Learn how to quickly start using your Instant Pot with this Quick Start Guide, filled to the brim with practical tips, Instant Pot recipes, accessory ideas, and more! Kick fear to the curb and start pressure cooking!
It's no secret that we love cooking with our Instant Pot. We've made so many delicious recipes using the one appliance that may as well sit out on our counter, rather than in our stocked pantry, because we use it almost every day.
We also get a lot of questions from readers about how to use it. One recurring theme I've noticed with readers is that they're afraid to use their Instant Pot pressure cooker; so it sits in a box just waiting to be opened up, taken out, and used.
Let's dispel some of those fears today, because once you use this handy dandy small kitchen appliance, there will be no turning back. I can promise you that. You're going to fall in love with it, my friend, because the sky really is the limit on everything you can make with this fancy gadget.
We are working on a FAQ's post to address specific questions we've gotten over the last year or so; it will be up very soon. But for now, this will get you started using your Instant Pot and even give you ideas for a few Instant Pot accessories and Instant Pot recipes you can add to your weekly menu planner.
First of all, what is an Instant Pot?
Simply put, it's a pressure cooker. It's a ‘glammed up' pressure cooker that makes home cooking a whole lot easier.
An Instant Pot is a programmable pressure cooker you can use to perform many different functions. For instance, you can use it as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté, steamer, and warmer. You can even use some models to make your own yogurt.
We have two different models, a smaller 6-quart and a larger 8-quart. With as much cooking as we do, we use them both equally. We use them to make all sorts of things, including chicken, taco chicken, baked potatoes, baby back ribs, hard boiled eggs, cheesecake, and so much more.
Tips for how to use your Instant Pot pressure cooker
- First, take it out of the box. That's the first step to using any new kitchen tool or appliance.
- Read your manual before you ever start cooking. It's chock full of information you'll need to know, and this is one manual that's actually written in down-to-earth language, simple and easy to understand.
- Wash the inside liner pot before use. Never wash the Instant Pot itself, only the inside liner and any accessories you may use with it.
- Make sure your sealing ring is in place before you put the lid on.
- Check to make sure the pressure valve moves freely. When it starts to come up to pressure, that valve needs to be able to seal.
- Plan for your cooking time. A lot of recipes may only give you the cook time, but you also have to add in time for the Instant Pot to come to pressure, and then time for it to release the pressure after everything is cooked. Instant Pot actually provides these awesome Cooking Time Tables for reference.
- Natural Release versus Quick Release: Natural Release allows the pressure to go down slowly, still allowing the food to cook even after the timer has gone off. Quick Release is where you carefully vent the release and allow the pressure to go out more quickly. Disclaimer: Quick Release can cause burns if you are not careful. Read your manual for further instruction on Quick Release.
- Some models have a “Manual” button; others say “Pressure Cook.” This means the same thing, whichever button your model happens to have.
- You can wipe the outside of your Instant Pot down with a damp cloth; but never submerse it in water, and never pour water or food into your Instant Pot without having the inner pot in place.
Our favorite Instant Pot accessories
Steamer Basket – Steam vegetables, meat, fish, and more with this basket that keeps your food up out of the water. It's also dishwasher safe, so it makes for easy cleanup. You may even prefer this Steamer Basket instead, perfect for pressure cooking hard boiled eggs.
Trivet – We use our trivet quite a bit, especially if we want to keep whatever we're cooking up out of the liquid.
Stackable Steamer Insert Pans – These are perfect for cooking pot in pot meals or foods, like a pasta dish, for example.
Springform Pan – If you want to make cheesecake in your Instant Pot, you'll need a smaller springform pan that fits down into your pot.
Mini Mitts – When you need to get the hot food out of the pot, you'll definitely need something to protect your hands from the heat.
Baking Pan – If you want to try making desserts with your Instant Pot, a baking pan that fits is a must.
Cookbook – There are so many cookbooks to choose from. You can find recipes in cookbooks, on blogs, or even in Facebook groups dedicated to this topic.
Instant Pot recipes to get you started
We've made quite a few main dishes, sides, and desserts with our pot; and we're always adding more. Here are a few of those recipes.
Peaches and Cream Instant Pot Oatmeal was always a favorite of mine growing up. Now you can use fresh or frozen peaches to make it yourself.
One of of my favorite breakfast recipes is this maple and brown sugar oatmeal. Not too sweet and oh so delicious!
Easy Peel Hard Boiled Eggs are perfect for breakfast on the go or a healthy snack.
Why grill when you can make ribs in your Instant Pot? Ok, so I love grilling too. But Sweet Chili Baby Back Ribs are a meat lover's dream. The meat literally falls right off the bone.
One of my family's favorite meals is meatloaf and potatoes, so this Instant Pot meatloaf recipe is right up our alley.
I love a quick and easy one pot meal, and Instant Pot kielbasa and rice definitely fits the bill.
Looking for a low carb dinner idea? One of my family's favorites is this sausage and chicken casserole. It's so, so good; you don't even know it has vegetables in it.
Soup lovers unite with simple, delicious recipes for Vegetable Soup, Chicken Noodle Soup, and Chili. You can even use the Slow Cooker function on your pot to make this delicious Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili.
Delicious Side Dish Recipes
Have you tried making baked potatoes in your Instant Pot? Save oven time and throw them in your pressure cooker. They come out so tender and delicious. You can even make them this way to serve with a Baked Potato Bar everyone will love.
Southern Green Beans, made with onion, bacon, and ground beef, are one of my favorite side dish recipes. It's the perfect side for a holiday get together with family.
With summer comes that old familiar craving for crunchy corn on the cob. Use your Instant Pot to make this golden delicious side for dinner.
Scrumptious Desserts, Snacks, and Miscellaneous
If fall is your thing and pumpkin spice is your middle name, you will love Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake made right in your Instant Pot.
Speaking of fall, one of my favorite things to make during apple season is this apple butter, Instant Pot style. This recipe is quick and easy and happens to be one of our most popular recipes.
Now, I hope this guide convinced you to open that box, take out your Instant Pot, own it, and start pressure cooking all sorts of deliciousness. If you have questions, please don't hesitate to comment or reach out. We're always happy to connect with our readers!