Instant Pots are one of the most popular kitchen gadgets on the market and for good reason. We all want to cook a healthy meal for our families, but are often limited by the amount of time needed to cook elaborate meals. The Instant Pot is a multi-cooker, that functions as an electric pressure cooker,
My Instant Pot is an integral part of my kitchen and I use it frequently. Take cooking dry beans as an example. I no longer have to plan a day ahead when I want to cook my favorite Cuban Black Beans for dinner. I don’t have to soak them overnight, then cooking them for a few hours while monitoring the stove (or even all day in a slow cooker). Now, I can now cook them from start to finish in under an hour.
Unfortunately, I hear so many people say, “I’m scared of it using an Instant Pot”, or “I got one last Christmas and don’t know where to start”. With this Instant Pot Fundamentals Guide, I show you that you no longer have to be scared of an Instant Pot, it’s easy to use, versatile and a great time saver in the kitchen.
What is an Instant Pot?
An Instant Pot is the brand name of the most popular pressure multi-cooker. There are a number of settings (depending on the model) and so many cooking methods can be done using this one appliance.
Of the many functions an Instant Pot can perform, Pressure Cooking is the most popular and most frequently used. Pressure cooking decreases cooking time dramatically, often less than half the time of traditional stovetop cooking. This is done by heating the cooking liquid (usually water or broth) in an airtight, sealed environment. The high pressurized steam then cooks food safely and quickly.
There are special pressure cooking program settings depending on the dish you are making:
- High/Low Pressure
- Manual or Pressure Cooking
- Ultra Canning
Note: Not all settings are available on all models.
When you want to cook low and slow, this is the setting for you. On the slow cook setting, you the Instant Pot will allow you to prepare your recipes as you would in a Crock Pot brand slow cooker.
The sauté function allows you to sauté as you would on the stove. If you want to brown meat or sauté onions for a recipe, this is a great option. I absolutely love this for two reasons. First, you’re not having to wash another pan. Also, you are essentially preheating the Instant Pot, so it will come up to pressure faster.
Yes, you can make yogurt in your Instant Pot too. Making yogurt requires a low temperature for a relatively long period of time. It’s great that you can make yogurt at home and customize it to you and your family’s tastes. And, one less kitchen gadget to have to store.
Note: This feature is not available on the Lux models.
This setting allows you to maintain food at the desired temperature for serving.
What Can’t be done in an Instant Pot?
While the Instant Pot does perform a wide variety of kitchen tasks, it isn’t the best choice for every situation Here are a few things that your Instant Pot can’t do, or there is a better option for.
Air frying requires dry heat to crisp food, in
The Instant Pot doesn’t get hot enough to deep fry. While you can use some oil in your Instant Pot dishes, it is the water-based liquid, turning to
Quickly Cooked Foods
Since your Instant Pot is to reduce cooking time for those dishes that time a great deal of time to cook, quickly cooked foods aren’t the best choice for your Instant Pot. For instance, a rare steak or tender fish filet would be better cooked on a grill or stove.
What are the benefits of an Instant Pot?
According to Instant Pot, “electric pressure cookers are energy efficient kitchen appliances, second only to microwaves. Compared to other cooking methods, such as baking, boiling, or steaming, pressure cooking can reduce your cook time & energy usage by up to 70%. ”
You can save a great deal time in the kitchen by reducing not only the cooking time, as we have mentioned earlier, but also reducing prep time. Think of all the time you are saving by not having to thaw meat or soak dry beans.
The Instant Pot can save you quite a bit of money, by allowing you to serve your family made from scratch meals, rather than eating out or opting for take-out. Additionally, you’re able to reduce costly prepared foods in your diet. Again I will use my favorite example of dry beans, which are about 1/4 the price of their canned counterpart.
Healthy Method of Cooking
- Reduces Dining Out – I would also consider any cooking method that encourages you to cook from scratch healthier than dining out. It’s a great comfort knowing the quality of the ingredients I serve my family.
- Non-toxic – I am comforted that the Instant Pot is made of non-toxic stainless steel and silicone (sealing ring).
- Nutritious – Pressure Cooking is also more nutritious than many methods of cooking, retaining more water-
soluablevitamins than boiling or even traditional steaming.
