Getting Started with Your Instant Pot | A Beginner’s Guide

Are you new to cooking with an Instant Pot? If so, this beginner's guide is for you! Whether you've just purchased your first one or have been eyeing one for a while, this blog post will show you the basics of using an Instant Pot and get started making delicious meals in no time. 

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Instant pot control panel

From understanding the different buttons and settings to creating your own recipes, this guide is perfect for any Instant Pot beginner looking to get the most out of their appliance.

If you're looking to make cooking more convenient and efficient, an Instant Pot is the appliance for you. This multi-functional electric pressure cooker has recently taken the cooking world by storm and has become a staple in many kitchens. With it, you can cook a wide variety of dishes in a fraction of the time it would take using the stove or oven.

But if you're new to using an Instant Pot, the many buttons and functions can initially be overwhelming. Fear not, because in this blog post, we'll walk you through the basics of using an Instant Pot for beginners, whether you have an older model or one of the newer models.

What is an Instant Pot?

An Instant Pot is a type of pressure cooker that has become increasingly popular in recent years. A pressure cooker is a kitchen appliance that cooks food quickly by using steam pressure. Pressure cookers lock in flavor and nutrients more efficiently than traditional cooking methods. This makes the it an incredibly efficient kitchen tool for busy home cooks. 

The Instant Pot is an easy to use multi-functional cooker that can be used to sauté, steam, pressure cook, slow cook, and more. With its advanced technology and safety features, it is designed to make home cooking faster, easier, and healthier.

Benefits of Using an Instant Pot

An Instant Pot is a valuable tool in the kitchen. You can cook various dishes with it, from delicious meals to tasty desserts. In addition, it allows you to pressure cook, slow cook, sauté, steam, warm food, and even make yogurt. Here are some of the top benefits of using an Instant Pot:

Fast Cooking Times

With an Instant Pot, you can cook meals faster than with traditional methods. Pressure cooking with an Instant Pot allows you to prepare a delicious meal in as little as 5 minutes.

Healthier Meals

An Instant Pot cooks meals with little or no added fat or oil, which helps retain more nutrients in your food. In addition, pressure cooking helps to preserve more of the vitamins and minerals found in food.

Consistent Results

An Instant Pot is designed to produce consistent results every time, so you don't have to worry about overcooking or burning your food.

Easy Clean Up

With an Instant Pot, clean up is a breeze. You can simply put all the ingredients into the pot and let it do the work for you. Then, once done cooking, you can just put the inner pot into the dishwasher for easy clean up.

Money Saving

An Instant Pot is affordable and will save you money in the long run as it uses less energy than other cooking methods. Plus, you can use less expensive cuts of meat and still get delicious results.

Getting Started with your instant

First things first, it's important to read the instruction manual that comes with your Instant Pot to familiarize yourself with the different parts and functions. It's also essential to ensure that your Instant Pot is properly cleaned and assembled before use.

Once your Instant Pot is ready to go, it's time to start cooking!

Using the Instant Pot

The Instant Pot has a range of functions, including pressure cooking, sautéing, slow cooking, and steaming. Here's a breakdown of how to use each function:

Pressure cooking

This is the primary function of the Instant Pot, and it's what makes it such a versatile appliance. To pressure cook, simply add your ingredients and liquid (usually water or broth), close the lid, and select the appropriate pressure cooking time and pressure level (high or low). It will automatically build pressure and begin cooking.

Sautéing in the instant pot

This function helps brown meat or sauté vegetables before pressure cooking. To sauté, select the sauté function, add your ingredients and oil, and cook until they're browned or softened.

Instant pot Slow cooker function

This function allows you to cook od​​ over a longer time, much like a slow cooker. To slow cook, add your ingredients and liquid to the Instant Pot, select the slow cook function, and set the cooking time.


The Instant Pot also has a steam function, perfect for cooking vegetables or other delicate foods. To steam, add water to the bottom of the pot, place a steaming basket on top, and add your food. Then, select the steam function and set the cooking time.

How to use manual mode on the instant pot

Using the manual mode on your Instant Pot is a great way to customize your cooking time and pressure. Manual mode allows you to adjust the time and pressure settings to ensure you get the best results possible.

