The Instant Pot has quickly become a go-to appliance for home cooks everywhere, and for good reason. It makes cooking faster, more convenient, and more delicious.
This multi-functional electric pressure cooker combines the benefits of a rice cooker, slow cooker, and steamer into one convenient appliance. With the press of a button, you can cook anything from rice to stews to beans to desserts in a fraction of the time it would take using traditional methods.
Using an Instant Pot may seem intimidating initially, but with some practice, you’ll be whipping up quick and tasty meals in no time.
So, do you want to get the most out of your Instant Pot and make your recipes a delicious success every time? Read on below for some tips!
1. Adjust Cooking Times
The Instant Pot is convenient because it requires less cooking time than traditional methods. However, when trying out new recipes, it’s important to remember that cooking times can vary.
Factors such as the quantity of food and the amount of liquid can affect how long it takes to come to pressure and complete the cooking. For example, dense frozen meat may require extra time to defrost and become tender. Or, a dish with a lot of vegetables may need a few additional minutes to cook through.
The ingredients you use can also affect the cooking time. For example, if you’re making a recipe with mushrooms, such as this instant pot risotto mushroom, you’ll notice that using fresh mushrooms will require slightly less cooking time because fresh mushrooms release moisture. This emphasizes the importance of paying attention to the specific ingredients you use, as it can affect the outcome of your dish.
As you gain experience using your Instant Pot, you’ll get a better feel for adjusting the cook times as needed. If your food seems undercooked, note how long it took and add 2-3 minutes next time. You can also focus on visual cues and tweak the cooking time accordingly. Adapting recipes based on your observations will help you ensure your dishes are perfectly cooked every time.
2. Get to Know Your Model
The Instant Pot comes in different models, each with its own features and functions. The control panels can also be different. Some models have more specialized functions or newer technology.
When you first get your Instant Pot, read the instruction manual carefully. This will help you understand what your model can do.
Once you read the instructions, you can experiment with the different settings. Try the pressure cooking function by making a stew or chili. Test the rice program and see how it cooks white and brown rice. Run the steamer mode and cook some vegetables or fish. The more you use the different programs, the more familiar and comfortable you will become with your Instant Pot.
Don’t be afraid to try new things and learn about your Instant Pot. The more you use it, the better you will become at using it.
3. Use the Sauté Function
Many Instant Pot recipes require sautéing aromatics like onions, garlic, ginger, and spices at the beginning. Traditionally, you would need to use a separate skillet on the stove to sauté these ingredients before adding them to a slow cooker or pressure cooker. However, one of the great benefits of the Instant Pot is that it has a built-in sauté function.
The sauté setting allows you to sauté ingredients right inside the Instant Pot inner pot before pressure cooking. Press the “Sauté” button and let the pot heat up for a few minutes until the display reads “Hot.” Then add a tablespoon of oil or butter and proceed with sautéing your aromatics until they become tender and fragrant.
Sautéing the vegetables, herbs, and spices before pressure cooking builds more flavor. You can also brown meats before adding the other ingredients. The sauté function helps create depth of flavor and develops the taste in a way that simply pressure cooking alone cannot. It’s a handy feature that replaces the need for extra pots and pans!
4. Use Natural Pressure Release
The Instant Pot has two ways to release pressure after cooking: quick release and natural release.
Quick release means manually turning the valve to release the steam quickly. Natural release means letting the pressure come down on its own.
Natural release is recommended for certain dishes, such as large meat cuts, stews, chili, beans, and any dish that benefits from continued cooking as the pressure comes down.
Quick release can cause these foods to overcook, dry out, or break apart. Delicate foods are best depressurized slowly over 10-20 minutes.
Always check your recipe to see if it calls for a natural or quick release. Choosing the right method will ensure that your food is cooked perfectly with the best texture.
5. Layer Ingredients Properly
The order in which you layer ingredients into the Instant Pot is important for even cooking. As a general rule, liquids should be added first to create steam and evenly distribute flavor.
Next, add aromatic ingredients like onions, garlic, ginger, and dried spices to release their flavors as they cook. Sturdy vegetables like potatoes, carrots, or celery go in next.
Meats and grains like rice or pasta can be added after the vegetables. Finally, ingredients like seafood, dairy products, or leafy greens should go on top to prevent overcooking.
Layering ingredients from dense to delicate allows everything to cook through evenly. The liquids steam the vegetables and meats while the rising steam gently heats the top layer. Following this order will prevent burning, undercooking, or a mushy texture.
Mastering these Instant Pot tips and tricks will ensure your recipes turn out perfectly cooked and full of flavor every time. With a little practice, you’ll gain confidence using this versatile multi-cooker. Follow recipe guidelines, adjust cook times as needed, use the right accessories, and keep the sealing ring clean. Soon, you’ll be whipping up incredible Instant Pot meals regularly!