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 instant pot tips and tricks. 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
An Instant Pot 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. Learn about some more ways using an Instant Pot can change your cooking routines.
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 to tap the sauté button after. Once you’re done sauteing, you can add all of the other ingredients and choose Manual Pressure or Stew.
One thing to keep in mind when cooking stew, and many other dishes, in an Instant Pot – you’ll want to add more seasoning than usual. Cooking with high pressure can reduce the flavour of your food, so a bit more salt or seasoning can be a good idea.
2. It takes a while for the pressure to build in the Instant Pot
One of the first things you’ll notice when you turn on your new Instant Pot, is that it will take a bit of time to begin pressurizing.
Depending on what you’re cooking, the pressurizing process can take five to 10 minutes to occur. The display will say “On” but the timer won’t start until the Instant Pot has gone through the pressurizing process. When your Instant Pot reaches the appropriate pressure, the count down timer will display the cooking 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 a 1/2 cup of liquid to cook, while others need at least one cup.
One of the ways you’ll know you don’t have enough liquid in your Instant Pot is if you’ve turned it on and it’s building pressure, but instead of a countdown you get a display that says, “Burn” or “Hot.” When that happens, you can release whatever pressure you’ve built up, safely open the lid, and add more liquid.
You don’t have to just use water in an Instant Pot. You can experiment by adding other liquids like chicken or beef stock. I’ve even added a splash of red wine to deglaze my Instant pot after sauteing beef for stew, and I let it simmer along with the liquid I add.
4. Instant Pot 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, and it can take anywhere from five minutes to 30 minutes. When it’s done, your valve will turn and let you open the appliance.
If you find you can’t open the lid after you’ve released pressure, you can check the pressure valve and see if the metal button is pushed up. It should be in the down position for the lid to open or close. You can also check to see if the seal is snug all around the lid. If it’s not in the right spot, it can affect how you put the lid on or pull it off.
5. Cook multiple things at once and adjust the Instant Pot temperature
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.
It’s a lot of fun to experiment with all of the functions on an Instant Pot. You can try making oatmeal or your own yogurt as well. It’s also one of the best and easiest ways to make perfect hardboiled eggs.
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 Instant Pot actually retains liquid inside.
Remember you have to add a 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’re cooking.
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 with 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.
One of the best new Instant Pot accessories is an air fryer lid. It turns the 6 quart pressure cooker into an air fryer so you can make crispy fries and chicken strips in your Instant Pot.
8. Safety features prevent you from opening lid until you release pressure
If you’re distracted while cooking and you reach out to open the lid without releasing the pressure, it’s OK. You don’t have to worry that you’ll come in contact with a burst of steam.
When there is pressure inside the appliance, it seals the lid. Unless you’ve turned the pressure dial to release the pressure, it will be almost impossible to turn the lid to the open position. Just to be safe, a good rule of thumb is to check to see if the Sealing valve is set to lock in 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. A rolled up damp paper towel with warm water will slide through, or you can use something like a toothbrush to get into the crooks and crevices of the sealing ring.
If you find you have stuck-on food at the bottom of your Instant Pot, use a deglazing method to remove it before you put your pot in the dishwasher. Turn on the saute function, add enough water to cover the burnt-on food, and let your Instant Pot heat up. Once the hot water has gone to work for a few minutes, any burnt-on food should lift right off. Or opt for a good ‘ol scouring pad.
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.
There are a lot of great recipes to try in an Instant Pot and there are quite a few communities online where you can get even more tips and recipe ideas.
3 recipes to try in an Instant Pot
Now that you know the best instant pot tips and tricks, you can try these three 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 3 minutes for soft eggs and 5 minutes for hard eggs. When the timer is up let naturally release for 5 minutes, then quick release and run under cool water
- Instant Pot rice– To make perfect fluffy rice in your Instant Pot, just add one cup of rice, one and a half cups of water or chicken stock, and a bit of salt. Tap the rice function and wait until the pressure releases naturally
Are you ready to cook in an Instant Pot?
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.