11 Tips For Instant Pot Newbies


Instant Pots make cooking a lot more convenient for busy people. The hard part is the learning curve that comes with them. I remember googling a few things just to make sure it was working right.

Really the Instant Pot is an awesome appliance. Its a very handy tool to have in your kitchen. The learning curve is best done by using it, but sometimes you might miss something. Instead of learning by mistakes you can get off on the right foot.

Here are some tips I have learned personally and some gathered from others. Its hard to not find a recipe that won’t work with a Instant Pot. Whats some good tips for instant pot beginners? Here are 11 tips to help you use your Instant Pot.

1. Turn Steam Release Handle To Seal Position

On top of the Instant Pot lid there is a valve. Called the steam release handle. It is there so that you can manually open and release pressure from the inside. This is called quick release, as opposed to natural release. Quick release allows the Instant Pot to depressurize much quicker.

When you are ready to start pressure cooking. Make sure the steam release handle is turned to the seal position. Other wise the Instant Pot will never be able to reach full pressure.

This is an easy thing to forget and could make you think the Instant Pot is broken. There are clear written indicators to which position is sealed and open.

Turn the steam release handle clockwise towards the back of the Instant Pot. It does not take much of a turn from open to sealed, only an inch or two between each setting. The steam release handle is not operated digitally in anyway.

2. The Lid Will Steam While Cooking

While the Instant Pot is cooking under pressure. You will see steam coming out from the lid. More specifically the float valve. Seeing steam rising out from the float valve while cooking is normal. There is nothing to be alarmed about.

Some foods may do this more than others, depending on how full the instant pot is. One of the first times I was cooking a 3 lb pork roast in the smaller 3 quart instant pot. It almost seemed like it was too full.

The roast stuck up past the full line, but there was still space on the sides. So I decided to give it a try anyways. While cooking I noticed the steam coming out of the valve.

This did make me nervous at first. The roast turned out perfectly fine. There was a lot of liquid that came out of it. So I think that was one reason for some excess steam.

Seeing steam coming out is actually a good thing to see. Instant Pots are very safe if used correctly. The pressure is not going to continuously build up. Your Instant Pot is working just fine at building and maintaining pressure.

3. Have Space Above Instant Pot

When using a Instant Pot on the counter. Make sure to not put it where there is cabinets directly above it. Leave a lot of space open above the Instant Pot.

The reason for doing this is for when you are releasing the steam. A large amount of steam will be escaping. Even for the smallest Instant Pot, there is going to be a large plume of steam. It comes out quickly and very hot.

The steam does not slowly rise out, it sprays out furiously for about 3 to 5 minutes. The steam will rise a couple feet above the Instant Pot. You can always turn the steam release valve back to sealed at any time. Although it is it is small and hard to not get burned.

If you do not leave enough room. Reaching the steam release valve properly will be difficult. The hot steam will go directly onto the bottom of your cupboards.

This could after continuous use begin to corrode the wood or cause other damage. Also could maybe strip paint or cause it to warp. So its always good to leave enough space, about 12 inches away from a counter. Leave a couple feet above the Instant Pot to be safe.

4. Aluminum Foil Hacks

You can use aluminum foil in the Instant Pot. It will not cause any damage and is perfectly safe. Wrapping foods up in a pouch of aluminum foil works really well.

Doing this can safe you from having to clean the inner pot after cooking. Hobo meals or packets can be cooked in your Instant Pot. Also sausage and peppers wrapped in tin foil turn out great.

If you don’t have any extra inner pots, you can substitute with aluminum foil. What is called “pot in pot” is when another separate pot is used for different foods. Together they are cooked inside the inner pot. Foods that are better kept apart while cooking.

Aluminum foil can also be used as an improvised sling. The sling is used to help remove foods or dishes from the inner pot. Sometimes you can grab the whole ham, or risk dropping that hot dish of soup (yes you can also use dishes that are microwave safe in the instant pot).

Avoid taking the risk of dropping the food and try a makeshift sling. Use two sheets of foil, about 2 inches wide for each. Make them thick and put whatever you are cooking on top of them. Have each end sticking out so you can grab them together. Lift out the food or dish like a cargo sling.

5. Place Lid On The Carrying Handles

This tip works for the DUO series Instant Pot. There are built in handles on each side of the instant pot cooker base. Called the cooker handles, they also serve another purpose.

When you remove the lid and struggle to find a place to lay it down. Remember you can fit it into the cooker handles. On the lid is two fins, called lid fins.

The fins (you can only use one at a time) fit perfectly into the cooker handles. The cooker handles have square holes cut out into them. The fins simply fit into place in these holes.

The lid holds up nicely into the cooker handles and can rest there. Some people recommend to store your instant pot this way for several hours. To let it and the lid properly air out.

Remember when removing the lid directly after cooking. That there will be a lot of moisture built up. So it is best to pour out this liquid into the sink. Just remove the lid carefully, hold over the seek and tip sideways. You should be able to pour the majority of liquid off the lid.

