This spring I taught an instant pot class for Pinner's conference in San Diego. It was so much fun and had so much information and recipes I thought- why don't I have all this written down somewhere for others to access? I'm finally, now, getting around to writing everything you need to know about an Instant Pot / Pressure Cooker. Feel free to leave some of your own tips in the comments! Here is a link to all our instant pot / pressure cooker recipes.
Instant Pot brand worth it?
We get asked all the time if all pressure cookers are equal to the Instant Pot.... my honest opinion is that they are not. They will cook your food basically the same- HOWEVER we have no found an pressure cooker that can do all that an Instant pot can.
Which instant pot do I buy?
This 6 qt 7-in1 multi-use instant pot is what we have. It's large enough to make big batches of bone broth and soup for our big family. you can always go with the 8 qt if you are feeding an army :) WE also love our 3 qt instant pot. Several times a week I will have my 6 qt filled with meat, or something like this broccoli beef or this sweet n sour chicken that needs a side of rice. So I use my 3 qt often for veggies, rice and other sides.
Basic use and care
Dishwasher safe? How do you get the smell out of the ring? It's not sealing? These are many of the questions we get asked :) YEs the pot and the lid are both dishwasher safe! The lid is top shelf dishwasher safe and does a good job of getting the smell out of the ring. The ring however will always have a funny smell. I typically do not put mine in the dishwasher because it is so large. I will spray it with some bleach/cleaning product and let is sit for a while. Bleach seems to be the best way to get the smell out the most! if you're opposed to bleach try vinegar or natural cleaners- they wont be as effective but they will help. Did you know you can buy additional rings for your instant pot so that you can have different recipes with different rings. Keep one for sweet things, one for savory, one for extra smelly :)
Quick release/Natural release
What is quick release? Natural release? slow release? how do you now how long until quick release? NP, QR, what the heck are you talking about! It's so confusing!
Recipes can be confusing because every body writes their instructions different. Basic terminology for the instant pot or pressure cooking are
- Quick release or slow release: turn the nozzle on the lid to vent immediately after the timer has gone off.
- Natural release: let the pin drop (the silver pin in on the lid, next to the vent/steam nozzle) naturally, do not release any pressure.
sometimes you will also have recipe cards that read: "Natural release for 10 minutes then quick release." That means when the instant pot says LO:10 you would turn the nozzle and quick release all the pressure.
How long do I cook food in the Instant Pot?
This the golden question. How long do I cook ANYTHING in the pot? Here are some of my tips.
- use the setting button. I do use the pre-set buttons. For chicken I use "poultry" for rice I use "rice." How does it know how long to cook it? Well its not a matter of how long, its how much- if there is a lot of chicken or rice in your instant pot it is going to take longer to come to pressure and longer to come down to pressure- the cook time will probably stay the same but it will take longer!
- google a similar recipe to what you are making. for instance the first time I made meatloaf I just googled a few other meatloaf recipes and then tested them out. You'll start to get the hang of how much and how long after practice.
- If frozen, add extra time (and I personally always natural release). The thicker and heavier the meat add more time. For instance bone-in chicken is skinny and will thaw quickly compared to a 3 lb roast. So for Chicken had 2-4 extra minutes, for a roast add 30 minutes.
Cooking in the Instant Pot
Now that you know everything you need to know about an instant pot / pressure cooker let's review how to cook a variety of food in the instant pot. If you are ever unsure if something will be done, cooked through or perfectly tender let it natural release completely.That's become my mantra "when in doubt, natural release." ha ha
YES!! you can make the most delicious ground meats in the instant pot!! I was worried the first time I made meatloaf - that the texture would be soggy, and have more of a spongy texture than a true meatloaf. IT DIDNT! It was great!! it had the same great texture of baked meatloaf without being dried out in the least. You can also do meatballs! Check out these videos/recipes for more details. Meatballs in the pressure cooker. Meatloaf in the pressure cooker.
For meats that you are not going to be shredding- like ribs, or bone-in chicken I use a special technique I have found to be ESSENTIAL! Start by cooking your meat through in the instant pot (each meat will have a different time. chicken I use poultry button! check out the recipe here) When it is done spread marinade or BBQ sauce over the top and finish if off in the oven on broil. IT will have that same great sticky crispy crust we all love while being perfectly tender and moist.
Shredded meat is the easiest thing to cook in the instant pot. Cook for the appropriate time the recipe card calls for, natural release and shred! If you pull out the meat and it is still too tough for your liking, put it back in for another 20-30 minutes.
Rice and Quinoa
Rice: I personally use the 1:1 ratio with rice. I dont like mine too sticky. If you like your's a little more sticky do 1.5 cups water to every 1 cup rice. This goes for every white rice. Quinoa also turns out perfect in the instant pot! it is nice and fluffy and perfect additions to salads! If you are having some problems with these starchy sides sticking to the bottom of your pan add a little oil in the bottom before adding the rice and water. As mentioned above I love using my 3qt instant pot for these side.
Potatoes have been life changing!! Try potato salad, smashed potatoes, mashed potatoes, or just seasoned potatoes! 4 minutes quick release! Do not over cook these bad boys, and they'll over cook quick. These cheesy potato fries are particularly popular on our site! Try them today.
All veggies are the same as potatoes- cook them for only a few minutes and quick release or they'll turn to mush fast. Try these carrots!
Some other great side are beans! dried beans from scratch!
Ok, really, cooking eggs in the instant pot has really been life changing. I've never had an egg peel so smoothly as it did when it came out of the instant pot. Check the instructions here. Hard Boiled Eggs
Heck yes you can cook desserts! I will link to all the recipes we have experimented with so far. The biggest thing I would suggest is purchasing a separate set of rings, like these colored ones, so your desserts wont taste like last night beef barbacoa. Some of our favorite desserts include:
- Flan Cheesecake
- Cheesecake (Kadee used this insert to cook her cheesecake in)
- Yogurt! Did you know you can get a glass lid to cover food, especially ones like yogurt that dont require a pressure cooker lid.
For more tips and tricks, recipes and information don't forget to follow by email or social media! You can click on this this Link to take you to ALL our pressure cooker recipes. Thanks for reading everything you need to know about an instant pot / pressure cooker. Feel free to leave more tips in the comments!