The Instant Pot Starter Guide
The Instant Pot craze has hit and it hits hard! Everybody is in love with this versatile kitchen tool, and it’s easy to see why! If you just got yours and are a little lost, don’t worry! Here’s a simple guide on how to choose and use your Instant Pot!
What Is an Instant Pot?
Instant Pot is a single appliance that does the job of different appliances. It’s a slow cooker, an electric pressure cooker, a rice cooker, but also a steamer, a yogurt/cream maker, a sauté/browning pan, a warming pot, and more. The reason why everyone is obsessed with it, it’s simple: you’ve multiple appliances in just one tool, it’s time-saving and also convenient.
How to choose the perfect Instant Pot?
There are various models available today, but the first thing to check is the size of your instant pot and the number of cooking functions that the Instant Pot model has. The 2 main size options for the Instant Pots are 6 Qt. and 8 Qt. but it’s easy to find smallest ones, like 2 Qt. or 5 Qt.
In terms of cooking functions, you can have the following models:
- 6-in-1: Pressure Cooker, Sauté/Browning, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer & Warmer
- 7-in-1: Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer
- 9-in-1: Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Yogurt Maker, Egg Cooker, Sauté, Steamer, Warmer, Sterilizer (plus cake setting)
- 10-in-1: Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice/Porridge Cooker, Cake Maker, Yogurt Maker, Sauté/Searing, Steamer, Warmer, Sterilizer, and the new and exclusive feature to Instant Pot®, the Ultra program.
The Instant Pot Duo is the best choice ’cause it has both the high and the low-pressure function.
Remember: Instant Pot is a brand itself, so the only and original product has the same name as the product. If you’re looking for an Instant Pot, you’re looking for the product made by the brand Instant Pot.
How to Use your Instant Pot
Check Your Recipes
While most slow cooker recipes can be made in an instant pot, be sure to check each of your recipes ahead of time. Trying to follow the slow cooker directions without realizing it can be a problem, and often leads to your food not being cooked as expected. Make sure that you adjust the amount of liquid in recipes, as an Instant Pot does not evaporate off liquid like a slow cooker does. Aim for 1-2 cups of liquid for your recipes to avoid soggy food. You will also need to be sure you do not overfill your Instant Pot, typically no more than ⅔ of the Instant Pot should be full.
Don’t Get Confused
This one may sound silly, but with all the buttons and presets on an Instant Pot, it’s not hard to get a little confused. Your Instant Pot should come with a booklet that describes each function in detail, but here are the basics:
- Sautee allows you to use the inner chamber as you would a pot in the stove, with concentrated heat at the bottom to brown meats or simmer a sauce.
- Slow Cook can help you adapt slow cooker recipes, as it is designed for non-pressurized cooking.
- Manual allows you to set the cook time and let it do its thing.
While specific recipes call for specific methods, you’ll probably find yourself using these three the most.
Release Pressure Safely
Instant Pots have a pressure safety valve that naturally vents pressure to prevent overpressurization. Letting the Instant Pot naturally depressurize is the ideal method, as there is basically no danger. There is also a manual release for times where you need to prevent overcooking of the contents, but be careful when using this. Be aware of the direction of the steam vent, as steam will come shooting out, with the potential to burn you if you’re not careful. A manual release, or quick release as it’s commonly referred to, can take anywhere from 2-5 minutes. Most recipes allow for a natural release, which is much safer but could take up to a half hour depending on what’s inside.
Just like any other appliance, your Instant Pot should be cleaned after each use. Disassemble your tool into its main components. Do not use soap and water in the area outside the cooking pot, instead, dry clean this by removing any dried food or accumulated junk. The inside of the lid and the cooking pot can be cleaned in your sink using warm soapy water and a kitchen sponge. Be sure to check that the valves are clean and unobstructed! The last main piece to pay attention to is the sealing ring. This is the silicone ring that actually seals the pot and holds pressure in, so make sure it’s in tip-top shape!
An Instant Pot can be a great addition to your kitchen, and knowing how to use it will make cooking a breeze. With your manual and this guide in hand, there’s nothing you can’t cook like a pro!