No Saute Button on Pressure Cooker? Here's How to Adapt and Still Ace Your Recipes!

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If your pressure cooker has “no saute button on pressure cooker”, you might be at a loss for how to brown meats or soften vegetables. Fear not - this article dives into how you can still ace those crucial steps and achieve flavorsome results with what you’ve got. Learn to master your pressure cooker’s functions and adjust your cooking methods, so the lack of a sauté button doesn’t hold you back from culinary success.

Key Takeaways

  • You can still create amazing dishes even without a sauté button on your pressure cooker by pre-cooking ingredients separately and adjusting liquid amounts in recipes.

  • Use other functions like ‘Steam’ and ‘Slow Cook’ or the ‘Adjust’ setting to substitute for sautéing, tenderizing meats, and developing flavors.

  • Maximize flavor by incorporating aromatic spices, herbs, and flavorful liquids, and utilize specific accessories and techniques to manage food textures.

Understanding Your Pressure Cooker's Capabilities

Various instant pot models with different buttons and features

Pressure cookers have come a long way since the first-generation models with their weight-modified valves and single pressure levels. Modern second-generation pressure cookers are spruced up with spring-loaded valves, multiple pressure settings, and safety features like steam release mechanisms. Among these advanced kitchen wizards, Instant Pots have made a name for themselves with their array of instant pot buttons, making instant pot cooking a breeze. These buttons are pre-set with suggested cooking times for specific items. For instance, you could cook large cuts of meat using the ‘Meat/Stew’ setting at high pressure, or use the ‘Bean/Chili’ setting to cook larger legumes.

These Instant Pots also offer a variable temperature range, which adapts to your specific cooking needs. The ‘Sauté’ function, for example, has temperature modes of ‘Less’ (275 to 302°F), ‘Normal’ (320 to 349°F), and ‘More’ (347 to 410°F). These temperature variations give you control over the outcome of your food. But what if your model lacks that sauté button? Well, that’s when you get creative! Mastering the Instant Pot involves understanding how to effectively use each function, even if the sauté one is absent.

Identifying Alternative Functions for Sautéing

The sauté function is key to the cooking process, serving as the secret ingredient to concocting flavorful one-pot meals. So, when you’re faced with a pressure cooker that lacks this function or a dedicated pressure cooking function, it’s like being handed a guitar with a missing string. You can’t play the same tune, but you can still make music. There are alternative functions that can mimic the effects of sautéing, and knowing them can save your meal.

We’ll begin with the ‘Slow Cook’ mode. It may not be its primary purpose, but this mode can tenderize meats and develop flavors, offering an alternative way to unlock the richness typically achieved through sautéing. Think of it as a slow waltz compared to the quickstep of sautéing.

Then there’s the ‘Steam’ function. While it won’t brown your food, it can soften your vegetables, mimicking the tenderizing aspect of sautéing.

Lastly, we have the ‘Adjust’ setting. Consider it your magic wand. It can change the cooking temperature levels, allowing you to achieve browning effects closely simulating the process of sautéing within the pressure cooker. So, while your pressure cooker may not have a sauté button, it’s still equipped with a symphony of functions that can dance to the same beat.

Recognizing Model-Specific Features

Just like snowflakes, no two pressure cooker models are identical. Some are multifunctional maestros performing various roles like pressure cooking, sautéing, slow cooking, rice cooking, and even yogurt making. These models often feature digital controls for precision in cooking times and temperatures. Newer third-generation electric pressure cookers come equipped with automatically regulated heat sources, timers, and smart programming, adding a layer of complexity and capability to modern models.

But not all models come with all the bells and whistles. For instance, the Instant Pot LUX series lacks specific functions like a yogurt mode. However, the beauty of these diverse features lies in their adaptability, as seen in the Instant Pot Duo. For example, specific settings like the Soup/Less mode can be used for cooking meats with vegetables in broth, showcasing the versatility of features across different cooking methods.

So, if you’re the proud owner of an instant pot or other brand with no saute button on pressure cooker, there’s no need to fear. With a little creativity and a keen understanding of your model’s unique features, you can still whip up a banquet fit for a king!

Adapting Recipes for Pressure Cookers Without a Sauté Button

Ingredients being pre-cooked separately in a skillet

Imagine having a pressure cooker without a sauté button. It’s akin to being given a paintbrush without any paint. But, much like a resourceful artist, you can still create a masterpiece. All you need to do is adapt your recipes. Sautéing before pressure cooking is essential for unlocking flavors, particularly when browning meats. But when your pressure cooker lacks a sauté function, you can pre-cook your ingredients separately to simulate the sautéing process.

