Your Top Instant Pot Questions….Answered!

Instant Pot Questions and Answers

Are you preparing to utilize an Instant Pot? Or maybe just thinking about it, perhaps? Are you wondering if an Instant Pot is as life-changing as everyone says it is? Start here to find the answers to some of the most common questions regarding Instant Pot cooking!

Please Note: We do use referral and affiliate links here for products and services that Chef Alli loves and recommends.

Howdy! Chef Alli Here. Let’s Get You Cookin’….Shall We? 🙂

Your Top Instant Pot Questions….Answered!

WHY do I need an Instant Pot?

  • If you’re a Mom and Nonie like I am, chances are you feel as though you’re constantly cooking and making dinner, especially if you live out in the boondocks like we do and the nearest restaurants are 30 miles away! I love the ease and speed of cooking with an Instant Pot.
  • An Instant Pot allows us to safely cook meats from frozen! Yep, it’s true.
  • Instant Pot clean up is super quick since there’s only one pot involved.
  • Instant Pot cooking is set-it and forget-it style of cooking! Once the Instant Pot is pressurized, there’s no baby-sitting involved – we are free to go do other things while dinner cooks.

Learn More Here: 7 REASONS YOU TOTALLY NEED AN INSTANT POT

Instant Pot on the cupboard.

Does everyone need an Instant Pot?

  • Nope. And if you find that’s the case with you, there’s totally nothing wrong with that. If you’ve already got a good slow-cooker system for feeding your family or a solid weekend cook-ahead system set up, Instant Pot cooking may not be for you. Don’t sweat it!

What’s so great about Instant Pot cooking?

  • For me, it’s knowing that I’m feeding my family healthy meals….and in a very speedy manner. Because whole foods (meats, grains, veggies, etc) are primarily what can be cooked in an Instant Pot, I know what my family is eating is nutritious. It’s also a HUGE TIME SAVER, since meals are cooked in minutes, not hours!
  • Instant Pot cooking has taken off in a big way due to our limited time for cooking when we arrive home from work. Nobody wants to spend all evening in the kitchen!
  • Some of our most favorite Instant Pot Speedy Meals include pastas….and LOTS of them!: Such as Instant Pot Pepperoni Pizza Pasta, Fiesta Beef and Spaghetti, 5-Minute Italian Pasta, and Ravioli Soup!
  • Did you know that most pasta dishes can be cooking in just 5 minutes or less??? This is a game changer at my house when dinner time rolls in.

What IS an Instant Pot….specifically?

  • An Instant Pot is actually an electric multi-cooker, whose primary function is cooking under pressure. As a multi-cooker, an Instant Pot (or any brand of electric pressure cooker, for that matter) functions as a rice cooker, yogurt maker, sauté pan, slow cooker, and a steamer.

What goes on inside the Instant Pot to make it work?

  • The major factor in electric pressure cooking and how foods cook so quickly is this: steam! When pressure increases the boiling point of water, steam is produced from the circulating water and this brings your Instant Pot up to pressure so that dinner is done in a hurry.

How much cooking time is an Instant Pot REALLY going to save me?

  • Based on what I’ve personally experienced and also researched, foods are pressured cooked in one-third less time than conventional cooking methods, and some foods cook even 8-10 times faster. The steam and pressure inside an Instant Pot (or any electric pressure cooker) makes food cook much, much quicker! You ARE going to save cooking time.

Is cooking with an Instant Pot dangerous?

  • In one word: NO. The new electric pressure cookers of today are made with secure safety features. However, keep in mind that any small appliance in the kitchen can be dangerous in some way, right?
  • Electric pressure cookers (Instant Pots) of today are much safer than the stove top models that our Grandmothers used long ago. Because Grandma didn’t have the luxury of quick shut-off mechanisms like we do now, dinner did occasionally wind up on her kitchen ceiling….no joking.
  • As long as you don’t try to pry the Instant Pot lid off while it’s under pressure and keep your body parts away from venting steam, you can feel perfectly safe.

What is the difference between an Instant Pot and a slow cooker?

  • Well, a slow cooker cooks slowly, and an Instant Pot cooks quickly. Keep in mind, however, that an Instant Pot can be used as a slow cooker, but not the other way around.
  • Because I didn’t have a good slow cooker meal system, I gave mine away once I got my Instant Pot and began cooking under pressure.
  • Cooking in an Instant Pot just fits my style of cooking better.

What makes the Instant Pot a faster way to cook?

