How To Start Your Instant Pot

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Instant Pot Or Electric Pressure Cooker Safety Features

How to quickly start your Instant Pot in 2 MINUTES

Dont be intimidated by the word pressure because new electric pressure cookers are super safe and easy to use! The earliest pressure cookers were created around a simple concept: Food cooks hotter and faster inside a pressure-sealed pot.

Todays electric pressure cookers have built on this science and have added in a slew of built-in safety features to prevent mishaps, including automatic pressure control, heating and pressure sensors, lid detection, and heating plates that distribute heat evenly. These features work together to ensure you get faster cook times and consistent results.

At Pressure Cooking Today, we believe in making real food with fresh and familiar ingredients.Browse my collection of the best pressure cooker recipes here on my website . Follow Pressure Cooking Today on and for the latest updates. Or join my to connect with other pressure cooking fans. Or you canjoin my free email list! Youll get just one email a week with my latest recipes. If youre interested in more than just pressure cooker recipes, I share my other adventures in the kitchen over at Barbara Bakes. Youll find some amazing breakfasts and breads, along with the best dessert recipes! Check it out today!

Happy Holidays And Welcome To Pressure Cooking Today

Here at Pressure Cooking Today, we post easy and delicious recipes and training guides for the Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, or any other brand of electric pressure cooker!

Interested in having us teach you how to start cooking in your Instant Pot?Our Instant Pot 30-Day Jumpstart beginners course is OPEN for new students until January 14th!

If youre just getting started with your electric pressure cooker or Instant Potwhether its new or or even if youve had it for a whileyou may have lots of questions!

Here are some quick answers to some of the most common:

Keep reading for a breakdown of the different pressure cooker parts and the nitty-gritty of making your first meal in the pressure cooker!

Instant Pot Setup: Understanding The Lid

The lid of a pressure cooker is an integral part of the machine. Without this lid, you cant cook foods under pressure.

This is the steam release valve. It has two settings: sealing and venting.

Sealing: When cooking food under pressure, close the lid and line up valve with the wavy lines. This position seals the pot. It allows pressure to build as the food inside heats and produces steam. The valve wont lock into place when set to sealing. For safety reasons, it will always wiggle a little.

To set the valve to the sealing position, turn it clockwise as far as it will go.

Venting: Once the pressure cooker completes its cooking cycle, you must vent it. This will either happen immediately after the cooking cycle completes or after the pressure releases slowly over time, about ten minutes. You MUST vent the pot before opening.

To do that, turn the steam release valve toward venting . NEVER place your hand over the steam release valve. Use the small handle to turn the valve and keep your hand off to the left side. When doing a quick release, steam rushes out of the valve. For a natural release, no steam usually escapes. But its a good idea to vent it just in case theres any pressure remaining.

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Im Not Sure How To Use That Function To Set It For A Delay

Instant pot delay start minutes. The delay start option does not apply to keep warm , saute , sous vide , yogurt , or air fryer smart programs. Press delay start or timer button This is a very useful feature for items l.

Then turn the power back on again and plug it into the outlet. Timer function does not apply to the keep warm, yogurt and sauté functions. The timer button is used to delay when the instant pot starts heating up and working.

Then put them on manual for 18 minutes (which will actually take about 30 minutes. What can i cook in my instant pot with delay start mode? The instant pot will take at least 15 minutes to pressurize and start the timer.

Touch the minute field until it flashes. The instant pot timer or delay start allows you to program the instant pot to begin cooking from 10 minutes to 24 hours from the present time. Set the timer so that the oats start about 30 minutes before you are going to eat them.

To adjust smart program settings, press. Select a smart program and adjust the settings as you desire, then press delay start. This setting button allows you to set the instant pot to begin cooking later.

The longest i’ve ever cooked something in there was a rack of ribs for 40 minutes. After doing this, turn off the instant pot and wait 10 minutes. Then, replace the lid and continue cooking.

Instant Pot Setup: Manuals And Accessories

Open the box and take out your Instant Pot. Start using it ...

Ah, the manual. Heres what usually happens with manuals in my house:

  • Take it out of the box.
  • Flip through quickly.
  • Google the manual when I need some help.
  • Does that sound familiar? Yes? Thats why were friends!