Instant Pot Safety
The Instant Pot is not your Grandmother’s stove top pressure cooker. There were times when the older stove top models did have some safety issues, and Instant Pot has taken measures to ensure safety of their appliance.
For your safely, Instant Pot has been designed with 10 safety mechanisms and patented technologies to make the Instant Pot a safe cooking method.
Instant Pot Safety Features
- Pressure Regulator ensures working pressure below the safety limit.
- Anti-Blockage Vent prevents food debris from blocking the vent.
- Safety lid lock prevents accidental opening of the cooker while it is pressurized.
- Designed with a sensor for lid position detection, monitors whether the lid is in an unsafe position for pressure cooking.
- Automatic temperature control regulates temperature based on the type of program being selected.
- Temperature monitoring avoids burning food.
- Pressure controller keeps pressure always in the safe range.
- Electrical current and temperature fuse
cutsoff power if the current or internal temperature exceeds safety limits.
- Pressure protection releases excess pressure into
internalchamber in a dangerous situation.
- Smart detection of
leakylid (e.g. steam release is in the open position).
Tips for Instant Pot Success
Pressure cooking works differently than we are used to with other cooking methods. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Boil Water Test
The first thing you will want to “cook” in your Instant Pot is boiling water. This may sound like a step you want to skip, but this quick and easy step is so beneficial.
Benefits from Boil Water Test:
- Test Instant Pot – This easy step will test your new Instant Pot (or one you’ve had in the closet scared to use for a while). You will know for sure that your pot will seal and heat properly.
- Learn the basic Instant Pot cooking process – Cooking in an Instant Pot is easy, but very different from other cooking methods. After your Boil Water Test, you will be familiar with the basic buttons, features, sounds, time to bring to pressure, pressure release.
- Build Confidence – This ensures that you know the basic process to use you Instant Pot, without the fear of wasting any expensive ingredients.
Season Dishes Well
You will need to cook with broth and/or plenty of herbs and spices, to ensure your dishes are flavorful from the Instant Pot. Since the Instant Pot cooks in a closed environment, you won’t have any evaporation of liquid to intensify flavors as you do when cooking on the stove top.
Instant Pot Common Questions/FAQ:
How much liquid to I need to put in my Instant Pot?
Since the Pressure Cooking method cooks food by creating high-temperature steam, having enough liquid in your Instant Pot is very important to prevent burning and to allow proper cooking. You will need a minimum of 1 cup of liquid to cook, although additional liquid may be needed for dishes that soak up a lot of liquid,
Can you overfill Instant Pot?
Overfilling your Instant Pot is another concern. You should use 1/2 full as the fill maximum for items that expand, like dry beans, rice or grains; and 3/4 full as the maximum for everything else. There are 1/2 full and 3/4 full
What can I cook in my Instant Pot?
The options are “almost” endless for items you can cook in your Instant Pot. Consider dishes were you’re not looking for a crispy outcome, some options are (but not limited to):
- Creme Brulee
Are electric pressure cookers and instant pots the same thing?
Instant Pot is the brand name of the most popular multi-cooker that has electric pressure cooker function. It also cooks with other methods, in addition to Pressure Cooking.
What is the difference between an instant pot and a
An Instant Pot is the brand name of a multi-cooker that is a electric pressure cooker, slow cooker, etc. A Crock Pot is the brand name of a slow cooker.
How long should it take my instant pot to come to pressure?
There are a few variables that affect the time it takes for your Instant Pot to come to pressure. If you saute part of your dish ahead of time it will preheat your Instant Pot and reduce the time; while if you have your Instant Pot filled to the maximum level it will take longer. This typically takes between 5 and 20 minutes. If you feel it is taking too long to come to pressure, ensure the valve on the lid is closed.
Where can I find Instant Pot recipes?
There are so many great dishes you can cook in your Instant Pot. For recipes ideas Instant Pot Recipe Collection and our Instant Pot Pinterest board.
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Instant Pots
In summary, your Instant Pot is a safe, healthy and versatile kitchen appliance that will save you time and money.
If you have enjoyed this guide, please share it with your friends. If you have additional Instant Pots tips and tricks, please share them in the comments below.