It’s more than simply a high-powered pressure cooker; it’s a lifestyle.
The Instant Pot, like the microwave and the electric kettle, has become a kitchen necessity. This multi-functional pressure cooker can take the place of a variety of countertop gadgets, including rice cookers and slow cookers. It has introduced a new generation to pressure cooking and demonstrated how quickly a healthy dinner can be prepared.
This article is for anyone who owns an Instant Pot, whether it’s brand new or has been sitting in a cupboard for a long time. I’ll walk you through the basics, including how to use those unusual buttons and some basic recipes, as a long-time Instant Pot owner.
Let’s begin by going over the fundamentals of Instapot. Even if you’ve had yours for a while, you’ll find something useful here. Let’s get this party started.
What exactly is an Instant Pot?
The Instant Pot is a pressure cooker that goes above and beyond. It also sautés, gently cooks, steams vegetables and poultry, and prepares rice. It’s an all-in-one device, so you can brown a chicken in one pot and then cook it in another. Instant Pot meals are usually ready to eat in less than an hour.
Its fast cooking times are due to its pressure-cooking function, which locks steam created by liquid (including liquid released from meat and vegetables), builds pressure, and forces steam back into the food.
But don’t confuse it with a pressure cooker for the cooktop. Unlike your grandparents’ pressure cooker, this Instant Pot’s lid locks and stays closed until the pressure is released, removing any safety issues.
What can you make in an Instant Pot?
In less than 30 minutes, you can prepare a hearty lunch for the entire family with the Instant Pot. From start to finish, dishes like rice and chicken, beef stew, chilli, and even a whole-roasted chicken can be prepared in 30 to 60 minutes. Yes, you can use the Instant Pot to bake bread.
The Instant Pot is popular among Paleo and ketogenic diet followers because of its ability to “braise” meats in a short amount of time, but it’s also popular among vegetarians and vegans because it allows them to quickly prepare dishes like butternut squash soup, sweet potatoes, chilli, steel-cut oats, and mac-and-cheese.
For meals like chili and hummus, even dried beans that generally require overnight soaking may be cooked in just 30 minutes.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out these 5 surprising Instant Pot recipes as well as the finest Instant Pot paleo dishes.
How to Use the Instant Pot to Cook
Depending on what you’re cooking, you can use your Instant Pot in a variety of ways. However, many recipes, particularly those including meat, tend to stick to a set of rules.
- Switch the Instant Pot to the Saute setting. Brown your protein, such as beef or chicken, in oil (or other fat). In this phase, aromatics like garlic and onion are also browned.
- To cancel, press the Cancel button. Now press Manual, then Pressure. To enter High-Pressure mode, tap it once more (which most recipes require.) Set the cooking time using the plus and minus buttons.
- Replace the lid on the Instant Pot and tighten it. You should hear a sweet little sound indicating that it is locked.
- Ensure that the lid’s built-in valve is in the Sealing position.
- The red button will appear when the Instant Pot has reached the desired level of pressure. Now it’s time to get to work on the food.
The above steps can vary depending on the recipe, but I cook in my Instant Pot in that order the majority of the time.
Manual pressure release vs. natural pressure release
When the cooking time on your Instant Pot is up, there’s one more thing to do: release the pressure.
The pressure can be discharged in two ways. The valve on the lid stays in the Sealing position during natural pressure release, and the pressure dissipates naturally over time. Depending on what you were preparing, this may take anywhere from 20 minutes to more than an hour. Low-liquid meals, such as chicken drumsticks, take far less time to prepare than high-liquid ones, such as soup or chili.
Manual pressure release is another possibility (also known as Quick Release). Here, carefully turn the valve to the Venting position and watch as steam escapes, releasing the pressure. Although this method is much faster, very high-liquid meals, such as soup, can still take up to 15 minutes to manually release pressure.
So, which should you go with? Because the Instant Pot is still under pressure after a natural pressure release, the food will continue to cook (albeit at a slower rate) while the Instant Pot is in Sealing mode. When you’ve put in enough cooking time and need to stop cooking as soon as possible, a manual pressure release is beneficial — and necessary.
Set enough time on the Instant Pot to cook your food and manually release the pressure after the time is up if you want to prepare a meal quickly.
Additional Instant Pot hints
After a year with my Instant Pot, I’ve made a few mistakes and learned a few lessons that I’d like to share. Here are some pointers to help you get through the Instant Pot learning curve as quickly as possible.
There are a lot of buttons on your Instant Pot. And the best recipes demand the use of several of them. Here’s what each of your Instapot’s buttons does.
At least 1/2 cup of liquid should always be added. Pressure cooking necessitates the use of liquid to create pressure in the pot. So, even if you’re just cooking chicken breasts or thighs, make sure to add a 1/2 cup of sauce, broth, or water to the Instant Pot before pressing the Pressure Cook button.
Ascertain that the lid valve is set to Sealing. If the valve is set to Venting, no pressure will build up. When locking the cover in place for pressure cooking, make sure it’s in the Sealing position.
Make sure your Instant Pot is clean! After a few excellent dinners, your Instant Pot will develop an odor and possibly some food stains. The following is a cleaning guide for the Instant Pot and its silicone ring.
Make sure you don’t make these errors! There are five ways you’re misusing your Instant Pot.
Cook food that has been frozen. Cooking protein from frozen is discouraged in non-instant Pot recipes. This is due to the fact that standard cooking methods take too long to heat the protein, leaving it in the harmful temperature zone for too long. However, you can safely cook food from a frozen state in the Instant Pot. (Just remember to provide additional time for cooking.)
Slow cooker recipes can be converted. Suddenly, an eight-hour recipe may be completed in less than an hour.
Find out what the “actual” cooking times are. Let’s assume you set the Instant Pot to 30 minutes of pressure cooking. That period does not begin until the pressure has built up, which might take up to 10 minutes. You should also let 10 to 15 minutes for the pressure dissipate. In the end, a “30-minute” meal can take up to 60 minutes to prepare.
Do you require some recipes? From hard-boiled eggs to Moroccan chicken, CNET editors share their favorite InstaPot recipes. We also compiled a list of recipes that every Instant Pot owner should be familiar with. Instant Pots are also fantastic for holiday cooking. We also have Instant Pot recipes for Thanksgiving and the holidays. Amazon.com has the Instant Pot for sale.