    AnyWAY, I know it sounds boring but I urge you to read the Instant Pot manual. Modern pressure cookers are safe. However, they arent slow cookers. Its important to understand the basic ins and outs of a pressure cooker before you use it.

    Oh, and if you misplace it, you can find the Instant Pot manual online.

    Oh! Recipes! I love recipes. < understatement. ButI must confess. Ive never used this recipe booklet. The recipes didnt really appeal to me and the directions were confusing.

    I wish this quick reference guide was handier than it is. As written, it shows the steps for using each function. However, it doesnt explain cook time or the how to release pressure. Im very meh on this guide. It could be so handy!

    Question: do you use the free tools that come with appliances? I dont think Ive ever used them! And not just for the Instant Pot. Maybe Im just weird.

    Lets take a look at these: measuring cup, soup spoon, rice paddle, and a condensation collector.

    Measuring Cup. If you dont own a glass measuring cup for liquids, I urge you to get one. This measuring cup is flimsy and, without handle, hard to handle.

    Now heres a handy accessory! The steam rack. Use this to hold vegetables, pans , or anything else that you dont want sitting in cooking liquid.

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    Should I Buy A Second Instant Pot Maybe Even A Third

    Sure, why not? Its handy to have a couple of sizes on hand. Get a cute 3-quart model for making yogurt and oatmeal or a big and powerful Max for canning tomato sauce. You can even cook multiple recipes at once great for meal prep! And hey, if you just want to upgrade to this adorable mint-colored model we support that too.

    Is It Safe To Leave The House While The Instant Pot Is Plugged In And Cooking

    Yes! The Instant Pot is built with several safety mechanisms. Dont worry if you need to run an errand. Now it isnt advised to leave the house if you have a recipe that involves quick release . But natural release is a different story, and the Instant Pot will switch to the Keep Warm setting when its finished pressure cooking to make sure your food stays warm.

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    How To Make Amazing Flavorful Instant Pot Chicken

    If you can add ingredients to a pot and close a lid, you can make this chicken! As you can see from the steps above, cooking chicken in an Instant Pot is EASY.

    You could just use water or broth for the liquid in the bottom of the pot, but for the best, most flavorful Instant Pot chicken, use salsa verde .

    Step 1, Start by cooking some garlic in a little olive oil since the Instant Pot has a Sauté button, this happens right in the cooker. No other pans are needed.

    Step 2, Add salsa verde. When the garlic is lightly toasted, pour in salsa verde. Place chicken into the salsa use chicken breasts or thighs then secure the lid and switch to the Pressure Cooker mode. Depending on the type of chicken you are using , the cook time will vary.

    Step 3, Release the pressure and shred the chicken. When the cook time is done, let the Instant Pot naturally release for 5 minutes then release the remaining pressure with the quick release button/toggle. Shred the chicken, and then then stir it back into the salsa along with some sour cream and cilantro. Easy!

    The Tip You Cannot Skip

    Instant Pot Quick Start Guide – How to Use your New Instant Pot – Part 1

    Reading the manual.

    As excited as you may be when you get your instant pot, there are a lot of buttons and functions of your insta-pot that you might not be familiar with. The best thing you can do is read the manual.

    That aside, lets go over some other tips you should be aware of to make the most of your insta-pot.

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    How Do I Know The Pressure Is Working

    Turn your attention to the lid of the Instant Pot. On the back youll find a wobbly little knob , and next to it a little metal pin usually red. Thats called the float valve. When the pot is on and fully pressurized this little float valve pops into place with an audible thunk. When there is no pressure or pressure has been released, the pin drops down and the lid works again. Be sure your steam release valve is locked in the Sealing position and properly in place for pressure to build. Youll hear and see steam coming out if its not.

    Convert Your Favorite Recipes

    Conventional recipes can also be adapted for the multicooker. Its not exact, but you can get good results by following these guidelines.

  • For Pressure Cooking: Cut the liquid by at least half or even three-quarters. You wont have any of the evaporation happening in the pot. A very rough estimate is to plan on about a third of the standard cooking time for meats, vegetables and grains, with beans taking a quarter of the standard cook time.

    For Slow Cooking: You dont get as much evaporation in a slow cooker as you do in the oven. Double or quadruple the cooking time, depending on if youre using the high or low setting.

