I’ve gotten lots of questions about the Instant Pot lately which got me thinking-time for an Instant Pot 101. Do I need the Instant Pot is a frequent one and my answer is YES! Already have an Instant Pot? Great! Keep reading for some great recipes and resources…
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A lot of our readers have been asking lately-do I need an Instant Pot? The answer is definitely YES. The Instant Pot (electric pressure cooker) is a life changing appliance that can really help you have dinner on the table in a short amount of time. Although not always as short as we would like (it does need to come to pressure), the time is all HANDS OFF time. That means you can be having a glass of wine on the couch while dinner is making itself! (Oh who am I kidding, I mean you can be cleaning out backpacks, answering emails, breaking up fights between the kids…who says life is glamorous?)
The main thing I love about my Instant Pot is the ability to cook foods that are frozen. Because really, who has time the night before to remember to thaw something? (And if y’all do, all the more power to you…I am just NOT that organized.) When I do get it together to meal prep, I like to prep bags of meals that can go directly into my Instant Pot FROZEN. This is the huge benefit of the Instant Pot over the Slow Cooker (and yes, I still have a Slow Cooker, and yes, I still use it-I need all of the dinner time tools I can have!). (Check out the Freezer Meal Beef Stew over at Pinch of Yum for a perfect example of this…or just wait a few weeks, I have my own version coming out soon!)
A lot of our readers have also told me recently that they are afraid of their Instant Pots. And if I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a million times…If I can use it, SO CAN YOU! I had super good intentions of making you a video to show you how to use it, but time got away from me since I have this wonderful student teacher from El Salvador who just started living with my family (more about this in two weeks!) and more importantly I seem to have lost my voice, so I’m going to have borrow a video from another blogger. I’ll also walk you through the steps, though-so easy!
INSTANT POT 101
Step One: Remove the Instant Pot from the box. This is the HARDEST step. True story, my Instant Pot sat in my basement for a year before I used it. This was after I ASKED for it as a Christmas Gift. I was intimidated and I was also afraid I’d blow up my house. Luckily I got over it (and my house is definitely still standing).
Step Two: Do the Water Test (sometimes called the Initial Run Test). The instructions are in the box. They are easy to follow. This consists of bringing some water to pressure and releasing. It’s just water. You can do it!
Step Three: Choose a recipe. Do you like soup? Meat? Stew? Steel Cut Oats? See below for a few of our favorite recipes and some other resources for Instant Pot Magic.
Step Four: Grab your ingredients. Plug in your pot. Do you need to saute anything first (vegetable, sear the meat)? Push the saute button, let it heat for a minute, add your oil/ingredients and saute away. I use a wooden spoon for this so I don’t scratch the bottom of my pot…or because I use wooden spoons for everything and they are always easy to find in my kitchen…
Step Five: Time to Pressurize. Add the rest of the ingredients to your pot. Secure the lid on your pot. Make sure your valve is closed (it’s on the top-make sure it is turned to SEALING). Program the Instant Pot according to the directions on your recipe…for example: manual for 10 minutes-push the manual button, toggle until you get to 10 minutes). Walk away. The magic is starting. Your timer will start after your pot comes to pressure. How long your pot takes to come to pressure depends on the amount of things in the pot! (You’ll know your Instant Pot is at pressure when the float valve raises to the top)
(Now is the time for all of you to grab that glass of wine and settle on the couch…)
Step Six: Release. Your recipe will tell you what type of release you will use. The options are Quick Release (you release the valve) or Natural Pressure Release (NPR-the Pot releases itself). If a recipe says NPR 10 minutes, that means you leave the pot for 10 minutes and then release the valve (release the valve=turn the valve from sealing to VENT). If it just says NPR, let it release until the pot is fully depressurized. Sounds complicated, I promise it is really easy! A few tips for release (because this is the part everyone is afraid of, and release can be messy, steamy, or just plan humidifying!). When I release the valve on my Instant Pot I throw a kitchen towel over the valve (less spray) and I turn the valve itself to vent using a wooden spoon. The towel prevents the steam cloud from steaming anything else in my kitchen, and prevents a mess if I have too much liquid in the pot. The wooden spoon keeps my hand away from the steam that comes out when you release. Is this 100% necessary? No. But since I always have a wooden spoon lying around, it’s quick and easy, and I’ve never been surprised by the hot steam on my skin. (Note: The Instant Pot Duo Nova, which is the Instant Pot that just came out August 2019 has a button for steam release. I LOVE this idea and according to the video on the Instant Pot Website it appears to work beautifully. But I don’t have this particular Instant Pot so my instructions apply to the older models)
Step Seven: Remove the lid. The lid will be locked down until your float valve drops so don’t try to opening it until then. For all of you scientific types: this means no opening until the pressure has been released. Makes sense right?
Step Eight: Finish your recipe. Need to add another ingredient? Need to stir? Ready to eat? Finish the recipe and enjoy the fruits of your labors (or the meat, soup, stew, etc!)
Here is an Instant Pot 101 video by Brittany Naturally that goes more in depth (this might help if you are more of a visual learner!).
A few of our favorite recipes (there are more on our site-search: Instant Pot):
Instant Pot Korean Inspired Pulled Pork. This is perfect for rice bowls, tacos, or sandwiches!
Instant Pot Chipotle Black Bean Soup. Cook dry beans without soaking in this delicious soup recipe.
Instant Pot Maple Apple Steel Cut Oats. Because the Instant Pot isn’t just for dinner.
Instant Pot Bean and Bacon Soup. The soup of my childhood memories, this soup utilizes dry beans as well.
Instant Pot Salsa Verde Chicken Soup. Healthy and hearty. Perfect all year round.
Classic Butternut Squash Soup in an Instant Pot. The soup you love. So easy to make.
Instant Pot Thai Butternut Squash Soup. A different take on butternut squash soup.
A few other resources:
Ministry of Curry. An awesome blog for recipes with a global flair.
Two Sleevers. Instant Pot recipes geared towards low carb, keto, and paleo diets.
This Old Gal. Many basic but tried and true recipes.
Amy + Jacky: Pressure Cook Recipes. A husband and wife team take on the pressure cooker.
Instant Pot. Find recipes, manuals, tips, tricks and more.
Don’t have an Instant Pot? Amazon to the rescue!