So, you got the coveted instant pot.
But, what do you do with it?? How do you get over your fear of the instant pot? Is it dangerous?
I was the same way. I got my instant pot on a Cyber Monday. Then, promptly stuck it under my counter for a year. Yes, you heard me right. A whole year. I don’t want you to do that. Don’t waste time being scared or unsure of what to do with your electric pressure cooker. It’s awesome, it makes life easier, and don’t delay good help.
What is an Instant Pot?
First of all, maybe you don’t even really know what it is! Basically, an Instant Pot is a pressure cooker. The Instant Pot is just a brand name. A pressure cooker makes food under high temperatures at high pressure. The newer electric pressure cookers, such as the Instant Pot, are safe. Today’s electric pressure cookers have several safeguards. If you follow common sense and the manual, your instant pot will not explode.
Get Over Your Fear of the Instant Pot
Be sure to take your instant pot out of the package.
I was lucky there was no damage to my instant pot that I didn’t see when I first got it. There are countless tales of woe online when someone has their pot for months to a year, and when finally unboxing, it’s dented. It’s hard to return a year old dented pot.
Open your package right away and ensure it looks good and there are no dings or dents!!
Do the water test with your instant pot.
Go ahead and do the water test to get familiar with your pot and get over your fear of turning it on. It’s also a great way to ensure the pot works properly and will come to pressure.
I’m going to tell you something I’d never normally say. Don’t refer to your manual for this water test. It wants you to fill it up to 3 cups and frankly, it’ll take forever to come to pressure. There is no need for that. Use one cup of water. (2 cups if you have an 8 quart.) Pro Tip: If you use really hot water, it helps it come to pressure faster.
For everything else, go by the manual!
Check to be sure your silicone ring is inside the lid properly. Close your instant pot lid by lining up the two arrows and turning clockwise. It makes a really cute noise when you turn the lid to close it. Turn your knob from venting to sealing.
Press the manual button. It automatically goes to 30 (this means 30 minutes). You don’t need that – so use the MINUS (-) button to change the numbers down to 2. Once it’s sitting on 2, in a few minutes it will flip over to “On”. It doesn’t flip over immediately because it has to come to pressure. The time to come to pressure depends on the fullness of the pot. (This is how you are going to cook most things, so don’t let all those buttons scare or overwhelm you!)
When the food/water are coming to pressure, steam may come from the floating valve, and that’s ok. (If you notice steam coming from all around the pot rather than the float valve and nothing wants to come to pressure, that may indicate your silicone ring is missing or not in place. Remember this for troubleshooting at a later time.) Once it’s to pressure, the float valve will pop up. Once it has reached pressure, it will switch from ON to the 2 you originally set it on. Once the number is visible, it’s cooking at pressure and will countdown.
Once it’s done, it will immediately flip over to keep warm mode. You can then go ahead and quick release. The quick release is probably the “scariest” part, so go ahead and do it so you realize it is not scary at all.
Pro Tip: I personally don’t like doing the quick release with my fingers or hands, as I do not want to accidentally burn myself with the steam. I use a set of tongs or a long spoon to flip the knob to vent.
Pro Tip #2: Also, when you release the steam, you may want to ensure it isn’t going to release onto your cabinets or anywhere steam could affect wood or paint. I just turn mine at an angle, and that works for me.
(The alternative to a quick release is a natural pressure release. Once the instant pot flips over to warm, it’s going to eventually lose the pressure on its own. It takes around 10-30 minutes (depends on the fullness of the pot), but eventually the float valve will pop up on its own.)
You will find that different recipes will tell you to either quick release or natural pressure release.
After the water test, make something easy in your instant pot!
After you have done the water test, you should feel a little better about all the buttons and knobs. You’ll notice soup, egg, poultry, and other such buttons. These are still going to cook at pressure, it’s just a preset time. I typically don’t use those because I want control of what I cook, and I typically use a recipe. However, you may want to play around with these buttons as you get more comfortable.
It’s time to make something easy in your instant pot!! There are so many easy recipes out there!
Venture out with more complicated recipes
Once you feel comfortable with the basics, you may want to venture out to other recipes that use different accessories, like a cheesecake! Check out my post on the must-have instant pot accessories.
This is the other setting that I use the most. It basically allows me to brown things in the instant pot directly, and I don’t have to dirty up another pan or turn on my stovetop. I also use it to simmer a liquid so I can thicken it up. (I thicken up lots of sauces with a cornstarch slurry and simmering.)
I have made yogurt in my pot, and it worked out great! This button makes it super easy to make your own yogurt. It basically heats up the pot enough to kill bacteria, and then keeps it warm enough for it to ferment.
I’ll be honest, I only use the steam setting for “poached eggs“. However, I make eggs with my pot about once a week!
I hope that you feel brave enough now to use your cool new pressure cooker! Go forth, and have an easier life! Let me hear about your favorite recipes, tips, and tricks as you use your pot!
If you need to refer back to this post, be sure to pin it!