The Ultimate Instant Pot Guide for Beginners

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Do you often run around the kitchen, looking for your cookware? Is it a hassle to do all the chopping and prepping before cooking dinner? Do you need help with figuring out what's for dinner tonight? If so, this Instant Pot guide is for you! In just five minutes (maybe less), I'll show you how to make a delicious meal with an Instant Pot. That means that after reading this blog post, we will spend more time on eating than on preparing food. With these recipes, there won't be any fuss about in the kitchen-which makes sense because we're using an appliance designed specifically to save us time in the kitchen!

I have had an Instant Pot for a few years now. I am still surprised at everything that you can make in this amazing appliance. It sits on a cart in my kitchen for easy access at all times.

The Ultimate Instant Pot Guide for Beginners

What is an Instant Pot exactly?

If you ask someone who owns an Instant Pot, they will probably say something like “it’s like a slow cooker, but fast!” – and that is true. While it can be a bit more intimidating than a slow cooker, the benefits (and time saved!) are so worth it you will want to use your cooker every single day.

Some Instant Pots are actually more accurately described as multi-cookers. Instead of needing several appliances, like a rice cooker and a slow cooker, you can use the multi-cooker for both – and more!

Instant Pots are perfect for those who are just learning how to cook. This Instant Pot guide will give you some tips to get started along with some recipes to try. This appliance delivers flavorful food in a jiffy, and free recipes are plentiful online. You can even convert slow cooker recipes into recipes to use in your Instant Pot!

Instant Pot Guide

Why do I need an Instant Pot?

Using an Instant Pot can cut your cooking time down by as much as 70%! When you are living with a chronic illness, this is amazingly helpful! However, there are plenty of other benefits of using an Instant Pot:

  • Save energy: the cooking pot is fully insulated, so it takes less energy to heat up.
  • Save time: Instant Pots use less water, so it takes less time to boil.
  • Keep nutrients: boiling can cause vitamins to leach out of your food. The Instant Pot cooks food quickly and evenly, allowing your food to keep up to 90% of water-soluble vitamins.
  • Convenience: cook almost anything, including rice and meat.
  • Save space: this cooker replaces multiple appliances!

Unboxing your Instant Pot

What comes in the box of your Instant Pot will depend on the brand and model you purchased, but you can expect to see:

  • Manual
  • Instant Pot Machine
  • Accessories

You can also purchase additional Instant Pot accessories to make unique dishes, or to make your favorite dishes easier.

How to use your Instant Pot Guide:

Follow the instructions in your manual, watch some YouTube videos, and be sure to follow recipe instructions carefully.

The sauté setting on my Instant Pot gets used a lot. It is nice because you can use it just like you would use a skillet, without dirtying up an extra dish. The Instant Pot heats up fast and is a breeze to use. I love how fast I can brown up ground meat or sausage in the Instant Pot using the sauté feature.

Instant Pot Functions

Depending on the brand and model you get, you will find your Instant Pot has several cooking modes. Mine has:

  • Soup: High Pressure for 30 minutes.
  • Meat/Stew: High Pressure for 35 minutes.
  • Bean/Chili
  • Rice: Low Pressure, time depends on amounts of water and rice.
  • Multi-grain
  • Porridge
  • Poultry: High Pressure for 15 minutes (more for frozen poultry).
  • Steam: High Pressure for 10 minutes.
  • Sauté: No specific time for this mode.

You can adjust all cooking times. For example, when I cook frozen poultry, I set it for 20 minutes and let it manually release. Find a few blogs you can trust for recipes, because Instant Pot can be a bit temperamental if you are not used to them. One of my favorite blogs for Instant Pot recipes is FoodnService. It is owned by the man that became internet famous for making wine in his Instant Pot.

Instant Pot Pressure Valve

How to release pressure

There are two ways I release pressure from my Instant Pot:

Quick Release (QR): Release the valve as soon as the timer goes off. This will ensure your food is ready to serve faster.

Natural Pressure Release: Takes the longest, but also gives the most flavorful, tender result.

If you can, allow your Instant Pot to do a Natural Pressure Release – unless the recipe calls for a Quick Release. I love how tender the food is when using Natural Release. It is just like cooking with a slow cooker, but so much faster!

Inside Pot of Instant Pot 6qt

What size Instant Pot do I need?

The size you need depends on how big your family is and what you like to cook. If you have a family of 4 or more, the 8-quart may be your best bet. If you are just cooking for yourself and you dislike leftovers, or you are running low on counter space, there is also a 3-quart option.