  • Super great question. Cooking time in an Instant Pot is greatly reduced because the heat and pressure inside builds so quickly. Once the liquid inside begins to boil and the steam to pressurize the Instant Pot builds, foods are cooked much more quickly – such a bonus when you’ve got a hungry family that always needs fed. 🙂

Learn More Here: 12 WAYS AN INSTANT POT SAVES TIME IN THE KITCHEN

How an Instant Pot Saves Times in the Kitchen article.

Are there disadvantages to using an Instant Pot?

  • Disadvantages to cooking with an Instant Pot are few, but can be deal-breakers for some home cooks, especially if they experience trouble early on in their electric pressure cooking journey. I hate it when this happens because discouragement often causes young cooks to abandon Instant Pot cooking methods before they even get started!
  • Some cooks don’t like not being able to cook certain items together due to different cooking times required for each ingredient. As an example of this scenario, a roast takes 15-20 minutes per lb. to cook, so you can’t throw in your carrots, celery, and potatoes with your roast all together at the beginning of the cook time.
  • If you do decide to cook a roast and vegetables cooking both of them for the same amount of time, you will open the Instant Pot lid to find a perfectly cooked roast (yay!) but the vegetables, on the other hand, will be obliterated into something that’s nearly recognizable.
  • Secondly, some cooks don’t like the fact that they aren’t able to see foods cooking inside the Instant Pot, or that they can’t check foods midway through the cooking time for doneness, tenderness, and seasoning.

Is the Instant Pot a healthier way to cook?

  • First of all, we have to determine what we consider “healthy” when it comes to what we eat and what we like to feed our family for dinner.
  • The Instant Pot definitely helps us cook with much less fat since the pressure utilized during the cooking process makes foods have intensified flavors when adding spices or broth for pressurizing.
  • Also due to the pressure used during the cooking process, spicy seasonings and ingredients (say red pepper flakes or jalapenos) definitely intensify in the heat they bring to the dish, so take care!
  • Long story short, because an Instant Pot helps us cook more, cook better, and cook faster, it gives us a good feeling about feeding our families and knowing that what they are eating is wholesome and nutritious.

I’ve heard the Instant Pot is primarily for cooking meats. Is this true?

  • No, but I will admit that the Instant Pot is very well known for cooking meats since it reduces the time needed for tender, flavorful meat by about two-thirds the time.
  • However there are lots of dishes that can be cooked in an Instant Pot that are not animal proteins. We love to cook baked sweet potatoes in our Instant Pot, steel-cut oats, quinoa, pasta dishes, dried beans….the list goes on and on. Did you know that you can cook dried beans in an Instant Pot without even soaking them first??
  • If you are enjoying a vegetarian lifestyle, know that an Instant Pot is not all about just cooking meat!

Is an Instant Pot expensive to purchase?

  • They typically range in price from $70 – $100. My recommendation is to wait for Black Friday or Cyber Monday specials since there are nearly always great deals on Instant Pots during those times.
  • Also, watch the Facebook Market place and Craig’s List. I’ve found several fabulous bargains on brand new Instant Pots (still in the box!) there. One time I scored an Instant Pot for just 20 bucks – I was elated!
  • As a precaution, be a bit leery of purchasing used Instant Pots (or any electric pressure cooker) at estate sales or garage sales. I’ve noticed that sometimes these Instant Pots have integral parts missing that aren’t very noticeable, especially if you are new to electric pressure cooking.
  • And, if the Instant Pot has sat unused for a very long time, it may have a tendency not to operate as you’d like it to.

How do I know which size Instant Pot to purchase?

  • I always recommend that cooks start out using a 6-quart Instant Pot since most of the recipes available on Pinterest and via on-line resources are created for 6-quart pots.
  • If you decide to purchase an 8-quart Instant Pot right out of the gate, this can cause frustration, and early-on frustration when learning to cook using the pressure cooking method is never a positive thing!
  • Using a recipe created for a 6-quart Instant Pot when using an 8-quart pot very often requires cooking time adjustments due to the size difference. When you’re a beginner, it’s hard to know how to make those cooking time adjustments.
  • If you do opt to go with an 8-quart Instant Pot when starting out, instead of the 6-quart, seek out recipes that are created specifically for 8-quart Instant Pot and this will definitely help.
  • Once you get the hang of cooking under pressure, you’ll be able to make the necessary cooking time adjustments without even batting an eye – it just takes practice!

Should I consider purchasing a different kind/brand of electric pressure cooker than the Instant Pot brand?

  • Lots of Instant Pot users say that one of the very best things about using an Instant Pot is that there is a huge community of users. These Instant Pot users can quickly lend almost instantaneous support by virtual means if we encounter a cooking problem.
  • Instant Pot cooking groups also share great ideas and tasty recipes designed just for electric pressure cooking.

