How To Use The Instant Pot For The First Time

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Instant Pot Faq And Troubleshooting

How to Use Your Instant Pot | A First Timers Guide | Well Done

Im scared to press down the valve. Help!

Some people use the handle of a wooden spoon to press down the valve and avoid risk of potential contact with hot steam. Point the valve away from people or kitchen cabinets. I try to point it towards my cooktop exhaust fan and have it running at full blast.

Steam is coming from my valve. Is it not sealed?

First double check the valve is in fact sealed. If it is, normally steam escapes from the valve while pressure is building. Once the Instant Pot has fully come to pressure, the valve will seal, and the steam will stop.

If steam is coming from the sides of the lid, it means its not sealed properly. Turn off the unit, quick release pressure, and check under the lid to make sure the silicone ring and float valve are properly in place and free of food particles.

Why is liquid sputtering out of the valve? Is it not sealed?

The Instant Pot is either too full or it is what you are cooking inside. Foods that typically froth or foam are pasta, soups, applesauce, beans, grains, and potatoes. When cooking foods such as these make sure pot is not more that 1/2 full and adding 1-2 tablespoons of oil to the liquids help stop foaming.

My Instant Pot stopped cooking and LCD says BURN.

Usually this means something you are cooking has deposited at the bottom and is overheating. I find this happens when I cook tomato-based foods. Release pressure, stir contents, and set cooking time for remaining time.

Can I cook frozen meats?

Trivet Or Steamer Rack

Almost all Instant Pots come with a stainless steel steamer rack. Some with handles, others may not have handles. Its very helpful for cooking all sorts of food in Instant Pot.

The long handles on both sides make it easy for handling and removal from the pot. Its also compact, easy to store, and easy to clean.

More Info on How to use the Trivet:Instant Pot Trivet

How To Use An Instant Pot: A Beginners Guide

If youve been intimidated about using your instant pot youre not alone. This Beginners Guide will provide you with all the information you need to know to get started using this helpful cooking tool today.


If youre like me, youve let your instant pot sit in the hall closet for a couple of weeks . Its time to take it out and give it a try.

I was a bit nervous about using the instant pot at first. It seems like there are so many buttons, features, safety warnings, and accessories. Once you use it a time or two youll see that its not complicated and is really handy. This kitchen tool has truly changed the way I create meals at my house.

Whether you are an Instant Pot pro or newbie, there are always new tips, tricks or recipes to learn. I hope you learn a thing or two in this How to Use an Instant Pot guide.

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Start With The Basics

When you first open the Instant Pot box, you might be overwhelmed by the amount of literature to sift through. Dont give up yetall you really need at this point is the instruction booklet and the safety card. After youve read the basic instructions, dont get lost in the multitude of features and options for cooking. For pressure cooking, you will most likely be using the manual setting the majority of the time, so there isnt much use in learning all the pre-programmed settings while youre getting started. You can learn the others as you need them.

Instant Pot Water Test

Instant Pot Help: How to Use it for the First Time ...

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.

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This Sounds Too Good To Be True

I wouldnt lie to you. Instant Pot is a misnomer. Its not a miracle, and it does not cook food in an instant. Nothing does, unless you live on Cup Noodles.

Here’s the catch: It takes time for the Instant Pot to come to pressure.

Typically, the time it takes the cooker to get to pressure is not part of that cooking time. For instance, if a pot roast cooks for 30 minutes at pressure, the total time from start to finish for a recipe like this might be more like 45 minutes or more. An Instant Pots heating element has less juice than the burners on your range, so it takes longer to heat food enough to get to pressure.

BUT! The ease of use frees you up to do other things. With most recipes, Instant Pots truly are set it and forget it. Lets say youre making a stir-fry, and youd like brown rice to go with it. Before you start prepping the stir-fry, put the rice and water in the Instant Pot, program it to cook for 22 minutes at pressure, then go about your business.

Emma Christensen

Getting Started With The Instant Pot

TheInstant Pot is fully programmable, so you can simply set the timer and then do other jobs without having to keep an eye on it. Because its a pressure cooker, it really does work much, much faster than a traditional crockpot. Plus, you can set the Instant Pot timer so it will start and end when you want dinner ready. Pretty convenient.

However, I have to be honest and say it does take a little while to get used to. The cooking times are extremely different, so if youre an avid crockpot/slow cooker user , you may need to adjust with some trial and error.

Plus, lets face it: pressure cooking seems a bit scary. Your first time, you might feel like, What if it explodes and blows up my kitchen?! Fortunately, the Instant Pot is perfectly safe and no scarier than your rice cooker . Follow the instructions exactly and youll be just fine. And if you get stuck, there are tons of resources online including the Instant Pot website, which features a great conversion chart. You can also find a bunch of great YouTube videos that walk you through the process: from the unboxing to making your first meal to serving up an entire dinner party.

Keep in mind, once people start using the Instant Potregularly, they usually LOVE it. It really does save tons of time. Plus, the fact that the Instant Pot does the job of so many small appliances makes it a great space saver and well worth the learning curve. So, if you get frustrated at first keep trying! It just takes some time to learn.

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How To Tell If The Canned Produce Has Gone Bad

Ideally, if you have stored the cans correctly your canned produce wont go bad. However, if you notice that the appearance seems off, or there seems to be an off odor, its best to discard the produce. Always make sure you are labeling your jars with their canning date so that you can rotate the jars accordingly and consume them in time.

Cleaning In The Dishwasher

HOW TO USE Instant Pot for the FIRST TIME | Unboxing Water Test

While the sealing ring is dishwasher-safe, your best bet is to use the steaming method outlined above regularly to keep the ring clean and odor-free. If its been a while since you last cleaned the sealing ring , the dishwasher will certainly give it a good cleaning, but it might not completely get the odor out.

