How to Use an Instant Pot

How to Use an Instant Pot

Publish Date March 23, 2023 3 Minute Read

How to Use an Instant Pot

This kitchen gadget, also known as a multi-cooker or a programmable pressure cooker, is an excellent do-it-all addition to your home. Unlike old-school pressure cookers, which can be bulky and sometimes dangerous, Instant Pot-style cookers are safe, affordable and produce delicious results. Get the most out of an Instant Pot with some quick tips in this handy guide.

How to Start an Instant Pot

If you’ve ever used a slow cooker or a rice cooker, then starting up an Instant Pot will feel familiar, with just a few differences. Plug in the Instant Pot and make sure the inner pot is in place. Add your ingredients to the inner pot, close the lid and set the steam release valve to the “sealing” position. Next, press the program button for the kind of recipe you’re making, or set the time manually using the control panel. Your Instant Pot should build pressure and start cooking.

How Long Does the Instant Pot Take to Cook My Food?

Like a slow cooker or rice cooker, the amount of time your food will take to cook in an Instant Pot depends on what you’re making. The good news is that Instant Pots cook most food a fair bit faster than alternative methods, thanks to using high pressure while cooking. Rice might take 20-30 minutes to make on the stovetop, but with an Instant Pot, it could be done in just 5-10 minutes.

One thing to note is that the Instant Pot does need to build pressure first at the start of cooking, which will depend on several factors like the amount of liquid in the cooking pot. Most recipes will give you a good sense of total cooking time, but overall, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly the Instant Pot gets to work.

My Food’s Done. How Do I Unlock the Instant Pot?

After the timer on your food is up, the Instant Pot is still under pressure. You can let the pressure release naturally, by waiting a few minutes for the float valve on the lid to drop down, or you can use the quick release by setting the pressure valve to “venting.” Once the float valve has dropped, it’s safe to remove the lid, but be sure to use care since the food inside will be hot (and there may be hot steam inside the Instant Pot).

What Are the Functions on an Instant Pot?

The exact functions will depend on the your Instant Pot model, but these are common options (and our favorites for quick and easy cooking):

  • Pressure Cook: The Instant Pot’s all-purpose function that allows you to cook food quickly and evenly, using high pressure.
  • Slow Cook: Like a slow cooker, this low-and-slow method is great for when you have plenty of time or want to start a meal in the morning to enjoy later in the day.
  • Sautée: This high heat setting lets you brown or sear food using the Instant Pot’s vessel.
  • Steam: Use this option for ingredients like fish, veggies, dumplings and even hard-boiled eggs.
  • Rice: Instant Pots work great for cooking rice of all types. Consult the manual on your model to see if there are any special settings needed for this staple grain.
  • Keep Warm: If your food’s done before you’re ready to eat (it’s called an Instant Pot for a reason, after all), this function will keep things perfectly warm until mealtime.

How Do I Clean My Instant Pot?

The Instant Pot saves a ton of time, and the great news is that it requires only a little special handling to keep clean. The inner vessel can be cleaned by hand, and in many models it’s also dishwasher-safe. The lid should get a gentle wipe-down with soap and water and shouldn’t be run through the dishwasher. The rest of the Instant Pot can be wiped down with a little gentle soap and a damp sponge, dishcloth or paper towel as needed. If the pressure valve on the lid gets gunky, it’s possible to clean it too with a toothbrush and some gentle soap. As with any kitchen appliance, check the manufacturer’s directions for your particular model.

If you’re feeling ready to start cooking, we’ve got you covered with delicious Instant Pot recipes.

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