10 Helpful Tips For New Instant Pot Users

10 Helpful Tips For New Instant Pot Users to learn how to use their Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker. Including safety tips, releasing pressure, liquid usage, recipe adaptations.

Did you just purchase your very first Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker? Congrats & welcome to the Instant Pot Tribe!!! 😀

Instant Pot DUO 60 is on sale on Amazon. Also check out Our Handpicked Best Instant Pot Accessories

We are very excited for you & for all the delicious food you’re going to make! You’re gonna love it 😀

But wait,

After taking the Instant Pot out of the box, you might be a little intimidated and overwhelmed…

How do I use it? Which button to press?

What can I cook with it?

Quick release & Natural release – what are they?

I’m scared to use it, what cautions should I take? 

We hear you! 🙂

Here are 10 Helpful Tips to Get You Started.

*You can click on a link below to jump to a specific tip.

1. Use the Manual Button
2. Quick Release (QR) vs. Natural Release (NR)

3.1 Aim for One Cup of Liquid
3.2 Thick Liquid Generates Less Steam
4. How to Brown Meat & Deglaze
5. Never Force Open the Instant Pot
6. Safest Way to Open the Lid
7. How to Double the Recipes
8. Pot-in-Pot (PIP): What & How?
9. Adjust the Cooking Time At High Altitude
10. Always Check the Sealing Ring
Bonus: Must-Have Instant Pot Accessories
Bonus: Easy Recipes to Get You Started

Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions.

1. Use the Manual Button

Instant Pot Water Test Manual Button

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If you can use only 1 button on the Instant Pot, it’ll be the Manual Button.

Most of the recipes online are developed using the Manual Button, because it gives us control to cook precisely and accurately.

If a recipe states “Cook at High Pressure for 10 minutes”: press the Manual button and change the cooking time to 10 minutes by pressing “-” button or “+” button.

*Note: The new Instant Pot DUO Plus 9-in-1 Model has renamed the “Manual” Button to “Pressure Cook” Button.

Read more: Which Instant Pot Buttons to Use?


2. Quick Release (QR) vs. Natural Release (NR)

2 most common ways to release pressure in Instant Pot: Quick Release & Natural Release.

a) Quick Release: quickly releases the inner pressure. Great for quickly stopping the cooking process to prevent overcooking the food. Ideal for quick-cooking vegetables & delicate seafood.

b) Natural Release: allows the pressure to be released gradually. Great for foamy food, food with large liquid volume or high starch content (e.g Soup, Porridge, Congee).

Watch the Demo Video on How to Release Pressure:

Read More: Natural Release vs. Quick Release


3.1. Aim for One Cup of Liquid

As a new user, it is best to aim for one cup of total liquid when pressure cooking meat. Too much liquid will dilute the flavor and add the “going up to pressure” time and pressure release time.

*Instant Pot recommends using at least 1 1/2 cup of liquid, but it is totally safe with 1 cup of liquid.

Please follow recipes for food such as beans or grains that absorb lots of water.

3.2. Thick Liquid Generates Less Steam

Thin the Liquid: If the pressure cooking liquid is too thick, Instant Pot may not be able to reach the desired pressure to start the pressure cooking cycle. Consider thinning out the liquid by adding chicken stock or water.

Add Thickeners After Pressure Cooking Cycle: Unless a trusted recipe indicates otherwise, always add thickeners such as flour, cornstarch, potato starch, arrowroot after the pressure cooking cycle.


4. How to Brown Meat & Deglaze

Pressure Cooker Pot Roast Recipe - Browning the chuck roast will greatly enhance the flavor of the end product.

Brown Meat: when possible, always brown meat using Saute Function (Press Saute Button) or Saute More Function (Press Saute Button and Adjust Button Once). Maillard reaction adds lots of flavor to the dish.

Deglaze: pour cold liquid into a hot pot, then scrub the brown bits off the bottom. These brown bits are very flavorful.


5. Never Force Open the Instant Pot

Pressure Cooker Release Method

Always make sure pressure has been fully released before attempting to open the Instant Pot.
Once all the pressure has released from the pot, the floating valve will drop.

Always turn venting knob to venting position to ensure all the pressure has been released.


6. Safest Way to Open the Lid

The safest way to open the lid is to slowly tilt it away from you. The lid acts as a guide to direct the steam away from you. Accidents do happen in kitchen. In extremely rare situation (user error), the lid also acts as a shield to protect you.Instant Pot Lid


7. How to Double the Recipes

For most dishes, you do not need to increase the cooking time when doubling a recipe.

Please keep this Important Safeguard in mind when doubling a recipe:

Do Not Overfill – Overfilling may clog the Pressure Release Valve and develop excess pressure.

  • All Pressure Cooking Programs: Do not fill the unit over 2/3 full.
  • For Food that Expands During Cooking (i.e. grains, beans, and dried vegetables): Do not fill the unit over 1/2 full.

From page 3 of the Instant Pot DUO60 manual.


8. Pot-in-Pot (PIP): What & How?

Pot-in-Pot = 2 in 1 (2 dishes in 1 pot)

The Pot-in-Pot method allows you to cook 2 or more dishes separately in Instant Pot at the same time.