To use manual mode, simply press the “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” button. Then, use the “+” and “-” buttons to adjust the cooking time.  Some models may not have the “+” and “-” button but rather have timer buttons.  Either way, the screen will display the time. Once you have set the desired cooking time, press the “Pressure” button. This will allow you to select the desired setting (high or low pressure).

Once your desired cooking time and pressure settings are selected, press the Start button. It will begin cooking food according to your settings. If you need to make adjustments at any point during the cooking process, simply press the Cancel button. Followed by the “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” button, to adjust the settings.

Manual mode allows you to customize your cooking time and pressure settings to get the best results possible. With a few simple steps, you can quickly master manual mode on your Instant Pot!

Parts of the instant pot

The Instant Pot is a versatile kitchen appliance designed to make cooking meals easier and faster. It can also function as a slow cooker, yogurt maker, rice cooker, steamer, and warmer. To use the Instant Pot, you'll need to be familiar with its parts and how they work together. 

Here’s a look at the main parts of the Instant Pot:

  • Float Valve: The float valve is located on the lid and tells you if your pressure cooker is pressurized or not. When the lid is closed, the float valve will move up. However, when the pressure inside is high enough, the float valve stays upright and prevents more steam from escaping.
  • Steam Release Handle: This handle is located on the lid and allows you to release the pressure. When the pressure has built up inside the pot, you'll need to turn the handle to release it.
  • Control Panel: The control panel is where you'll set the time, pressure level, and temperature for cooking. You can also use this panel to select one of the pre-programmed settings.
  • Sealing Ring: The sealing ring fits into a groove on the lid and ensures that all of the steam stays inside the pot while it's cooking. It should be checked regularly and replaced if it's worn or cracked.

In addition to the parts mentioned above, it has a lid that should always be placed on top of the pot when used.

It’s important to read the manual carefully before using your specific Instant Pot model. The temperature and pressure settings vary depending on the model and recipe you’re making.

You should also pay attention to the temperature settings, as different foods require different cooking temperatures. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with these settings will help you get the most out of your device.

With a bit of practice, you’ll soon be whipping up delicious meals in no time!

How long does the instant pot take to preheat

The short answer is not long at all.

But if you are looking for more than that, here’s a bit more detail.

The length of time it takes to preheat depends on several factors, such as the type of pot you have and the size of the pot. Generally speaking, the smaller the pot, the faster it will preheat. If you are using a 6-quart pot, it can take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes to fully preheat. For an 8-quart pot, it can take up to 15 minutes.

The amount of liquid or food inside the pot will also affect the preheating time. The more liquid or food in the pot, the longer it will take to preheat.

When preheating your instant pot, pay close attention to the indicator light. This light should turn off when the pot is preheated. Once the preheat cycle is complete, you are ready to start cooking.

If you are new to using an instant pot, preheating may seem like a daunting task. However, once you get the hang of it, you will find that preheating the pot is simple and easy.

Natural Release Verses Quick Release

One of the most important things to understand when using an Instant Pot is the difference between natural and quick release. 

Natural release occurs when you turn off the pressure cooker and let it cool down naturally. This method allows the food to cook slowly and evenly, resulting in tender, flavorful dishes.

Quick release is when you turn off the pressure cooker and quickly release all of the steam. This method will stop the cooking process and can prevent overcooking. It is best used for dishes that are meant to be cooked quickly, such as rice or vegetables.

When to use natural pressure release

Natural release is best used for foods that require slow, even cooking, such as beans, stews, and roasts. If you are using frozen food, opt for natural release.

When to use quick release

Quick release is ideal for cooking foods that only need a little time in the pot, such as vegetables and grains. However, quick release is also a great option if you are cooking something that needs to be served quickly, such as pasta or vegetables.

How long will the instant pot keep warm

If you are wondering how long will the instant pot keep warm, it is worth noting that one of the many benefits of using an instant pot is its warm feature.  Meaning it can keep food warm for a very long time.