More About the Instant Pot

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Do Not Fill To The Max Line

Fill your pot 1/2 full when cooking foods that expand during cooking . You could fill the pot up to 2/3 full when cooking foods that do not expand during cooking . Keep this safety tip in mind if you choose to double or triple a recipe. If you find that you are frequently making large batches, consider upgrading to the 8-quart pot size.

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.

Coco Morante

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Whats The Big Deal With Instant Pots Anyway

Instant Pots are multifunction, programmable electric pressure cookers. Think of them as little cooking robots.

If youre not familiar with pressure cooking, the entire point of an Instant Pot can be confusing.

The big sell here is pressure cooking is up to 70 percent faster than other ways of cooking. Pressure cookers reach higher temperatures because their lids lock into place without steam escaping, which creates a pressurized environment inside the pot. In this environment, the cooker reaches 250°F .

With pressure cooking on a stove, you have to keep a close eye on the cooker because you regulate the heat source. If you let the burner get too hot, the pressure builds up too much and the cooker spews out angry jets of steam .

But with an electric Instant Pot, the cooker regulates its own heat via sensors. Thats the other win. No need to carefully monitor it as your food cooks. Program the Instant Pot and once its going, youre free to go for a walk, vacuum the living room, check your emailyou get the idea.

Instant Pots can do other things besides pressure cook, too. With the lid off, you can sauté ingredients before pressure cooking. You can also use it as a slow cooker or make yogurt in your Instant Pot. Were not going to worry about doing those things here, though. This guide is all about pressure cooking.

Coco Morante

Deep Clean Instant Pot

How to Clean Instant Pot Before First Use After Every Use ...

Every few weeks, or sooner depending on usage, the Instant Pot will need a deeper clean than the every day method.

Lets start with this extremely dirty lid of mine. I cooked pasta in the Instant Pot and upon quick release, a bunch of starchy water started spitting out of the venting knob. It definitely needed a deep clean after this happened.

Ew, so gross and dirty!

And filthy on the bottom of the lid too.

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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.

You Cant Use The Usual Senses

I use my nose to tell when bread and meat are caramelized, but not burning. I taste food for salt, acid and sweetness. I use my ears and eyes to know when butter is about to brown. The Instant Pot requires you to fly blind until you go through the rigamarole of releasing steam and unsealing it, which takes a few minutes. This is a very different way of cooking.

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Natural Vs Manual Pressure Release

When the cook time is up on your Instant Pot, there’s still one more step — releasing the pressure.

There are two ways the pressure can be released. With natural pressure release, the valve on the lid stays in Sealing position and the pressure dissipates naturally over time. This can take anywhere from 20 minutes to more than an hour, depending on what you were cooking. Low-liquid meals take much less time than high-liquid meals, like soup or chili.

The other option is manual pressure release . Here, you’ll carefully move the valve into Venting position and watch as steam shoots out of it, releasing the pressure. This method is much faster, but very high-liquid meals, like soup, can still take about 15 minutes to release pressure manually.

So which one should you use? Consider that with natural pressure release, the Instant Pot is still full of pressure, so the food will continue cooking while the Instant Pot is in Sealing mode. Manual pressure release is useful — and necessary — when you’ve built in enough cooking time and cooking needs to be stopped as fast as possible.

If the goal is to cook a meal quickly, set enough time on the Instant Pot to cook your food and release the pressure manually when the time is up.

Why You Shouldnt Be Using Your Instant Pot As A Slow Cooker


All said and done, agreed that an instant pot does seem to be a promising replacement to your slow cooker. But certain users feel otherwise. Some people who have used instant pots and tried and tested it for slow cooking purposes feel that the appliance may be versatile in function but it fails to produce the same results as those derived in a slow cooker. Letâs look at some of the possible reasons why an instant pot shouldnât be used as a slow cooker.

  • The lid of an instant pot is exactly the same as that of a pressure cooker â it locks and seals at the same place. This means even lesser steam is allowed to evaporate from an instant pot when compared with that in a slow cooker. The result: you might end up with a dish literally swimming inside the liquid because of high moisture retention and lower steam evaporation and this may also show you the burn sign on your pot.
  • As mentioned earlier, the control panel on an instant pot is not that intuitive. It can be quite confusing for a first-timer. Besides, even if you get a hang of it eventually, you might not be able to accurately get the same settings right as those desired for slow cooking. In other words, the instant pot slow cooker setting isnt too reliable.
  • The instant pot does not come with an auto-warm switch unlike in conventional slow cookers.

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When Should I Use Keep Warm Function

The Instant Pot can be kept on Keep Warm after cooking most foods. In fact, its very handy if you are finished cooking before youre ready to serve food. Some foods like rice, quinoa, or anything that has soaked up a lot of liquid should be monitored or warmed in a more moist environment to prevent dryness or burning. You can select Keep Warm cycle before you start cooking or after.

Pressure Cooking Requires Liquid

Before we continue, we must mention the most important aspect of pressure cooking. It requires liquid. This is because the pressure is built by the steam accumulating inside the pot, which is produced from the liquid.

Whether youre cooking rice, chicken breasts, pot roast, carrots, stew or cheesecake, you will need at least a cup of liquid for the Instant Pot to do its job.

This is a total amount of liquid and can be in the form of water, stock, tomato sauce, juice, wine and liquids released from the food while cooking , or a combination of those. Amount of liquid required varies depending on the recipe and amount of food but as a rule of thumb, 1 cup is always a good starting point. Also, the food doesnt need to be completely covered or submerged in liquid to cook.

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