Are you using your Instant Pot for the first time? Maybe you haven’t even taken it out of the box. Or maybe you’ve tried a few recipes and still aren’t sold. If so, this post is for you!
I was you a few years ago. I bought my first Instant Pot on sale on Amazon Prime Day and left it in the box for over a month. After trying a few recipes, I was hooked! While the Instant Pot isn’t really “instant” it can make cooking fun and easy! Keep reading for the top tips when using your Instant Pot.
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1. Start with the water test.
The water test is an easy way to get familiar with your new Instant Pot! You’ll add a few cups of water to the stainless steel pot and pressure cook for 5 minutes. Easy peasy! Check out more details on Instant Pot’s website here.
2. Use trusted recipes.
Pinterest and Google are full of Instant Pot recipes! Unfortunately, they’re not all good recipes. Some will undercook your meal, others will overcook it, and some will just set you up for failure. Start with trusted sites before searching high and low for new recipes. A few recommended sites include:
- Cardamom & Coconut (this blog!)
- Amy + Jacky
- Pressure Luck Cooking
- Any cookbooks by America’s Test Kitchen, like this Mediterranean Instant Pot cookbook
3. Don’t forget to set the venting knob before you start cooking.
I include this one because it happens to me all the time. In most Instant Pot models, when you’re pressure cooking, you’ll need to set the venting knob or steam/pressure release valve to “sealing” in order to pressure cook. If you don’t turn the knob to seal, the Instant Pot will not come up to pressure.
4. Always use water or some other liquid in the Instant Pot.
The Instant Pot relies on liquid like water or broth to come up to pressure and cook your ingredients. Most recipes will call for at least a cup of water or broth. This liquid is absolutely essential and should never be skipped!
5. Follow recipe instructions for quick release and natural release.
How you release the pressure matters. Certain types of recipes need a quick release or they’ll overcook. Other recipes need a slower release (called “natural” release) for the ingredients to cook properly. Make sure to follow the recipe instructions and don’t mix up these two methods. If your recipe doesn’t clearly tell you how to release the pressure, find another recipe.
6. The ENTIRE Instant Pot lid is dishwasher safe!
I’ll often put it on the top rack of my dishwasher to easily clean. If you get something burned onto the stainless steel pot that you can’t get off with some elbow grease, try a helper like the Bar Keepers Friend powder.
7. Buy an extra sealing ring.
The sealing ring can sometimes keep the odor of the last thing you cooked. If you cook some Italian food and then a dessert, your cheesecake may smell a bit like basil. To avoid this, buy an extra sealing ring and use one just for desserts and another for dinner.
You can buy sealing rings on Amazon.
8. Don’t buy many accessories until you’re familiar with your Pot.
While it’s great to have a spare sealing ring, you can make a ton of recipes with no extra accessories. There are lots of accessory kits on Amazon with extra stuff you may never use. I suggest starting with a few basic recipes first, then start buying a few accessories once you’re ready to expand your recipe scope!
9. The handle doubles as a lid holder.
My mind was blown when I figured this out.
10. The Instant Pot isn’t “instant.” Take that into account when planning dinner.
The Instant Pot takes time to come up to pressure, anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes depending on how much liquid you have in the recipe. Many recipes don’t include this time in their cook time estimates, so if you don’t take this into account your dinner may be ready way past dinner time!