Also, keep in mind that pressure cookers operate differently from traditional stovetop pans. There’s no evaporation during cooking, which means the amount of liquid in your recipes needs to be adjusted accordingly. You’ll want to carefully balance your liquids to prevent your food from turning into a soup or, worse, burning at the bottom of the pot.

Adapting your recipes for a pressure cooker without a sauté button may seem like a daunting task, but with a few tweaks here and there, you’ll be a pressure-cooking Picasso in no time. Next, we’ll explore more about pre-cooking ingredients and utilizing the ‘Adjust’ setting for browning.

Pre-Cooking Ingredients Separately

Pre-cooking ingredients separately is an effective technique to simulate sautéing in your pressure cooker. Think of it as a prelude to the main concert. For meats that need browning, you can sear them in a skillet on the stove before adding them to the pressure cooker. This extra step keeps the desired texture and flavor of the meats intact, ensuring that your meal doesn’t miss a beat.

Aromatics like onions or garlic also benefit from a pre-cooking session. When these ingredients are sautéed before being added to the pressure cooker, their flavors are enhanced. Without this step, they may retain a raw taste that might strike a discordant note in your meal.

For dishes like chicken soup, boiling the chicken legs or thighs before adding them to the pressure cooker can create a rich base for the soup. This method sidesteps the need for an initial sautéing step and hits all the right notes for a flavorful broth.

With these techniques in your culinary repertoire, your pressure cooker dishes will be singing sweet melodies, sans sauté button.

Using 'Adjust' Settings for Browning

Sometimes, to get that golden-brown finish on your food, you need to turn up the heat. This is the role of the ‘Adjust’ setting. This setting can change the cooking temperature levels, giving you control over the browning process. To achieve a browning effect after pressure cooking, you can increase the temperature for a brief period using this setting.

Think of the ‘Adjust’ setting as your pressure cooker’s backstage crew. It may not be the star of the show, but it plays a crucial role in delivering a stellar performance. By understanding how to use this setting effectively, you can master the art of browning and add a touch of finesse to your pressure cooker recipes, even without a sauté button.

Maximizing Flavor Without the Sauté Function

Aromatic spices and herbs being added to a pressure cooker

Even in the absence of a sauté button, your pressure cooker can still orchestrate a symphony of flavors. There are several ways to maximize flavor in your dishes, from marinating your ingredients to using flavorful cooking liquids and aromatic spices and herbs.

Adding a splash of wine to the pressure cooker can add depth to your dish. But be careful not to pour too much, or your dish might end up sounding more like a boozy ballad than a harmonious melody. Encasing herbs and spices in a foil packet within the pressure cooker can also create a more intense flavor infusion for the dish.

And don’t forget about the Slow Cook mode. It can simmer sauces and develop flavors, reducing the need for a sauté function. With these techniques, you’ll be able to conduct a flavor orchestra in your pressure cooker, no sauté button needed.

Incorporating Flavorful Cooking Liquids

Choosing the right cooking liquid can elevate a dish from being one-note to a flavorful symphony. Using homemade stocks or broths as a liquid base for pressure cooking can contribute to the depth and complexity of the dish’s flavor profile. But how much liquid should you use? In a 3 or 6-quart Instant Pot, you need at least 1 cup of liquid, and an 8-quart model requires 1.5 cups. This liquid is essential for both cooking and infusing flavor.

Think of the cooking liquid as the conductor of your pressure cooking orchestra. It dictates the tempo and rhythm of your cooking process, ensuring all the ingredients play in harmony. By choosing the right cooking liquid, you can enhance the taste and texture of your dishes, making your meals sing with flavor.

Employing Aromatic Spices and Herbs

Consider spices and herbs as the melody makers of your culinary orchestra. Fresh herbs and spices, in particular, can enhance flavor more effectively than their older or stale counterparts. To release more aroma and flavor, try crushing and rubbing dry herbs before adding them to the pressure cooker.

For whole spices, lightly crush them and dry toast them before adding them to the pressure cooker. This method can intensify their flavor and make your dishes sing. You can also bundle herbs together into a bouquet garni to infuse your dishes with multi-dimensional herbaceous flavors.

And don’t forget about turmeric. Not only does it add flavor, but it also imparts a golden color to dishes, enhancing their visual appeal and turning your meal into a veritable feast for the eyes. So, even if you can’t sauté, you can still spice things up and make your dishes sing with flavor.

