How To Use Your Instant Pot: Everything Youve Wanted To Know
Its not just a supercharged pressure cooker its 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. Its introduced a new generation to pressure cooking, and shown us just how quickly it can cook a healthy meal.
Whether youre a new Instant Pot owner or its long been stored away in a cabinet, this guide is for you. A longtime Instant Pot owner myself, Ill guide you through the basics, including explaining those strange buttons and some basic recipes.
To kick things off, lets walk through Instapot basics. Even if youve owned yours for a while, theres something here for you, too. Lets get started.
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What Size Instant Pot Is Best For An Average Family
Many people who have recently purchased an Instant Pot or even a slow cooker are asking this question. While many cooking methods have been simplified, specific techniques and ingredients have not been adopted in some cases. If you want to learn how to use your Instant Pot for the best meals possible, what size instant pot is best for an average family? Read on to find out!
According to Instant Pot , a 6 quart instant pot is best for an average family. The first thing you need to ask yourself is how big an Instant Pot do you need? Our most popular size is the 6 quart, which is big enough to cook meals for a family of 3-6 people. The 8 quart is great for large families, parties and gatherings, or weekly meal prep.
Can I Use My Instant Pot As An Air Fryer
Instant Pot now sells a lid you can buy to make your Instant Pot an air fryer. This lid from Instant Pot only works on the 6 Quart!
But I recently bought a Mealthy CrispLid to make my 8 Quart Instant Pot into an air fryer as well. There are a couple of third party ones that work with the 8 Quart.
I will be reviewing this in a new post as soon as I try it out.
I love that a lid can be used with the Instant Pot though. Rather than having to buy another large kitchen appliance.
If you are interested in getting an Instant Pot that can work as an air fryer too then check out the Instant Pot Duo Crisp Pressure Cooker 11 in 1, 8 Qt with Air Fryer, Roast, Bake, Dehydrate and more.
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Duo Evo Plus / Instant Pot Ultra
The 10-in-1 Duo Evo Plus has all the previous features and the main change is the inner pot. Unlike many other Instant Pots, its inner pot can go on the stovetop, so you can also use it as a stock pot.
The Instant Pot Ultra offers precision altitude adjustments to take the guesswork out of recipe conversion. It also covers all the functions of a a pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, sous vide, sauté, food warmer, cake maker and sterilizer.
Approximate Retail Price: £129.99 / $119.99
The Best Instant Pot for
Advanced home chefs that want extra customization
Everything You Need To Know About The Instant Pot
Instant Pot recipes seem to be popping up everywhere these days. If youre not quite sure about what exactly an Instant Pot is, why you need one, or are on the fence about buying one, keep reading! Well walk through what an Instant Pot does, the best model for your family, and just how quickly they really cook your meals.
Note: The links in this post may be affiliate links.
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Is There A 5 Quart Instant Pot
The 5 quart Instant Pot size was discontinued. It was available as an Instant Pot Lux and Duo. It was replaced by the 6 quart model. You may find them in local second-hand stores and check with the company directly if you have one and need parts for it.
You can now choose from 3 quarts, 6 quarts, and 8 quarts, depending on which fits your need.
Differences Between Instant Pot 3 Quart And 6 Quart
When it comes to choosing an instant pot, size isnt the only thing that matters! The difference can stem from the design, available features, and overall performance.
So, were going to discuss them to facilitate your decision-making process.
- Difference in Design
While appearance isnt something that affects functionality, its still quite important. Instant pot, in all its glory, is a kitchen appliance. Its going to sit inside your kitchen so you want something that looks appealing and matches the décor.
As instant pots come with varied designs, youd want to pick one that looks the best to you.
Aside from the difference in appearance, the 3-quart version is a mini product. Its small enough to fit any place perfectly as it doesnt occupy much space.
You will find it easy to store inside your kitchen cabinet or leave it safely on a table. However, it offers limited functionality due to the compact design.
Since the 6 quart instant pot is a larger appliance, its going to take up a lot of your kitchen space. Its comparatively harder to store for obvious reasons.
However, its something you will have to sacrifice if you want to prepare a large volume of food.
- Difference in Capacity
As weve mentioned before, the 3 quart instant pot isnt good enough for large families. The limited space makes it suitable for holding a small amount of food. It cant cook meals for more than 2/3 people.
- Difference in Performance
- Difference in Safety
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B Cooking Liquid: Too Much Liquid
Mistake: On the contrary, when there is too much cooking liquid in the Instant Pot, it will increase the overall cooking time . This may overcook the food.
Plus, too much cooking liquid will dilute the seasoning, resulting in a bland dish.
Solution: Unless stated in a recipe, we recommend new users to use 1 cup of total liquid until they get comfortable with the machine.
