Instant Pot: 7 Common Mistakes To Avoid

If you’re anything like me, you want a flavorful, delicious and hot meal waiting for you after a long day’s work, with minimal effort. Few people have time to be in the kitchen for hours on end!

After doing some research on pressure cookers, I discovered the Instant Pot, a multi-cooker that’s part slow cooker, programmable pressure cooker, steamer, rice cooker and saute and steamer and warming pot. It’s a jack of all trades. One scroll through its reviews on Amazon shows that this baby is a must-have for anyone looking for efficiency in the kitchen. It’s always one of the most popular items on Amazon Prime Day, and it’s usually discounted on Black Friday, which means lots of people get it as a gift for Christmas.

For all you newbie Instant Pot users, here’s a roundup of seven mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

1. Using recipes made for normal pressure cookers

The Instant Pot isn’t exactly the same as a regular pressure cooker. Pressure cookers reach much higher temperatures, resulting in shorter cooking times than what cooking with your Instant Pot necessitates. Stick to Instant Pot specific recipes and you’ll be just fine. Or, be sure to switch your Instant Pot to “manual” mode and add 15 percent more cooking time.

Check out this roundup of healthy recipes from Fit Foodie Finds for some inspiration. How tasty does this Moroccan chicken bowl look?

Fit Foodie Finds

2. Not securing the seal

The large, clear rubber ring on the inside of the lid is crucial to keeping air sealed in the pot when the lid is closed and locked. If it’s not securely in place, the cooking temperature and pressure will be thrown off, and you’ll likely see steam escaping the lid. Before you start cooking, make sure the ring is in the lid’s track.

3. Not cooking with any liquid

Every recipe will call for some type of liquid. Do not make the mistake of trying to cook without any! Whether in slow cook mode or pressure mode, a liquid is a must to build steam, which in turn forces moisture into the food and results in cooking and tenderizing.

4. Overfilling your pot

It’s very important that you do not overfill your Instant Pot. Overfilling can result in clogging the venting knob which will cause major issues once your meal gets cooking. Other issues that can arise include lessened cooking pressure and a complete mess. If you do overfill, make sure to choose the natural pressure release, so the foam has time settle down post-cooking.

5. Using the rice button for all types of rice

The rice button doesn’t universally work for all types of rice. Different kinds of rice require varying ratios of water and rice, which alters the cooking time. Some types of rice and grains like barley require the use of the multi-grain button. The solution? Use your manual button and keep an eye on how it’s cooking.

6. Not using cold liquid when the recipe calls for it

If you find your meal is undercooked, ask yourself if you started cooking by pouring hot water into the pot. Using hot liquid instead of cold liquid shortens the cooking time because the Instant Pot takes a shorter amount of time to reach peak pressure. This can result in undercooked food. The trick? Use cold liquid to cook or adjust the cooking time.

instant pot
Flickr | Alachua County

7. Mistaking the timer button for the cook time button

Don’t mistake the timer button when trying to set the cooking time. The timer button is for delayed cooking. If your timer button is lit green, press your “keep warm” or “cancel” button and your Instant Pot will begin cooking again. Don’t forget to consider preheating too!

Have you used the Instant Pot? What are you favorite recipes?

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