Instant Pot Basics, Favorites + Healthy Recipes

Feb 19 2021
We've learned so much about the Instant Pot since we first started playing around with one several years ago, so we're putting all our essential IP info in one place — HERE — for your convenience. Read up!

Choosing Your Instant Pot...

Most modern Instant Pots have these modes (if not more): Soup, Poultry, Meat/Stew, Bean/Chili, Sauté, Rice, Multigrain, Porridge, Steam, and Slow Cook. We highly recommend getting one that can sauté: perfect for browning meat! Different models have different features, so read the details before you order, or just select one of our Amazon picks…

The Basics...

With so many features, it can be a bit intimidating, but don't worry... Just take a peek through the instruction manual before you get started, and you'll be fine. You can also check out the Instant Pot website's how-to videos to see it in action.

Brace yourself: There will be steam! There are two ways to release the pressure: Quick Release & Natural Release. Quick Release is meant to keep certain foods (like meat) from drying out, while Natural Release works for dishes like chili and soup. Quick Release creates an intense burst of hot steam that erupts from the top of the pot. Be prepared! We recommend using a towel and then getting the heck out of the way.

Factor in preheat time. Instant Pots cook food fast BUT they do require time to heat up. So even if you set the cook time for 6 minutes, it's going to take a bit longer. However, it does preheat faster than a traditional oven. To help you plan, we include these times in our prep and cook info at the top of each Instant Pot recipe.

HELLO, easy cleanup! Everything cooks in the inner pot, which is easy to remove, lightweight, and dishwasher safe. If you use your Instant Pot fairly frequently, you’ll want to keep the ring around the lid clean. Soak it in a mix of baking soda and hot water to freshen up.

A Few Extra Tips...

For converting a slow-cooker recipe to a speedy pressure-cooker setting... 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 (including preheat time) using the pressure-cooker setting on your Instant Pot. Use the Meat/Stew setting for red meat and the Poultry setting for chicken or turkey.

For ensuring your food doesn't dry out... The pressure-cooker function is dependent on steam. If there's not enough liquid, the pot will rob your food of moisture. Add some broth or water to the pot before you cook, and drain off the excess after.

For cooking with dairy... 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 is completed to prevent any icky results. Or choose unsweetened almond milk — no milk proteins mean no curdling.

FYI: We may receive affiliate compensation from some of these links.

Chew on this:

Today, February 19th, is National Chocolate Mint Day! Celebrate with a piece (or two!) of this 64-calorie Hint-of-Mint Fudge.

Pass it on! Click "Send to a Friend" to share all this info.

Social

We may have received free samples of food, which in no way influences whether these products are reviewed favorably, unfavorably, mentioned with indifference, or mentioned at all. Click for more about our editorial and advertising policies.

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

*The 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 WW International, Inc., the owner of the SmartPoints® trademark.


Hungry Girl provides general information about food and lifestyle. This information and any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. Click here for more information.