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Instant Pot for Beginners: 5 Tips for new Instant Pot users

Instant Pot First Impressions


To be completely honest, when the Instant Pot first came out, I was a big skeptic. Like really big. I didn’t see how it was much different than my Pampered Chef Rockcrok (can literally go anywhere in your kitchen!!) and I had definitely heard all the horror stories of pressure cookers and knowing myself, did not want to go there!

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Instant Pot Tips

Like most trends, I’m a bit behind the times (it took me years to jump on the ankle boot trend, what was I thinking??) Right before Christmas I went to a ladies dinner party and someone there brought theirs. I was asking tons of questions and she swore up and down how much she loved it, as well as several other ladies. Okay, maybe I need to THINK about it! So I looked into it. I looked up a bunch of recipes and tips and tricks all over Pinterest and what I found is that the Instant Pot was a big part of helping busy families get dinner on the table. Hello!!! That’s exactly why I wanted to start this blog in the first place! So duh, no-brainer, I now NEED one! I had looked at the deals on Black Friday but the only one on special was the 6 qt. We are a family of 5 and often have friends and family over, the 6 qt was not going to be big enough. 

What I did not know was that my momma was already on top of it and got me the 8 qt. and got herself the 6 qt. Yay Momma!! Needless to say, on Christmas Day I was super excited and was trying to figure out what part of Christmas dinner we could cook in it! Mashed potatoes! 

So things I’ve learned about the Instant Pot!


1. READ ALL DIRECTIONS FIRST!!! I do not want to hear stories from my readers that you’ve injured yourself. There are a ton of safety features built into the IP but you still need to use some common sense and know how to use this power tool of the kitchen. Would you use a table saw without taking safety into consideration? I certainly hope not! 

2. It’s not exactly instant. It takes time to build up the pressure in the pot to pressure cook your food. Depending on how much is in your pot, it could take anywhere from 10-40 min to build pressure. For me it hasn’t taken more than 15/20 minutes. Then the cook time starts. You can also cut some of that time down by using the saute setting before you pressure cook (see tip 4) We made about 3 lbs of potatoes with a good bit of water so it took some time to build up, but let me tell you, the flavor and texture could not be beat once they were done! 
Instant Pot Tips

Most recipes will not take that long. The pasta I made built pressure and cooked faster than it would take to boil the water on my stove. My chili recipe that I usually cook all day builds so much flavor in 25 min. I’ve made it twice in the last two weeks! 

3. Releasing pressure also takes time. So you can do a natural release and just leave it while it’s cooking or you can use the vent valve to release the pressure. Depending on your recipe, there are benefits to both. If you are cooking some type of meat, you will want it to release naturally for AT LEAST 10 minutes so your meat does not seize up and become tough (the exact opposite of what you are going for!) Other recipes (pasta, boiled eggs, rice…) you don’t want to let it sit for that long because it will keep cooking. So you vent it and let the pressure release quickly. This is where you want to be careful, that’s hot steam coming out!!! I usually use a dish towel to open the vent and I make sure it’s not sitting under my cabinets before I start it. 

4. Brown food makes flavor. It's part of the maillard reaction and it's one of my FAVORITE things about the Instant Pot is that it’s an all in one! I can brown my food and pressure or slow cook it without having to change pans. Yay for less dishes!! I have not gotten into all the features of my IP yet. Mine says it can make yogurt, and pasteurize milk. It has lots of already programmed buttons (think like the popcorn button on the microwave.) I did use the steam option the other day and that was great for my green beans. They were so tender and tasty, and still bright green! 

Anyway, like with any braised dishes, to add flavor and texture you need to brown things first. Do you like boiled chicken? I sure don’t, it needs to be seared before you cook it all the way through. You can do the same with veggies, I’ve seen recipes for “roasted potatoes” with crispy skin, or “roasted broccoli” I haven’t tried these yet but the concept is the same, and you can do it all in the same pot! 
Instant Pot Tips

Example: Sear your roast and saute your veggies with the saute feature, then add in your ingredients and liquids and pressure cook. You can have a falling apart tender pot roast just like the restaurants make in an hour. Hour, thirty with all the prep! And you only have one pot to clean! I will remove the roast when it’s done, turn it back on to saute and create a gravy to go on top! ONE PAN!! 
Fond from searing, lots of flavor!

5. Time while it’s cooking. I have found myself kind of twiddling my thumbs, if you will. Dinner time has always been tough in our house, Brandon is trying to finish up his work. The girls are hungry and tired and want my attention, Emilee thinks if I’m in the kitchen, she needs to eat or be held. But now, because you can basically “set it and forget it” I have time to attend to them. Help with homework, or get the girls’ things ready for school tomorrow. Empty the dishwasher, straighten up from the prep, if there is any.  I can sit down and watch an episode of Full House with the girls and spend some extra quality time with them. The Instant Pot really has been a game changer in our house! I hope it will be in your house too!
Instant Pot Tips
Because, how cute are these three!!??

Do I love my Instant Pot? Absolutely YES! I actually think I want another smaller one to be able to cook sides with, like rice, potatoes, veggies…Also if you are considering making your own baby food, the steam feature is amazing, I wish I’d had it when the girls were that little!!

Do you love yours? Do you have one that you’ve been afraid to use or have you not gotten one yet? Be sure to leave a comment or question below and let me know what you think about yours! I’d love to hear your favorite recipes as well. 

I will continue to update my recipes with Instant Pot directions so check back frequently! My Easy One Pot Chili and Perfect Pot Roast are already updated! 

2 comments

  1. Just got one a recently myself. Only used it for chicken breasts and rice so far. I like it a lot. Feel like it opens up a lot of options. Likely I'll use it next for a black bean dip. Maybe a pot roast soon. Gotta check out your post on that ;).

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