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.
Ready Lets Cook Some Water
The first time you use your Instant Pot, make waternot food. This way, you can familiarize yourself with simply operating itno anxiety over ruining dinner. Ive been pressure cooking for over a decade, and I still do the water test every time I try out a new cooker.
Here’s what to do:
First, check the gasket. Make sure its snugly in the ring in the lid 99 percent of the time, if your Instant Pot isnt coming to pressure, its a simple issue of the gasket not sitting in the ring quite right.
Next, put 3 cups of water in the insert. When following recipes, you should still measure liquids, but note that the insert has hash marks to give you a rough idea of the volume.
Now, lock on the lid. Use the arrows on the lid and the cooker to guide you.
Check the steam release valve to see its in Sealing position. If the valve is in Venting position, the cooker wont come to pressure.
Press Manual” on the Duo or select “Pressure Cook” on the Ultra. The display will say to 30:00. Its programming initially defaults to 30 minutes cook time of high pressure, which we can toggle up or down depending on how much time the recipe calls for. For our water test, well leave it at 30 minutes.
Now…do nothing. In a few seconds, the cooker will beep three times, and the display will read On. That means its heating, but not at pressure yet.
The Float Valve Is Stuck
That little float valve on the top of the lid is meant to loosely move between venting and natural pressure release. If this valve gets jammed, theres a problem. It usually means that the valve has become clogged with food. Unclog the valve, and then wash the lid all around the valve and make sure all bits of food are removed.
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The Instant Pots Function Buttons
Im going to start this section of my Instant Pot how-to guide off with the manual button. Its not technically classified as a function button, but I think it should be. I like it because its the one that gives you the most control. With this button you get to choose whether you cook your food at high or low pressure, and you can set your own cook time. If any of the preset buttons dont work as youd like, just go with the manual button! Once you become more used to working with your Instant Pot, you may decide to use this button most of the time.
The soup button is for cooking liquids like soup and also broth. Whats great about this function is that it makes the Instant Pot hot enough to get your liquid simmering, but not scalding hot. This way your soup ingredients dont get too broken down.
This preset meat button is for non-poultry meats like beef and pork. Its also for cooking thick stew-type meals. Use the Adjust button to change the final texture of the meat. Set your Instant Pot to the More setting if you want the meat to be very tender and more broken down.
Did you know that you can cook dry beans in your Instant Pot? Its a great way to save money, compared with buying canned beans . You can use this setting to cook your raw beans, or you could use it to cook bean-based dishes . Id suggest using the Adjust button to set your Instant Pot to the More setting for thoroughly cooked, tender beans.
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. Sometimes I even use the handle of a spoon to push it open instead.
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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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.
What Is The Timer Button For
Some models have a button that reads Timer. While you may think that this is the button that sets the cooking time for your Instant Pot, it actually delays cooking time and will start the cooking when the timer counts down. You can set the cooking time with the plus/minus buttons or the dial, depending on the model.
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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.
- Dont Have an Instant Pot Yet?This guide can help you choose the right one.
Is The Delay Start Safe To Use
Of course the delay start function is safe to use, but there are limitations to its uses that you should be aware of. You cant use delayed start to cook meat, poultry, seafood, eggs , or anything that needs to be refrigerated.
In regard to food safety, according to the USDA most foods are safe out of the refrigerator for up to two hours, so you can use the delayed start safely for perishable foods up to two hours after prep. For instance, you could set up a roast to cook at 4pm and set the delay start for 6pm. You could prepare a chicken soup at 10am to cook at 12pm and be ready for lunch.
If the foods youre putting in the Instant Pot do not require refrigeration, like oats, rice, beans, or other dried foods, you can safely set them up longer in advance than 2 hours.
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Instant Pot Cook Time
Determining cook time on the Instant Pot is one of the most commonly asked questions I am faced with when it comes to using your Instant Pot.
I have worked at length to create a guide that will help you convert your favorite recipes into Instant Pot recipes.
Of course you can follow recipes that have been tested by others as well–I experimented with baked potatoes and sweet potatoes over a dozen times before I nailed a consistent cooking time I could rely on.
Or experiment yourself! Use the my guide as a starting point and then through trial and error perfect a recipe to suit your needs and your Instant Pot.
It is important to note that just like traditional cooking, you will need to account for altitude if living at higher elevations. I have an Instant Pot Altitude Chart to help with that!
