Instant Pot Tips For Beginners with 2 Recipes

I bought an Instant Pot, and I am in love!  I have included 8 Instant Pot Tips for Beginners and 2 of my favorite Instant Pot recipes so far – Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls and Apple Sauce.

It’s so easy to use, and has made so many delicious meals, in such little time!  Getting a new Instant Pot can definitely seem overwhelming or intimidating at first, but it will quickly become one of your favorite cooking appliances.  Here’s some tips for using your Instant Pot.

There isn’t a start button.

    • Once you select your function, the pot automatically turns on to that setting and starts the cooking process.  You can however “delay start” and program the pot to start in your desired amount of hours.

The cook time listed in recipe is not the total time the recipe takes to cook.

    • Mostly all recipes will make it seem that way, but it’s not. The Instant Pot needs about 10 minutes to heat up and release pressure.  Keep this in mind while planning to get a better idea of cook time.

You don’t need to defrost!

    • Skip the defrosting phase and add your frozen ingredients right into the pot. 

You don’t need to soak beans first.

    • The Instant Pot does all of the work for you.  All you have to do is rinse the beans, and add them to the pot with water or stock and 15-30 minutes later, depending on your bean, you have fully cooked beans ready to use in your favorite recipes.

Remember the venting knob when setting the cooking function, and know the difference.

    • Quick Release:  This is done by manually turning the venting knob.  It takes about 2 minutes to release.  You will use this for recipes that have a quick cook time, and that you want to stop cooking immediately.  To release the pressure, use a wooden spoon or some tongs and gently push the valve to the “venting” setting.  You can safely open the pot when the pressure valve has dropped to the lowest position and venting has stopped.
    • Natural Release:  This is when the venting knob is left alone, and the Instant Pot will allow the pressure to slowly drop over 15 minutes.  Use natural release in recipes with meats that you may want to continue cooking a little longer. 

Always have liquid in the pot.

    • It’s very important to have minimum 1 cup of liquid in your Instant Pot at all times.  Pressure cooking uses steam, and if there isn’t enough liquid, meals won’t cook properly and will burn. 

But don’t have too much liquid

    • Your Instant Pot should only be filled 2/3 of the way with ingredients.  Too much liquid can cause the hot liquids to spray out of the pressure release valve, causing serious burns, it also will alter the flavor of the food.  If cooking foods that expand, like beans and rice, keep the pot 1/2 full. 
    • The Max Fill lines on the Instant Pot insert should only be used on the rice cooker or slow cooker settings. 

There are 16-20 settings on your Instant Pot – depending on what one you buy.  This alone can be very pressuring (see what I did there…).  Each button has its own function and cooking style.  Each button has preset times to take the guesswork out of cooking.  Here are some of the more popular functions and how they work:

    • Meat/Stew:  Uses high pressure and is preset for 35 minutes.  Use adjust button to switch between the less setting to cook for 25 minutes and more setting to cook for 45 minutes or use the plus and minus buttons to adjust the cooking time.
    • Rice:  Uses low pressure.  This function is fully automated depending on the amount of food. 
    • Soup/Broth:  Uses high pressure and is preset for 30 minutes.  Use the adjust button to change cooking times.
    • Multigrain:  Uses high pressure and is preset for 40 minutes cook time.  Use the adjust button to change the times. 
    • Sauté:  A lot of recipes call for ground meats or vegetables to be cooked before adding the remaining ingredients.  Use the sauté function, and cook everything in one pan.  Press the adjust button once for browning.  Press the sauté button and then the adjust button twice to simmer.
    • Slow Cook:  Defaults to a 4 hour slow cook time.  Use the adjust button to change between low, medium and high cooking temperatures and use the “+” and “-“ buttons to adjust the cooking time.
    • Steam:  Uses high pressure and is preset to 10 minutes.  Use this function with a steaming basket. 
    • Pressure Cook:  This is a manual setting, use the adjust buttons to switch between low and high pressure, and use the “+” and “-“ buttons to adjust the cooking time. 
    • Bean/Chili:  Uses high pressure and is set to 30 minutes cook time.  Use the adjust button to change the preset cooking times, or use the “+” and “-“ to manually adjust times. 
    • Keep Warm:  Use this button to keep your food warm after being cooked.
    • Cancel:  Use this button to cancel any function or to turn off your Instant Pot

Instant Pot Apple Sauce

6 gala apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
1 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon

Place all ingredients in insert.  Secure lid and cook on manual high pressure for 8 minutes.  Allow pressure to naturally release.  Remove lid, transfer apple sauce to blender and blend until smooth.

Instant Pot Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

1 lb ground beef
1/2 tbsp salt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp black pepper
1 head green cabbage, sliced
1 leek, halved and sliced
2 tbsp garlic
1/2 cup white rice
1 cup beef stock
1, 8 oz can tomato sauce
1/2, 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes

Use sauté function and cook ground beef until no longer pink.  Add leek and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes until leek has softened and becomes translucent.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Secure lid.  Switch to manual pressure and set high pressure for 15 minutes.  Quick release and serve.

There are also a ton of accessories that you can find on Amazon for your Instant Pot.


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