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Instant Pot (A Complete Guide)

  • By: Kitchen Informant
  • Date: February 6, 2024

Instant Pot (A Complete Guide)

An Instant Pot on a kitchen counter, with the lid open.


Instant Pot (A Complete Guide). The Instant Pot has quickly become a popular appliance in home kitchens around the world, and for good reason.

With the ability to pressure cook, slow cook, sauté, and more, this versatile appliance can help you prepare a wide range of dishes in a fraction of the time it would take using traditional cooking methods.

In this ultimate guide to using your Instant Pot, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get the most out of this handy appliance.

What is an Instant Pot and how does it work?


An Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker that uses a combination of pressure and heat to cook food quickly and efficiently.

It has a number of different cooking functions, including pressure cooking, slow cooking, sautéing, and more, which allows you to prepare a wide range of dishes with ease.

To use an Instant Pot, you simply add your ingredients to the pot, seal the lid, and select the appropriate cooking function.

The Instant Pot uses pressure to cook the food, which means it cooks faster than other methods, such as stovetop cooking or baking.

Pros of using an Instant Pot


There are many benefits to using an Instant Pot, including:

  • Fast cooking times: Because the Instant Pot uses pressure to cook food, it can prepare meals in a fraction of the time it would take using traditional methods.
  • Energy efficient: The Instant Pot uses less energy than a stovetop or oven, making it a more eco-friendly option.
  • Versatility: With the ability to pressure cook, slow cook, sauté, and more, the Instant Pot is a versatile appliance that can help you prepare a wide range of dishes.
  • Easy to use and clean: The Instant Pot is user-friendly and easy to clean, making it a convenient option for busy home cooks.

Cons of using an Instant Pot


While there are many benefits to using an Instant Pot, there are also a few drawbacks to consider:

  • Limited capacity: The Instant Pot is generally not suitable for large families or batch cooking, as it has a limited capacity.
  • Can be intimidating for new users: Some people may find the Instant Pot intimidating to use at first, especially if they are not familiar with pressure cooking.
  • Limited control over cooking process: Because the Instant Pot cooks food using pressure, you have less control over the cooking process than you would with stovetop cooking.
  • Some dishes may not turn out as well as they would on the stove or in the oven: While the Instant Pot is great for many dishes, there are some that may not turn out as well as they would using other methods.

How to use an Instant Pot

Oil being poured into an Instant Pot


Using an Instant Pot is relatively straightforward, but there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind to get the best results. Here’s a step-by-step guide for using your Instant Pot:

  1. Read the manual and safety instructions: Before you start using your Instant Pot, it’s important to read the manual and familiarize yourself with the safety instructions.

    This will help you understand how to properly use and care for your appliance.
  2. Add your ingredients to the pot: Once you’ve decided on a recipe, add all of your ingredients to the pot.
    Make sure to follow the recipe’s instructions for ingredient amounts and placement.
  3. Seal the lid and pressure valve: To cook food using pressure, you’ll need to properly seal the Instant Pot’s lid and pressure valve.

    Refer to the manual for instructions on how to do this.
  4. Select your cooking function: Choose the appropriate cooking function for your recipe (e.g. pressure cooking, slow cooking, sautéing).

    You can also set the cooking time and pressure level, depending on the recipe you’re following.
  5. Start the Instant Pot: Once you’ve selected your cooking function and set the cooking time, press the “start” button to begin cooking. The Instant Pot will start to build up pressure, which will take a few minutes.
  6. Release the pressure: When the cooking time is up, the Instant Pot will beep to let you know it’s done.

    At this point, you’ll need to release the pressure before you can open the lid. There are two ways to do this: natural release and quick release.
  7. Natural release: To do a natural release, simply leave the Instant Pot alone and allow the pressure to release naturally. This is best for tender meats and other delicate dishes.
  8. Quick release: To do a quick release, carefully open the pressure valve to release the steam. This is best for firmer vegetables and other dishes that don’t require as much cooking time.
  9. Open the lid and serve: Once the pressure has been released, you can carefully open the lid and serve your food. Be careful, as the contents of the pot will be hot.

Safety considerations when using an Instant Pot


It’s important to always follow the safety instructions when using an Instant Pot to avoid any accidents or injuries. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Always read and follow the manual and safety instructions: It’s essential to read the manual and familiarize yourself with the safety instructions before using your Instant Pot.
  • Make sure to properly seal the lid and pressure valve: To ensure that your food cooks properly and safely, you’ll need to properly seal the lid and pressure valve.

    Follow the instructions in the manual to do this.
  • Use caution when releasing pressure: When you’re ready to release the pressure, be careful, as hot steam can escape.

    Use a long utensil or oven mitt to carefully open the pressure valve.
  • Be mindful of the maximum fill line: It’s important not to overfill your Instant Pot, as this can cause problems with cooking and pressure release.

