16 Practical Tips To Get You Loving Your Instant Pot

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 Are you a new owner of an Instant Pot? Are you looking at the unopened box and freaking out just a little?

Then this one’s for you!

16 Practical Tips To Get You Loving Your Instant Pot

Practical Tips to Loving Your Instant | Beginners Guide to Instant Pot | Maple and Marigold
I bought my Instant Pot last year during the Black Friday sales and I didn’t open the box till well into the new year. That’s how much of a chicken I was. It took me months to open the box and then another week to plug it in. And all this after I really, really wanted an Instant Pot. I still couldn’t dive in.
Before we go any further read this (my first in the series on the Instant Pot)- 14 reasons why you need an Instant Pot….and three reasons you don’t.
I have an Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1
Now to get you comfortable using this piece of technology that you never knew you needed; start with Step 1.

Tips and Tricks to using the Instant Pot

1. Read the manual.

Yup! Gotta do that. Just get it over with you don’t need to memorize it but reading it will help. You should find these parts along with your Instant Pot so check them off your list: base unit, lid, inner pot (stainless steel), condensation collector, the power cord, a measuring cup, a steel trivet, plastic rice paddle and ladle.

2. Do the Water Test as prescribed in the manual.

Don’t use too much water – a couple of cups is enough otherwise it takes too long to build up pressure and you will find yourself hanging around the kitchen for what feels like a lifetime.

3. Take your new Instant Pot apart.

Clean, wash and dry the insert. Clean, wash and dry the lid. Wipe the outside of the base unit with a damp cloth. Re-assemble.

4. Make space for it.

The Instant Pot needs to be in your kitchen, ideally on your counter. Most models are tall and bulky and if you tidy it away you won’t use it as much. I leave mine on the counter mostly because I have very little cabinet space but I find it’s best left there.

5. Location, location, location

Once you have the storage part worked out, put to use. But where do you actually put it to *use*? I am lazy I place the Instant Pot exactly where I use it. But consider this before you pick a spot.

  • Place it away from the stovetop. The plastic in the construction and the lid will catch fire or melt. I have seen that happen so just listen to me, and find a spot away from the stove.
  • But not too far away because it needs to be close to the chimney.

Now for the Cooking

Practical Tips to Loving Your Instant | Beginners Guide to Instant Pot | Maple and Marigold

6. Start with more forgiving recipes.

Select dishes that involve less steps that need at least 1 cup of liquid. This will buy you time as you get familiar with the workings of the Instant Pot. And whatever you do – don’t cook pasta in the Instant Pot.

7. Accept that the cook time will be longer than you expect.

The actual cook time includes the time it takes for the Instant Pot to reach pressure. When a recipe states 8 mins, that’s the time it takes to cook at high pressure. The Instant Pot takes a while (depending on the quantity of food) to reach that pressure and then if it’s Natural Pressure Release then it’s another few minutes.

8. Start with the preset buttons.

Most models of Instant Pot come with pre-programmed buttons for rice, beans, meat etc. Start with those and make notes of your adjustments.

9. Check the seal on the vent.

It’s open when it’s pointed towards you and closed when it’s pointed away. Like human beings 🙂

Practical Tips to Loving Your Instant | Beginners Guide to Instant Pot | Maple and Marigold

10. Keep a cotton dishtowel handy.

It’s perfect to catch the steam when you want to do a QPR. What is QPR, you ask! One caveat before we go any further: the dishtowel isn’t there to prevent the steam from coming out rather to shield your arm.

11. QPR vs. NPR  

Quick Pressure Release means sliding the vent over to open when the timer has finished. This is done mostly with vegetables or grains or if you want to open the lid quickly. Be careful – pressure has built up inside so you need to protect yourself. Natural Pressure Release means you let the steam release on its own – it may take another few minutes; I highly recommend it for meats. Recipes with NPR are the ones that don’t need any babysitting.

12. Dairy curdles under high-pressure.

I have seen tons of Butter Chicken recipes where people suggest adding in the milk or cream along with the tomatoes and spices. Don’t do that. Your curry will curdle and lose the velvety texture. Even coconut milk separates if cooked for too long in the Instant Pot. Add in the end after opening the lid, one quick boil on saute et voila! Dinner is ready.

13. Start making notes…or bookmark recipes that have worked for you.

There are tons of Instant Pot recipes online, more being added every day. I am starting a series on them as we speak. Subscribe to my newsletter (the link is at the bottom of the post) if you would like to stay in touch or “Like” Maple and Marigold on Facebook. That’s another way for us to stay connected.

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Keep the Instant Pot clean

14. Wash the sealing ring every time you cook in the Instant Pot.
The ring and little knob behind the floating valve are made with food grade silicone which means they are susceptible to absorbing odours. Buy a second ring when you see it on sale so you can switch between sweet and savoury, spicy and mild dishes.
15. Don’t buy the bling (yes, there is bling!) or extra accessories till you are comfortable using the Instant Pot. I know those bear claw shredders look totally cool but restrain yourself. Get comfortable with your new Instant Pot. Use the utensils that came with it. Supplement with the ones you use in your non-stick pan – they work best and don’t scratch the stainless steel insert.
My last tip and this one doesn’t need a number. The handles on the side of the pot actually fit to help the lid stand up. See picture. You can thank me later!
Practical Tips to Loving Your Instant | Beginners Guide to the Instant Pot | Maple and Marigold
I hope these tips help you in getting comfortable with your new Instant Pot. Here are also some more resources to get you started.

For more recipes, check out these lovely blogs.

My Heart Beets

This Pilgrim Life

Best of Luck!

I promise you’ll enjoy this lovely new kitchen wonder if you take the time! I did.

Puneeta

xoxo

Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma<br/><small>Photo by Tanvi Madkaiker</small>
Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma
Photo by Tanvi Madkaiker

About Puneeta

Author, Educator, Speaker

Puneeta is a writer, food advocate and guide for those who seek earth-friendly, delicious solutions that work for real life.

5 Comments

  • Hi Puneeta! Thanks for this timely article, just what I needed… got my Instant Pot for Black Friday and have been looking at the unopened box with apprehension. Am from Toronto too. Comforting to know that you are from my neck of the woods 🙂

    Reply
    • So nice to meet a fellow Torontonian and a fellow “pothead.” Just dive in, Aparna!
      Don’t waste the time I did feeling intimidated. Step 1 – read manual, and then the water test and then clean to get the factory smell out. Best of luck! Love to hear more about your adventures you on my blog’s Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/mapleandmarigold.
      Best, Puneeta!

      Reply
    • Kaaaaren! Of course! I need to brush up my video skills and learn from the master 🙂 When’s good for you?

      Reply
  • Hello! I just want to give you a big thumbs up for the excellent info you’ve got right
    here on this post. I’ll be returning to your
    site for more soon.

    Reply

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