10 InstaPot Tips for Beginners

Despite becoming an overnight sensation, most people do not have an idea of how to use InstaPots, also known as Instant Pots. But, they are not as complicated as they seem, especially if you find the right instructions. First, what is an InstaPot? Essentially, an InstaPot is an advanced electric pressure cooker with the ability to speed up cooking by up to 6 times depending on the setting and type of food.

It is considered one of the most efficient cooking equipment because it cuts the amount of energy used by up to 70%. Unlike the traditional stove-top pressure cooker, the InstaPot eases depressurization thanks to a practical design. It also earns points for intuitiveness: the buttons are well-placed and clearly-labeled soon become second nature.

An InstaPot is a right appliance for you if you are after versatility. The best InstaPots combine up to seven cooking functions i.e., slow cooker, yogurt maker, warmer, steamer, pressure cooker, saute/browning, and rice cooker. Although there are different cooking techniques for making different dishes, they are all controlled by only 16 straightforward buttons.

The InstantPot’s Basic Parts:

  • Sealing ring
  • Inner stainless steel pot
  • Cooking unit
  • Lid

1. Use Liquid When Pressure Cooking

You require at least one half to a full cup when you use the pressure cooker feature. You add the liquid – either broth or water – in the inner pot to facilitate pressurizing inside the unit. You will not achieve a suitable cooking pressure without the liquid.

2. Saute Button Works Like a Skillet or Pan

The InstaPot transforms to a skillet or pan thanks to the Saute button. You can cook up anything, not just saute vegetables, without necessarily adding any liquid. Instead, you just add some animal fat such as lard or beef tallow or cooking oil to the inner pot after pressing the Saute button. Then you add your uncooked food like you would on a pan or skillet and cook till ready. It is even possible to adjust the saute temperature.

3. Utilize all the Buttons

The InstaPot allows you to do all the cooking in the same inner pot. For example, you can cook onions using the saute settings then switch to the pressure cooker button when you add another ingredient. Thanks to the Keep Warm button, you do not have to use a microwave to warm your family’s meals.

4. Adjust as Needed

Most InstaPots feature three temperature levels for Slow Cooker and Saute functions. You can increase or decrease the temperature as needed with the Adjust button. Also, the available preset buttons make it possible to adjust the pressure and time settings.

5. Allow 10-15 minutes for Manual or Pressure Cooking

It takes the unit about 10 minutes to develop enough pressure when you choose the pressure cooking function. Therefore, it is advisable to add about 10 minutes to your cooking time. That simply means that you should set the timer to 30 minutes if your recipe requires 20 minutes to cook. After cooking, you may require an additional 5 minutes for depressurising.

6. Set Pressure Value to Sealing

If you leaving the pressure value at Venting, you will not attain the required pressure for pressure cooking. You should always remember to change the setting to Sealing so that no pressure escapes the unit. Fortunately, the unit will alert you with a whistling sound if you forget to do that.

7. Stay Safe, Always

You get 10 seconds to hit the Cancel button after you select Manual/Pressure mode. After that, cooking will start and opening the lid can be dangerous. You should wait until after the time you set to avoid a face-full of steam. Thankfully, the InstaPot is intuitively designed such that it is difficult to open the lid while cooking.

8. Natural Pressure Release (NPR) vs. Quick Release (QR)

NPR mode allows the InstaPot to release pressure slowly, usually 10-20 minutes. It is the ideal setting when cooking meat as it ensures that it remains tender. On the other hand, with QR, you switch to Venting mode as soon as the food is ready and then open the lid as soon as pressure comes out. QR mode is ideal for foods that can get soggy like steamed vegetables. However, do not use QR mode with foods (such as soup) that may platter out of the vent. You can also combine both modes i.e., start with NPR mode then switch to QR after a few minutes.

9. Get Several Inner Pots and Lids

You should get a second stainless steel inner pot to supplement the one that comes with the unit. For longevity of use, you should use different pots for different cooking modes. The same applies to pot lids. This is not compulsory but it will ensure that you get the most out of your InstaPot, for longer.

10. An Additional Sealing Ring

You should get a set of sealing rings for different purposes. Some meals such as soup have a strong smell that may remain on the sealing ring. Some people may find it off-putting if their rice pudding smells like beef. You need to invest in various Instapot accessories to get the most out of it.

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