When I first got my Instant Pot I was a little overwhelmed. I had an instruction manual but the many buttons and settings blew my mind. I really wasn’t sure where to start. In hindsight it would have been great to have been able to read a short, simple online tutorial that would have helped me get off to a running start. But alas, such was not the case.
So what I am going to do here is give you a few tips and ideas to help you “get your head around” using your Instant Pot. I’ll also share with you some of the secrets I’ve learned while using this amazing gadget.
I promise this will be super helpful, and the most worthwhile information you will receive regarding your Instant Pot. So sit back, relax and enjoy this article.
Also Please Refer Your Friends To My Website: THE INSTANT POT TABLE! so they can learn how to use their Instant Pot too!
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Instant Pot Tips You Need To Know
Here are 11 fantastic tips to help get you started with your Instant Pot.
Tip #1: Try Starter Meals First
The very first meal I tried to cook in my Instant Pot was a delicious looking lasagna which turned out to be a soggy lasagna soup. I jumped in at the deep end without trying basic recipes first.
When you first get your Instant Pot it is best to “swim with the sharks” only after you’ve mastered a few easy starter recipes.
Start your journey to a healthier and easier cooking lifestyle by cooking a bunch of “basic” Instant Pot meals first. Let’s face it, these are going to be the easiest, quickest and healthiest meals you will ever cook!
So… here are a few recipes you may want to try at first….
- Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs
- Instant Pot Mexican Beans
- Easy Instant Pot Cheeseburger Pasta
- Dump And Dash Taco Soup
- Easy Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese
Tip #2: Clean Your Pressure Cooker Regular
Your instruction manual will tell you to clean the cooker with a wet towel. I prefer SOS Pads since they are multi-purpose, can be thrown away and don’t leave residue behind on the stainless steel pot like kitchen soaps do.
You can NOT use soap on any of the inner surfaces! If you choose to use a wet towel, I suggest rinsing the cooker well after you are done… if there is any soap residue left behind it will foam up during cooking. This can be dangerous.
One of the best products I found for cleaning the instant pot pot is bar keepers friend. My father taught me how to use this amazing product years ago and it is the best way to clean stainless steel pots at home.
A great way to clean your Instant pot seal is to rinse it with vinegar or lemon juice. I’ve found this helps get out any funky smells that may be lingering especially after cooking a spicy or well seasoned dish!
Did you know you can pop your instant pot lid, seal and inner pot in the Dishwasher and it cleans very well. By always scraping out leftover food and cleaning your cooker after every use, you will not only keep it looking new (and smelling nice) but you will also keep it is pristine condition.
Tip #3: Plan Ahead And Read The Instructions Well
It is very easy to get in the habit of “winging it” when you cook. But this approach can be complicated when using your pressure cooker.
I’ve learned that following recipes properly will give you the best results. It’s really important to use the correct measurements especially when it comes to liquids. Too much liquid can result in a sloppy mess and too little liquid a burn notice.
Either way be sure to always have at least half a cup to one cup of liquid in your pot. This will allow the meal to come to pressure and cook well.
If you have time try reading through your recipe from start to finish before turning on your Instant Pot. This will give you an idea of what steps can be prepped ahead of time and how long each step takes within your pressure cooker.
Tip #4: Understand Not Every Recipe Will Work In Your Instant Pot
It’s important to realise that not every recipe will work perfectly in your Instant pot. For example I have the perfect recipe for cooking fluffy white rice, however when my mum changed the brand of rice we bought, my recipe no longer worked.
I had to add an extra two minutes and an extra cup of water to the new rice to get it cooked just right. I’ve learnt that the circumstances such as different branded ingredients and even the altitude in which you live can mean your recipes may need adjusting.
If your recipe does not work out perfectly, write down the changes you needed to make so you can refer to them next time and get the recipe perfect for your pot, location and ingredients.
Tip #5: Wait For The “Warm” Symbol Before Serving
Your Instant Pot takes out the guess work when it comes to cooking. But you will need to remember that not all cookers are created equal. Your Instant Pot can take twice as long to cool down compared to your traditional stove top cooker.
