Instant Pot for Beginners: Tips for Using Your New Instant Pot

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Tips for Using Your New Instant Pot

So you just got a new Instant Pot? Wondering what to do with it? How to get started using it? This is a true Instant Pot for Beginners post with helpful tips, tricks, and yes OF COURSE some easy Instant Pot recipes!  Keep reading and learn how to setup your new Instant Pot and get cooking in no time!

Instant Pot for Beginners

Instant Pot for Beginners: Getting Started with Instant Pot

First of all, congratulations on your new Instant Pot! Whether you just received your Instant Pot as a gift or you decided to treat yourself, it’s an exciting addition to your kitchen. I remember when we first got our IP – I couldn’t wait to start using it, yet I was nervous to use it for the first time.

Did you know that “Instant Pot” is actually the brand name and not the product name?  The company named Instant Pot makes a pretty sweet multi-function cooker.  One of the main functions is a pressure cooker and then, depending on the model, the other functions range from slow cooker to yogurt maker, and a whole bunch of other things in between.

We got our Instant Pot about two years ago and I remember feeling hesitant to even open the box.  I was so intimidated by this machine!  No worries though, after a few days of hemming and hawing, I ripped the box open and we started cooking up some super easy pressure cooker meals. Our love for this machine was pretty instantaneous.  We liked that it cooked full meals that taste like a traditional slow cooker meal, but in a fraction of the time. We can get full pot roast meals on the table in just under an hour, where in the past this meal would cook for half the day in the slow cooker.  It makes for quick and easy meals, even if you forgot to defrost your pork chops or if you ran out of time that morning to dump ingredients in the slow cooker.

Opening the Instant Pot Box

First things first in our Instant Pot for Beginners post – you’ve got to open the box up!  Take out the Instant Pot and the included accessories.  You will have the main unit, then a cooking insert, lid, pressure valve, condensation collector cup and a silicone seal. These items are fairly standard and I believe they are included with every unit.  Most Instant Pot models come with some additional accessories, including a steamer rack and some utensils.

To be honest, I haven’t used the utensils or recipe book that came with my Instant Pot.  I don’t even know where they are at the moment.

I recommend washing the pieces (minus the main unit, of course).  Then you can assemble the unit.

Unboxing My Instant Pot – See What’s Included in the 7-in-1

Tips for Using Your Instant Pot

Trust me, I know how daunting they are to use.  But I promise, use your Instant Pot a few times and you will be as comfortable with the IP as you are with your trusty slow cooker!  Here are some of the best tips I have for using your Instant Pot:

1. Don’t be scared of it.  And by that, I mean, don’t be afraid that it might fill up with pressure and explode in your kitchen.  Pressure cookers have come a LONG way since the original stove top versions.  WAY more likely is that you’ll forget to set the seal on your cooker and it won’t build up ANY pressure.

2. Let’s piggyback off that last statement – one of the most important things to remember when using the pressure cooker function is to MAKE SURE you set your valve to SEALING. This is crucial.  If you do not set the valve to “sealing” it cannot build pressure and your meal will not cook properly.

3. Do not forget to put the silicone ring back on your lid after washing it.  Also, inspect your ring for cracks and consider having a spare silicone ring on hand as they will wear out after time. One night I was dreaming of my delicious dinner only to discover that I had forgotten to put the silicone ring on the lid.  Pressure never built and my meal was not at all cooked.  Sad night.

4. Make sure your pressure cooker recipes ALWAYS have enough liquid in them. Water, stock, broth, sauce, all work just fine as liquid. Liquid (we aim for 1-2 cups) is essential for building pressure in the cooker.

5. Parts of the Instant Pot are dishwasher safe (for example the cooking insert), but NEVER EVER EVER place the main cooking unit in a dishwasher.  Spot clean that piece.

6. Keep a dish towel handy for quick releases. When you quick release a recipe that contains a lot of liquid, it will spatter all over the place.  Throw a dish towel over the vent to catch some of the spatter.

7. Don’t forget about the other functions on your IP!  The egg function, for example, cooks the most PERFECT hard boiled eggs we have ever made!

8. You can add additional cook time to your recipes, even when using a pre-programmed cook mode.  Knowing what exact time to use depending on what you are cooking can take some time and practice.  For example, if I am using a particularly large cut of meat in our Instant Pot Pot Roast, I will bump the cook time up to 40-45 minutes from the standard 30 minutes. Knowing what adjustments to make will come easier the more you use your IP.  When in doubt, Google for a recipe to try to get a ballpark cook time.

9. Keep chicken/beef/vegetable stock or broth on hand for quick and easy liquid options (that will also add some flavor)! I always keep a container or two of stock in the pantry. These stocks (broth works great too) are easy options for liquid that will add a little more flavor than water. For example, when cooking a pork tenderloin in the Instant Pot, I will always add 1-2 cups of vegetable stock to the pot.

10. The Instant Pot will automatically switch to a “keep warm” mode after it cooks. This means you don’t have to hover over your IP and release the pressure as soon as it has finished cooking. When your IP finishes cooking, it flips to warming mode and starts the slow release of pressure. On busy school nights, I will typically put dinner in the IP before running the kids to their sport du jour. I can rest easy knowing that our dinner will be cooked and hot when we walk back in the door, whenever that may be.

Accessories You Can Buy for an Instant Pot

In addition to the accessories that come with your IP, there are some pretty cool gadgets you can purchase separately.

Check out 10 Nifty Gadgets to Take Your Instant Pot Game to the Next Level.

10 Nifty Gadgets to Take Your Instant Pot Game to the Next Level

Recipes to Try with Your Instant Pot

Our list of Instant Pot recipes continues to grow!

best instant pot recipes mama cheaps

I think that the best advice I can give you for using your new Instant Pot is to USE it. Don’t let the box intimidate you and don’t put off using it. Open it up, find a recipe to try and give it a go. We use our IP 2-4 nights every single week and I can’t emphasize enough how much we love it! Make sure you share this Instant Pot for Beginners post with friends who have just bought or received an IP!

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Tips for Using Your New Instant Pot

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5 thoughts on “Instant Pot for Beginners: Tips for Using Your New Instant Pot”

    • Sorry about that – I wrote this post on Christmas, planning to come back to it and add more tips when I had the time. Never expected the post to get so much traffic so quickly!! I just added a whole bunch of tips under the unboxing video. Hope they help! :)


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