Use Multiple Buttons In A Cooking Session
What I love about the Instant Pot is that ALL the cooking for a meal can be done in the same inner pot. I will often use the Saute button to cook onions and garlic in avocado oil or lard, and then add the ingredients for a pressure cooking dish and use the Manual pressure cooking button. Once its done, I will use the Keep Warm button to keep the food warm until my family is ready to eat it.
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How Long Should I Pressure Cook Chicken
How Long to Cook Chicken in the Instant Pot. Boneless chicken breasts and thighs cook in the same amount of time just 10 minutes at high pressure will do it! Just be sure to arrange the meat in a single, even layer in the pot, as it cooks more evenly that way. It should reach about halfway up the chicken.
What Accessories Do I Need For My Instant Pot
When you purchase or order your Instant Pot, you may be tempted to go out and buy a whole bunch of accessories. DONT DO IT without reading my post first! I promise, itll save you some money and time!
Read my comprehensive post on the top 10 best Instant Pot accessories to buy . I give some weird advice, so I hope youll read it before getting stressed out about it!
Also check out my friend Jennies post on best accessories for 3 quart Instant Pots!
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Is A 6 Quart Instant Pot Too Big For My Family
It is a common question and I understand the concern.
But remember this when cooking in an Instant Pot or any pressure cooker, for that matter, you only really fill it about 2/3 of the way full.
You need to leave space for the pressure to build up and the boiling of the liquid or whatever else you might be making.
So, 2/3 of 6 quarts is 4 quarts which is equivalent to one gallon.
If you are worried that a 6 quart Instant Pot will be too big, then remember that you can always make less food in a larger size Instant Pot you don’t have to fill it up.
How To Use Your Instant Pot For Air Frying Cooking
Some Instant Pot models like the Instant Pot Pro Crisp and Air Fryer come equipped with air frying capabilities. However, there are Instant Pot lids available for purchase to add this function to your Instant Pot.
Unfortunately these lids are only for use with the 6 quart size.
But there are third party air fryer lids you can obtain for the 8 quart size that will also allow your Instant Pot to air fry.
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What Size Instant Pot Do I Need
The type of dishes youre planning to make and the number of servings you most often need will help determine what size Instant Pot you should get. Out of the four sizes listed above, the most popular size is the 6-quart. This is also the size most often referenced in various Instant Pot recipes.
Keep in mind the max fill capacity of each sized pot. Since pressure cooking requires room for expansion, so an 8-quart pot technically doesnt really hold 8 quarts of food.
Its always smarter to size up when buying these. Youll never regret having a bigger one, but you will grumble if you opted for a smaller one and cant make the recipe you are craving because you dont have a big enough pot.
3 qt Instant Pot: Its great for feeding 1-2 people and perfect for making smaller side dishes, small amounts of yogurts, oatmeal, and soups.
Pro Tip: What size Instant Pot for a family of 4? This is a common size to cook for, so you can go with a 6-qt or 8-qt Instant Pot.
Buying Guide: Instant Pot
The Instant Pot is a seemingly prodigious multicooker that allegedly replaces more than 7 distinct kitchen appliances, leading to reduced expenses and effective management of kitchen space. This versatile kitchen invention does the job of a pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, heating pot and more!
All InstaPot models are equipped with one-touch controls to facilitate convenient cooking. Furthermore, adjustable temperature and pressure settings allow users to precisely cook meals and decide the level of doneness.
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The Costco Exclusive: Instant Pot Nova Plus
While searching around for Instant Pots, you may have come across mention of the Nova Plus. The Nova Plus was a Costco exclusive that is no longer sold. The Nova Plus had the same functionality and smart programs as the Duo but had the blue LED screen of the Duo Plus. That screen is a small but important detail that provides a superior user experience without the price tag of the Duo Plus. It was originally sold through Costco, but you can find it on Amazon as well.
Instant Pot just got delivered? Put it to use with one of these Instant Pot recipes:
How Can You Tell If Your Instant Pot Is 6 Quart Or 8 Quart
All Instant Pot models should have a sticker on the back with pertinent information. Youll be able to find the specific model of your Instant Pot as well as the size.
While its likely you have the 6 quart model due to its popularity, checking this sticker will help you confirm this information. If the sticker is not available for whatever reason, you can manually take measurements.
The 6 quart is 14x12x13, while the 8 quart is 15x14x15.
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What Instant Pot Model Should I Get
But size isnt the entire picture- what about functions? Currently, there are three models of the Instant Pot- the Lux, Duo, and Smart cookers. Naturally, the different models are also available in different sizes, weve listed them down below:
Lux: Available in 5, 6, and 8 qt
Smart: Available only in 6 qt
Duo: Available in 3, 6, 8 qt
With that, you can see that the 3 qt is only available with the Duo model. If youre looking for something small and miniature, thats probably your best bet. If however, youre more interested in the different functionalities, keep reading.