Example: You can cook chicken thighs at the bottom of the pot, and a bowl of rice on top with a steamer rack lifting it up (separating it from the chicken).

This takes One Pot Meal to a whole new level 🙂

See Pot-in-Pot in Action with This Recipe Video:

Full Recipe: Pressure Cooker Teriyaki Chicken and Rice


9. Adjust the Cooking Time At High Altitude

Our pressure cooker recipes are developed and tested at close to sea level.

So, if you live in a high altitude city (over 3000 ft above sea level), remember to adjust your cooking times according to this Pressure Cooker High Altitude Cooking Time Adjustment Chart:

Pressure Cooker Altitude Cooking Time Adjustments

Read More: High Altitude Cooking Time Adjustments


10. Always Check the Sealing Ring

Instant Pot Sealing RingThe silicone sealing ring deforms over time. Develop the habit to check every time if the sealing ring is properly seated before pressure cooking.

Instant Pot recommends replacing the Silicone Sealing Ring every 18 – 24 months or when you notice deformations.

Read More: Instant Pot Safety Tips


BONUS: Must-Have Instant Pot Accessories

Here are 3 “Must-Have” Instant Pot Accessories We Use Daily:

1. Extra Silicone Sealing Rings

2. Steamer Racks

3. Containers – any oven-safe containers will be safe to use in the Instant Pot (i.e. Stainless Steel, Silicone, Corelle bowls)

Want More? Check out the most raved accessories among other Instant Pot users: Instant Pot Accessories


BONUS: Easy Recipes to Get You Started

There are more things you can make with your new kitchen toy – Instant Pot – than you’ve imagined!

Here are some popular easy starter recipes among Instant Pot users:

Want More? We handpicked 33+ Easy Recipes for you: Easy Instant Pot Recipes

33+ Easy Recipes for New Instant Pot Users

Still Have Questions? Check out our Instant Pot FAQ or give us a shout in the comments below 🙂

Have fun cooking with your Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker!

10 Helpful Tips For New Instant Pot Users to learn how to use their Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker. Including safety tips, releasing pressure, liquid usage, recipe adaptations.

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Ginny
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Ginny

Do you have a rule of thumb for increasing/reducing time or temperature for an 8 qt. pressure cooker. I have a large family and I have doubled some recipes. I would like to continue doubling recipes and add more ingredients. Thank you for your help. You have a great webpage. I enjoy your recipes!

Nikki Boswell
User
Nikki Boswell

The last time I tried to double a chicken recipe it didn’t cook it all the way through. I wanted to try it again, but with education this time, and came across your site. Since I’m not necessarily needing to add cook time… why didn’t my chicken cook all the way through with my usual recipe? I usually use three chicken breasts, and that time I used 6. The top of the bottom layer and the bottom of the top layer were not cooked yet. Do they need to be separated somehow? Cut into smaller pieces? Thanks!

Nikki Boswell
User
Nikki Boswell

The recipe I was using stated 3 chicken breasts for 15 minutes on poultry, 5 min natural release. When I used 6, the parts of the chicken that were touching other chicken didn’t cook through. I needed to double the recipe again this past weekend and tried cutting the chicken breasts in half and arranging them in the instant pot without layers (more like petals on a flower?). I used 10 minutes natural release instead. This may have over done it actually, but the chicken was certainly cooked. Any better ideas for next time? Thanks!

Milly
User
Milly

I purchased the instant pot just the other day and upto today have not used it , please help

Marie
User
Marie

Two question please. I’d first like to say how very helpful you both are, I’m new to this way of cooking. What’s the difference between the meat button and the stew button which are on my machine, its Pressure king pro. Also should any steam be com on the pressure release valve at any time. Many thanks.

Lynne Walters
User
Lynne Walters

Good morning I am a new user but firstly I purchased a Breville Fast Slow cooker – this is the same thing as your Instant Pot isn’t it?

Judith
User
Judith

I purchased a pressure hot pot from Home Depot. I am not seeing a “Manual” button. Am I missing something. Should I return it? I am a beginner at pressure cooking.

Sherri
User
Sherri

Once sauté the meat and remove from the pan…to deglaze would mean to clean the pan before putting the meat back in to pressure cook correct? Or does it mean to just add water and mix with juices and add meat and cook? Thank you so much for your help.

Raymond Williams
User
Raymond Williams

Hi Amy (my Mum’s name – she’s now 99years old) and Jacky,
I’ve just joined after purchasing a Tefal Cook4Me yesterday at the recommendation of my sister.
I would love to hear your opinion of this unit if you have any experiences.
I have printed your pork roast recipe and am about to try it in the Tefal.
Feeling quite excited. By the way I am a 71 year old male.

Barbara
User
Barbara

I would like to purchase a cookbook for the electric pressure cooker. How do I do that?
.

Tan Kiat Beng
User
Tan Kiat Beng

Thanks for your prompt response. Appreciate that very much. I was about to use the rice measuring cup that co.es with the pressure cooker.

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