When to Use Other Functions as a Sauté Substitute

Vegetables being steamed in a pressure cooker

Next, we’ll explore how to use other functions as a substitute for sautéing. If you’re missing a sauté button on your pressure cooker, don’t fret. There are a few conductors in the orchestra that can step in and keep the music playing. The steam function can soften vegetables, mimicking the tenderizing aspect of sautéing.

On the other hand, the Slow Cook mode enables tenderizing meats, offering an alternative to the flavor development that sautéing provides. Even the pressure cook button has its solo. It allows for manual adjustments that can regulate cooking times and pressures, similar to the slow cook button.

And remember the ‘Adjust’ setting? It can create browning effects, closely simulating the sautéing process within the pressure cooker. So, while your pressure cooker may not have a sauté button, it’s still equipped with a symphony of functions that can dance to the same beat.

Using the Steam Function for Vegetables

The steam function is like the violin section of your pressure cooker orchestra. It plays a delicate, yet crucial role in cooking your vegetables. The Instant Pot provides a simple, ‘dump & go’ process for cooking vegetables, which doesn’t require constant monitoring and helps prevent overcooking or undercooking.

Before placing the vegetables on the trivet or in a steamer basket, add water to generate steam in the Instant Pot. Firm vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans can be perfectly steamed using a ‘0’ minute high pressure setting. This means they are cooked during the time the pot reaches pressure.

Remember to use a steamer basket or the accompanying trivet to keep vegetables from directly touching the bottom, which heats quickly. This ensures the vegetables are evenly steamed and not overcooked. With the steam function, you can achieve a tender and flavorful veggie dish, even without a sauté button.

Slow Cook Mode for Tenderizing Meats

The Slow Cook mode in your pressure cooker plays the role of the cello in your kitchen orchestra. It provides a deep, rich flavor that can’t be achieved with quick cooking. This mode can be used to tenderize meats over a longer period, allowing flavors to develop without the need for searing.

Meats cooked on this setting can achieve a texture similar to that of braised or stewed meats, which are typically seared first. The beauty of slow cooking is that it’s a hands-off process. After the cooking cycle finishes, the Instant Pot will automatically transition to ‘Keep Warm’ mode for up to 10 hours.

The Slow Cook function can be used with recipes that call for searing meats, and it allows you to adjust the temperature settings to replicate low, medium, and high heat settings of traditional slow cookers. So, even if you can’t sauté, you can still cook tender and flavorful meats with the Slow Cook mode.

Accessorizing Your Pressure Cooker for Sautéing

Various pressure cooker accessories like steamer baskets and special pans

You’ve mastered your pressure cooker’s symphony sans a sauté button. But what if you could expand your culinary orchestra with additional instruments? That’s where accessorizing comes in. Steamer baskets or special pans can be utilized inside the pressure cooker to mimic the effects of sautéing.

Separating ingredients such as vegetables that release moisture during cooking with a steamer basket can help simulate the sautéing process. This approach allows for better control of moisture, thus maintaining desired textures and flavors. By using steamer baskets, you can enhance the texture and flavor of your dishes even without a dedicated sauté function on your pressure cooker.

Selecting the Right Accessories

Selecting the right accessories for your pressure cooker equates to choosing the right instruments for your orchestra. It’s crucial to consider the compatibility with the size and model of the cooker. Steamer baskets are often designed to fit specific sizes of pressure cookers, particularly common sizes like 6-quart and 8-quart models.

Always check the compatibility of steamer baskets or other accessories by matching them with the specifications of your pressure cooker size. Ensure that the accessory, such as a steamer basket, is intended for the specific make and size of your pressure cooker before purchasing.

Just like a conductor selects the best musicians to play each part, you too can select the best accessories to enhance your pressure cooking experience. With the right tools, your pressure cooker meals can hit all the right notes, even without a sauté button.

Safety Considerations When Using Accessories

Safety takes precedence when accessorizing your pressure cooker. It’s like tuning the instruments in your orchestra to ensure they play in harmony. Make sure any steamer basket or accessory used fits the size of your pressure cooker to maintain proper cooking and safety.

Use accessories specifically designed for use with pressure cookers to prevent damage and ensure safe operation. Accessories such as a steamer basket must not obstruct the pressure release valves of the pressure cooker to avoid safety hazards.

Stackable steamer insert pans can be used for sautéing multiple items simultaneously, as long as they are compatible with the pressure cooker. And remember, never cover your pressure cooker with the Instant Pot lid when sautéing with accessories to avoid pressure build-up.