The Lux Instant Pot: Contains 6 functions . Does not feature the yogurt function
The Duo Instant Pot: Contains 7 functions
The Smart Instant Pot: Contains the same 7 functions as The Duo, with the additional abilities to download recipes, choose from three temperature choices, connect to smart devices via bluetooth
Instant Pot Simplified Model Comparison Guide
Think of a sheet pan, instant pot, or even a grillIf you put too much food in, it wont cook right. If you dont put enough, you could end up burning or overcooking your meal. When it comes to crockpot sizes, the size of a slow cooker matters. If youre cooking big meals, then youll want to get a bigger slow cooker size.
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Instant Pot 3 Quart Models
The 3 quart Instant Pot is available in 3 models. You may also see this size referred to as the Instant Pot Mini. The 3 quart models include:
- Instant Pot Duo Mini
- Instant Pot Duo Plus Mini
- Instant Pot Ultra Mini
And for Star Wars fans, there is also a Duo Mini available as a BB-8 droid.
In the past, there were two additional 3 quart models including the Lux Mini and Duo Nova Mini. The Duo Nova Mini was introduced in 2019 and since discontinued.
They updated the Duo Plus Mini with new features in 2021 to make it a nice upgrade from the basic Duo.
Different Instant Pot Models
- Has 10 functions , holds up to 3 quarts, great for 2-4 servings
- Instant Pot LUX50 6-in-1 5QTHas 6 functions , holds up to 5 quarts, and great for serving 3-4 people. However, this model has been discontinued. Though, you should still be readily able to find this model.
- Instant Pot 10-in-1, 8QT, UltraHas 10 functions , holds up to 8 quarts, great for 8-12 servings
Hopefully, I was able to answer your questions of what size Instant Pot you should buy, or maybe I made things a little more difficult because of how many options per size that they have. My personal recommendation is to go with the Instant Pot 6qt Duo 9 in 1 or 7 in 1. Itll do everything you need for your family, for your batch cooking, or any type of meal you would like to prepare.
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How Do I Make Pulled Pork Or Carnitas For Tacos In The Instant Pot
This recipe takes about an hour-and-a-half, including about 15 minutes of prep.
Cut 1 boneless pork shoulder into 4 pieces. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper over all sides of the pork and pat the seasonings into the meat. Select Sauté on the Instant Pot and heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Sear the pork in two batches, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer it to a plate, turn off the Sauté function, and deglaze the pot with 1/2 cup of water and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce and return the pork to the pot. Lock the lid and seal the valve. Set on HIGH pressure for 60 minutes. Use quick release as soon as the cook time is up. Remove the pork to a cutting board and shred using two forks. Meanwhile, select Sauté again on the Instant Pot and allow the sauce to boil and reduce by about half, about 10 minutes. Return the shredded pork to the cooker and mix well with the sauce.
The Best Instant Pots In 2020
Getting into the world of pressure cooking and wondering which Instant Pot to buy? Use this comparison to finally demystify the wide range of Instant Pots available, and pick one that youll love using for years to come.
There are currently nine Instant Pot models available on the market, with a range of 6-11 functions each. With so many models available, it can be hard to know which is the best Instant Pot, or more importantly, which is the best Instant Pot for you.
If youre trying to decide which Instant Pot to buy, think about what youre most likely to use it for. Do you like batch cooking for the week ahead? Or do you prefer quick meals that you can throw together after work? Take these size guides into consideration when youre choosing which Instant Pot to buy:
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The Bottom Line: Which Instant Pots I Bought
For Myself Back in January 2017 , I decided to buy the Instant Pot Duo60 6-quart. I needed something bigger than the 3-quart, but wasnt sure I needed to go so huge as the 8-quart. Plus, I like that the 6-quart is the most common size, so the majority of recipes other people write are geared toward it, and as a recipe developer myself Ill be testing recipes in the size that most of my readers will be using when they make the recipes I create.
If I had it to do over again today, Id probably still make the same choice, with the possibility that Id go one notch higher to the Duo Plus , just because, as a food writer, Id like to experiment with the additional functionality. For me, the fine-tuning capabilities of the Ultra model and the wireless capability of the Smart WiFi model just sound like overkill for how I know Ill personally be using this. And, Im just not sure the Max is worth the money.
For My Mom When I later picked out an Instant Pot for my mom , we ultimately decided shed be happiest with the Instant Pot Duo Plus Mini 3-quart. I honestly think she could have gone with the 6-quart size, but she really wanted the smaller Mini 3-quart size because it takes up less space.
Whew! Thats a lot of info!