5 Things I Wish Knew Before I Started Using My Instant Pot

So, You Just Got an Instant Pot, Now What? I remember feeling a little intimidated when I first got my Instant Pot.  Maybe you’ve pinned some recipes, but you haven’t quite had the courage to figure out how it works.  I was the same way! I was so excited, yet so unsure of what to do and where to start.

Before I cooked in it, I actually read the user manual.  I know, who reads those things, right?  I’m usually, more of a skip-the-manual-and-figure-it-out-as-you-go kind of girl, but this time not so much.  I didn’t want something to go wrong and I had heard scary stories about pressure cookers exploding. I was a little paranoid that mine might blow up. Don’t worry. It won’t. At least mine hasn’t yet. 😉

5 Things I Wish Knew Before I Started Using My Instant Pot

I read about the different parts and did the water test.  In the water test, you basically pressure cook some water just to see how the pressure cooker works. This was a good way to get to know the buttons and how long it actually takes the pot to get up to pressure, which was longer than I expected considering everyone was raving about how fast they were cooking things.

 

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I got my Instant Pot for Christmas last year, so I’ve had it for a little over a year now and I have to say that it definitely makes my time in the kitchen way more efficient.  I have to admit, when I originally put it on my list, I didn’t really know what it was, I just knew that everyone who had one, loved it.
I think I first heard about it on Facebook, and now of course, it’s everywhere! Being a working mama is hard, so if I can spend less time in the kitchen and more time with my kids, I’m all in! I knew I needed one.

So needless to say my Instant Pot has become a life saver.

Here are some things I wish I would have known more about before I started cooking.

1. Quick Release vs. Natural Release

The first time you do a quick release it can be a little scary… okay, A LOT SCARY!

Quick Release is where you turn the pressure release handle to the “venting position” right after the timer beeps. This will allow the pot to depressurize quickly.  This may sound simple enough, but be prepared for the steam to release, it will be quick and it will be HOT! Turn the valve and stand back!

I about peed my pants the first time I released mine. It spit water everywhere and it was LOUD! I wasn’t quite expecting that. Now when I do a quick release I know what to expect. I just stand back a bit and switch the valve to open.

A Natural Release on the other hand is where you just let the Instant Pot cool down on its own until the float valve drops down.  This usually takes 10-15 minutes.

5 Things I Wish Knew Before I Started Using My Instant Pot

2. Building Pressure vs. Cooking

Once you set up what you want it to do, it does take a little bit of time for the pot to come to pressure before it starts to cook.  ALWAYS make sure that your float valve is in the “sealing” position.  If you forget, you will know, because you will see/hear steam coming out and your pot will not be able to build up enough pressure to cook.

You will know when it starts to cook because the count down timer will appear.  I thought that it would just cook right away, I didn’t really understand the pressure part when I first started using it.

So now that I know that the pot needs to build pressure, I allow a little extra time when cooking meals.  The time seems to vary.  It really depends on the amount of liquid and the condition of the food that you are cooking (frozen or thawed).

3. Manual

If you are like me, you will find that you spend most of your time using the manual function.  I rarely use the presets.  You will experiment and play around and find out things that work for you, but I tend to use manual the most.

To use this setting, push the Manual button and then Pressure to adjust whether you want to cook with High or Low pressure.  Once you’ve decided that, use the + or – to adjust the cook time.

There are things I cook all the time that I just know.  For example, I cook hard boiled eggs all the time.  I have found that I like to cook them using the Manual function on Low Pressure for 12 minutes. I use a quick release, followed by a 1 minute water bath and voila, done!

4. Sealing Ring

After using my Instant Pot for a while, I noticed that my sealing ring started smelling a little bit like last night’s dinner.  I washed it after every use, so I was a little grossed out.  I even ran it through the dishwasher, which cut back on the smell, but didn’t make it go completely away. 
Instant Pot suggests changing out the sealing ring every 18-24 months, but if I were you I would have a couple on hand, just in case you need a new one and especially if you are doing sweet and savory dishes.  You don’t want your cheesecake tasting like pot roast!
Now, they even have multicolored sealing rings so you can have one specifically for your sweet and savory dishes! Brilliant!

5. Things Will Go Wrong

There is a little bit of a learning curve involved when you start anything new.  Just know, that something is bound to go wrong.

One time, I couldn’t figure out why my pot wouldn’t come to pressure.  After 25 minutes I finally figured it out… I had forgotten to put the sealing ring back in after I washed it.

Luckily I was cooking corn and it just so happened to be okay with a long steam bath.  If I had been cooking chicken or some other meat it wouldn’t have worked out so well.

ALWAYS put your sealing ring back in before you start cooking!

These are just a couple of the things I’ve learned while using my Instant Pot over this last year.  I hope you have found them helpful.  Don’t be afraid to start using your Instant Pot today!

I promise you that it will become one of your favorite kitchen gadgets! Don’t give up, it’s not so scary after you’ve cooked a couple meals.

Need some ideas to get you started?

Check out my Instant Pot Pinterest Board

What was the first recipe you tried?

What has been your favorite keeper recipe?

14 Replies to “5 Things I Wish Knew Before I Started Using My Instant Pot”

  1. Oh my goodness!! Thanks for posting this. I keep wanting one, as we are a family of 6 I think it’s necessary also but kept hearing scary stories, errr reading about them. Anyway, the the crock pot incident on “This is Us” but I think I’m going to give it a try. I hope mine doesn’t blow up. Or should I wait for the (yet) you threw in there to be for certain. Lol. Thanks for the tips!

    1. LOL! It is such an amazing time saver! As a working mom, it has definitely paid off! You will love it!

  2. Those Pinterest meals look amazing! I think Korean Beef Stew, Beef Caldereta, and Pork Sinigang would cook well in the Instant Pot.

    1. All the meat I’ve cooked has turned out so tender! The instant pot has really cut down my time in the kitchen. I love it!

  3. I’m researching Instant Pots (I know, I’m way behind on this trend – lol) before I buy one and this article was on point. I was trying to find something on what it was like when the pressure was released and I glad to see there are two ways to do so. I think I envisioned this crazy release process, but now I see there are two options, & the slower release would probably be for me.

    1. Yes, you can let it naturally release, it just takes a little longer. I usually flip the valve and stand back. One of my friends uses a cooking spoon. You get used to it the more you do it. It was scary the first time because I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Now it doesnt really bother me. I did research before I bought mine too. If you’re on the fence, it’s totally worth the investment:)

  4. Ok. So what’s the sealing ring? I hope I don’t have one because it’s never been removed. We’re all gonna get botulism if so!

    1. Hahaha! My friend didn’t know it was removable either. It’s on the inside of the lid. If you pull on it slowly and work your way around it comes out pretty easily. I’ve mostly washed mine by hand, but I think you can put it in the dishwasher too.

  5. oh, I have one of these! I really appreciate some of your tips for the instant pot!

  6. This cracks me up! I got an instant pot from my mother in law for Christmas and I’m still terrified of it! lol I keep using my crockpot instead.. I need to overcome my fear!

    1. I was nervous at first too, but now I just love it! As long as you are prepared for the initial release of steam, you will do great! Try it out and let me know how it goes!

  7. I’ve never heard of one other these before. I’m going to be researching this more! Thanks for sharing

    1. Do your research for sure, it’s always good to read about big purchases! It is my favorite kitchen gadget and saves me so much time. You won’t be disappointed if you decide to get one!

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