Just like a well-rehearsed orchestra, when all parts work together safely, you’ll be able to create beautiful music in your kitchen.

How to Modify Common Recipes for Non-Sauté Pressure Cookers

Next, we’ll explore a new topic: adapting common recipes for pressure cookers without a sauté function. The secret lies in choosing recipes suitable for longer cooking times or moist heat methods, like stews or soups. When converting oven or stovetop recipes to a pressure cooker without a sauté function, you’ll want to reduce the original cooking time by roughly a third.

If you’re adapting slow cooker recipes, here’s how to do it:

  1. Multiply the original recipe’s high cook time by 6 to find the equivalent high-pressure cooking time in an Instant Pot.

  2. It’s like transposing a piece of music from one key to another. The notes change, but the melody remains the same.

  3. Let’s take a closer look at how to adapt stew and soup recipes and rework rice and grain dishes.

Adapting Stew and Soup Recipes

Stews and soups can be likened to the comforting ballads in the culinary world. To adapt these recipes for your pressure cooker without a sauté function, you’ll need to brown the meat separately. This process can recreate the Maillard reaction, which is crucial for flavor development.

Don’t forget to deglaze the pan used for browning with broth or wine. This liquid can intensify the stew’s flavor, capturing the fond (browned bits) developed during browning. As for soups, start with onions and garlic. They can add depth to dishes even when they have not been sautéed, as these ingredients release flavor during pressure cooking.

Adding a bit of acidity to the soup, such as a splash of vinegar or lemon juice, can brighten flavors and offset the absence of caramelization from sautéing. And, if you’re looking to add a depth of flavor to your soups, consider using roasted or smoked paprika. It can mimic the richness typically achieved through sautéing.

So, even without a sauté button, you can still cook a soul-soothing bowl of stew or soup.

Reworking Rice and Grain Dishes

Rice and grain dishes are the symphonies of the culinary world – complex, multi-layered, and deeply satisfying. When reworking these recipes for a pressure cooker without a sauté button, it’s important to adjust cooking times and use the appropriate water-to-grain ratios.

For instance, to achieve ideal fluffiness for white rice, rinse the rice 3-4 times until the water runs clear. This helps eliminate excess starch and is an essential step before you cook rice.

As for grains like:

  • millet

  • quinoa

  • farro

  • buckwheat

  • wild rice

  • barley

  • steel-cut oats

  • arborio rice

Each grain has a specific water to grain ratio and cooking time to best replicate the texture that would be achieved with a sauté start.

And if you’re cooking pasta, use 2 cups of liquid per cup of dry pasta and a high-pressure cooking time of half the stovetop cooking time indicated on the pasta package, with a quick release. With these adjustments, you can conduct a culinary symphony of rice and grain dishes, even without a sauté button.

Pressure Cooking Techniques to Enhance Food Textures

While we’ve discussed orchestrating flavors with your pressure cooker, what about managing the texture? Just like a symphony has different movements, your meals can have different textures. To achieve crispness, utilize high-pressure cooking to first cook through the ingredients, followed by a quick release and broiling to crisp up the exterior.

Caramelization can be introduced by pressure cooking ingredients with natural sugars until they are fully tender, then finishing them off under a high-heat broiler or in a hot oven. And to control excessive moisture that can lead to soggy textures, use natural pressure release methods to gradually reduce internal pressure and avoid sudden steam release.

And, if your dish still has too much moisture, you can employ thickening agents like a cornstarch slurry or reductions after pressure cooking to manage the moisture level of the dish. With these techniques, you can hit all the right notes in your pressure cooking symphony, even without a sauté button.

Achieving Crispness and Caramelization

Achieving crispness and caramelization in your pressure cooker dishes is like hitting the high notes in a song. It’s a challenge, but when done right, it can elevate your meal to a whole new level. To achieve browning and the Maillard reaction, searing foods before pressure cooking is essential. This is because the necessary high temperatures are not reached inside the pressure cooker.

Caramelized onions can be prepared in a pressure cooker by cooking them with butter, baking soda, and seasonings. Then, reduce the liquid with the lid off until the desired browning is achieved.

This process of achieving crispness and caramelization is like the climax in a musical piece. It’s the moment that everyone waits for, and when it arrives, it leaves a lasting impact. So, even though your pressure cooker might not have a sauté button, you can still hit those high notes and create dishes that are music to your taste buds.

