If you’re looking for instant pot hacks to get even more out of this miracle appliance that everyone can’t stop talking about, look no further!
We’ve got some clever instant pot hacks for IP veterans and other smart pointers for beginners, so you can leave all the pressure for your insta-pot!
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- Most popular model of the instant pot*
- Favorite accessories* to make the most of your kitchen contraption
- A key accessory that you should have extras of*, to keep your food smells separate
Top 10 instant pot tips & hacks
1. Let your instant pot clean itself
Your insta-pot already takes the hassle out of cooking, so why not let it do the dirtier work of cleaning itself?
Here is the only cleaning hack you’ll need to know:
- Rinse out your instant pot.
- Fill the pot ¼ of the way up, then add a few drops of dishwashing soap.
- Press the STEAM button, seal the pressure valve, and let it run, which takes about 10 minutes.
- Dump out the water and give the pot another rinse to wash out any remaining soap residue.
- Dry and store.
Bonus: this method also does a great job of keeping the stains and odors out of your sealing ring* too!
2. DIY instant pot steamer baskets
Here’s a cheap way to up the amount of food that your insta-pot can steaming: use disposable pie tins to create DIY steamer baskets!
- Take the pie tin and carefully some holes into the bottom so that the steam can pass through.
- Fill each tin with the veggies or other items you want to steam.
- Then, place a wide metal cookie cutter inside the pan amongst the food, which will allow you to stack multiple tins on top of each other.
To see this in action, fast-forward to 2:50 of the video below. (via Food Network)
3. Strain your yogurt the hassle-free way
When making yogurt in your insta-pot, the one thing it doesn’t do it strain it out. We’ve got the easiest way to do this, hands down.
- Make your yogurt in a mason jar* with the metal lid & rim piece off.
- When you are ready to strain, place a coffee filter* over the top of the opening, then use the metal lid rim to seal the coffee filter in place.
- Flip upside down over a steamer basket or tray that’s set over a bowl to catch the drippings.
If you don’t have a steamer basket, use the DIY method we mentioned in the last tip.
4. Double the love with two instant pots!
Rather than getting a large 8-quart instant pot, you may want to consider getting two smaller 6-quart instant pots* for all these benefits:
- Cook multiple dishes at once - As convenient as they are, sometimes you want more than a one-pot meal. Having two instant pots means you make two dishes at once allow you to have, for example, a main entree AND dessert.
- Easier to meal prep - You’ll also love having multiple pots if you are meal planner, since you can cook more batches faster. Btw, if you are looking for a meal planning printable to streamline your meal plans, you’ll love this version.
- Don’t get slowed down by recipes that take a long time to sit - Getting multiple pots is also a good move for those who like to regularly make recipes that require lots of time in the instant pot, like yogurt or bread dough proofing. This way, you’ll have another pot free to cook for meal times when they roll around.
Alternative: if you don’t have the space or money for a second instant pot, consider just getting an extra liner so you can pop that right in as soon as the first dish is done.
5. Don’t forget to adjust for altitude
If your recipes aren’t turning out exactly right and you live in a city that sits well above sea level, the problem might be your high altitude.
Although the instant pot does a pretty good job of building up the pressure inside the pot, the difference in external pressure outside the pot at differing heights does mean the cooking time will vary.
There is a general rule of thumb you can follow: for every 1000 feet you are above 2000-feet elevation level, add 5% to the cooking time.
Or, use this handy chart for easy manual conversion. (via Healthy Instant Pot Recipes)
6. Safety, safety, safety!
When you have an appliance that’s as fun & easy to use as the instant pot, it’s easy to slip up on safety. Trust us: scalding yourself is an instant buzzkill that you totally can and should avoid.
Always make a quick check of these things to ensure your instant pot experience isn’t literally painful:
- Check the bottom of the inner pot & the heating plate to ensure they are both dry and clean before turning things on.
- Make sure the float valve, exhaust valve, and anti-block shield are all free of any food.
- Double-check that the sealing ring is secure.
- Ensure that the steam release handle is in the sealing position before you start to cook.
- Situate your vent so that it is not obstructing anything you need to reach.
