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!!! 😀

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.
Food Lovers in our 30s who worked directly with Instant Pot CEO, Manufacturers, and 35+ Restaurants. Culinary Families & Food Magazine Publishers.
  1. 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.

    1. Hi Marie,

      Hope you had a wonderful Christmas Holiday 🙂
      Thank you so much for your kind words & question!

      The difference is quite minimal between the two buttons so they are interchangeable.
      Steam will come out of the pressure release valve before the pressure cooker is sealed.
      Some steam will also be released from the pressure release valve if the pressure cooker has too much pressure inside.

      Please take care & have a wonderful weekend
      Jacky

  2. 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?

    1. Hi Lynne,

      thank you for your question 🙂

      The Instant Pot is a brand for electric pressure cooker. Breville Fast Slow Pro is an electric pressure cooker so they will work very similar.

      Please take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

  3. 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.

    1. Hi Judith,

      thank you for your question and congrats on your new purchase 🙂

      If it has a pressure cook button, you can use that as well. If not, the meat/stew button will work with our high pressure recipes.

      Please take care & have a wonderful weekend
      Jacky

  4. 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.

    1. Hi Sherri,

      thank you for your question 🙂

      It means to add liquid and scrub the brown bits off the bottom of the pan to mix them into the liquid.

      The brown bits are very flavorful and will add to the overall dish.

      Take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

  5. 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.

    1. Hi Raymond,

      thank you so much for your comment and congrats on your new Cook4Me 🙂

      We haven’t personally used the Cook4Me, but many of our readers have said great things about it.

      Take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

  6. 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.

  7. hi… i have been reading your recipes and tips using the pressure cooker. i find them very useful. i just bought an electric pressure cooker. it comes with a measuring cup. in your recipes, there is a mention of one cup of water, does it mean it refers to the measuring cup provided by the supplier or the standard metric/imperial cup ?

    1. Hi Tan Kiat Beng,

      Congrats on your new pressure cooker and thank you for your question 🙂

      We use standard metric cup in our recipes.

      The one that comes with the pressure cooker is a rice measuring cup.

      Take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

  8. I have seen several recipes for cooking frozen I have seen several recipes for cooking frozen chicken breasts my question is do I use the trivit or just place the chicken in the water thank you for your help

  9. Hi Amy+Jacky…. I have just joined your group. I have seen some great looking recipes. I have a question. I received a Pressure Pro Pressure Cooker for Christmas. It is a 6 qt. Can I use the same recipes as the Instant Pot??

  10. Hi! I have the instant pot mini, and I am wondering how to properly adjust recipes that are written for the larger pot. Seems I should be (approx) cutting recipes in half- so do I need to reduce cooking time as well?

    1. Hi Meg,

      thank you for your question 🙂

      Our recipes are developed in the 6 quarts and for most of them you will not need to divide the recipe in half (as long as the meat fits)

      For recipes with a lot of liquid such as chili, soups, pasta, congees, stocks…etc, you will want to cut them by half in the 3qt.

      The cooking time will stay the same!

      Take care & have a great week
      Jacky

  11. Do you know if the Instant pot Gem Multi cooker 8n1 is a pressure cooker as well? I got it as a present and was told it was a pressure cooker.

    Thanks,
    Jeremy

  12. I purchased an electric power pressure cooker XL. What is the difference in this and an instant pressure cooker? Can I use your recipes in my XL pressure cooker? Thank you and just subscribed to your website so looking forward to some recipes.

    1. Hi Diane,

      thank you for subscribing and your question 🙂

      The recipes will work in your Power Pressure cooker XL. Power Pressure Cooker XL cooks at a lower PSI than Instant Pot so for recipes longer than 30 minutes, you may have to increase the cooking time by 15%.

      Take care & have fun cooking!
      Jacky

  13. These tips are great! I just purchased an instant pot and have made boiled water and eggs so far :). Excited to try your recipes!

    1. Hi Yin,

      thank you so much for your kind words and congrats on your new Instant Pot.

      Let us know if you come across any questions!

      Take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

  14. I purchased a defy 600 pressure cooker.
    This does not have a sauté button?
    Does this mean I must use the pressure level button?
    This pot does not seem to brown properly before closing for cooking.
    Please help, I really want to succeed with my cooking.
    Is their a recipe book available to purchase,
    Many thanks , Eileen Graham

    1. Hi Eileen,

      thank you for your question 🙂

      You can use the meat/chicken button as a sauté button, but it will not work as well as a dedicated sauté button.
      Another option is to brown/sauté on the stovetop in a skillet before placing the ingredients into the pressure cooker to cook.

      I don’t think there is a recipe book availabe for defy 600, but I am pretty sure all the Instant Pot recipes on this site will work for defy 600.

      Take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

  15. Are there special tips to follow when reducing the size of a recipe? I am only cooking for two, and don’t want to get overwhelmed with leftovers!

    Thanks,
    Suzanne

    1. Hi Suzanne,

      Thank you for your question 🙂
      You can usually reduce the size of a recipe by taking 1/2 off the ingredients. Cooking time will stay the same.

      You would want to try to keep the total liquid to roughly 1 cup.

      Happy New Year & Have fun cooking!
      Jacky

  16. I had asked for a slow cooker for Christmas since I have several cookbooks I’ve been anxious to try. I’m very impressed with is cooker but don’t know if I can use it as I planned. Yes, I’m intimidated! Thanks.

    Luana L.

  17. Thank you for your follow up… I’m excited to hear about the top. I hope they are referring to the underside of the top and
    Not the top portion. The insta pot my husband and I were looking at in Walmart was definitely aluminum… the inside of the top (tricky to differentiate I know) We even went and found a magnet to test our findings and the magnet did not stick to the inside of the top, but it did the outside of the top. So I’m wondering if they have different quality instapots. I would be happy to contact them myself and dig a little deeper if you wanted to let me know who to contact. Thank you sincerely!! Sue

  18. Do you know if the top to the instant pot is aluminum or stainless steel? Important since the food will be exposed to the inside of the lid at high temperatures.
    Thanks! Sue

    1. Hi Sue,
      The official response we got from the Instant Pot Company is the top of the Instant Pot is made of Stainless Steel.
      Thank you and Merry Christmas! 🙂
      Amy

  19. Thanks for all the time you devote to this website.

    Q: One thing I don’t like is steam coming out so high when I quick release. What do you think about placing a light dish towel over? Steam is still coming up, but not with such a force.

    I had another electric pressure cooker before and that it what I was doing all those years. However, while thinking that handle was metal, foil peeled off eventually. Is there any danger with Instant Pot, that I could make some damage?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Jay,

      thank you for your kind words and question 🙂

      Many users have been using the towel method without any problems.

      However, a blogger has suggested not to place a light dish towel on top as the suction created during the quick release may suck in the dish towel and cause clogging.

      There is no known incident of that happening, but I would like you to be aware 🙂

      Have fun cooking!
      Jacky

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