If you haven't gotten into the Instant Pot craze, yes you're a little late to the table, but not too late. There are plenty of great sites with tips and tricks to use this tricky cooker -- this is not your mom's Crockpot -- this is a kitchen gadget that is a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer and so much more. If only it would go to the grocery store too.
Our best advice to anyone who's new to the Instant Pot world: Follow recipe directions to the "T." Don't deviate or improvise, especially when it comes to adding liquids to the pressure cooking settings. Trust us. We've had our share of burnt chicken, beef and veggies.
The next section explains what the Instant Pot is, followed by three pieces of advice for using your pressure cooker.
What is the Instant Pot?
The creators of the Instant Pot set out with a goal in mind: "To find solutions that would enable busy families and professionals to prepare quality food in less time, promoting better eating and reducing the consumption of fast food."
The Instant Pot was introduced in 2010 and quickly became a fan favorite.
With the ability to be a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, cake maker, egg cooker, saute, steamer, warmer and sterilizer, the Instant Pot can take care of pretty much whatever it is that needs to be done.
There are several versions of the Instant Pot to choose from. (PssT! Read all the way to the end and I'll show you more options.)
The link above is the Ultra 6 Qt 10-in-1 multi-use programmable version. It has a central dial with a simple turn and press that provides added precision in program selection and adjustment. This model has some new features that include altitude adjustment, cooking indicator, and a steam release reset button. It can replace up to 10 common kitchen appliances and comes with third-generation technology and an embedded microprocessor that monitors pressure and temperature, keeps time, and adjusts heating intensity and duration.
If you have one of these amazing cookers, you know how simple it is to use. However, there are some neat tricks that you might not know about. Let's talk about them.
Buy extra Instant Pot sealing rings
This was a great piece of advice someone gave us when we first started using Instant Pots -- order multiple sealing rings that you use for specific purposes. For example, you might want to order one for seafood, one for beef, one for veggies, and one for sweets. You'll find them in different colors (see link to Amazon below), so you can assign colors to food types: black to beef, blue to seafood, green to chicken, for example.
Pressure cooker speeds up cooking time
Instant Pot is already a super fast way to prepare your meals. It's designed to cook food up to 70 percent faster than normal. That's fantastic!
But here's a little trick that can speed up the cooking process. While you are prepping your food, turn on the Instant Pot saute function.
Doing this will preheat the cooker and save you valuable time during the cooking process. Let it heat up while you're slicing and dicing everything that you're about to cook.
Here's how the saute function works:
- Press the "Saute" function key.
- Select a temperature with the "Adjust" key for "Normal," "More" or "Less."
- When Instant Pot reaches the given working temp, it displays "Hot" and it's ready to use.
- One full "Saute" session normally runs for 30 minutes, but you can cancel it at any time by pressing the "Cancel/Keep Warm" key and continue with a pressure cooking function.
Cook from frozen in your Instant Pot (be careful)
Remember at the start of this article when we said to be careful not to deviate from recipes? This is especially true when you go from a frozen state straight to your pressure cooker. Scroll below and join one of the Facebook groups devoted to Instant Pot cooking.
With Instant Pot you can cook food and meals from frozen in a jiffy. No longer do you have to scramble to find a healthy home-cooked meal when you forgot to thaw out that chicken.
Now, you can simply put the frozen food directly into the Instant Pot and voila, you'll have a fully cooked meal in no time. For example, a whole chicken only takes about 35 minutes to cook from frozen in the Instant Pot.
There are plenty of reasons to fall in love with Instant Pot. Give it a whirl and see for yourself. By the way, here are those links we promised with more models to choose from:
BONUS: Join an Instant Pot Facebook group to become a master
If you're a beginner or even someone who has used Instant Pot for years, there are plenty of resources to help you become a master. Here are a few Facebook groups that you could join to learn how to become an Instant Pot wizard.
Instant Pot Beginner Recipes and Tips: This is a great start if you are looking to get into cooking with the Instant Pot. This group focuses on beginner tips and recipes. It has over 41,000 members and usually produces 239 new posts per day.
Instant Pot Vegan Recipes: This huge group is perfect for you or that vegan friend that you might struggle to find the proper meals for. The group has over 91,000 members and posts daily.
Instant Pot Vietnamese Recipes: If you are looking for some more exotic recipes, this group is for you. With a staggering 91,000+ members and daily posts, you will be making delicious Bò Kho in no time.
Instant Pot Indian Food: This Indian-themed group is surprisingly massive. It has over 138,000 members. Learn how to make some delicious spicy curry here.
Dump and Push Start: This is a group dedicated to quick and convenient recipes that can be thrown together in minutes. Just your style. Here, members share their favorite simple and quick Instant Pot recipes. This group also boasts more than 90,000 members.
If you do decide to join any of these groups, you might "unfollowing" the group from your News Feed. They post often and might completely take over your timeline. To unfollow a group, click on the three dots on the top right corner of a post and click "unfollow." You can still visit the group anytime and read, but it will stop the group from bombarding your News Feed.