January 14, 2019

Q & A about the Instant Pot

Here is a basic Q & A about the Instant Pot

What is it?

The Instant Pot is one appliance that has many functions: electric pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, sauté pan, slow cooker and warmer. The function that most people praise the Instant Pot for is the electric pressure cooker feature.


Is it a Slow cooker?

No,  but there is a slow cooker feature.


Is it Safe?

Yes. Can it explode? No.  The Instant Pot has a safety feature of locking until the pressure is released and safe to open so there is no guessing. Your Instant Pot is locked when the little metal piece right next to the valve is UP. However, the “quick release” function, also known as “venting” or QR, releases some pretty hot steam that could easily cause harm or injury. Your Instant Pot is locked when the little metal piece right next to the valve is UP. Also, the metal part on the top of the Instant Pot gets HOT.


What can I make in the Instant Pot?

So many things. Beans from dried without soaking overnight, Beef roasts will be fork tender, chicken will shred in just 10 minutes and seafood will be done in 4 minutes. You can also make desserts, such as cakes and puddings, yogurt, broths, stocks and stubborn grains like faro, barley, wild rice and steel cut oats. The hard-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot are perfect for peeling.


Do things cook in an Instant?

Cooking times are much shorter in an Instant Pot but it does take time for the pot to come up to pressure. One of the biggest disappointments in most recipes is they do not calculate the time it takes to get to pressure or release pressure.


Do I need to use liquid?

Yes, by definition, pressure cookers need some amount of liquid to build pressure. You need at least 1/2 cup to 1 cup of liquid for your Instant Pot to work.


Why isn’t the timer starting right away on my Instant Pot?

The Instant Pot needs to come to pressure to cook your food. Plan for anywhere between 10-15 minutes additional time for the Instant Pot to come to pressure. Once the timer starts the food is “cooking” at pressure.


What is natural pressure release or NPR?

Natural pressure release means you are going to gradually (and naturally) allow the pressure to release. This process takes about 15-20 minutes. Food will continue to cook while on natural pressure release.


What is QR or quick pressure release?

It is the opposite of NPR. Instead of allowing the pressure to gradually release, you vent it out super fast. Be careful though, this steam is HOT and can cause injury. Also, don’t do it under your cabinets or around anything that has a painted finish- it will literally peel the paint. Release pressure in an open space on the counter.


What is venting and sealing?

The knob on the Instant Pot has two settings: venting and sealing. Venting means that you are not building up pressure at all, instead the pressure and steam is releasing during the cooking process. This is used for steaming. Sealing means that you are pressure cooking and all of that good stuff is staying inside the Instant Pot.


Do I still need a slow cooker if I have an Instant Pot?

Technically, no, the Instant Pot is also a slow cooker. One of the things I love about the Instant Pot as a slow cooker is that I can use the saute function either before slow cooking to brown the meat or at the very end to reduce or thicken sauces.


How do I use the trivet?

The trivet can be used in multiple ways. Put the “legs” down and you can cook two things at once- meat on the bottom and set the steam basket on top or vice versa or… put the “legs” up and now you can use them as handles to pull out things like the springform pan.


Why does my Instant Pot smell?

It is most likely due to the silicone sealing ring. This ring holds in smells like no other. You can buy extras and use one for savory dishes and another for sweet meals. I have one I use just for curry. Also, make sure to rinse the lid of the Instant Pot to get out smells. Many folks wash the inner pot, but not the lid! The rings are cheap.


What is the difference between low and high pressure?

The quick and dirty answer is that high pressure is better for cooking heartier items, like meats, chicken and pasta, while low pressure is better suited for delicate items like eggs, fish and some desserts. Why?


What is PIP?

PIP stands for “pot in pot” cooking. Basically, another pot that goes into the inner pot. You need this for casseroles, cakes and if you want to cook multiple things at once. The Instant makes some fabulous cheesecakes!


What accessories are most used?

  • 1-quart casserole dish
  • 7-inch springform pan
  • Steamer basket


Should I get a 6 or 8 quart?

My 6-quart is perfect for my family (3 people) If you cook in batches I would suggest the 8qt.


What is the WeeklyDishInstantPotters?

This is a Facebook group over 3800 people who interact, share tips and recipes for the Instant Pot. To join search the group on Facebook or click here.

For videos about how to use your Instant Pot, visit the website at instantpot.com.