**An electric Pressure Cooker does not reach the same pressure a stove-top pressure does, so you will need to increase cooking time by a few minutes for an electric pressure cooker if the recipe was written for a stove-top pressure cooker.
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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Instant Pot Is Taking Too Long To Start The Timer
The instant pot will take at least 15 minutes to pressurize and start the timer. If the recipe says pressure cook in Instant Pot for 5 minutes, add 15 minutes to this time.
However, If It takes longer than 20 minutes to start the timer, check the settings and adjust the mode If needed. Plus the more food you stuff in your pot, the longer It will take to start the timer.
My Instant Pot Wont Come To Pressure Why
Remember, your Instant Pot will not immediately come to pressure. It can take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes for your Instant Pot to come to pressure before it shows the cooking time. How long it takes depends on how full your Instant Pot is and how much liquid you have in the pot.
If you have waited the full 30-minutes and the time has not started to count down on your Instant Pot, or you see steam coming out, keep reading
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Programs Settings Buttons And How To Use Them
The programs settings buttons allow you to adjust the smart programs.
+ and keys
This allows you to increase/decrease the cooking time and also, used to set the time when using the Delay timer.
Once you select a pressure cooking program, press this Pressure Level button to select high or low pressure.
Add all the ingredients to your Instant Pot and use this button to set a later time for the cooking to begin. For example you could add rice to the Instant Pot along with water and set the timer to begin after 30 minutes allowing for 30-minute soak time. The cooking can be delayed for up to 24 hours.
Talk about convenience! If you arent ready to eat right when the Instant Pot is done, it can help keep the food warm at three different serving temperatures based on Less, Normal, and More. The cooker will keep warm up to 99:50 hours.
This button is also used to cancel the current cooking cycle.
The older models have this button and it allows you to select the Less, Normal and More settings for each smart function. With the newer models, pressing the smart program buttons twice allows you to change through the default Normal setting to More. Press it again to move to Less.
Now you know understand what the buttons do, lets walk through a few scenarios for you
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.
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Manual Pressure Cook With Quick Release Or Npr
Many Instant Pot users almost always use manual settings. While Smart Program buttons are handy, cooking instructions can vary for different types of rice, smaller or larger beans, and soup with or without meat. With manual settings, you have more control over the time and pressure level. Here is how to use the Instant Pot with manual pressure cooker settings.
Step 1. Star the Instant Pot as mentioned above.
Step 2. Add food, seasoning and liquid to the pot. The liquid can be cold or hot hotter liquids take less time to heat up so the Instant Pot comes to pressure quicker. Stir if needed.
Note on stirring: If adding tomato sauce or paste, keep them on the top and dont stir too much as these foods can sometimes thicken and burn during cooking again, this depends if water and stock are also added as when diluted, its less of a problem.
Step 3. Get your lid and quickly check that the sealing ring on the inside is in place. If its loose or sticks out, the pot might not seal properly and it will not be able to come to pressure. Place it on top and twist it until it locks in place.
Step 4. On older models like Duo Classic, check that the steam release handle on top of the lid is pointing to Sealing. On the more advanced models of the Instant Pot, the vent will automatically seal when the cooking process begins. On the Duo Nova the quick release button should be popped up and not pressed down.
Instant Pot Meat/stew Setting
The meat and stew setting is best for cooking large or tough cuts of meat at high pressure. This button can be used for cooking meat pieces in a little broth or stews that contain meat in them. Below is how to use the Meat/Stew setting on Instant Pot.
- Turn the Instant Pot on, it will say OFF to indicate the Stand-By mode. Add meat, seasonings and liquids to the pot. Secure and lock the lid. Select the Meat/Stew button. The default Instant Pot meat setting is pre-programmed to set the pot to cook at High pressure for 35 minutes, which is suitable for most dishes like beef stew or pulled pork. If you press the Meat/Stew button again, you can adjust the mode from Normal to Less or More .
- Less mode 20 minutes at High pressure for soft texture meat great for diced steak, pork or lamb, pork or beef ribs, ground meat like when making taco meat or Bolognese sauce, and most stews that use diced or ground meat.
- Normal mode 35 minutes at High pressure for very tender meat texture great for slightly larger pieces of meat and for stews that use tougher cuts of meat like Beef Bourguignon.
- More mode 45 minutes at High pressure for fall-off-the-bone texture great for pork shoulder, beef pot roast or lamb roast.
If desired, use the / + buttons to further customize the time. The cooking time may be adjusted at any time during pressure cooking.
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Performance And Best Features
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.