Is there anything I need to know when I first set up my Instant Pot?

  • Unpack the box and get that Instant Pot onto your counter. Pat him on the side and say out loud “We are going to be life-long friends. I love you already.”
  • Next insert the the cord into the back of the Instant Pot, then plug that puppy into an outlet to be sure the display light comes on. Check to see that the silicone sealing ring in the lid is snugly in place. That’s it for the initial set up.

What parts and tools should I expect to find when I open up the Instant Pot box?

  • Below is a photo that shows all the parts and pieces of your Instant Pot. Some of these come separately or can be removed for cleaning, others are part of the Instant Pot as fairly permanent fixtures.

I hate to admit it, but I feel anxiety about starting out with Instant Pot cooking….I’m almost afraid to begin using it!

  • This is a common statements and a common feeling when we first begin using an Instant Pot, so don’t feel like you are alone….or a wimp.
  • When we first begin cooking in an Instant Pot, there is over-whelm, plain and simple! Sometimes even taking the Instant Pot out of the box and setting it on the counter can bring feelings of anxiety and boy, do I remember that.
  • You can persevere, and you can conquer….just read on. 🙂

Learn More Here: 14 BEST INSTANT POT TIPS FOR BEGINNERS

Instant Pot filled with vegetables.

What is the best way to gain confidence when I first begin cooking with my Instant Pot?

  • Don’t begin by trying to cook meat! Over the years, I’ve discovered that the #1 reason home cooks purchase an Instant Pot is because they have visions of making a tender, delicious Sunday dinner pot roast just like Grandma did, or, they want to make a big pork butt for pulled pork sandwiches. Don’t do cook animal proteins right out of the gate!
  • Instead, begin with this sequence of foods to cook in your Instant Pot: water, hard-boiled eggs, applesauce, macaroni and cheese.
  • Why? Because cooking water let’s you learn how your pot actually works and what to expect during that process.
  • Hard-boiled eggs are absolutely wonderful made in the Instant Pot – you’ll totally understand how and why once you peel them!
  • Making applesauce let’s you experience an easy food that you’ll never purchase at a store again once you see how excited your family gets when they taste homemade applesauce.
  • And, good ole mac and cheese speaks for itself – we all know it’s yummy and comforting, but when you discover it’s made in just 5 minutes with no draining of the cooking liquids, you will be forever hooked!
  • Once you’ve made the first 4 foods mentioned above, you’re ready to jump out there and make a roast because you’ll be feeling much more confident.

Learn More Here: THE FIRST 4 THINGS TO COOK IN YOUR INSTANT POT… IN ORDER!

instant pot with vegetables

Is the water test really necessary? This seems kind of silly.

  • The water test is one of the most advantageous things we will ever do with our Instant Pot when we pull that wonderful sucker out of the box.
  • We should consider this test as our practice run for Instant Pot cooking. The water test allows us to fully see how the parts and pieces of the Instant Pot work, helping us get very familiar with the inner workings and the process of cooking under pressure.
  • The water test helps to make sure our brand new Instant Pot is working correctly right out of the gate. There is nothing more frustrating than cooking food the first time only to learn (later!) that the Instant Pot you’ve purchased isn’t working properly.
  • And, cooking water as our first recipe takes all the pressure off….if we burn water (which you won’t, trust me) there’s no ingredient cost involved.
  • Cooking water as your very first recipe is the best thing a beginner can do – please don’t skip it!

Since the water test is so important for starting off right, what are the steps to do it?

  • Pour 2-3 cups of water into the inner pot of your Instant Pot (you’ll always be using the inner pot when cooking in your Instant Pot, btw.), lock the lid into place and set your steam release valve into place to begin the process of creating steam and pressure.
  • Set the timer for 5 minutes on high pressure, bringing your Instant Pot up to full pressure so that it’s seals off.
  • Know ahead of time that as your pot begins the process of pressurizing, you will see some steam escaping – this is the indicator that the water inside has begun to boil and circulate. Once your Instant Pot seals off because it’s fully pressurized, the steam will no longer be escaping.
  • Once the pot is fully pressurized and you are “cooking” the water, you will see two things: the float valve will have extended itself upwards as an indicator that the pot is sealed and pressurized. Secondly the time on the front display will begin to count down. When the timer beeps, it’s time to perform your very first quick release!
  • To do the quick release, turn the steam release valve by twisting it open (or pushing the release button that newer Instant Pot models sport).
  • Be ready! A quick release means you’re letting all of that steam inside the pot out at once – initially it can give you quite a start if you’re not expecting it.

