Instant Pot (pressure cooking) is a quick and easy way of preparing meals. Mastering it can be a little tricky, though. So, I’m sharing my top 10 tips and hacks to keep your Instant Pot looking like new and make it easier to use.
If you read my first pressure cooking article Instant Pot Basics – Pressure Cooking then you already have the basics down. After learning these tips and hacks, you’ll be an Instant Pot pro!
Top Tips and Hacks
Cooking Tips: Maintenance and Accessories
These tips are designed to keep your Instant Pot or pressure cooker performing and looking like new:
- Use Barkeepers Friend, or a similar non-scratching cleanser to keep your stainless steel pot shiny. It only takes a minute or so to clean. Cleaning your pot regularly will prevent the buildup of mineral and water deposits. Sprinkle 1-2 Tbsp. of Barkeepers Friend on the bottom of the pot. Dampen a sponge, and run it over the whole inside of the pot and on the bottom. Rinse well. Dry with a soft cotton or microfiber cloth.
- If your pot develops unwanted odors, do a steam clean. Pour 2 cups of hot water into the pot and add 1 Tbsp of lemon zest. Use the steam function for 2 minutes. Regularly clean your silicone sealing ring in the dishwasher or by soaking in 1 cup of vinegar with lemon zest.
- Periodically clean the anti-block shield from the underside of your pressure cooker pot. This perforated silicone shield can get dirty over time. After removing, hand wash it, dry with a soft cloth, and replace before using the lid again.
- Have at least one extra silicone sealing ring. Over time, your ring will absorb cooking odors. If you cook both savory and sweet foods in your pot, you should have a different colored ring for each. Alternatively, having an extra ring on hand, in case one becomes damaged, means you’re always ready to cook.
- The tempered-glass lid accessory allows you to use your Instant Pot (or pressure cooker, if it has this option) as a slow cooker. Its clear viewing is ideal for sautéing and keeping foods warm.
- Most pressure cookers come with a trivet or steam rack. Use this trivet to keep foods above liquid, such as when steaming or cooking roasts or meats, and soft- or hard-boiled eggs.
Cooking Hacks: becoming a pressure cooking boss
These hacks make using the Instant Pot or pressure cooker easier and provide incredible results from what you make in it:
- Preheat the machine using the sauce function, and add hot fluids before pressure cooking. This shortens the over all cooking time by allowing the machine to warm up initially, and to come to pressure faster. A good practice is to turn on the sauté mode while you’re chopping up vegetables or gathering ingredients. Also, heat up more than 2 cups of fluid (such as water or broth/stock) in the microwave before adding them to the Instant Pot. Your overall cooking time will be much shorter.
- Use the sauté feature/mode to brown meats before pressure cooking. Not only will it create a tasty fond of browned bits and caramelized flavors, but it gives a nice color to meats. The only time I don’t brown meat in the Instant Pot is when it’s frozen, or when it will be shredded later.
- Take advantage of one pot cooking by cooking pasta in your pressure cooker. It’s a real time saver! When cooking pressure cooking pasta, use half of the time listed in the instructions for al dente. A delicious recipe that takes advantage of this process is my Chili Cheese Mac recipe.
Quick release or natural release?
- The quick release function is great when cooking chicken breasts and eggs. It presents them from overcooking. Often, a short, timed natural release (such as 5 minutes) precedes a quick release. You should never initiate a quick release right after pressure cooking when making soups and starchy foods to reduce the potential of splatter when opening the lid. When in doubt, refer to your owners manual or recipe.
There are many different types of pressure cookers out there. If you are looking to purchase one, my recommendation is to go with the Instant Pot brand for a few reasons:
- There are a lot more accessories, such as tempered-glass lids, and availability of replacement parts for the Instant Pot.
- The Instant Pot uses a stainless steel inner pot which promotes better searing and browning.
- And, most recipes are based on the functions of the Instant Pot.
- The slight price difference might not be worth the easier learning curve that comes with the Instant Pot brand.
Another recommendation is to go with the basic model of Instant Pot. The exception is if you’ll be using special features like a yogurt setting. I’ve found that I primarily use the pressure and sauté modes on my Instant Pot. So, purchasing a 12-in-one pot might not be necessary.
Check out a few Instant Pots in person before buying if you’ve never used one. I prefer going into a speciality kitchen store like Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table, so I can ask questions and see a demonstration of the appliance.
Now you’re ready to pressure cook like a pro. Here are some of my favorite recipes to make in the Instant Pot: https://www.thefeatherednester.com/instant-pot-chicken-posole/ and https://www.thefeatherednester.com/instant-pot-chili-cheese-mac/