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14 Instant Pot Tips For Beginners

Using an Instant Pot for the first time can be overwhelming, but these tips, hacks, and recipes will help.

If you recently added an Instant Pot, aka the Swiss Army Knife of cooking appliances, to your kitchen, congrats! You have a lot of really great food in your immediate future, food that requires not a lot of effort!

Seriously though, Instant Pots get a lot of hype, and it all seems to be very legit. It's an all-in-one pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté pot, steamer, warming pot, and yogurt maker, that makes meal prep and cooking so much easier. It has thousands of fans who swear by it and all of the food it makes, so get ready to have your world rocked by this hulking piece of metal and plastic.

Here’s everything you need to know about getting started with yours:

1. Cook hard-boiled eggs in your Instant Pot as part of your water test.

Before you cook anything in an Instant Pot, you have to do a water test, aka boil water to make sure it works properly. The good news is that you can pop some eggs in that water, and when the test is done, you'll have some fresh HBEs, the first food you've made with your new gadget.

2. A fun hidden feature is that the lid can rest on the pot's handles when you remove it.

If you're worried about putting the hot lid on your counter or it dripping everywhere, worry no more!

3. You'll need to have at least one cup of liquid in it for almost all pressure-cooking recipes.

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As the Instant Pot user manual says, pressure cooking requires steam. No liquid? No steam. If your recipe calls for broth or stock instead of water, feel free to use that instead.

4. But you can also cook "pot in pot," which means you can make fun recipes that don't need liquid.

Hi, you can make cheesecake in an Instant Pot. Cheesecake!!! Pot in pot just means that you're putting another bowl and/or rack inside the Instant Pot above the water at the bottom. Whatever you put in the bowl will be cooked by the steam generated underneath it, so you can make all kinds of custards, cakes, and proteins right inside that gizmo.

5. And if you want to do that, consider getting some Instant Pot-friendly accessories, like a steamer basket or a springform pan.

A springform pan is all the better for making cheesecake with, my dear.

Get this set from Amazon for $25.99.

6. Although you can also use any heat-safe kitchen accessory you already own instead.

Lgoyen / Amazon User /

Just make sure it fits inside the pot (obviously), and that it's pressure cooker-compatible.

7. If you need to do a quick release, wedge a wooden spoon under the handle and valve.

Facebook: InstantPotCommunity

There are two different kinds of releases, natural and quick. The quick one lets the steam out of the Instant Pot, well, quickly, but putting your hand on or near the valve can get a little scary. The spoon handle will slowly and safely release the valve so you can keep cooking without getting burned.

8. Clean the sealing ring often, and buy extra ones in case they get too smelly.

The sealing ring always has to be used to make sure the Instant Pot is locked tight while it's in use, but it can absorb the flavors of whatever you're cooking pretty easily. While you can wash it warm, soapy water, rinse with clear water, and wipe dry with a soft cloth, many users recommend buying at least one extra, just in case. Having two means you can use one for savory food and one for sweet. How easy is that!

Get it from Amazon for $7.95.

9. You can sauté in it!!!

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One of the best things about the Instant Pot is how many kitchen items and gadgets it combines into one, which means you have a lot fewer things to clean once you're done cooking. If you need to sauté anything for a recipe, just do it right there in the pot with some cooking oil, and save yourself a pan to clean later. If you're worried about the inner part moving around too much as you sauté, you can use some binder clips to hold it steady, like this.

10. Oh, and if you're cooking any frozen foods, you don't have to thaw them.

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Imagine how much time and stress you'll save by not having to worry about taking stuff out of the freezer long before you want to cook it.

11. You can make stocks in it, including bone broth.

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Instant Pot users loooove using their devices to make all kinds of soup stocks, but think of how edgy and hip you'll feel when you can say, "Oh, bone broth? I made that in my six-in-one pressure cooker."

12. And popcorn! You can make delicious popcorn in there, too.


Use the sauté function and cover the pot with the glass lid you'd use for slow cooking.

13. Or you can quit picking up rotisserie chickens at the grocery store and make a near-identical dupe for them in your Instant Pot.

This "faux-tisserie chicken" takes less than 40 minutes to prep and cook, and is every bit as flavorful and juicy as the ones you love from the market.

14. And for when you're sick of cooking food in your food-making device, remember that you can also use it to make wine.

Yes, you'll have to store it in a cool, dry, and dark place for eight days after the Instant Pot part is done, but still! Imagine how fun it'll be to drink wine you made in your magic cooking machine!

Don't have an Instant Pot, but really want one now? Get it from Amazon for $67.99+.