The Instant Pot is one of the most popular appliances on the market, and it’s popular for good reason. Because it slow cooks, pressure cooks, steams, and makes everything from stew to rice, you could clear out your cupboard and replace quite a few of your small appliances with one Instant Pot.
If you’re a new Instant Pot owner or you’re planning on buying this amazing multi-purpose appliance, you’ve probably done a bit of searching for the instant pot tips and tricks. It can be confusing to start using a pressure cooker, and because there’s so much information online about best practices, I’ve compiled a quick list of best instant pot tips and tricks you can use to get started right now.
Benefits of an Instant Pot
Instant Pot’s will cook fast and they don’t use as much energy as other methods of cooking. The Instant Pot has an inner pot that’s fully insulated so it heats up faster, and pressure cooking doesn’t take as much liquid to cook so the contents will boil faster.
Because it’s a sealed environment, using pressure to cook your food will also cook your food evenly, retain vitamins and minerals, and create tender and juicy dishes.
10 Best Instant Pot Tips and Tricks
1. You can use different buttons during one cooking session
There are quite a few different buttons on the front of the Instant Pot. You might think you need to just choose one like Stew, Rice, or Sauté, but you can actually choose more than one button during your cooking process.
If you are making a Stew and you need to brown beef, you can choose sauté. Once you’ve done sauteing, you can add all of the other ingredients and choose Manual Pressure or Stew.
2. It takes a while for pressure to build in the Instant Pot
When you turn on the Instant Pot, it begins pressurizing. That process takes around 10 to 15 minutes to occur, so the timer won’t start on whatever you’re cooking until it has gone through that process. When your Instant Pot reaches the appropriate pressure it will turn on, the count down timer will display the time you choose, and your wait time for dinner will begin ticking down.
3. Your Instant Pot needs liquid to work
Steam is created from liquid, and because steam is the basis for pressure cooking, you’ll need to add enough liquid to the Instant Pot to allow it to build up enough pressure. Most dishes like hard-boiled eggs or sauces require at least 1/2 cup of liquid to cook, while others need at least 1 cup.
One of the ways you’ll know you don’t have enough liquid is if your Instant Pot has been turned on and is building pressure, but instead of a countdown you get a display that says, “Burn.” When that happens you can release whatever pressure you’ve built up, safely open the lid, and add more liquid.
4. Natural release or instant release: you decide
There are two ways to release the pressure in an Instant Pot. As soon as your timer goes off you can release the pressure by safely turning the Sealing dial to release. If you aren’t home or you aren’t watching over your dish, your pot will automatically naturally release the pressure.
When you use natural release your Instant Pot slowly releases the steam. You might not even notice it’s doing it, and it can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes. When it’s done your valve will turn and let you open the appliance.
5. You can cook multiple things at once, and you can adjust the Instant Pot temperature too
An Instant Pot is flexible, and you can adjust the temperature when using different functions on the appliance. If you’re using the Slow Cooker you can make the Instant Pot hotter, or if you’re sauteing you can adjust the temperature so it doesn’t sear whatever you’re browning or sauteing.
You can also layer items within the Instant Pot to cook one full meal at once. If you’re making roast beef or pot roast you can add water or beef stock as your liquid and layer potatoes in the broth. Then you can add a layer of tinfoil, place your roast, and cook all at once.
6. Break out the cornstarch with your Instant Pot
When you cook a stew or make chili on your stove, you lose water as your food cooks. With the Instant Pot, that’s not the case. Because you have a sealed lid and you cook with pressure, your Pot actually retains liquid inside.
Remember you have to add a 1/2 cup of liquid to ensure your Instant Pot will cook. Along with that and the excess liquid retained in the pot, you’ll almost always have to add cornstarch or flour to thicken up whatever you cooked.
Once you’ve released the pressure and opened the lid, tap the Saute button and bring the food to a boil again. Add a few tablespoons of cornstarch to a bowl and add enough hot water to create a thick paste. Add the paste to your Instant Pot and stir. Your sauce should thicken right up.
7. You can buy accessories for your Instant Pot
Your Instant Pot has everything you need to begin pressure cooking, but you can also choose Instant Pot accessories. You can add a new inner pot so you can cook in one and have another on stand by.
You can choose glass lids so you keep a lid on your food after it has been cooked, or replace your sealing rings. You can also choose accessories to use while cooking including a rack to hold eggs.
8. Never open the lid if you haven’t released the pressure
If you’re distracted while cooking and you reach out to open the lid without releasing the pressure, it’s OK. When there is pressure inside the appliance it seals the lid, and it will be very difficult to turn it unless you release the pressure. A good rule of thumb is to check to see if the Sealing valve is set to pressure. If it is, don’t try to turn the lid.
9. Cleaning up the Instant Pot is easy
The inner pot of the Instant Pot is dishwasher safe. You can just pop it in the dishwasher when you want to clean it, but you can also hand wash it if you’d like. The lid and appliance are easy to clean with a damp cloth. You can also wipe around the inside of the appliance where the sealing ring is.
10. You can make cake in the Instant Pot
An Instant Pot isn’t just for main dishes. You can bake a perfectly shaped, delicious cheesecake with the Instant Pot, take it out and let it set, then make a yummy strawberry or blueberry sauce to cover your dessert.
You could also make an apple cake like this one from thespruceeats.com.
3 recipes to try in an Instant Pot
Now that you know the best instant pot tips and tricks, you can try these 3 Instant Pot recipes right now.
- Instant Pot Roast Beef – You can find many different recipes for roast beef online, but the quick method is to add a cup of water, season your roast with salt, pepper, and other spices, and set your Instant Pot to high pressure for 60 to 80 minutes
- Instant Pot Boiled Eggs – Instant Pot makes perfect boiled eggs. Add your eggs, add a 1/2 cup of water, and set to manual pressure for 5 minutes. When timer is up let naturally release for 5 minutes, then quick release and run under cool water
- Instant Pot Cheesecake – Littlespicejar.com has a great recipe for Instant Pot cheesecake
An Instant Pot is an all-in-one wonder device, and once you start using one you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. Take a look at all of the different types of Instant Pots available on Best Buy right now, and you’ll soon have your own Instant Pot tips and tricks to share.