Are you a new owner of an Instant Pot? Are you looking at the unopened box and freaking out just a little?
16 Practical Tips To Get You Loving Your Instant Pot
Tips and Tricks to using the Instant Pot
1. Read the manual.
Yup! Gotta do that. Just get it over with you don’t need to memorize it but reading it will help. You should find these parts along with your Instant Pot so check them off your list: base unit, lid, inner pot (stainless steel), condensation collector, the power cord, a measuring cup, a steel trivet, plastic rice paddle and ladle.
2. Do the Water Test as prescribed in the manual.
Don’t use too much water – a couple of cups is enough otherwise it takes too long to build up pressure and you will find yourself hanging around the kitchen for what feels like a lifetime.
3. Take your new Instant Pot apart.
Clean, wash and dry the insert. Clean, wash and dry the lid. Wipe the outside of the base unit with a damp cloth. Re-assemble.
The Instant Pot needs to be in your kitchen, ideally on your counter. Most models are tall and bulky and if you tidy it away you won’t use it as much. I leave mine on the counter mostly because I have very little cabinet space but I find it’s best left there.
5. Location, location, location
Once you have the storage part worked out, put to use. But where do you actually put it to *use*? I am lazy I place the Instant Pot exactly where I use it. But consider this before you pick a spot.
- Place it away from the stovetop. The plastic in the construction and the lid will catch fire or melt. I have seen that happen so just listen to me, and find a spot away from the stove.
- But not too far away because it needs to be close to the chimney.
Now for the Cooking
6. Start with more forgiving recipes.
Select dishes that involve less steps that need at least 1 cup of liquid. This will buy you time as you get familiar with the workings of the Instant Pot. And whatever you do – don’t cook pasta in the Instant Pot.
7. Accept that the cook time will be longer than you expect.
The actual cook time includes the time it takes for the Instant Pot to reach pressure. When a recipe states 8 mins, that’s the time it takes to cook at high pressure. The Instant Pot takes a while (depending on the quantity of food) to reach that pressure and then if it’s Natural Pressure Release then it’s another few minutes.
Most models of Instant Pot come with pre-programmed buttons for rice, beans, meat etc. Start with those and make notes of your adjustments.
9. Check the seal on the vent.
It’s open when it’s pointed towards you and closed when it’s pointed away. Like human beings 🙂
10. Keep a cotton dishtowel handy.
It’s perfect to catch the steam when you want to do a QPR. What is QPR, you ask! One caveat before we go any further: the dishtowel isn’t there to prevent the steam from coming out rather to shield your arm.
11. QPR vs. NPR
Quick Pressure Release means sliding the vent over to open when the timer has finished. This is done mostly with vegetables or grains or if you want to open the lid quickly. Be careful – pressure has built up inside so you need to protect yourself. Natural Pressure Release means you let the steam release on its own – it may take another few minutes; I highly recommend it for meats. Recipes with NPR are the ones that don’t need any babysitting.
12. Dairy curdles under high-pressure.
I have seen tons of Butter Chicken recipes where people suggest adding in the milk or cream along with the tomatoes and spices. Don’t do that. Your curry will curdle and lose the velvety texture. Even coconut milk separates if cooked for too long in the Instant Pot. Add in the end after opening the lid, one quick boil on saute et voila! Dinner is ready.
13. Start making notes…or bookmark recipes that have worked for you.
There are tons of Instant Pot recipes online, more being added every day. I am starting a series on them as we speak. Subscribe to my newsletter (the link is at the bottom of the post) if you would like to stay in touch or “Like” Maple and Marigold on Facebook. That’s another way for us to stay connected.