Standing in line at Target’s return counter the week after Christmas, I couldn’t help but notice a few unopened Instant Pots awaiting their return, held by some defeated-looking home cooks, and yet, I couldn’t help but think they hadn’t given this magical kitchen appliance a fair shake. If you’re a new Instant Pot owner and are feeling a bit anxious about this dynamic, sounds-too-good-to-be-true device, let us put your fears at ease. The Instant Pot is wildly popular for good reason. Use this handy guide to overcome those Instant Pot jitters, and you’ll be whipping up incredible meals with this magical machine in no time.
Scroll on for Instant Pot hacks, recipes, pointers and so much more!
Things to Know About Instant Pot
If you’re looking to de-clutter for the New Year, look no further than your new Instant Pot. It actually takes the place of seven (yes, SEVEN!) kitchen gadgets all in one. It’s a rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, pressure cooker, slow cooker and warmer all in one. Plus, you can even make yogurt in it.
Liquid is a Must
Pressure cookers need liquid to do their magic. Add a cup of liquid, such as broth or water, to prepare your favorite meats and stews. The liquid needs to be thin enough to create a sufficient amount of steam (that’s how pressure cookers work!), and you can always thicken up your sauce or gravy after pressure cooking with flour or cornstarch.
Don’t Be Afraid to Go Manual
Manual mode sounds like it would be a whole lot tougher than just pressing the button marked “Soup.” In reality, the “Manual” button will probably be your best friend on your new Instant Pot. This pressure cooking button allows you to adjust the time you want to your heart’s desire – just be aware it will always automatically default to “High Pressure.”
It takes your new Instant Pot about 10 minutes to adequately build pressure before it will actually begin to cook your meal. Be sure to account for that extra time if you’re using the “Pressure” or “Manual” modes.
Peruse the Manual
Instant Pots are perfectly safe, but because they have so many wonderful functions, the learning curve is steeper than that of a slow cooker. We know manuals are incredibly dry, but don’t throw out yours with the box! (If you did, that’s okay. The manual is online.) You’ll feel much more knowledgeable after a read-through.
Instant Pot Tips & Tricks
Start With the Easy Stuff
To get the hang of your brand new gadget, expert Instant Pot users recommend beginning with the simple stuff like eggs, rice, beans or potatoes. When asked, one home cook said she wasn’t comfortable trying anything else until she successfully cooked a pot of beans without blowing up her kitchen. Chili and stews are the next tier up, and once you’ve mastered those, you can move on to the more advanced recipes. This Old Gal and Instant Loss are two recommended sources for beginner-friendly recipes.
Squash Made Easy
Butternut squash is so delicious, but we all know it’s a huge pain to peel. One home user’s favorite go-to trick is to put a whole butternut squash in her Instant Pot with a cup of water and cook on manual for 9 minutes. The skin practically falls off.
Homemade Stock is a Breeze
It’s winter, and nothing is better than a hearty homemade soup. Before the Instant Pot, homemade stocks would take days, but with this handy gadget, you can make your own stock in mere hours. Just place leftover chicken scraps and veggies in the pot and cover with water (being careful not to overfill), and in less than two hours you’ll have a delicious base for your favorite soup.
It’s All About Timing
To make a super simple and quick meal for a busy weeknight, choose ingredients that have the same cook time to toss into your Instant Pot. Jasmine rice and chicken tenderloins both have a cook time of 8-10 minutes, and you can easily brown the chicken and add it to the pot with the rice and a dash of seasoning. Pork and whole sweet potatoes also have similar cooking times. You can check out this comprehensive list of cooking times on Instant Pot’s website for more ideas.
Go Button Crazy
All those buttons may seem intimidating, but they’re really nothing to fear. The Instant Pot has a magical warming button that you can press after you’ve perfectly pressure cooked your family’s meal and are waiting for everyone to gather around the table. You can also utilize the sauté button to lightly brown your protein before changing to manual for your veggies.
Favorite Instant Pot Recipes
These are some tried and true recipes to help you fall for your Instant Pot.
Risotto is one of the best things you can prepare with an Instant Pot. If you’ve attempted making risotto in the traditional way, you know how much stirring and attention you have to give it. It’s almost not worth it! Instead, you can whip up a legit risotto in your Instant Pot in about 30 minutes with very minimal effort. Can you say date night? See recipe here.
Green Chili With Chicken
This recipe is a fan favorite and a unique twist to the typical red chili. You can add all of the ingredients to the pot at one time and don’t even have to add any additional liquid. It’s a delicious weekday meal that’s ready in 30 minutes! See recipe here.
Indian Butter Chicken
One home cook claimed she didn’t fall in love with her Instant Pot until she stumbled upon this recipe. A recipe that is typically extremely labor intensive, it’s not one that many have even thought about attempting – until now. See recipe here.
Chocolate Lava Cake
Instant Pots aren’t just reserved for savory dishes. Secretly everyone’s favorite decadent dessert, a delicious chocolate lava cake takes less than 20 minutes from start to fork. See recipe here.
Be sure to check out the Instant Pot website for even more tips and recipes. And when you create magic with it, post to Instagram and be sure to tag us — @StyleBlueprint! We wanna see!
Find more great recipes in our archives. Click HERE!