Instant Pot Trouble-Shooting

It seems like a bit of a struggle to get the lid of my Instant Pot settled in correctly. What am I doing wrong?

  • Everyone struggles with this at first – no worries! Here’s what to do from this point forward: Look at the Instant Pot lid. You will see an an arrow on the front side of the lid, and on the front side of the black ring that’s at the very top of your Instant pot.
  • Look closely, at these areas. You’ll see that both of these arrows are only raised arrows in these areas and the same color: black! Initially, the arrows are kind of hard to locate.
  • Now, place the lid on top of your Instant Pot, lining up these two arrows, twisting the lid to lock it into place. You will also hear the Instant Pot make a beeping noise to indicate the lid opening and closing when your perform these actions.

Gosh. There are so many buttons on the front panel of my Instant Pot. What are they all for?

  • You will see that each button on the Instant Pot front panel is labeled. These buttons will also vary from Instant Pot model to model, and also vary from brand-to-brand of electric pressure cookers.
  • These front-panel buttons are preset with specific cooking times and can be re-programmed if you later want to change the cook time. Refer to your Instant Pot manual for the re-programming steps.
  • Remember that when you are pressure cooking with your Instant Pot, the manual button (sometimes it’s also labeled as Pressure Cook) is key. Using the manual button allows you to choose just that – a manual cooking time of your discretion, based on what your recipe is directing.
  • See the photo below for explanations of what each front-panel button is for.

How do I know when my Instant Pot is fully pressurized?

  • Before you try to pressurize your Instant Pot, check out the pressure release valve that’s on the back of the lid. Here, you will also see a silver float valve sitting right next to the pressure release valve, which needs to be set to the sealing position to build pressure.
  • When the Instant Pot is fully pressurized, the silver float valve will pop into place by extending itself upward. The float valve will also make a little clicking noise when it pops into place.
  • Another indicator that the Instant Pot is fully pressurized, is that you will be unable to twist and remove the lid.

Learn More Here: HOW TO MAKE YOUR INSTANT POT PRESSURIZE FASTER!

Instant Pot full of vegetables.

My Instant Pot has steam escaping from it as I’m trying to pressurize. What the heck?

  • Don’t be concerned. When your Instant Pot is trying to come up to pressure to seal off the pot to cook, you will see steam escaping.
  • This is actually a good sign to let your know that liquids inside are beginning to boil and circulate.
  • If the steam doesn’t stop escaping within 2-3 minutes, check your pressure valve to be sure it’s set to the sealing position, not to the venting position.
  • If the steam escaping still persists, this means that something inside isn’t quite right. At this point, when the Instant Pot can’t pressurize, you will see the dreaded BURN signal on the front of the display.
  • Turn off the Instant Pot and check inside.
    • 1. Is the pot overfilled with too much liquid?
    • 2. Are there ingredients stuck to the bottom of the pot, such as a pork chop of something you’ve browned in a bit of oil, perhaps?
    • 3. Is there thick sauce in the bottom, such as a meatball or pasta sauce, that can’t circulate to create pressure?
    • Did you stir the liquids inside the pot into the other ingredients, putting them where they can’t properly circulate to create pressure?
    • Is your gasket in place tightly? If there are gaps or if it’s out of place, make these adjustments and start again.

Is there a way to check my food as it’s cooking? I wish I could actually see the food that’s in my Instant Pot.

  • Alas…..you cannot. At first this does seem a bit annoying, but as you gain confidence with electric pressure cooking you’ll move past this and stop fretting.
  • And know this! An Instant Pot is really is dependable and predictable and you’ll grow to see this happen so you can trust it.
  • Remember that once your Instant Pot is fully pressurized, you can walk away! No babysitting the food like we have to do when cooking on the stove or in the oven. You can go for a walk, play with the kids, do some laundry – it’s so freeing!

So how will I know when my food inside the Instant Pot is fully cooked and ready?

  • Great question! Once your Instant Pot is fully pressurized, it will then begin to count down the cooking time. When the cook time is completed, the Instant Pot immediately switches to the Keep Warm setting.
  • It’s great that the Instant Pot automatically switches over to warm, because this will always keep the food inside at a hot, safe temperature.

Uh oh. My Instant Pot has shut down and the front panel display says BURN. What went wrong?

  • When this happens (and it will, from time to time), it means that both the pot and the contents of the pot have over-heated, so it shuts down to keep the food and ingredients inside from burning….which ruins dinner. Never a good thing.
  • At this point, perform a quick release to remove the pressure and steam inside, then carefully unlock and remove the Instant Pot lid to check inside.
  • More than likely, your pot needs more liquid added. Pour in a cup of liquid, letting it sit right on top of what’s in the pot, then re-program the Instant Pot. The added liquid will probably make the Instant Pot pressurize at once, just like it should.

