The Instant Pot: Basics and How-To’s

Last month, I had the opportunity to teach the ladies at my church about the Instant Pot. I found out that several of them had gotten an Instant Pot for Christmas, but had yet to use it. Some of them felt overwhelmed at learning a new appliance, others lacked the time to figure it out, and some were nervous about the appliance itself. (I have had several people tell me they are afraid it would “blow-up”.) I put together a hand-out for them and would like to share it with you. You will, of course, still need to read your Owner’s Manual, but this will highlight some important things to get you started.


The Basics

  • ALWAYS make sure your lid is closed properly and that your steam release handle is pointing to the sealed position before cooking.

  • NEVER try to open your Instant Pot until the cooking cycle is complete and the pressure has been released.

  • There are two ways to release pressure. One way is called the “natural pressure release” and the other is called the “quick pressure release.” To release the pressure naturally, you just leave the steam release handle in the sealed position and wait, (8-25 minutes, depending on the amount of liquid in your pot). To do a quick pressure release, you turn the steam release handle to vent and the steam comes out quickly. When it stops steaming, it is safe to open your pot.


  • Because the Instant Pot uses steam to build pressure, you will always need at least one cup of liquid in your pot.

  • It is recommended to not fill your pot over 2/3 full. When cooking foods that expand such as rice or beans, do not fill it more than 1/ 2 full. Over filling it can clog the vent pipes and create too much pressure.

  • There are lots of function buttons on the Instant Pot that you can read about in your owner’s manual. All you really need to understand is how to cook with the manual button. For any recipe, you can start by pressing “manual.” After you press manual, you push the “pressure” key to choose high or low pressure. Then you press “timer” and use the “+” or “-“ to program the cooking time. Cooking will start 10 seconds after you press the last button. You will hear 3 audible beeps to indicate that the cooking process has begun.


If you are still learning how to use your Instant Pot, I would suggest starting by cooking one of these basic things. Here are some easy ideas in the “How-To” section.

How to…

  • …cook baked potatoes in the Instant Pot: Wash potatoes and poke holes in them with a fork. Pour 1 cup of water in the bottom of your pot. Place the steamer rack in the bottom. Stack potatoes on the rack. Close the lid and make sure the vent is sealed. Press manual and set for 10 minutes. Allow it to naturally pressure release for 20 minutes.

  • …cook hard boiled eggs in the Instant Pot: Pour 1 cup of water in the bottom of your pot. Place the steamer rack in the bottom. Carefully stack eggs on the rack. Close the lid and make sure the vent is sealed. Press Manual and set it for 5 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release for 5 minutes and then quick release any remaining pressure.

  • …cook chicken breasts in the Instant Pot: Pour 1 cup of chicken broth or water in the bottom of your pot. Close the lid and make sure the vent is sealed. Press the Poultry button. (Add 5 minutes to the cook time if they are frozen). Allow the pressure to naturally release for 5 minutes then quick release.

  • …cook white rice in the Instant Pot: Add 1.5 parts water to 1 part rice in the pot. Close the lid and make sure the vent is sealed. Press the Rice button. Allow the pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure. (Brown rice needs 1.25 parts water to 1 part rice. Push the Multigrain button…or Manual, high pressure…and adjust the time for 22-25 minutes).

  • …cook quick oats in the Instant Pot: Add 1 2/3 cup of water to the pot. Add 1 cup of quick oats and a pinch of salt. Close the lid and make sure the vent is sealed. Press Manual and set the timer to 6 minutes. Use the quick pressure release method. (Steel cut oats need 2 cups of water per 1 cup of oats).

For those of you who are seasoned Instant Pot users, what other basic things would you suggest starting with? What else would you like to learn about the Instant Pot?

Sources:
  •   Instant Pot User Manual
  •   Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker Recipes, 2nd Edition, In Collaboration with Laura Pazzaglia, Maomao Mom, Jill Nussinow, Barbara Schieving, and Chef AJ, 2013
  •   www.InstantPot.com
  •   http://www.auntbeesrecipes.com/2017/01/instant-pot-baked-potatoes.html
  •   www.amazon.com
  •   http://www.pressurecookingtoday.com/quick-pressure-release-or-natural-pressure-release/

    Cristina Duke
    Monthly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
    Email the author! cristina@dvo.com


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