Managing Moisture Levels in Cooking

Managing moisture levels in your pressure cooking is like controlling the dynamics in a piece of music. Too much moisture can make your dishes soggy, just like playing too loudly can overpower a melody. Adding acids such as lemon juice or vinegar to the cooking liquid can impart vibrant flavors into the dish, and keep additional moisture at bay.

Using a natural pressure release allows for the redistribution of moisture within the food, which may prevent dishes from becoming too soggy. If your dish still feels like a ballad played at forte, you can incorporate thickening agents such as cornstarch or flour after pressure cooking. This can absorb excess moisture and refine the texture of the final dish.

By managing moisture levels in your pressure cooking, you can maintain control over the dynamics of your culinary symphony, ensuring that every part plays in harmony and your final dish hits all the right notes.

Instant Pot Resources for Non-Sauté Models

Just as a musician needs the right resources to master their craft, you need guidance to perfect using your pressure cooker. There are a plethora of Instant Pot resources available, from recipe books, online guides, to community forums. These resources can help you adapt recipes and gain tips specifically for non-sauté models.

Consider these resources as your backstage crew, always ready to help you hit the right notes. They can:

  • Guide you through the process of adapting recipes

  • Provide tips on how to use other functions as a sauté substitute

  • Help you choose the right accessories for your pressure cooker

With the right resources, you can turn your pressure cooker into a versatile kitchen instrument, capable of playing a variety of culinary tunes, even without a sauté button.

Recipe Adaptations for Specific Models

Similar to how musicians modify their techniques for various instruments, you need to tailor your recipes to suit different pressure cooker models. Not all Instant Pots have a sauté function, which requires recipe adaptations for those that do not.

Instant Pot’s official website has specific guides for converting recipes across different models. These guides are available online and can be easily accessed by Instant Pot users seeking assistance with recipe conversions.

Referring to these specialized resources is crucial for Instant Pot owners to adapt and perfect their recipes when using models without a sauté button. So, even if you’re playing a different instrument, you can still play the same beautiful music.

Community Support and Forums

Community support and forums are the unsung heroes in the realm of pressure cooking. They provide a platform where users can share tips and seek advice on using different pressure cooker models.

You can find community support and forums on Facebook tailored to your specific pressure cooker model. These communities are like your fellow musicians, always ready to share their experiences and help you hit the right notes.

So, if you’re struggling with your pressure cooker, don’t fret. There’s a whole orchestra of pressure cooking enthusiasts out there, ready to help you make beautiful music in your kitchen, even without a sauté button.


We’ve journeyed through the world of pressure cooking without a sauté function, and what a harmonious symphony it’s been! From understanding your pressure cooker’s capabilities to adapting recipes, maximizing flavors, and even accessorizing your cooker, we’ve discovered that missing a sauté button is no obstacle to creating mouth-watering meals. With creativity, a dash of know-how, and the right resources, you can conduct a culinary masterpiece in your pressure cooker. So, step up to the podium, lift your baton, and let the cooking begin!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you sauté in a pressure cooker?

To sauté in a pressure cooker like an Instant Pot, just press the "Sauté" button, add oil, wait for it to heat up, and then sauté your ingredients as directed in the recipe. Don't forget to press the "Cancel" button to turn off the sauté mode when you're done.

What is the sauté setting on a Farberware pressure cooker?

The sauté setting on a Farberware pressure cooker is the BROWN function, which allows you to sauté or brown food in the removable cooking pot before cooking under pressure. Plus, it has a Quick Steam Release Feature for easy pressure release.

Where is the sauté button on the power pressure cooker XL?

The Power Pressure Cooker XL does not have a sauté or browning button, unlike the Instant Pot. It also does not indicate when the pot is hot and ready to sauté.

Do I need to sauté before pressure cooking?

You don't need to sauté before pressure cooking, but it can add extra flavor, especially when cooking certain meats like beef or pork. However, for dishes prepared with broth or liquid, such as soups or stews, searing or browning before pressure cooking is recommended.

How to turn on instant pot?

To turn on your Instant Pot, simply plug it in, add ingredients, select the cooking program and time, and press the "Start" button. It's as easy as that!


  • Jessica McCoy

    Jessica McCoy is a seasoned food blogger with 14+ years of experience in the industry. As a self-taught home cook, she enjoys creating and finetuning easy recipes that are fool proof and simple for anyone to make. Her expertise is in all things kitchen: cooking tips, air fryer recipes, Instant Pot and other pressure cooking recipes, and slow cooker recipes. Jessica was the previous owner of AllSheCooks, where she focused on easy every day recipes including budget friendly dinner recipes and desserts.

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