Learn More Here: THE TOP 6 REASONS YOUR INSTANT POT WON’T PRESSURIZE…..AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT 

Read this article: The Top 6 Reasons Your Instant Pot Won't Pressurize

A PRINTABLE FOR YOUR KITCHEN: GET MY INSTANT POT TROUBLE-SHOOTING GUIDE HERE

Instant Pot Won't Pressurize? Print a FREE troubleshooting guide now and get dinner done!

How do I know how much liquid to use when I’m cooking with my Instant Pot?

  • Most recipes will only need about 1 cup of liquid (I tend to use broth or sometimes beer) for cooking under pressure in my Instant Pot.
  • However, there are 3 major food types that do need much more liquid when they are under pressure in your Instant Pot.
  • These foods are grains, dried beans, and pasta. All three of these ingredients need to be completely covered with liquid by 1-inch above because they will absorb nearly all of the liquid as they cook. (Except for beans, you will nearly always have to drain beans.)

Does the cook time that’s stated in my recipe include the time it takes for my Instant Pot to come up to pressure?

  • It does not. The cook time only includes the amount of time it will take to cook the food.
  • This is because the amount of time it takes the Instant Pot to pressurize can vary based on a few different things, such as how cold your ingredients are when they go into the pot, how full your pot is, and what type/brand of electric pressure cooker you are using.
  • An Instant Pot that is pretty full of ingredients that are closer to room temperature (than chilled ingredients) will take approx. 12-15 minutes to pressurize.
  • On the other hand, if you’re hard-boiling eggs with about a cup of liquid in the bottom, you will find that your Instant Pot pressurizes in just a couple of minutes! Such a wonderful thing.
  • Here’s tip for getting your Instant Pot to pressurize more quickly: Always use the saute setting to bring the liquids inside the Instant Pot up to boiling before you pressurize it. Remember that you will need to turn off the saute setting, then program the pot and use the pressure cooking setting. I use this technique all the time and have learned how fantastic it works!

My timer has beeped, indicating that the food is done. How do I get the pressure out of the pot?

  • There are two types of pressure releases for removing it from the pot: One is a Quick Release and the other is a Natural Release.
  • To perform the Quick Release, very carefully used a long-handled spatula or wooden spoon to turn the pressure release valve to the “venting” position which will allow the steam to immediately release itself from the Instant Pot.
  • When performing a Quick Release, be sure to stay away the escaping steam as it is very, very hot and can easily burn you.
  • **Note: If you performed the Water Test that is recommended when you first operated the Instant Pot, you will remember the Quick Release and how it works.
  • When all the pressure and steam are released from the Instant Pot you will hear the metal valve float drop with a soft click. Now, because the pot is no longer pressurized, you can turn and carefully remove the lid to open the Instant Pot. Be careful when doing so.
  • The other type of pressure release is a Natural Release. This is where you do absolute NOTHING when the Instant Pot time has counted down and it beeps to indicate it is finished cooking.
  • A natural release allows the pressure inside the Instant Pot to very gradually come down on it’s own accord. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to even an hour, depending on how full your Instant Pot is and what it is you’re cooking inside.

So how do I know when to use the Quick Release and when to use the Natural Release??

  • This is where we always defer to what our recipe instructs and also why we want to be using reliable Instant Pot recipes!
  • I strongly recommend that when you are cooking large hunks of animal-protein such as a chuck roast or a pork butt, be sure to utilize the natural release.
  • During the time of the natural release, the meat can continue to cook a bit longer, but mainly and most importantly, it can rest, allowing all of the protein fibers to relax.
  • Once those fibers have relaxed, you will find that you have one very-tender and wonderful hunk of meat to enjoy!
  • Typically, but not always, you will also want to use a natural release when you are cooking grains, dried beans, and big hunks of meat.
  • **Please Note: A natural release is a very important part of using an Instant Pot (or any electric pressure cooker) and this technique is often very overlooked.
  • Don’t go down the path of not utilizing the natural release method. If you do, you could easily be disappointed with the results of your food.
  • How will you know that? If your roast or pork butt is tough and chewy, even though it’s fully cooked to the proper internal temperature, you most likely rushed it along just because you didn’t allow the time for the natural release to do it’s job.

I cooked a roast in my Instant Pot and utilized the Natural Release as instructed, but it wasn’t fork-tender when I opened the pot and tested it. What should I do when that happens?