For this reason I would suggest waiting for a few minutes before serving a hot meal from your Instant Pot. This will also ensure that you won’t burn yourself whilst dishing up your meal.
The best way I’ve found to do this is to add an extra five minutes on top of my cooking time and then let the meal sit for five minutes before serving. You’ll work out how you like your meals and setting a cool down time will come with ease.
Tip #6: Stop Worrying About Burning Your Food
Yes it is possible to burn your food in the Instant Pot! But this shouldn’t be a worry unless you are cooking something like bread or rice for a long period of time
Did you know that the burn notice does not mean your food is burnt, it simply means you need to release your Instant pot and add more water, or check there is no food stuck to the bottom of your pot.
To learn more about the burn notice and what to do read my article: What does the Instant Pot burn notice mean and what do I do when I get one?
Tip #7: There Is No Need To Pre-Soak Beans When Using Your Instant Pot.
I’m sure you’ve heard all sorts of different things about soaking beans before cooking them. The main reasons for soaking beans in my opinion, are: (a) to reduce cooking time and (b) to lessen the amount of intestinal gas produced when eating the beans.
By using your Instant Pot you will achieve (a) and (b). You don’t need to pre-soak your beans, just put them straight into the pot at the recommended cooking time and they will cook perfectly.
Tip #8: Your Recipes May Need Adjusting for Elevation
If you have ever tried cooking a recipe from a different altitude then you understand that things take longer to cook. Similarly if you are trying out recipes in your Instant Pot at an altitude above sea level, it is likely they will need adjusting.
This is why for some hard boiled eggs take 5 minutes and for others the idea boiled egg takes 7 minutes. It depends on the altitude in which you live. Again, work out what works in your home and record the results so you know for next time.
Tip #9: Learn About Natural Release Versus Quick Release
You’ll read about the Natural Release and Quick release methods of releasing pressure in most recipes. But do you know what they mean?
Natural release means letting out all of the steam naturally after cooking, by leaving the food for a period of time rather than using the “vent”. This will keep your food warmer for longer, but takes longer overall to cool down before you can open your pot.
The Quick Release method involves releasing the pressure quickly, but this will cool down your food faster and allows you to serve after a short amount of time. Which method you use is up to you!
Tip #10: You Don’t Have To Cook Every Meal In Your Instant Pot
As much as I love the Instant Pot and use it daily, you don’t have to use your pot for every meal. Sometimes I find using the Instant Pot to steam vegetables, cook rice or make side dishes works really well alongside a bbq grilled meat or favourite stove top recipe.
If you have more than one Instant Pot then you can cook one meal in one pot and your sides in the other.
At the end of the day you don’t have to use your pot for every meal although it can be great fun!
Tip #11: Don’t Get Hung Up On The Accessories That Come With Your Instant Pot
When you buy your Instant Pot it will come with accessories – steamer trays, measuring cups and spoons etc. But over time these may be lost or broken and if you’re anything like me, you might get FOMO (fear of missing out) seeing the silicone egg molds and other items others are using.
It is great to buy accessories and and when you can afford it but it’s not essential and needed straight away. I find that the trivet, 7 Inch cheesecake pan, bunt pan, pot in pot and egg molds are really useful. But in all reality I barely use the other items sold in the big accessories bundles.
When it comes to having a glass lid for your Instant pot, this is super useful when taking your food to a pot luck or gathering. At home, I generally just cover the meal with the pressure cooker lid.
Enjoy Your Instant Pot
All in all, using the Instant Pot can be extremely rewarding and even fun. It is a way to make meals more quickly and is a great time saver. Instant pot meals can taste amazing and once you’ve cooked certain recipes in your Instant Pot you won’t want to cook them any other way!
About Angela Milnes
Angela Milnes is a Qualified Early Years Teacher who has specialised in teaching. She has a wealth of experience teaching young children and adults. Angela has also taught cooking classes and loves to share both family recipes and easy instant pot recipes here on The Instant Pot Table. Follow her on Pinterest!