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How to Use Instant Pot Pressure Cookers

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Got your hands on one of the best Instant Pot pressure cookers, but confused about how to use it? Here’s the ultimate guide you need!

Okay, so you finally gave in and got your hands on the Instant Pot. But now that it is here, you’re probably confused and finding it a bit daunting. Well, trust me it isn’t. 

In fact, the Instant Pot is probably one of the most user-friendly kitchen essentials you could find. After you've done the water test, you'll want to jump right in and start cooking. One of the easiest recipes to start with is learning how to make Instant Pot boiled eggs. Then, use some of those to make deviled eggs.

Ready to go ahead and get started using it? Read on…

spoon full of brown rice from pressure cooker

Understanding the Parts of the Instant Pot

Getting a basic understanding of the parts that make up your Instant Pot can go a long way in helping you make sense of how to use it. 

  • Power cord: This one’s obvious. It connects to a power source and helps your device do what it can do. 
  • Base unit: This is the stainless steel exterior or the outer pot which acts like an enclosure for the heating element. 
  • Lid: The lid closes the device from tops and helps seal it to create pressure. 
  • Inner pot: This is the stainless steel inner pot that houses inside the outer pot, which is stove-friendly and dishwasher-safe. 
  • Condensation collector: This collects the condensation that drips from the lid, and collects it to the back of the base unit. 

Functions

The functions on your Instant Pot will vary depending on which Instant Pot model you purchase. Here are the most common functions:

How to Use it?

And now for the question- how should I use the Instant Pot? Well, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. It all depends on what you’re planning to cook in it. Also, you'll want to make sure to follow the recipe instructions, but here is a basic guide.

  • Start by adding oil or any fat to your Instant Pot and set it to Saute mode. You can use this mode to soften your chopped veggies or brown any protein. 
  • Once done, hit the Cancel button.
  • Next, you'll add in a small amount of liquid and deglaze the pan. Then, add in the remaining ingredients as explained in your recipe instructions.
  • Tap Manual, followed by Pressure. Tap it once again to put the Instant Pot in the high-pressure mode. 
  • Set the cooking time by using the plus and minus buttons. 
  • Lock the Instant Pot by placing the lid (a nice sound will let you know it is locked). 
  • Turn the pressure valve to sealing. Some Instant Pot models do this automatically.
  • When enough pressure is built in the pot, the red button will pop up. This is when the cooking time will officially begin. 
  • After your food is done cooking, you can opt for either a quick release or a natural pressure release option (which can take up to 20 minutes to an hour). 

Safety Precautions to Keep in Mind

Your Instant Pot already comes with a set of safety precautions to keep in mind while you’re using the device. However, here are a few extra important ones I’ve highlighted to make things easier for you. 

  • When using the steam release function, make sure you keep your hands and face away from the device. 
  • Avoid filling the device over ½ of its capacity if you’re cooking foods that expand (like rice, pasta, or beans). 
  • Always use the handles to move the Instant Pot from one place to another. Avoid touching the hot parts of the device bare-handed. 
  • Don’t move the Instant Pot while it is under pressure. 
cashew chicken in white bowl

FAQs

What does an Instant Pot do?

An Instant Pot is a multi-cooker. This means that it is an electric pressure cooker with multiple settings to allow food to cook in various ways. Depending on the cooker, it can steam, saute, slow cook, sous vide while also having settings specific to rice, porridge or multigrain, soup, stew, meat, and more.

Is an Instant Pot really worth it?

Buying an Instant Pot is worth it if you use it. You might hear about people buying an Instant Pot and letting it sit in their closet for a year because they are scared to use it.

As long as you follow instructions and use your Instant Pot correctly, it is an easy kitchen product to use and a helpful tool to have in your kitchen.

Cut down on eating out and make healthier meals at home.

What is the best Instant Pot on the market?

An Instant Pot pressure cookers ranking really depends on which type of pressure cooker is best for you and what type of cook you are. For experienced cooks ready to get the most out of a pressure cooker, the Instant Pot Ultra 60 Ultra 10-in-1 is a great choice.

If you're a newer cook and want to dip your toes into pressure cooking, you're fine going with a base model like the Instant Pot Duo.

Want to use the sous vide setting? The Duo Plus, Instant Pot Max, and Duo Evo Plus. The Instant Pot Aura Pro also has sous vide functionality, but it is a slow cooker, not a pressure cooker.

Is the Instant Pot bad for you?

Here's the thing. Cooking with Instant Pot pressure cookers can be good for you if you are cooking with good ingredients. Many people use the Instant Pot as a quick and efficient cooking method to stop eating takeout so much.

If you're making healthier food choices, it's a good thing. For Instant Pot recipes that aren't as healthy, eat those in moderation and use good portion control.

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