If you’re wondering how to use an Instant Pot I have some easy Instant Pot recipes for you to try! If you’ve never used a pressure cooker and you’re wondering what those buttons mean I was there with you once and have some tips for beginners just like you. Basic 101 help is here. Trust me, I’ll get you thru this.
I am a food blogger and I will admit that when I got my Instant Pot I left it in the box for a few months not knowing how to use an Instant Pot or pressure cooker. My husband wondered why and I kept saying ok I got my Instant Pot, now what do I do with it?? (originally published 9/17)
I am pretty experimental for the most part but this “fancy” appliance was a little like a space ship to me. Pressurizing, naturally releasing the steam, and how long to cook everything were totally foreign to me. My mom didn’t have anything even remotely like this when I was a kid so I was at a loss but still determined to give this thing a whirl.
It had to be amazing because people who used them raved about how incredible they were and how much easier it made their lives. I’M NOW A TOTAL BELIEVER, have tons of Instant Pot recipes I share….and tell everyone about it too now…..but here’s how I started.
Yep, skeptical and a bit clueless…….but follow me here…….
Well, I started with the most simplest of ideas and recipes and went from there, these are the two I made at the beginning!
I explain briefly where the buttons are and how to adjust the time and heat levels, start your journey on how to use an Instant Pot by watching this and then move on shall we.
I figured these had to be somewhat simple, and if they didn’t work I could just add a bit more time and tinker with it until it finally worked. I had made a one pot spaghetti easy pasta dish so I gauged the timing on that at first and surprisingly it worked the first time around! It is now the only way I cook spaghetti because it turns out great, in just 10 minutes, and there’s only one pot to wash.
When learning how to use an Instant Pot I would stick with these 3 buttons (saute, manual, pressure)…..I use them 90% of the time. This is my Instant Pot. I bought the 6 qt. version because I figured it was plenty big for the 5 of us and I was right, if you have an 8 qt. these instructions remain the same.
Saute is great if you want to precook something like the ground beef in my spaghetti recipe above, and manual pressure buttons allow you to adjust from low to high pressure yourself and adjust the time you need.
How to use an Instant Pot when you want the pressure cooker mode: you press manual, then pressure, then if you want high pressure click the pressure button again and it will move the light from low pressure to high pressure as you see here.
When you want to set the amount of time you press your finger on the + or – buttons as you see and move the minutes up and down until you get it to the correct amount of minutes you need for that recipe.
Using these basic Instant Pot cooking times for meat and Instant Pot cooking times for beans you can see how long it will take for the major item(s) in your dish and go from there. This is what I used to make the most amazing no soak Instant Pot baked beans!
The basic timing for a purely pasta dish in my opinion is manual, pressure, high for 3 minutes like you do in my Instant Pot macaroni and cheese. It makes it not too al dente and not mushy either. Those three basic cooking time schedules are really all you need to try any type of dish you want.
Getting started with your first Instant Pot recipe, follow these steps:
- Wash and dry the pot
- Try a recipe that is VERY easy and doesn’t cost a lot of money (try my spaghetti or macaroni and cheese)
- Follow the directions step by step
- Close the steam valve (see picture below)
- Follow the recipe instructions regarding whether it’s high or low pressure. When you push pressure (or manual then pressure on my older version it will go to low, press pressure button again to make it flip to high)
- Push the + or – buttons to set the time for cooking (see photo above)
- Walk away and wait for the beep that it is done
- When done do a NPR (natural pressure release which means you don’t move pressure valve at all), or a QR (quick release which means you move the pressure valve down so the steam comes out very quickly)
- Carefully open your lid when pressure is gone and face lid away from you so steam doesn’t hit you in the face
- Stir and serve!
Here are a few things I’ve bought that have enabled me to make all the recipes you’ll find on my easy Instant Pot Recipes page:
- This Instant Pot steamer basket for Vegetable is handy for a lot of things – I used it to make my Instant Pot stuffed peppers
- 6 cup bundt pan – I make all kinds of desserts with this like my Instant Pot pumpkin apple cake
- Glass lid – used to make Instant Pot popcorn
- Small Pyrex glass cup – I use these instead of a trivet when I use my bundt pan or springform pan to bake
- 6″ springform pan – Allows you to bake cakes and other desserts when you do the pot in pot (PIP method)
What if this happens tips:
- It doesn’t reach pressure – you probably don’t have enough liquid in the pot so you need to add more so your pressure cooker can pressurize. You will know it has reached pressure when this little metal piece to the right of the steam valve you see above is at the top. You see in the photo it is at the bottom because it hasn’t reached pressure. As pressure builds up it will rise and eventually reach the top which means the time on the clock on the front will now start to count down.
- Burn notification comes on – sometimes this means nothing, sometimes something may be burning. Release the pressure, lift the lid on and look. If there isn’t enough water then add some more liquid. If you used the saute function first and then are on to the next step of pressure cooking then you probably didn’t deglaze the pot.
- Deglazing your Instant Pot means that you want to turn it off to cool, and get all the food off the bottom of the inside of your pot before it pressurizes and cooks your meal. People have had this occur when making my Instant Pot stuffed cabbage casserole because they didn’t follow the steps to turn the pot off after sauteing the ground beef and deglaze it so it doesn’t trigger the burn notification once they turn it to high pressure and finish the rest of the cooking. (honestly I have never had burn come on but those are the solutions if it ever comes up for you)
Tips regarding how to use an Instant Pot steam valve are as such:
- Close it after you secure the lid so it is horizontal as you see here
- Walk away and wait for it to beep
- Do NOT, did I say Do NOT try to open the pot before releasing the steam
- Do NOT put your fingers or any body parts over the steam valve when you release it
- If it says natural release you do not need to move the valve at all, it will release steam on it’s own slowly
- If it says quick release, move the steam valve to the side and let it bellow out until it’s totally done
- If you want a slow release move the steam valve just slightly so the steam comes out slowly
- Unlock by twisting the lid, and carefully open it away from you
- When the lid is lifted off of the pot pull it up and turn it away from your body (as if you had a shield in your hand)
- Here’s how to clean your Instant Pot
- Subscribe to my newsletter below to receive new recipes each week and refer to my Instant Pot recipes page for lots of easy ones to try from here!
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