    Make sure to follow the recipe’s instructions and don’t exceed the maximum fill line marked on the pot.

What can you cook in an Instant Pot?

Overhead view of an instant pot surrounded by ingredinets.


One of the best things about the Instant Pot is the wide range of dishes you can prepare with it.

Here are a few ideas to get you started

Soups and stews

The Instant Pot is great for making soups and stews, as it can cook the ingredients quickly and evenly.

Rice


You can use the Instant Pot to cook perfect rice every time. Simply add your rice and liquid to the pot, set the cooking time and pressure level, and let the Instant Pot do the rest.

Beans


The Instant Pot is perfect for cooking beans, as it can soften them up quickly and evenly.

Meat


The Instant Pot’s pressure cooking function is great for cooking tender, juicy meat in a fraction of the time it would take using other methods.

Vegetables


The Instant Pot can cook a wide range of vegetables, from tender greens to firmer root vegetables.

What Can’t You Cook in an Instant Pot

Deep-frying and Crispy Foods

A pile of fried chicken on a plate with a bed of lettuce.


One of the things that an Instant Pot can’t do is deep-fry or crisp food.

This is because the Instant Pot doesn’t get hot enough to produce the crispy texture that we all love in foods like French fries or fried chicken.

So while you can make crispy foods in an Instant Pot using the “crisp lid”, the result is not the same as deep-frying.

Delicate Foods


Another limitation of the Instant Pot is that it can be tough to cook delicate foods without overcooking them.

For example, the pressure cooking process can turn fish and shellfish into mush if not carefully monitored. If you’re looking to cook delicate foods, stick to a traditional stovetop or oven.

Foods requiring specific cooking temperature


An Instant Pot may not be the best option when cooking certain foods that require a specific temperature.

For example, tempering chocolate or making certain types of dough require precise temperatures.

Unfortunately, instant Pot can’t maintain precise temperatures, so it’s not the best option for these types of foods.

Tips and tricks for using an Instant Pot


Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your Instant Pot:

  • Utilize the delayed start function: The Instant Pot’s delayed start function is a great way to have your meal ready when you get home.

    Simply add your ingredients to the pot, set the cooking time and function, and let the Instant Pot do the rest while you’re out.
  • Try making homemade broth or yogurt: The Instant Pot is great for making homemade broth or yogurt, as it can cook these items slowly and evenly.
  • Use the sauté function to brown meats or caramelize onions:

    The Instant Pot’s sauté function is a great way to brown meats or caramelize onions before pressure cooking.
  • Use the natural pressure release function for tender meats and the quick release function for firmer vegetables: As mentioned earlier, the natural pressure release function is best for tender meats and other delicate dishes, while the quick release function is best for firmer vegetables and other dishes that don’t require as much cooking time.

Are Instant Pots Worth It?


An Instant Pot can be a valuable addition to any kitchen. Its versatility and convenience make it an ideal appliance for busy families, meal preppers, and anyone who wants to save time and energy in the kitchen.

However, whether an Instant Pot is worth it will depend on your specific needs and cooking habits.

FAQ’s

Can I cook frozen food in an Instant Pot?

Yes, you can cook frozen food in an Instant Pot. However, it is important to note that you will need to increase the cooking time to ensure that the food is cooked through properly.

How do I clean my Instant Pot?

The Instant Pot can be cleaned by wiping down the interior and exterior with a damp cloth or sponge. The inner pot, lid, and accessories can be washed with warm soapy water, or in the dishwasher.

How long does it take to cook a meal in an Instant Pot?

Cooking time can vary depending on the recipe and the type of food being cooked. However, on average, an Instant Pot can cook food up to 70% faster than traditional cooking methods.

How do I release pressure from an Instant Pot?

There are two ways to release pressure from an Instant Pot: natural release and quick release. Natural release allows the pressure to release slowly and naturally, while quick release uses the valve to quickly release the pressure.

Can I cook a whole chicken in an Instant Pot?

Yes, you can cook a whole chicken in an Instant Pot. The pressure cooking function allows for even cooking, resulting in a moist and tender chicken.

Is it safe to use an Instant Pot?

Yes, an Instant Pot is safe to use when used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It has multiple safety features such as pressure and temperature control, and lid locking mechanisms to prevent accidental opening while under pressure.

Conclusion


In conclusion, the Instant Pot is a versatile and convenient appliance that can help you prepare a wide range of dishes quickly and efficiently.

While there are a few drawbacks to consider, the pros of using an Instant Pot far outweigh the cons.

So why not give it a try and see for yourself what this handy appliance can do?

With a little experimentation and some practice, you’ll be an Instant Pot pro in no time.


Graphic for Pinterest of Instant Pot (A Complete Guide).