6 Instant Pot Secrets + Recipes

Feb 16 2018
Like so many of you out there, we've been playing around with our Instant Pot and doing our research too. We've got some crucial info to pass along... plus recipes (of course)!

Factor in the preheat and pressure-release time.

One thing the Instant Pot is famous for is its ability to cook up your favorites in mere minutes. (6-minute chicken! 3-minute oatmeal!) However, it does need to preheat before the official countdown begins. There's also often a pressure-release time associated with your dish. HG FYI: To help you plan, we include these times in our prep and cook info at the top of each Instant Pot recipe. And keep in mind, you're still likely to save a LOT of time using the Instant Pot versus a conventional oven or pot on the stove!

Hydration is key.

Nine times out of ten, Instant Pot recipes need some sort of liquid... even if the dish you're cooking up doesn't typically require it. That's because the pressure-cooker function is dependent on steam. Skip the liquid, and the pot will rob your food of precious moisture. Common ways to power that steaming action? Basic broth or good ol’ H2O.

Don’t add cornstarch until the end.

Cornstarch can thicken a dish, but it's not ideal in the Instant Pot. Since that steaming process is essential, you don't want the liquid portion of your creation to be too dense. If you need to thicken an Instant Pot sauce with cornstarch, wait until the dish is done cooking. Then stir in a cornstarch slurry (a mix of cornstarch and water) while the food is still piping hot.

Dairy doesn't play nice.

We learned this one the hard way. The combination of high heat and intense pressure can cause dairy ingredients to curdle or burn. But here are a few tricks we've discovered. When working with cheese, layer it on top of the other ingredients so that it doesn’t sink to the bottom and burn. And when it comes to creamy dairy ingredients (like milk), add those after the cooking's completed to prevent any icky results. We also tend to choose unsweetened almond milk rather than dairy milk... No milk proteins = no curdling!

If you like it, then you should clean the ring on it.

Truth time: If you use your Instant Pot fairly frequently, that ring around the lid can start to smell a little odd. Our solution? Soak it in a mix of baking soda and hot water. You can also buy replacement rings for only a few dollars each. Just make sure the size matches your specific Instant Pot.

Want to speed up the cook time on your favorite slow-cooker dishes?

No problem! Most slow-cooker recipes cook for 7 to 8 hours on low or 3 to 4 hours on high. Those will take around 30 minutes using the pressure-cooker setting on your Instant Pot. Use the Meat/Stew setting for red meat and the Poultry setting for (duh) chicken or turkey. Easy peasy!

Chew on this:

It's National Almond Day, February 16th, a.k.a. the day we celebrate this awesome nut! Grab a can of some fun flavored almonds, like Blue Diamond's Salted Caramel Almonds, and remember to portion them out!

Pass this info along to your Instant Pot pals! Click "Send to a Friend" now.

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SmartPoints® value* not what you expected? We follow the same method as Weight Watchers when calculating the SmartPoints® value* for a recipe: We add up the SmartPoints® values* of the individual ingredients. (Many foods have a value of zero and remain zero in recipes.)

*The PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® values for these products and/or recipes were calculated by Hungry Girl and are not an endorsement or approval of the product, recipe or its manufacturer or developer by Weight Watchers International, Inc., the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark and SmartPoints® trademark.