This is better than directly putting the lid into the cooker handles. The hot liquid will drip down on the side of the instant pot and onto the counter.

6. You Can Make Hard Boiled Eggs Fast.

Hard boiled eggs can be made in the instant pot in less than ten minutes. About 5 to 6 minutes cooking time. Total time would be about 15 to 20 mins. Including time to build up heat, cook time and release pressure time.

Use the steam mode for cooking hard boiled eggs, not the pressure cooking method. Steam mode still uses pressure because that is how it generates steam.

The shells will be very easy to peel off if you drop them in cold water after. This works better than boiling because that gray ring doesn’t usually appear with the pressure cooking. Because pressure cooker has a higher boiling point than water.

Sometimes the shell will crack in a pressure cooker. This is not usually a problem, it actually makes peeling them easier. You can do soft or hard boiled eggs.

Soft boiled eggs do for 2 – 3 minutes and for hard do 5 – 6 minutes.

7. Be Aware of The Keep Warm Setting

Instant Pots will have a default setting that after cooking, the instant pot goes into keep warm mode. This is a useful setting but sometimes it might not be wanted.

Since keep warm setting is the default. You will have to press the keep warm button if you want to turn it off. This means after the Instant Pot is done cooking it will be completely off.

When the keep mode is on to auto mode. After the cooking is done there will be a timer that starts. This lets you know how long it has been done and in keep warm mode.

The keep warm mode can be turned on or off anytime during the cooking process.

8. You Can Cook Frozen Foods

You do not need to thaw foods out before cooking in the Instant Pot. The time it takes to reach pressure will be reduced though. This is because the cold food will slow the build up of heat.

The pressure cooker will do this on its own. There is no designated time for it to reach pressure. This all depends on what is inside the Instant Pot.

You can cook frozen meats or vegetables without having to thaw them out. Just be ready for the pressure to take longer to build up and start cooking. It will also be more time to cook the food. Especially thick frozen meats, so add some cooking time.

One good thing to do before freezing meats, is to cut them up into smaller pieces. This will speed up the pressurizing and cooking time. But it is possible to cook frozen meats in the Instant Pot.

9. Non-Stick Pans and Clear Lids

There are some great accessories for the Instant Pot. The inner pot that comes with the Instant Pots is a stainless steel one. Sometimes you can have a heck of a time cleaning it.

There are non-stick ceramic pans available. Instant Pot actually makes them and they available for all sizes. They are dishwasher safe as well.

A non-stick pan works great for cooking rice. Slow cooking soups or pastas. It is also a bonus to have more than one pot on hand. You can then use one for leftover storage and still cook with the other.

Clear glass lids are another awesome accessory. Although you cannot use them for pressure cooking. The Instant Pot will not allow this to operate, since the default lids are lock in and are read digitally.

The see through lids work for slow cook or saute modes. So you can remove the lid much faster than the pressure one. Makes serving from the Instant Pot a lot easier.

The glass lids are also made by Instant Pot and you can buy them in any size.

10. Use Utensils For Pressure Release Handle

The Instant pot will come with a ladle, by using the handle you can turn the pressure release valve. Also tongs will work or a beer bottle opener. To get the hook over the valves handle.

you can also use oven mitts if you want to release a little pressure. Sometimes you might want to do a half quick half natural release. Some meats are better off using natural release. Because it will keep the moisture inside.

Doing this is well way better than using your fingers. Since sometimes there is splattering, those drops are small but still very hot. It is better to have more control over the handle.

It is better to ease into opening the valve rather than turning it open quickly.

11. Extra Inner Rings Are Vital

There is a rubber sealing ring inside the lid. Underneath the lid is a ring used to help seal the lid and cooker base. It is easy to remove for cleaning and changing out.

One noticeable issue with the ring is it starts to pick up food smells. After cooking chicken broth or meats it will absorb that odor. Also overtime the sealing ring may start to smell foul.

This can in part due moisture not drying out. That is another reason people leave the lid open for storage. At least for a long period of time and then it should be fine to place lid back in place.

Not a big problem but for some it effects other foods. So buying a few to use for different recipes is an easy solution. It doesn’t hurt to have some extras anyway. In case one should break while cleaning, or get dropped and a pet gets a hold of it.

You can buy them in packs of three, they are called sealing rings. They even come in different colors to help keep them separated. Use the orange one for

Extra Tip

This is a small tip but nonetheless works well. The trivet that comes with the pressure cooker. It is usually hard to wash completley, so I place mine in the dishwasher.

The legs of the trivet provide the perfect slots for dishwasher racks. You can slide two of the legs onto the rack prongs. This holds the trivet into place much better than just placing it in the rack.

Hope you enjoyed these tips and feel free to share any information from this post on social media.

Eric M Wilkens

Content writer and recreational cook. I also enjoy craft beer, comedy and the outdoors.

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