additional six hours to chill in the refrigerator before its ready for a quick snack, breakfast parfait, or smoothie.

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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How The Timer On An Instant Pot Works

An Instant Pot is one of the most useful kitchen items one can have. While in its simplest form it is usually described as a pressure cooker, its much more than that.

An Instant Pot can saute, slow cook, and it can even make rice and steam vegetables and poultry. They make cooking much easier and cut the time it takes to prepare a meal by a huge amount.

In fact, you can actually make those time-consuming like pulled pork in about an hour.

One of the most important components of an Instant Pot is the timer. Its responsible for letting you know how much longer you have to wait, while also making sure your food is always cooked just right.

At first glance, the timer can be overwhelming as there are so many buttons and settings to choose from that it leaves a lot of first-time users confused.

While the buttons on your pot all have names of different types of food on them, they actually correspond to a specific set of minutes that you can adjust manually.

In this article, we take a look at how the timer on an Instant Pot works, and how you can make adjustments to really make the best meal possible.

Performance And Best Features

set instant pot for 18 min

The Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus gives you a wide choice of cooking methods to prepare foods just the way you like be it pressure cooking in under 10 minutes or slow cooking over the course of four hours.

The accompanying booklet suggests specific settings in a chart, recommending 15 minutes for potatoes, and 20 minutes for beef stew, for example. With 48 pre-sets we found that it can get a little overwhelming. But, this variety of choice will come in very useful over time as you get to know your machine.

Its important to refer to the cooking chart that comes with the machine to get the best out of ingredients, as we found out when we used it to cook rice. On our first attempt we added too much liquid, which produced soggy unappetising results. On the second attempt however, we added the recommended 1:1 cup ratio of water to rice, and put it on the white rice setting for 12 minutes, which produced fluffy and delicious results.

To make our chicken tagine, we chose the stew setting, which pressure cooked on high for 35 minutes. At first it was hard for us to get our head around the fact that this appliance can cook meat so quickly. But we were very happy with the results the chicken that tasted good, and a sauce had a decent thickness to it.

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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.

If The Burn Error Comes On You Can Still Save Your Food

Seeing the dreaded “burn” error message on an Instant Pot’s screen can send even a seasoned pressure cooker master into conniptions. You might be afraid that your pot is filled with the charred remains of a perfectly good pot roast, but in all likelihood, you can salvage your food before it turns into charcoal. The Kitchn explains that the “burn” error appears when your Instant Pot senses that food has started to stick and burn to the bottom of the pot. This usually happens either because you’re trying to cook with too little liquid or because your liquid is too thick.

To fix a “burn” error, first hit “cancel” so the Instant Pot stops cooking. Then, vent the pressure so you can open the lid and access the food. Oftentimes, the error message comes on before anything burns too badly. Stir your food around and add at least a half cup of water or stock, and you should be safe to reattach the lid and continue cooking. If food has stuck to the bottom of the pan, use something sturdy to scrape the crust off so it doesn’t trip the sensor again.

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Underside Of Lid: The Sealing Ring And Anti

The underside of the Instant Pot contains four important parts. If you have version one DUO, it will look like the one of the left. If you have a version two DUO, it might look the one on the right.

The Sealing Ring

The plain-looking silicone ring is an integral part of the Instant Pot. Without it, pressure cant build. During heating, the sealing ring expands to create a seal that allows pressure to safely build inside the machine. If the sealing ring isnt inserted correctly or is torn, worn, or out of shape, steam can leak from the lid and the Instant Pot wont seal.

Insert the sealing ring snugly in the wire sealing ring rack. When properly inserted, the sealing ring should lay flat against the lid and shouldnt pull out easily if you give it a soft tug.

To remove the ring for cleaning, allow the lid to cool and then pull gently on the sealing ring.

To clean, use warm soapy water or run through the dishwasher. Dry the ring thoroughly before placing it back into the lid.

Even with thorough washing, the sealing ring can hold on to cooking odors. If you plan to make yogurt or desserts, like rice pudding, consider getting a second silicone sealing ring to use only for yogurt, desserts, and other mild foods. This way youll avoid making a rice pudding tastes like the chicken you made for dinner the night before.

I like to keep an extra sealing ring on hand at all times. This way, if something happens, I can replace the ring right away.

When To Select Low Pressure

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Low pressure should be used for delicate foods like eggs, fish, and vegetables. However, all of these foods can also be cooked using high pressure for a reduced amount of time. If you are confused about whether or not to use low or high pressure, its best to stick to high pressure. This should be specified in recipes.

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

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.

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.

Want more ideas? Check out these 5 unexpected things you can cook in the Instant Pot and the best Instant Pot paleo recipes.

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