If you are here because you just got an instant pot and you don’t know where to start, then you’re in the right place! This instant pot beginner’s guide will provide you with some very helpful resources that will make the learning process go smoothly for you.
The instant pot can be an intimidating appliance especially if you haven’t used a pressure cooker before or have heard horror stories about them from your grandmother and are afraid to use one. You may have no idea where to start or what to make. If you are feeling like that, this tutorial is for you.
What Can the Instant Pot Do?
The instant pot can cook a wide variety of different foods perfectly (ribs, cheesecakes, yogurt, whole chickens, soups, rice, beans, vegetables, frozen meats and so much more).
A common misconception is that the instant pot can cook faster than conventional cooking methods. Most of the time, this is not the case, but it can cook tough meats like pork shoulder and beans faster. The instant pot does take time to come to pressure before it actually starts cooking (sort of like pre-heating) and sometimes people don’t realize this. It typically takes 10-20 minutes to come to pressure so if you need dinner to be ready at a certain time, it’s important to factor that in.
What Are the Benefits of the Instant Pot?
The benefits of the instant pot are:
- Easy and delicious meals – just dump the ingredients in and walk away and come back to a delicious home-cooked dinner, which is very convenient for busy people who don’t have time to babysit a pot on the stove or stand in the kitchen for an hour making dinner!
- Minimal cleanup and prep time. Everything goes in one pot so less dirty dishes!
- Uses less energy than traditional appliances so you don’t heat up your kitchen (especially great in the summer months)
- Makes cooking healthy effortless. Steam vegetables and cook frozen chicken breasts in under 15 minutes!
Common Terms to Know:
NPR – Natural pressure release. It just means don’t press any buttons and wait for the pressure to slowly release on it’s own. Sometimes, recipes will want to let steam release naturally for a certain period of time and then finish releasing the remaining pressure by turning the valve to venting. You don’t need to turn off the keep warm function when you naturally release pressure. This method is most commonly used with meats and soups. Naturally releasing the pressure makes meats more tender.
QPR – Quick pressure release. It means turn the valve to venting immediately after it is done cooking when the instant pot beeps. This method is mostly used for vegetable dishes.
Burn – You get this notice if scorched food is getting stuck on the bottom. Some models of the IP are far more sensitive to this type of warning than others. For instance, I have an older 8 QT Lux and have never had the burn notice appear despite using it 2-3 times per week for years. So if you get this message, it doesn’t necessarily mean you did something wrong or the recipe is wrong. It often happens when cooking pasta, rice or a thick soup or sauce. What happens when this burn message appears? Your instant pot will turn off so you will have to release the pressure by turning the valve to venting and scrapping any bits of burnt food off the bottom of the pot. Then add more thin liquid like water or broth and stir.
You can find more terms at: https://instantpot.com/faq/instant-pot-glossary/
Instant Pot Beginner’s Guide Resources:
When you are just getting started with your instant pot and it feels overwhelming because there’s so much new stuff to learn especially if you’ve never used a pressure cooker before. I’ve found videos helped me the most when I was starting out so I’ve complied ones that are easy to follow and instructive.
- Initial Test Run from Instantpot.com <— watch this one first if you haven’t done the water test
- Getting Started with the Instant Pot: How to Videos from Instantpot.com
- These videos cover how to use each particular model.
- There are videos for how to use different functions like sauté and slow cooking, how to release steam, how to put the sealing ring on
- There are also troubleshooting videos like what to do when your pot is leaking steam.
- How to use the Instant Pot – Instant Pot 101 for Beginners from Naturally Brittany (via Youtube)
- How To Get Started With Your Instant Pot Duo or Ultra from Pressure Luck Cooking (via Youtube)
Instant Pot Beginner’s Guide Recipe Videos:
- Best Ever Instant Pot Roast from Pressure Luck Cooking (via Youtube)
- Top 6 Easiest Things to Cook in Your Instant Pot – Perfect for Beginners from Six Sisters’ Stuff
- Best Chicken & Dumplings from Pressure Luck Cooking (via Youtube)
- 4 Easy Instant Pot Dinners from Tasty (via Youtube)
- Instant Pot Guide: A Beginner’s Guide to Using Your Pressure Cooker from Kristine’s Kitchen
- She covers everything in this in-depth guide including parts, safety, how the instant pot works, getting started with the instant pot, and terminology
- Tips for Getting Started with an Electric Pressure Cooker from Pressure Cooking Today
- These tips explore how to choose a pressure release method and how to make your first meal. There also is a parts reference guide and some bonus easy recipes to try.
- Instant Pot Guide for Beginners from Crunchy Creamy Sweet
- She explains how the instant pot works, what 4 steps to follow each time and what to cook first
- How to Instant Pot: Mastering All the Functions of the One Pot That Will Change the Way You Cook by Daniel Shumski
- The Ultimate Instant Pot cookbook: Foolproof, Quick & Easy 800 Instant Pot Recipes for Beginners and Advanced Users by Simon Rush
- The Instant Pot Bible: More than 350 Recipes and Strategies: The Only Book You Need for Every Model of Instant Pot by Bruce Weinstein
- The Rootitoot Cookbook: A Grandma’s Recipes For Your Instant Pot by Ruth McCusker (This one is my personal favorite; I highly recommend it!)
Last but not least, I definitely recommend joining the instant pot group on Facebook. They are an active and supportive community that will help you with any questions or issues you may have. They also come up with a lot of ingenious instant pot hacks like using it to make popcorn or to melt chocolate for dipping candy. Click the button below to join the instant pot community:
- The cooker handles are also a lid holder.
- Always remember to put the inner pot inside the instant pot. I know it may seem obvious, but I’ve seen many instant pots destroyed because the owners forgot the inner pot wasn’t there.
- Make sure that the valve is set to sealing before you start pressure cooking.
- Don’t forget to add at least 1/2 cup of liquid (water, broth or other THIN liquid) to the pot. It can’t work without liquid.
- Never fill beyond the fill line in the inner pot.
- When cooking foods that expand like rice or beans, do not fill the appliance over 1/2 fill line
- Make sure the sealing ring is properly inserted or else it won’t come to pressure
- When you release pressure from the instant pot, please remember that the steam is VERY hot so don’t accidentally put your fingers over it.
Must Have Instant Pot Accessories
This cake pan is great for making instant pot cheesecakes, regular cakes, lasagna, meatloaf and much more!
The rings can absorb the smells of dishes you make in the instant pot over time, so it’s a good idea to have at least two (one for dessesrts and one for regular dishes). Some Instant Pot users have had their cheesecakes come out tasting like tacos!
This accessory is perfect for cooking vegetables in your instant pot. I use it to cook meat and steam mashed potatoes at the same time. It’s also great for making hard boiled eggs in bulk for egg salad sandwiches or potato salad!