Use these 10 Instant Pot tips and tricks to make cooking with the device easy

Instant Pot asparagus
Jenny McGrath/Digital Trends

If you’re the lucky owner of a versatile Instant Pot pressure cooker, you know how useful these kitchen appliances are. Instant Pots can take the place of multiple appliances, saving you both money and kitchen counter space. But sometimes, versatile devices are a little complicated to use, what with all the different settings and functions at your disposal. We’ve rounded up some of the most useful tips and tricks for Instant Pot users that will demystify your kitchen appliance. Here are 10 of our favorite “hacks” that every Instant Pot owner should know.

1. Use at least 1/2 cup of liquid when pressure cooking

A pressure cooker uses steam to build pressure that ultimately cooks the food. To create that pressure, the inner pot must have at least 1/2 to 1 cup of liquid. This is the only way to pressurize the unit, and it’s a crucial tip you’ll want to remember when using the pressure cooker setting on your Instant Pot.

2. Use multiple buttons when cooking

Don’t think you’re required to use just one button in each cooking session. You can start with the Saute button to help caramelize the onions at the beginning of the cooking process, then use the Manual pressure cooking button when it’s time to add the vegetable and meat ingredients. Once the food is ready to eat, you can keep the pot on the Keep Warm setting until everyone in the family is ready to eat together.

Instant Pot asparagus
Jenny McGrath/Digital Trends

3. Adjust the temperature

You might think that once you’ve selected a cooking function, that’s that. But you can actually adjust the temperature when using the Saute or Slow Cooker functions. This helps you get the perfect cooking temperature catered specifically to whatever dish you’re making. Some dishes may need a slightly higher temperature, while you may want to turn down the heat on other dishes.

4. Add 10-15 minutes when using pressure

The Instant Pot takes about 10 minutes to build the necessary pressure within the inner pot. So whenever you’re using the Manual or Pressure button to cook, you’ll want to add about 10 to 15 minutes of cooking time to let the unit sufficiently pressurize. For example, if your rice dish recipe mentions 30 minutes cooking time, you’ll actually want to input 40 or 45 minutes on the device.

Instant Pot asparagus
Jenny McGrath/Digital Trends

5. Never open the Instant Pot on manual or pressure mode

While the Instant Pot is a very safe kitchen appliance to use, you’ll want to practice common-sense safety measures when using the Manual or Pressure modes. Once you select one of these modes, be sure the pressure valve is turned to Sealing. This will help seal the pressure inside the unit while the cooking process continues. After the mode is selected, you only have 10 seconds to press cancel and stop the cooking process. Once those 10 seconds are up, don’t try to open the lid! The Instant Pot is actually quite difficult to open on these modes anyway, but make sure you don’t try.

6. Change the inner pot

The Instant Pot comes with an inner pot that you can use to cook your food, but many Instant Pot owners like to have multiple inner pots at their disposal. This allows you to cook multiple dishes in one cooking session and makes for easier storage as well. There are also plenty of Instant Pot accessories, such as steaming racks and silicone molds, that can help you cook a wide array of dishes in your Instant Pot.

alexa kitchen skills instant pot hero 800x533 c

7. Purchase extra sealing rings

You should purchase a set of extra sealing rings, keeping one ring for savory dishes and one ring for sweet dishes. This is because the sealing rings tend to hold onto the smells of previously cooked dishes, and you don’t want that beef broth you cooked yesterday seeping into the delicious cheesecake you’re making today.

8. Be careful with dairy

While many Instant Pots include a yogurt-making function (which works really well), this appliance doesn’t always cook creamy and cheesy sauces very well. That’s because milk can scald or curdle quickly, and cheese can get watery and even congeal. When using dairy products to make a creamy or cheesy recipe, add the dairy ingredients after the pressure cooking process is complete. This way, you’ll be left with a creamier dish that isn’t watery and curdled.

Instant Pot asparagus
Jenny McGrath/Digital Trends

9. Be prepared to thicken

One thing the Instant Pot does really well is retain liquid. Don’t expect to lose much liquid or moistness when using an Instant Pot. However, this can actually turn into a negative when you end up with dishes that have a little too much liquid. When this happens, add a bit of cornstarch mixed with water to help thicken up the dish. Be sure you add the thickener after the cooking process and not in the beginning. This is because the cornstarch or other thickening agent can actually interfere with the steam being generated by the Instant Pot, and you may be left with a dish that’s thick in some ways and watery in others.

Instant Pot 7-in1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker

10. Use the dishwasher

Most of the Instant Pot’s parts, including the inner pot and steam rack, can be washed in the dishwasher, making for a very straightforward and time-saving clean-up process. The outside of the Instant Pot can easily be wiped down with a wet towel. Keep in mind that the lid does need to be hand-washed, but hey, you can wash one part by hand, can’t you?

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