How to Use an Instant Pot | Tips, Tricks, and Hacks for Beginners

How to Use an Instant Pot | Tips, Tricks, and Hacks for Beginners

How To Use The Instant Pot For Beginners
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Can you believe I was intimidated by the Instant Pot when I first got it? That’s right! I remember the first time I cooked in it I was a little scared to release the steam! Learning how to use Instant Pot is way easier than you think though!

What do all of those buttons do anyway? Read Instant Pot Buttons | What They Do, and How to Use Them for more information.

How To Use Instant Pot – Getting Started

Many people are so intimidated by the Instant Pot, that they don’t know how to get started.

So what are the first steps?

After reading the manual, you might still be a little confused about how to get started.

  1. Look at the pictures provided in the manual to learn what the different parts are called.
  1. Wash the inner pot, and all of the accessories before using it for the first time. Everything except for the base is dishwasher safe. You can hand wash for now, or find out more cleaning tips below.
  1. Then, install the condensation cap on the back of the machine.
  1. Next, place the steam release handle on the lid of the Instant Pot. Just push it down into the hole.

Understanding The Functions

Quick-release vs. Natural Release – Watch this video to learn the difference.

What do all these buttons do? Read about the buttons here: Instant Pot Buttons | What They Do, and How to Use Them

The First Step – The Water Test

The first thing the manual suggests you do is to do a water test…

This not only ensures that the machine is working properly, but it gives the user their first taste of using the machine.

  1. Add 3 cups of water to the inner pot.
  2. Place the lid on the IP, and turn it to close.
  3. Turn the steam release handle to sealing.
  4. Press the steam button.
  5. Push the +/- buttons to adjust the time to 2 minutes. After 10 seconds the IP will start the process automatically. The display will read “ON”, and it may make a noise to let you know it’s working. When the cycle is complete, it will chime to let you know it’s done. The IP will automatically switch over to the “Keep Warm” setting. You can press the “Keep Warm/Cancel” button to turn the machine off.
  6. Quick-release the steam by pushing the steam release handle either left or right. Watch this video to learn more about the steam release handle.
  7. Only open the lid after all the steam is released and the float valve is all the way down. If you don’t know what that means Watch this video on quick release. It shows you what the float valve looks like when it’s “up” versus “down”.

What’s Next? Cooking Your First Meal!

Picking out your first meal to cook in the IP is exciting. Here’s a couple of resources to help you find the perfect one!

Super Easy Instant Pot Recipes | Perfect for beginners! With very little ingredients.

107 Best Instant Pot Recipes

Or try my favorite! Instant Pot Chicken Tetrazzini

47+ Easy Instant Pot Recipes (Perfect For New Users!)

35 Beginner Instant Pot Recipes for Easy Weeknight Dinners

Super Easy Facts To Help You Get Started With The IP

  1. Add liquid for pressure cooking!
    A great tip is to use at least 1 cup of liquid when pressure cooking. Each model might have its own minimum amount of liquid it needs for pressure cooking. It’s usually 1/2 – 1 cup of liquid at least.
  2. Add thickeners after pressure cooking!
    Pressure cooking a thickener such as flour can cause problems when depressurizing.

    So what’s the solution? After pressure cooking, turn on the sauté feature. Then, add your thickeners. Such as dairy, cornstarch, or flour.

  3.  Some parts are dishwasher safe!
    Believe it or not the inner pot, steam rack, and sealing ring are dishwasher safe.

    This is HUGE! Did you know that you can also wash the lid on the top rack (only) in the dishwasher? Remove the sealing ring and the anti-block shield before placing the dishwasher.

    The base of the unit inside and outside can only be cleaned with a damp rag. It’s imperative that you don’t get the inside of the machine super wet. Check out more tips for cleaning the Instant Pot.

  4. Vinegar and baking soda are your inner pot’s best friend! The inner pot can sometimes get a little yucky looking after cooking in it. The best way to clean it is to add a Tbsp of baking soda and a dash of vinegar to the inner pot and scrub it.
  5. The instant pot makes meal planning easy. How’s that? For soups or stews, or food that has a lot of liquid. I recommend using these containers to freeze food. Run them under hot water when you want to release the food. Fill up a plastic freezer bag with food. push in on the corners and mold it in the bag to make sure it will fit into the round inner pot when you’re ready to heat it up again! Make sure you lay it flat to freeze. My friend has an amazing post about reheating food in the Instant Pot if you’re interested.
  6. Pressure cooking takes time.
    It usually takes about 10 minutes for the Instant Pot to pressurize, and up to 5-30 minutes (depending on the volume) to depressurize. So if you’re planning on pressure cooking, remember to add this into the cooking time that you’ll need.

Accessories to help make using the Instant Pot just a little sweeter!

Get a steam diverter! When the steam comes out, it can be a little difficult to make sure all that steam from the valve release doesn’t hit the cabinets. I have to scoot my IP to the edge of the counter in order to just barely miss the cabinets without a diverter.

Buy an extra inner pot. If you are wanting to make multiple dishes for one meal, having more than one inner pot is helpful. It’s also helpful if your pot is in the dishwasher.

Sealing Rings | It’s also a good idea to buy extra sealing rings. Always have a backup plan and be prepared in the case of an emergency like the sealing ring broke!

It’s also a good idea to have one ring for savory and one for sweet dishes.

Keep track of cooking times with these handy dandy cheat sheet decals!

Need to make an Instant Pot Dinner on the go? Grab a nifty carrying case to help you!

Do you like using that cake button? Grab one of these adorable springform bundt cake pans!

I love having a lid to my inner pot. Especially, on those nights I had to make dinner really late, and I’m just too tired to package up the leftovers in fancy containers…

Speaking of lids. These clear lids are a must if you plan on slow cooking or sautéing. It’s nice to see the food while it’s cooking too.

Instant Pot Accessory Kits

You may or may not have noticed this yet, but there are a ton of accessories! I’ve been shopping around trying to decide which ones would be the best to get. I’m thinking a kit would be a good idea. Here’s some that I’ve been eyeballing on Amazon…

I really like the first one pictured, because it comes with several things that I would love to have. An egg rack for steaming eggs, a steamer basket to steam some veggies or seafood, and even some handy decals!

The second kit pictured I like it because these are great for cooking multiple dishes for one meal in one pot, or for reheating frozen foods.

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2 thoughts on “How to Use an Instant Pot | Tips, Tricks, and Hacks for Beginners”

  1. Thank you for the tips on using the instant pot. I’ve been worried about using it though. Reading your guide helps a lot though.

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