Almost everyone I have talked to is happy with the 6-quart, but they said they would buy the 8-quart if they had room and got to buy it all over again. If you have the space and the budget, the 8-quart is worth consideration.

I have the 6-quart and it is perfect for just my husband and myself. We do tend to have leftovers but not a ton of them. I use leftovers for lunches so it is perfect.

My favorite brand of pressure cooker:

In this post I have only mentioned the Instant Pot brand of pressure cooker. There are actually other brands as well. Instant Pot brand itself is the most popular, however, another popular brand is the Ninja Foodi Instant Pot. I use the Ninja Foodi indoor grill and love it but I do not have experience with their version of a pressure cooker.

I would recommend doing some research and seeing which brand/model works best for you and your budget. I have no complaints about my Instant Pot or my Ninja Foodi indoor grill. I have other Ninja products and they all stand the test of time.

My favorite recipes:

Now to the fun part, the recipes. The possibilities of what you can make in an Instant Pot are practically endless. This Instant Pot Guide will show you a few easy recipes I have made in my Instant Pot. I made these recipes when I was just starting out with mine, and trust me, I am not an amazing cook.

After you decide what recipes you want to try, use a meal planner. It helps you to know exactly what ingredients you need at the store to save you money. It can also help your family from asking “what's for dinner” every day.


Must-buy accessories:

There are a lot of different accessories you can buy to use with your Instant Pot. Do not let that overwhelm you. When you are first starting out, you do not need any additional accessories than what comes with your machine.

Take the time to get comfortable with your Instant Pot and learn how it works. You will then realize what accessories you wish to add to your kitchen. Some of the popular accessories are:

  • Seal Rings

You will want to change out the seal rings depending on what you are making. Flavors can sometimes get stuck in the seal rings even after washing them. They recommend having one for savory meals, and one for your desserts you will make.

  • Steamer Basket

A steamer basket is for steaming your vegetables directly in your Instant Pot. Since it is silicone, you do not have to worry about rust.

Keep it simple.

When you first get your Instant Pot, it may intimidate you. You may leave it in the box for a while, or you may get it out right away. Either way, wash/rinse your pot before you cook. Start with the water test and then try something simple like eggs.

Soups are also easy to make, with little learning curve, but can get messy if you use too much liquid. Do not let the liquid go over the ⅔ line in your pot. Even if it does not make a mess, too much liquid means bland food… and nobody wants a flavorless meal!

How to do a water test

To do a water test, follow your manual’s instructions. A general water test goes something like this:

Pour 3 cups of water into the inner pot of your electric pressure cooker. Put the lid on and turn the valve to the “sealed” position. Set to High Pressure for 3 minutes. Once your machine reaches pressure, it will count down to 0.

After this cycle is complete, let the pressure release. Then, pour out the water. Assuming there were no problems during this process, your electric pressure cooker is ready! If there are problems, contact the manufacturer of your appliance.

How to store your Instant Pot

Because silicone material absorbs the smell/taste of the food, make sure you are cleaning the ring inside the lid regularly. After washing, store your clean lid upside down, or using the lid holder (many models have this option). This helps minimize the smell.

What NOT to cook in your Instant Pot

This Instant Pot guide has told you all about how to use your Instant Pot and the things you can make in it. Now it is important to discuss the things you should NOT make in it.

While Instant Pot now has a crisping lid, it is important to know what should and should not be cooked in pressure mode vs crisping mode.

Breaded meats and veggies should be cooked with the crisping lid, as pressure cooking them could make them soggy.

Dairy can be cooked in your Instant Pot but should be added towards the end of the recipe in most cases. Dairy can foam at high temperatures, clogging your Instant Pot.

Should you buy an Instant Pot?

If you are looking to save time and space in your kitchen, an Instant Pot may be the perfect solution. Instant Pots do more than just replace a slow cooker, they also work as rice makers and yogurt makers, too!

The Instant Pot is a great way to cook for the family or just yourself. And if you're cooking on your own, it's also an easy kitchen tool to master! I hope this blog post has given you some helpful tips and tricks that will make your first time with the Instant Pot easier than ever before. So get out there, explore what this amazing little appliance can do for you, and enjoy all the delicious food waiting at home when you return from work tomorrow night! I hope this Instant Pot guide was helpful to you.

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Introduction Guide to Using an Instant Pot
How to Use your instant Pot
The Ultimate Instant Pot Guide for Beginners

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