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Instant Pot pressure cooking is a quick and easy way of preparing meals. Mastering it can be a little tricky, though. So, I’m sharing my top 10 tips and hacks to using the Instant Pot. If you read my first Instant Pot cooking post on How to Use the Instant Pot, you already have the basics down. After learning these easy tips and hacks, you’ll be an Instant Pot pro!
Table of contents
Instant Pot Tips and Hacks
To be a pro, you need to keep your Instant Pot in top shape.
These tips are designed to keep your Instant Pot or pressure cooker performing and looking new.
How to Keep your Pot Looking New and Smelling Fresh
Use Barkeeper’s Friend, or a similar non-scratching cleaner to keep your stainless steel pot shiny. It only takes a minute or so to clean.
Cleaning your pot regularly will prevent the buildup of mineral and water deposits. I believe this helps prevent burning and getting the “burn notice” on your pot.
- Sprinkle 1-2 Tbsp. of Barkeepers Friend on the bottom of the pot.
- Dampen a sponge, and run it over the whole inside of the pot and on the bottom.
- Rinse well and dry with a soft cotton or microfiber cloth.
If your pressure cooker pot develops unwanted odors, do steam cleaning on it:
- Pour 2 cups of hot water into the pot and add 1 Tbsp of lemon zest.
- Use the steam function for 2 minutes.
- Regularly clean your silicone sealing ring in the dishwasher or by soaking it in 1 cup of vinegar with lemon zest.
Periodically clean the anti-block shield from the underside of your pressure cooker pot. This perforated silicone shield can get dirty over time.
- Remove the shield (in this article) and hand wash it and dry it with a soft cloth.
- Be sure to replace the the shield before using the lid again.
Instant Pot Accessories
Have at least one extra silicone sealing ring. Over time, your ring will absorb cooking odors.
To cook both savory and sweet foods in your pot, you should have a different colored ring for the type of dish.
Alternatively, having an extra ring on hand, in case one becomes damaged, means you’re always ready to cook.
The tempered-glass lid accessory allows you to use your Instant Pot (or pressure cooker, if it has this option) as a slow cooker. Its clear viewing is ideal for sautéing and keeping foods warm.
Most pressure cookers come with a trivet or steam rack. Use this trivet to keep foods above the liquid, such as when steaming or cooking roasts or meats, and soft- or hard-boiled eggs.
Although my pressure came with a metal trivet, I prefer using this silicone sling. In fact, this silicone trivet is better than the metal one that came with my Instant Pot. Not only is it ideal for keeping roasts, hard-boiled eggs, and other foods above the liquid. But, since it has a handle, it is much easier to remove from the pressure cooker.
Instant Pot Pressure Cooking Hacks
These hacks make using the Instant Pot or pressure cooker easier and provide incredible results from what you make in it.
Use the sauté function for a few minutes and preheat fluids before pressure cooking.
- This shortens the overall cooking time by allowing the machine to warm up initially, so it comes to pressure faster.
- A good practice is to turn on the sauté mode while you’re chopping up vegetables or gathering ingredients.
- Another tip is to heat more than 2 cups of fluid (such as water or broth/stock) in the microwave before adding them to the Instant Pot. This will shorten the overall cooking time.
Use the sauté feature/mode to brown meats before pressure cooking.
- Not only will it create a tasty fond of browned bits and caramelized flavors, but it gives a nice color to meats.
- The only time I don’t brown meat in the Instant Pot is when it’s frozen, or when it will be shredded later.
Take advantage of one-pot cooking by cooking pasta in your pressure cooker. It’s a real time saver!
- When cooking pressure cooking pasta, use half of the time listed in the instructions for al dente.
Quick release or natural release?
Whether you use a quick release or natural release can be the difference between tender and juicy or dry and chewy chicken breasts.
The quick release function is great when steaming foods like corn on the cob and asparagus, or pressure cooking eggs and pasta. It presents overcooking. You can learn how about it in this Instant Pot article.
Often, a short, timed natural release (such as 5 minutes) precedes a quick release.
TFN Tip: Avoid performing a quick release right after pressure cooking soups and starchy foods to reduce the potential of splatter when opening the lid.
A natural release is ideal when cooking foods like poultry, beef, and pork. When cooking poultry, I use a 10-minute natural release.
The natural release allows the pressure within the pot to gently release and helps keep meats tender and juicy.
With these pro tips, you’ll master how to create perfectly cooked foods by knowing which pressure release to use.
When in doubt, refer to your owner’s manual or recipe.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Breaded meats. Even when placed on a rack, breaded meats or vegetables are not recommended due to the fact that the breading will get soggy as the pressure cooker cooks with steam.
Use at least a cup of fluid in 6 quart pressure cookers. Saute beef, pork, chicken, and turkey before pressure cooking. Preheat liquids like broth and water to bring your pot to pressure faster. Add 10 minutes to meal planning time when using pressure.
Never exceed the maximum fill line indicated inside your Instant Pot. This is a safety feature. Overfilling the pot will create more pressure than the pot and lid can safely handle. Be sure there’s enough liquid inside the instant pot when cooking recipes like rice and pasta. Check your pressure cooker’s recommendations for the minimum amount of fluid.
There are many different types of pressure cookers out there. If you are looking to purchase one, my recommendation is to go with the Instant Pot brand for a few reasons:
- There are a lot more accessories, such as tempered-glass lids, and availability of replacement parts for the Instant Pot.
- The Instant Pot uses a stainless steel inner pot which promotes better searing and browning.
- And, most recipes are based on the functions of the Instant Pot.
- The slight price difference might not be worth the easier learning curve that comes with the Instant Pot brand.
TFN Tip: go with the basic model of Instant Pot. The exception is if you’ll be using special features for making yogurt or proofing bread.
I’ve found that I primarily use the pressure and sauté modes on my Instant Pot. So, purchasing a 12-in-one pot might not be necessary.
Another tip is to check out a few Instant Pots in person before buying if you’ve never used one. I recommend going to a specialty kitchen store like Williams-Sonoma. Then, you can ask questions and see a demonstration of the appliance.
Now you’re ready to become an Instant Pot Pro with these tips and hacks.