Are you wondering if you’ve made a mistake in purchasing that Instant Pot that’s taking up a prime spot of real estate on your counter? If you’re second-guessing that decision, read on to learn how you will find the Instant Pot to be an essential and speedy tool when you’re cooking for your family every day.
Howdy! Chef Alli here. Let’s Get You Cookin’….
Shall We?? 🙂
At first, I was wondering if I’d made a big mistake in my purchase of this handy-dandy appliance called an Instant Pot…..oh no!
Especially since everybody and their brother swore this appliance saved tons of time and was so so easy to use. What the heck??
Fast forward 5 years. I’ve got this Instant Pot speed-cooking thing totally figured out and I can solidly swear it’s saves me TONS of meal prep time. I cannot not live without this small appliance work-horse in my life…like ever.
There is no doubt – the Instant Pot can save you tons of time…..but not if you can’t get the dang thing to PRESSURIZE!
Here’s Help! Below Are My Top Tips for Getting Your Instant Pot to Pressurize a Whole Lot Quicker:
1. First of all, is there liquid inside your Instant Pot?
No liquid in your pot means no pressurization, it’s THAT simple. For an Instant Pot (or any electric pressure cooker, for that matter) to come up to pressure, there has to be liquid inside that can circulate. As the liquid circulates, it creates steam that makes the Instant Pot pressurize.
2. How COLD are the ingredients you are trying to pressurize?
When you pop super chilled ingredients into an Instant Pot and fill it full (say it’s a big hunk of meat or a big batch of soup) that’s a guarantee that it’s going to take a long time for your pot to get those ingredients hot. And until those ingredients are hot and the liquids begin to circulate, you can’t pressurize your pot.
Instead, remove your ingredients from refrigeration to the counter before you ever begin the cooking process. Yep, this does require a bit of planning ahead, but allowing your ingredients to come to room temperature to help remove some of the chill helps them become heated more quickly inside your Instant Pot.
3. Did you bring your liquids up to boiling BEFORE starting to pressurize your pot?
I’ve discovered that this one single step makes a HUGE DIFFERENCE in how quickly your Instant Pot will pressurize.
If you really want things to get moving in your pot so it can pressurize more quickly, use the sauté setting to bring the liquids in your pot to a high simmer. Once the liquids are nearly boiling, turn off the saute setting, locking the Instant Pot lid into place.
You are now ready to begin the process of pressurizing the pot to cook your ingredients. Choose High Pressure, then select the amount of time you want the ingredients to cook, bringing the Instant Pot to full pressure. Once the pot is fully pressurized, you will see the time shown on the display begin to count down.
4. Is your Instant Pot more than two-thirds full?
An overfilled Instant Pot usually won’t come up to pressure. When the pot is overfilled, the liquids inside can’t circulate properly so there’s pretty much now way your Instant Pot can pressurize.
5. Did you thin down the sauce inside your Instant Pot so it can easily circulate?
Let’s say you’ve cooked meatballs in your Instant Pot and now they are sitting in a nicely thickened sauce in the bottom of the pot. You lock the Instant Pot lid into place, program the cooking time, and oh no, (boo hiss) the pot won’t pressurize.
What the heck? Well, this happens because a nice thick sauce like that can’t circulate as needed, keeping your Instant Pot from pressurizing .
To remedy this situation, add enough broth to the thickened sauce you’ve got inside your Instant Pot, thinning it to a more fluid state. Repeat the pressurization process, watching to see how quickly it will (most likely!) now pressurize. When the timer sounds, perform a quick release to remove the pressure then carefully remove the Instant Pot lid.
Next, remove all the meatballs from the pot so you can thicken your sauce once again. Combine equal parts of water and cornstarch (say 1-2 Tbs. of each) to make a nice smooth slurry. Using the saute setting again, add the slurry, a little at a time, constantly whisking the sauce until it’s thickened again. Now, return the meatballs to the sauce, cooking until everything is hot throughout.
**Keep in mind that soups must also be thickened AFTER they have pressurized. Just like the meatball sauce scenario above, thick and creamy soups can’t circulate to pressurize inside the Instant Pot, either.
6. Is your pressure release knob set to the sealing position?
Located at the back or the side of the Instant Pot lid, the pressure release knob must be set to the correct position in order for your pot to come up to full pressure.
If pressurizing your pot seems to be taking an super long time, check to see if the pressure release knob is set to the sealing position, not the venting position. Often, that’s all your Instant Pot is waiting for in order to fully pressurize.
Occasionally, even when your valve is set to the sealing position, it may hesitate to fully pressurize just because the knob has gotten a bit off-kilter somehow.
Touch the side of the pressure release knob; often this little incentive will encourage the knob to settle down and get to business, allowing the Instant Pot to quickly pressurize. I have no answer as to why this happens occasionally, but it does – I’ve experienced it.
7. Is the gasket (sealing ring) inside the lid of your Instant Pot securely and snugly in place?
Before you begin the process of pressurizing your Instant Pot, invert the Instant Pot lid. Is the silicone gasket (sealing ring) securely inside the outer edge of your lid where it should be when you’re ready to pressurize? If not, this can definitely give your Instant Pot trouble when trying to pressurize.
If you notice that the gasket isn’t properly positioned inside the lid of the pot, adjust it so that it’s evenly and snugly sitting in the proper place. This may be a good time to inspect your gasket!
Be sure there is no food inside the inner ridge of the gasket itself; any kind of food or grease that happens to adhere itself (even just a little bit!) to the sealing ring on the inside or outside can keep your pot from pressurizing.
Make sure your sealing ring isn’t damaged, torn, or nicked in any way. Also, if you look at your gasket and notice that it has really yellowed in color due to use, it’s probably time to replace that guy.
As a silicone sealing ring yellows from use, it also softens and this can cause it to become very loose instead of fitting tightly into the Instant Pot lid around the outer edge as it needs to.
**For more details and info on what can cause your Instant Pot not to pressurize like it should, read more here:
The Top 6 Reasons Your Instant Pot Won’t Pressurize and What to Do About It.
Other Instant Pot Resources You Will Find Helpful –
Find All My Favorite Instant Pot Recipes Here.
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Let’s Get You Cookin’,