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13 Instant Pot® Tips and Tricks

Ready to have these Instant Pot tips change your life? I know they have for me!

In case you haven’t yet, meet my trusty friend Instant Pot®.

Ready to get more acquainted?

Let’s go!

instant pot tips

Your Instant Pot® is completely programmable, so, like your slow cooker, you can ‘set it and forget it,’ but there are some key differences that are worthy to note. 

Pressure what?

I thought the only pressure was trying to figure out what we’re having for dinner in the first place!

At its core, the Instant Pot® is a pressure cooker. This means it can cook food much faster – and it can also replace several appliances you may already have in your pantry.

Rice cooker? Check.

Air fryer? Also check.

Steamer? Check that, too.

While the pressure-cooking feature can seem scary – I think everyone has seen the photo of the lid of the pressure cooker stuck in the ceiling by now – it really is very safe and super user-friendly. 

Here’s how you start. Close the lid and set your program. Make any adjustments for your recipe, checking with your Getting Started guide that comes with your pot. (Hint: your prep time is about to go wayyyyy down.)

When pressure starts to build up in the pot, thanks to the circulating steam, the lid locks in place for safety. Because of the heat and high pressure, your food is going to cook, well, instantly. When your timer goes off, you can use a fork to release the steam valve, so you don’t get burnt. Make sure you read which direction you need to turn it before trying to open! 

Here are my Top 12 Instant Pot® tips and tricks!

Love that liquid!!

I recommend using at least one cup of liquid when you’re pressure cooking. You can use different broths, marinades, even juice! The liquid is what creates steam, hence pressurizing the unit.

Try swapping out low-sodium chicken broth for water to make rice, or a mix of apple juice and vegetable stock for pork loin. Add in some sauteed onions and garlic and voila – deliciousness!

You don’t have to stick with just plain water. 

Think small – smaller pieces cook faster!

The steam needs to be able to penetrate the food you’re making in order to cook at a high speed, so the smaller you chop, slice, and dice – the faster it’s going to cook.

instant pot tips - use smaller pieces

Prep is your friend.

If you’re one of my regular readers, you already know what a fan I am of prepping ahead of time.

You can use your Instant Pot® to make large batches of the same foods, like boiled eggs for snacks, rice, chicken breasts, or sweet potato fries to speed up your food prep time.

Instant Pot® is your friend for prep!

Since you’re probably already used to doing weekly meal prep and throwing in the freezer, this might be your favorite part! You can cook from frozen in your Instant Pot®!

It only adds a few minutes to your cook time. My salsa chicken from the Spring Freezer Meal Guide? Yep! Throw the whole bag in there, with ½ cup of water or chicken broth. Cook on high pressure from frozen for 20 minutes or 10 minutes if it’s already thawed.

Want to know more about how to find more time for meal prep? Check out our full post here!

Use a Steaming insert for perfectly crisp veggies

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely HATE overcooked veggies! Limp, slimy – blech!

This time of year is perfect for fresh, crisp asparagus and other spring veggies. Using your steaming insert, you can place your veggies over your meat to steam.

I did pork loin on the bottom with asparagus on the steaming tray on top the other night. A squeeze of lemon across the asparagus – delicious!

Set the time and walk away!

Did you know your Instant Pot® also has a time-set function?

Here’s how it works. Fill the pot with your recipe, and set the pressure release valve to sealing. Double check your settings to make sure you’re correct. (The delayed cook or time set function works with everything except sauté). You can delay your cooking time for up to 24 hours.

After hitting program selection, hit “timer” to set the minutes and hours to be delayed.

Hint- this needs to be done within ten seconds of pressing your cook function. Use the “+” and “-“ key to get to the correct delayed time before cooking.

The timer will start ten seconds after your last key press, at which time the LED display begins to count down and the flashing green indicator on the timer key will change to solid green.

If you need to cancel, hit “keep warm” / “cancel” at any time to stop the timer. Use your head with this feature though, as you don’t want meat, fish, or other perishables to be at room temperature for too long.

Freezer-friendly functions!

One of the absolute greatest things about the Instant Pot is it’s ability to cook things from frozen, and FAST. No more getting takeout because you forgot to thaw out your chicken!

Interested in prepping some frozen meals for your Instant Pot? Check out my whole freezer meal prep for beginners post here!

Instant Pot Air Fryer 101

Instant pot does have a version that has a combined air frying function, and while I LOVE it I have to say it does not completely replace a traditional air fryer.

Less is more with your air fryer. It’s easier to make several small batches than one large batch. (Trust me, I tried to make a large batch of zucchini fries in one go. All bad.)

You can air fry wings, fresh or frozen fries, veggie fries, and even thin-sliced veggie chips! Make sure you have the correct temperature for the food you’re cooking, as well as the correct time.

You’ll be directed when to turn your food. Make sure you use mitts or other protection- it’s going to be HOT.

You can bake in it, too!

You can bake in your Instant Pot®, but I would suggest getting some of the other accessories to do so, like the cheesecake pan. The usual cooking time for cakes, pastries and buns is about half a minute, but thicker cakes take longer. Do note though that the consistency of things things can be a bit different from the Instant Pot!

If using multiple features, my rule of thumb is to do the hottest temperature first.

If you’re going to use multiple features, I usually go with the hottest temperature first. It’s easier for the Instant Pot® to cool down, rather than going up and down depending on what you’re cooking. It’s also going to increase your cooking time, and who has time for that!?

I hope you found these tips and tricks helpful! What else would you like to learn? Hit me up with your thoughts and questions in the comments section!