  • When you stick a fork into a big hunk of meat (that’s been pressure cooked and has been though a a full natural release), if it’s not fork-tender (which means your fork slides in super-easily and when you twist, the meat gives to the fork) the roast or pork butt needs to pressure cook longer.
  • This is an easy fix and your Instant Pot will come right back up to pressure very quickly because the contents are still very hot at this point.
  • Lock the lid back into place and pressurize the Instant Pot once more. I usually cook my roasts and pork butts for an additional 10-12 minutes (total, not per lb.), letting them use the natural release once more. You will likely see that your hunk of meat is now very fork-tender.
  • When you are cooking lvery large hunks of meat (say bigger than 3 lbs.), I usually pressurize them for 20 minutes per lb. as a general rule, always utilizing a full natural release.
  • The meat is so stinking tender and delicious, I can hardly stand it. Have you ever wanted to roll about in a pot roast before because it’s sooooo good? You will!

Can I walk away from my Instant Pot when I’m cooking with it?

  • This is a question that I get asked A LOT. Here’s my answer: Yes…but ONLY ONCE THE INSTANT POT IS FULLY PRESSURIZED.
  • If you’ve set the timer and walk away right at that point, assuming your Instant Pot will go ahead an pressurize, you’re asking for trouble.
  • If for some reason you Instant Pot doesn’t pressurize, this could cause your pot to boil dry, which in turn burns dinner.
  • Once your Instant Pot is fully pressurized, though, there’s no babysitting required, unlike when we are cooking on the stove or in the oven.
  • We are free to walk away at the point of full pressurization, which is a great feeling. We can go take a walk, work on a project, or play with the kids to our heart’s content.

How to Be Successful When Cooking in an Instant Pot

Are there foods that SHOULD NOT be cooked in an Instant Pot?

  • Cream-based soups, thick sauces of any kind, and dairy products should typically not be cooked in an Instant Pot, though as you know there are always a few exceptions with certain recipes.
  • If you are cooking meatballs in a thick sauce, you can always thin it down a bit with some broth so it can then circulate better inside the Instant Pot to create the steam and pressure needed.
  • Then, once the dish is finished cooking, you can thicken the sauce again by adding a bit of cornstarch slurry, simmering the sauce until it returns to it’s original thick and luscious state.

Are there types of foods that work better than others for Instant Pot cooking?

  • Pasta, grains, dried beans, all kinds of meat and poultry, and soups turn out great when cooked in an Instant Pot.
  • And, you can even make a heck of a delicious cheesecake in there, as well. Don’t forget baking in your Instant Pot, either….I make bundt cakes all the time!
  • **Please note: when cooking bundt cakes in the Instant Pot, be sure to use a bundt pan, not a cake pan. The hole in the center of the bundt pan allows heat to circulate there, fully cooking the cake at the center. Nobody enjoys a soggy cake!

My recipe instructs to layer my ingredients in the Instant Pot, specifically saying “DON’T STIR” – this seems very weird. Is it legit?

  • Nearly anytime you’re making a casserole or pasta recipe in your Instant Pot, you will be LAYERING the required ingredients into the pot. The liquid for the recipe needs to be on the bottom of the pot, followed by the remaining ingredients that are stacked on top.
  • Layering the ingredients in that manner allows the liquids on the bottom to circulate in the pot, almost cooking the ingredients separately so that when you open the pot (following the quick release) everything is nicely cooked and the dish comes together easily as you stir it.
  • Why no stirring of the ingredients before they are cooked? This is a very difficult thing to resist, trust me. It just looks WRONG, doesn’t it?
  • However, if you don’t heed the recipe instructions, stirring everything together before pressurizing, 9 times out of 10, your Instant Pot can’t pressurize because the liquid you need (that should be on the very bottom of the pot and is need to circulate) is no longer there. You stirred it into the rest of the ingredients inside your pot!

What is pot-in-pot cooking all about?

  • Pot-in-pot cooking is a great method of cooking with an Instant Pot. This requires the trivet that came with your Instant Pot and a smaller pot or pan.
  • The liquid for pot-in-pot cooking will be on the bottom of the pot, followed by the trivet, and lastly, the pot that contains what you want to pressure cook then rests on top of the trivet.
  • Or, to cook potatoes with meatloaf at the same time, you can place the potatoes and broth in the bottom of the pot, add the trivet on top, then top it all with the pan of meatloaf, pressure cooking everything all at once. Love me some doubled-up cooking!
  • Cheesecakes, casseroles, quiches, cakes and many other items utilize pot-in-pot cooking. You can also make super fast egg-bites in your Instant Pot (like little mini quiches) by stacking egg-bite molds into the pot – the egg bites cook in minutes!
  • Also, always remember that when you are doing pot-in-pot cooking, you will need to cover the pan tightly with foil so the circulating steam doesn’t get into the ingredients.