This makes it perfect for busy families or people who are always on the go. When your food is done cooking, it will switch to a “keep warm” mode. This mode will keep your food warm for up to 10 hours on most models. The exact amount of time that the Instant Pot can keep your food warm varies depending on the model and settings you choose.

To get the most out of your Instant Pot, it's important to understand how the “keep warm” mode works. The “keep warm” mode is activated when the timer runs out, and it will maintain a consistent temperature of around 140°F-180°F. This temperature is ideal for keeping food warm without overcooking or drying it out. You can adjust the temperature of the “keep warm” setting depending on the type of food you're making.

It's important to note that the “keep warm” feature isn't meant to keep food hot forever. If you leave food in the Instant Pot for too long, it can become dry or taste different. Therefore, I recommend keeping food in it for no longer than 8 hours in the “keep warm” mode, although this may vary depending on your model.

The “keep warm” feature of the Instant Pot is an incredibly useful tool for those with busy schedules who don't always have time to cook every day. With just one press of a button, you can easily make delicious meals that can stay warm for up to 10 hours at a time.

What to do if your instant pot is not turning on

If your Instant Pot is not turning on, you can try a few things to fix the issue.

  1. Check the power supply: Make sure the plug is securely inserted into the wall outlet and that the cord is connected correctly to the Instant Pot. If you are using an extension cord, make sure it’s rated for the wattage of the Instant Pot.
  2. Ensure the lid is closed: The Instant Pot must be in the “sealing” position to build pressure. Make sure the lid is firmly locked in place and that the pressure release valve is in the sealing position.
  3. Reset the Instant Pot: Press and hold the “Cancel” button for 3-5 seconds to reset your Instant Pot.
  4. Check your circuit breaker: If the breaker has tripped, you may need to reset it or have an electrician check the wiring.
  5. Contact customer service: If you have tried all the above steps and your Instant Pot still won’t turn on, it’s time to contact customer service for assistance. Many manufacturers offer warranties and will help troubleshoot issues with your Instant Pot.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is an incredibly versatile appliance, but like any tool, you have to know how to use it to get the most out of it. 

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your Instant Pot:

  1. Read the Instruction Manual: The instruction manual that comes with your Instant Pot is full of valuable information about how to get the most out of your appliance. Reading it before using your Instant Pot for the first time is a good idea.
  2. Use the Right Amount of Liquid: Different recipes require different amounts of liquid, so make sure you’re using the right amount for the dish you’re making. Too much liquid can lead to soggy dishes, and too little can leave them undercooked.
  3. Use High-Quality Ingredients: As with any recipe, you want to use fresh, high-quality ingredients in your Instant Pot dishes. This will ensure that they come out perfectly every time.
  4. Don’t Overcrowd the Pot: Don’t try to fit too much food into the pot – this can lead to uneven cooking and poor results.
  5. Test Cooking Times: When cooking something for the first time in your Instant Pot, start with the recommended cooking time and then adjust as necessary.
  6. Use the Keep Warm Function: Your Instant Pot has a Keep Warm function which is great for keeping dishes warm until they are ready to be served.
  7. Let Pressure Release Naturally: It’s important to let the pressure release naturally after cooking, as this will help ensure that your dishes come out perfectly cooked every time.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to get the most out of your Instant Pot and make delicious dishes every time!

And here are some of my favorite instant pot recipes, like this simple and easy instant pot apple butter, or instant pot tomato basil soup, that I think you will love!

Getting started with the Instant Pot may seem overwhelming initially, but with some practice, you'll be a pro in no time. 

Buying an Instant Pot

When buying an Instant Pot, there are a few key things to consider.

First, think about the size you need – Instant Pots come in a range of sizes, from 3 quarts to 8 quarts, so consider how many people you'll be cooking for and how much food you typically make.

Next, consider the functions you'll use – some Instant Pots come with extra features like yogurt-making or cake-baking functions, so think about what features you'll use most often.

It's also important to consider the brand and price – Instant Pots can vary in price, and while it can be tempting to go for the cheapest option, it's worth investing in a trusted brand that will last.

Lastly, read reviews from other users to get a sense of how well the Instant Pot performs and any common issues.

Here are some instant pots for you to take a look at and take your pick!

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