    For Both Methods: If you end up with a thin sauce, open the cooker and use the sauté function to allow some of the liquid to evaporate.

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    How To Cook Pot

    One of my favorite perks of the Instant Pot is that you can cook two dishes at the same time! Its called pot-in-pot cooking, where one dish cooks on the bottom of the pot, and then a separate bowl of food can cook on top of that. You can see an example of this with my Chipotle Burrito Bowls. In this case, the spiced black beans cook on the bottom while a bowl of brown rice cooks on top, both from scratch in a 30-minute cooking cycle.

    Ive dedicated an entire blog post to pot-in-pot cooking, so you can get a better idea of which ingredients can be cooked together at the same time. There are also several recipes in my cookbook that teach you how to cook rice, cauliflower rice, and cauliflower mashed potatoes at the same time as your main entree.

    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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    There Are A Lot Of Buttons What Are They All For

    The buttons are labeled, and most of the labels are pretty self-explanatory. They will also vary slightly from model to model. The most important functions are described in the chart above. When cooking with the Instant Pot, the Manual or Pressure Cook button becomes your best friend since it is the most commonly used function. Then you choose HIGH or LOW pressure and a cook time. Ta-da!

    Instant Pot Float Valve Unable To Rise

    Instant Pot float valve is red or silver colour pin that goes up indicating pressure inside the pot is up. Please note that after the float valve is up, it takes a few minutes for the sensor to sense it and timer kick in. If float valve is not rising, it mostly means there is not enough liquid inside for pressure to build up. Solution is to add 1/2 cup water, close the lid and wait a little bit.

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    Best Instant Pot To Buy

    The best Instant Pot to buy is one of the Duo or Nova models. The Duo Plus 6-quart 9-in-1is what you will see pictured below.

    I also recommend the newer Duo Nova and the Smart Wi-Fimodels. They have a very similar control pad to one I use in this guide.

    A 6-quart model is an adequate size for a family of 4-6.

    An 8-quart model is great if you plan on making double batches of soups, or have more than more than 5 or 6 people in your family.

    Since the sauté function, slow cook, and the manual cooking are the primary settings you will need, theres no need to splurge on extra functions.

    Safety Time Steam Is Hot

    How to Use an Instant Pot – Instant Pot 101 – Beginner? Start HERE!

    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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    My Sauce Or Stew Is Too Thin Can I Thicken It In The Instant Pot

    You can reduce a sauce or stew on the Sauté setting after pressure cooking, but know that it only has one heat setting, and will boil quickly. Another option is to add a thickener, like cornstarch or a paste of butter and flour, after pressure cooking as well. When adding a thickener, be sure to set the pot to Sauté and whisk it evenly into the liquid, as it cooks.

    Using Saute Function After Cooking

    The Sauté function is also useful for finishing the dish after pressure cooking is done. Once the pressure has been completely released, open the lid and then press Sauté button again. Press the button again to cycle through Less or More for lower or higher temperature.

    Use it for:

    • Simmering the sauce or broth in the dish that needs to evaporate and reduce or thicken.
    • Adding more fragile or no-cooking-required ingredients like baby spinach, fresh tomatoes, fruit, cheese, milk or cream.
    • Thickening sauce with butter, cream or flour.

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    Instant Pot Tips For Beginners

    This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my affiliate disclosure.

    Learn how to use and better understand your Instant Pot with these 10 Instant Pot tips for beginners.

    Are you new to the Instant Pot or perhaps have been too intimidated to even open the box? Get started! Believe meyou are going to love it. It has become a vital tool in my kitchen. I want to share 10 Instant Pot tips with you to help you gain your confidence and better understand your Instant Pot.

    I bought my Instant Pot a number of years ago before it gained its current popularity. We had moved back to Canada from Australia and I needed to repurchase my small kitchen appliances. I had a slow cooker on my list and somebody mentioned that I should get an Instant Pot instead. Initially, I was a little hesitant and freaked out since when I heard the term pressure cooker, I had memories of a traditional version we had received as a wedding gift that I found absolutely terrifying to use.

    I am so happy that I took the plunge and bought it. I dont have too many kitchen gadgets but the Instant Pot has become one of my must-haves. My Instant Pot gets used multiple times a week and sometimes daily for either a component of a meal or to make the main course itself.

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