Where can I find a cooking chart to use as a reference when I’m cooking in my Instant Pot?

  • Super great question! Most Instant Pots will come with a manual and I recommend to keep this in a handy spot in your kitchen at all times.
  • You’ll likely use this manual for some trouble-shooting at times, as well as referring to the food charts it contains.
  • If you’d like a Chef Alli Quick Reference Cooking Chart for your Instant Pot, click here!

A PRINTABLE FOR YOUR KITCHEN: GET MY INSTANT POT QUICK-COOKING CHART

This FREE Printable Cooking Chart makes quick work of 14 common Instant Pot foods and will ensure Instant success for any new Electric Pressure Cooker user!

Say I want to double a recipe. Does this mean I should also double the cooking time?

  • Not usually. Typically, the cooking time will remain the same, but do keep in mind that the Instant Pot will very likely take longer to come up to full pressure if the pot is very full of ingredients since you’ve doubled the recipe.
  • If you are cooking ingredients that are very dense, such as when you want to cook 2 chuck roasts at one time, I usually add 5 minutes per lb. of cooking time.
  • As an example, meats can be pressure cooked in the Instant Pot at 15 minutes per lb. under high pressure, with a good natural release. When I’m cooking two roasts at once, making my Instant Pot really full, I increase the cooking time to 20 minutes per lb. instead.
  • As you become more comfortable with cooking in your Instant Pot, you will get the hang of doubling recipes. And, remember! You can always cooking ingredients a little longer, but once you over-cook them, you’re sunk!
  • **Please Note: your Instant Pot should never be filled more than two-thirds full at any time since this can cause it not to pressurize.

What about frozen meat? Can I cook that in my Instant Pot?

  • Surely….and I can’t tell you how many times this has saved my bacon when I’ve forgotten to thaw meat ahead of time.
  • When cooking meat from frozen, add 50% more cooking time. So if it’s a 3 lb. raw chuck roast that is normally pressure cooking at 15 minutes per lb, you’d need to increase the cooking time to 22-23 minutes per lb. for a 3 lb. frozen chuck roast. (Yep, followed by a nice, long natural release, of course!)

Looking for some tasty Instant Pot recipes for beef roasts? We are fond of Big Bold Beef Carnitas, Lazy-Butt Beef Subs (with Caramelized Onions and BBQ Mayo!), and Hot Beef Sandwiches with Gravy.

Is cooking frozen meat in my Instant Pot a safe method?

  • Yes! as long as it is submerged in the cooking liquid inside the Instant Pot as it is pressurized.
  • Cooking frozen meat in a slow cooker, oven or stove top can be dangerous since it puts frozen meat in the temperature “danger zone” of 40 degrees F. – 140 degrees F., right where bacteria can grow.
  • Pressure cooking frozen meat it is a completely safe cooking method because the quick transfer of the heat quickly takes the frozen meat right past the temperature danger zone.

Learn More Here: HOW TO COOK FROZEN MEAT IN AN INSTANT POT….REALLY!

How to cook frozen meat in an Instant Pot....Really!

What about baking in my Instant Pot? Can I really do so?

  • You totally can and when you pressure cook desserts such as Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pound Cake with Cider Glaze, Key Lime Cheese Cake, Apple Cake with Rum Sauce, you will find them to be the most luscious and moist sweet treats that you’ll ever put in your mouth.
  • Be sure to always pressure cakes using a bundt pan. The hole in the center of the bundt pan ensure that cakes are fully cooked at the center.
  • Any dessert that doesn’t require a crispy crust and needs moist heat will be absolutely delicious when made in an electric pressure cooker – this would include bread pudding, tapioca, flan, rice pudding, etc.

Instant Pot Maintenance and Up-Keep

How should I clean my Instant Pot?

  • Only the removable parts of the Instant Pot (or any electric pressure cooker) need to be cleaned regularly; these include the inner removable stainless pot and the silicone sealing ring that is inside the lid – both of which are dishwasher safe.
  • And, it’s always good to wash and rinse the removable part called the anti-block shield. Remove this from the lid, wash and dry, then return it to it’s place in the lid.

Where is the best place to keep my Instant Pot?

  • When you first begin cooking in your Instant Pot, it’s imperative that it sits on the counter, right within eyesight.
  • This is because when you begin electric pressure cooking, you are trying to create the new habit of cooking in your Instant Pot, instead of your old habit of cooking on your stove top or in the oven.
  • And trust me, if you have to retrieve your Instant Pot from the pantry or a cupboard up high, there is a big chance that you won’t end up cooking in it long term because it’s “out of sight, and out of mind”. and a pain to get out. Don’t do it!