- When opening the pot or doing a quick-release, position yourself so that you don't get scalded by any steam that comes out
7. Converting your own recipe
As fun as it is to find new recipes to try, you may want to use your instant pot to cook your own tried-and-true favorite recipes that you used to make before you had this new appliance.
Here are some tips for figuring out how to convert your recipe to be insta-pot-friendly:
- Know the insta-pot’s limitations - Pressure cooking relies on moisture so any recipe that requires dry heat methods like roasting, frying, or baking might not do so well in an instant pot.
- Start by looking for instant pot versions of your recipe - Someone has probably already tried making a variation of your dish so refer to a similar recipe to get cook times and settings, then incorporate your choice of seasonings and ingredients.
- Use a cook time chart if you can’t find a similar recipe - If you don’t find a recipe that is similar enough, you can easily find cook time charts online to help you do the conversion.
- Don’t overfill - Adjust your portion sizes to account for the max capacity of the insta-pot.
- Save sauces & dairy ingredients for the end - Use the Saute button on low heat at the end if your dish calls for a roux or other sauce-thickening. Dairy ingredients also have to go in at the end because they might scorch or foam.
8. Make use of the pre- and post-cooking residual heat
Although technically your instant pot starts cooking when the pressure is built up, that doesn’t mean you can't put the heat to good use as it is building up or dissipating.
If you have a recipe that calls for sauteing the vegetables or browning any ingredients first, just do it right in the instant pot using the Saute button on Normal heat level.
If you bother with doing it in a separate frying pan on the stove, you’ll miss out on these benefits:
- Only one pot to clean!
- More flavor stays in the dish
- The instant pot has higher sides, meaning less oil splashes out
On the back side, after your instant pot is done cooking its dish, you can use the Saute button on Low heat level to simmer sauces and allow them to thicken.
Depending on the sauce, you may want to add a thickener like cornstarch or just let it cook away some of the liquid to concentrate the flavor.
9. Don’t be fooled by the MAX line!
Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security with the MAX line!
If you are pressure cooking, it is actually a bad idea to fill up to the MAX line for several reasons:
- The pot might take a really long time to come to pressure, or just fail to do so altogether.
- If the contents bubble up and clog the steam valve, the pot could shut down due to overheating.
- Even if the pot functions fine and cooks as intended, any liquid inside could be boiling forcefully and overflow.
The rule of thumb is:
- ½ full - if you are cooking something starchy where the liquid will foam, like rice or beans
- ⅔ full - everything else
(via Hip Pressure Cooking)
10. Use your instant pot to make non-food stuff!
As if your instant pot couldn’t get any more amazing, did you know you can use it to make other non-edible stuff too?
This post shares pretty creative instant pot recipes including:
- Kids' toys like crayons
- Self-care items like lotions
- Extracts and more
Get even more out of your beloved instant-pot with these neat instant pot hacks and smart pointers.
Learn useful instant pot tips like how to have your instant pot clean itself, the easiest mess-free way to strain your yogurt, about non-edible gifts your instant pot can make, and more!
If you don’t put a cooking ime in will the Instant pot know the amount of time needed?
Munch Munch Yum
Hi Christine! There are two ways to let the Instant Pot know how to long to cook something: 1) set a manual time or 2) use one of the preset buttons that has the name of the food you are cooking (ex: soup, rice, etc). If you have a specific recipe that you haven't cooked in your Instant Pot before, we would recommend checking your recipe or looking online to determine whether the preset button is appropriate or whether it is better to enter a manual time.
The right cook time for a certain food type can vary, so the preset button's default settings aren't necessarily the best combination of settings for a particular recipe. For example, even though there is a "Beans / Chili" setting, the actual cook time for a pot of beans will depend on what kind of bean it is and how soft you want the beans to get.
My IP Duo doesn’t have a ‘Manual’ setting . Is that Sauté/set time?
Munch Munch Yum
Newer models of the Instant Pot have replaced the "Manual" button with a "Pressure Cook" button. If you'd like to see a video walkthrough of how to changing the cook timing using that button, you can check out the first two minutes of this YouTube video: https://youtu.be/VQyCIzYeh9w
Hope this helps!