You’ve just got your first electric pressure cooker or Instant Pot and you’re excited. Little did you know that this is not an electric slow cooker. In fact, cooking your first meal in the Instant Pot can be a little mind boggling and using your pressure cooker may just take some getting used to. Trust me I’ve been there and I know how confusing things can be at first.
Well you need not worry. This article is full of tips and tricks for electric pressure cooker success. I am going to show you how easy it can be by pointing out the mistakes people make over and over again so we can avoid them together. So let’s jump right in!
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10 Mistakes People Make When Pressure Cooking.
I’ll begin by sharing some of the rookie mistakes people make when using their instant pot. Here we go….
Not Reading the Manual
Electric pressure cookers have very specific cooking times so if your electric pressure cooker has a 30 minute high pressure time then you cannot change it to 45 minutes because it will be dangerous for food safety reasons.
It’s important to read your Instant Pot manual to ensure you get a good overview on how to use your new machine as well as for safety reasons. If you’re pot didn’t come with a Manual and trust me, some do not…. then take a look here to learn how to find your Instant Pot Manual online.
Cooking Meals at the Wrong Temperature
Cooking food at the wrong temperature in you electric pressure cooker can result in your dinner being under or overcooked. An Instant Pot comes with different temperature modes and you will need to select either a high or low pressure cooking option depending on the recipe you are using.
The good news is that most tried and true Instant Pot recipes will tell you whether you need to use a high or low pressure setting.
Not Doing a Quick Release
Electric pressure cookers can either naturally release steam or you can use the quick release option. The quick release option is a lot faster and it will expel the steam quicker which means the lid can be opened much sooner
Whilst some recipes such as cooked meats call for a natural release to help make the meat tender, many recipes require a quick and fast manual release. If a quick release recipe is left to naturally release, it may end up overcooked.
Be sure to check the instructions on your recipe and for more information on this topic visit my post Quick release versus natural release.
Over Filling Your Electric Pressure Cooker
Electric pressure cookers like the Instant Pot should not be overfilled. In fact the inner pot usually has a maximum line to indicate the furthest point to fill the pot.
Overfilling your electric pressure cooker can result in a mess as liquid may spew out of the steam valve. This could result in splatter all over the kitchen. Not only could you end up with a huge mess, spewing liquid has the potential to cause burns.
If you follow the safety rules and keep your liquids and foods below the maximum fill line, then you shouldn’t have a problem.
Not Using Enough Water or Liquid Inside Your Electric Pressure Cooker
Some electric pressure cookers (such as Instant Pot) need liquid inside them to allow the recipe to come to pressure. Not only do you need liquid for cooking but you will need the regular liquid required for the recipe. Too little liquid will result in the instant Pot Burn Notice and too much liquid will result in your electric pressure cooker not coming to pressure.
If you’re cooking fluffy white rice in the Instant Pot then you’ll need enough water for both the rice to absorb and for the Instant Pot to build pressure. You don’t want your Instant Pot rice to boil dry and get the burn error sign!
Using Too Much Liquid in Your Instant Pot
For most electric pressure cooking recipes, you will need a minimum amount of liquid for cooking but there are some recipes such as pasta that require more than just the minimum amount. Be sure to check your recipe for specifics on how much and what type of liquid is required.
Too much liquid in your Instant Pot Lasagna could result in a sloppy lasagna soup. likewise too much water in your orange chicken or bourbon chicken recipe could thin the sauce too much and take away all the flavor from your food leaving it a soggy mess.
Putting Your Instant Pot Lid on Unlocked or Misaligned
The electric pressure cooker lid should fit on nice and snug. It is especially important to make sure the lid is aligned with the pot before you lock it into place. The electric pressure cooker locking mechanism usually includes a safety button or handle that must be in a certain position for the electric pressure cooker to start up. If your electric pressure cooker does not come with this feature then double check that your lid is locked down before turning on your electric pressure cooker.
The Instant Pot brand will not allow the pressure cooker to start cooking if the lid is not locked in place. However, on one occasion I misaligned my lid just slightly and steam began to come out of the side of the pot as the meal started to come to pressure.
Not Adding Extra Cooking Time for Frozen Meat
If you have a recipe that calls for defrosted meat to be added, then it is important to add in extra cooking time. It can take up to 30% more cooking time when starting with frozen meat. Check out our Cooking Meat from frozen article here! It has the recommended times for the different Frozen meats you may choose to cook.
If you don’t add the extra cooking time, your electric pressure cooker will only come to pressure and start building temperature. The electric pressure cooker won’t cook your food through until it has completed all the heating stages and started releasing steam (which is what brings the electric pressure cooker up to pressure). Starting from frozen could result in under cooked meat which could cause illness or poisoning if served without adding an adequate amount of heating time.
Not Learning All of Your Instant Pot’s Feature Functions
There are many features on electric pressure cookers and not taking the time to read up about the functions and buttons may slow you down. We have a guide to the Instant Pot Buttons here on The Instant Pot Table.
Preset Buttons can come in super handy, however I personally prefer to manually set each meal according to the minutes required for my individual recipes. This way I can set the electric pressure cooker timer and walk away to prepare other parts of my meal, knowing that the electric pressure cooker is doing all the work for me on the right settings.
Checking the Recipe Beforehand for Accuracy
It’s always a good idea to check your recipes before you start cooking and electric pressure cooking is no different. Make sure you understand the instructions properly and any recipe changes you need to make so that you know what to expect while cooking.
I’ll give one example from a popular recipe of mine….Instant Pot Sweet and Sour chicken… someone was having issues with this recipe burning and being soggy and I couldn’t figure out what she was doing wrong.
It turned out the reader had misread the ingredients and was using sweet and sour dipping sauce rather than sweet and sour stir fry sauce. This made the liquid much more gloopy and thick and resulted in the burn notice followed by soggy tasteless chicken.
We all need to read the recipes correctly if we want them to turn out right!
Instant Pot electric pressure cookers are truly amazing appliances that can save you a ton of time and make your food taste great with very little effort.
However, it is essential to understand the electric pressure cooker’s functions before using it in order to avoid electric pressure cooker mistakes that could be dangerous and or result in ruined food.
I hope this article has been useful for you! Please share if you have enjoyed learning about electric pressure cooker mistakes and stay tuned for more electric pressure cooker articles coming soon!