What’s the best way to store my Instant Pot?

  • Never store your Instant Pot with the lid locked into place, all closed up. Instead, invert the lid and place it on top, allowing the Instant Pot to air out.

How should I clean the silicone sealing ring?

  • It can be washed by hand very quickly, or toss it onto the top rack of your dishwasher. It’s a good idea to always run your finger around the inner ridge of the sealing ring since food particles can gather here, which can sometimes cause your Instant Pot not to pressurize.

What’s the purpose of having different colors of silicone sealing rings?

  • Some Instant Pot users feel that certain ingredients cause specific odors that they don’t want to transfer from one dish to another when electric pressure cooking.
  • For instance, if you’re cooking curry and feel that aroma penetrates the silicone sealing ring, you may prefer not to use that particular gasket (sealing ring) when you’re making a bread pudding, just in case there if a flavor transfer. (Can’t say I’m especially fond of bread pudding that tastes like curry, can you???)
  • Having an assortment of colored silicone sealing rings allows you to use them based on what you’re cooking….such as one for curries, one for spicy foods, one for desserts, etc.

If I open my Instant Pot to discover it contains odors of previously cooked foods, what should I do?

  • This will definitely happen from time, but no worries. Simply add 2 cups of water to your Instant Pot, along with 1/2 cup vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Bring the Instant Pot up to full pressure, setting the timer for 2 minutes; when the timer sounds, perform a quick release. You may have to perform this process a couple of times.
  • This should take care of any odors in your Instant Pot, but also remember to store your Instant Pot with the lid inverted on top so it can air out.

Should I put my Instant Pot in the dishwasher?

  • Because the Instant Pot has a stainless steel inner pot, it will wash up beautifully in the dishwasher, along with the silicone sealing ring. However, it’s better to hand wash the lid.

Should I consider getting a second Instant Pot?

  • A second (or third!) Instant Pot is very handy, especially if you desire to cook two recipes at the same time, or if you’ve got a very large family to feed.
  • It’s also nice to have a second Instant Pot of a different size. A standard Instant Pot is the 6-quart, but they are also available in a smaller size (good for cooking for just 1-2 people) as well as a larger size.

Can a second inner pot be purchased and is this handy?

  • It second inner pot is very handy, and, yes, they can definitely be purchased as a separate accessory.
  • Here’s an example of why having a second inner pot is a good idea: Let’s say you’ve cooked some stew meat to make Beef Stroganoff for dinner.
  • Instead of having to remove the tender meat you’ve just pressured cooked before you can finish the recipe, you can simply replace the inner pot of meat with a clean one and immediately begin cooking the mashed potatoes you want to serve as part of the Beef Stroganoff meal.

Are there Instant Pot tools I should know about?

THE BEST INSTANT POT TOOLS AND ACCESSORIES – A List of My Favorites!

Instant pot on cupboard

Are there recipes to make in an Instant Pot that might be things one wouldn’t think to cook under pressure?

  • All I can say is that I’ve been surprised at this more than once! I love making yogurt in my Instant Pot….and I learned you don’t even need the yogurt button on the front panel to do so!
  • I’ve made lots of cheesecakes and my dog, Lucy, loves it when I pressure cook ground turkey with rice and vegetables to make dog food for her.
  • And one of the most popular recipes I’ve made in my Instant Pot was Apple Cider Moonshine! Always, always keep in mind that you cannot pressure cook hard liquor in your Instant Pot whenever you may be making moonshine or other alcoholic beverages.
  • Instead, add the liquor at the very end of the cooking process, once the ingredients inside have cooled down, keeping your liquor from evaporating from high temperatures.

Thanks for visiting! I hope you return soon for more yummy recipes for your family.

We love hearing from our readers and followers, so leave us a comment if you’d like.  If you don’t hear back from us shortly, know that we may not have seen your comment.  Feel free to reach out to us by email:  ChefAlli@ChefAlli.com.

Let’s Get You Pressure Cookin’,
Chef Alli

Other Helpful Instant Pot Articles –

Useful Instant Pot Printables for Your Kitchen!

Tags:

Chef Alli

Chef Alli is a home-grown Kansas girl on a mission to strengthen families through enabling kitchen confidence, educating the family cook, and encouraging better food relationships. She believes with her whole heart that time spent with our loved ones and our overall quality of life is greatly enhanced by nutritious food made at home with simple, wholesome ingredients. She loves being able to connect and share this passion with others through her website, her social media presence, and her coveted speaking engagements.

Leave a Comment