Whether you’re cooking a whole chicken, making some yogurt, or simmering a quick soup, the Instant Pot can save you a ton of time and cleanup in the kitchen. It’s an electric, programmable pressure cooker, but this small appliance is a new favorite in every cook’s kitchen because it’s so much more than a pressure cooker.
It seems like it can do anything and once you get the hang of it, it’s incredibly easy to use. That being said, it does have a lot of buttons. Have you figured them all out yet? Here are 6 of our favorites!
This is the only fully automated program; you can’t adjust the pressure or the time because it automatically adjusts depending on the weight of the rice you put in. You can cook as little as one cup of rice in your Instant Pot. 2 cups of rice will take about 12 minutes. Most rice is cooked at a 1:1 ratio, but refer to your manual as some varieties differ. Rice is the only button that is preset to Low Pressure. To use it, you just put in your rice and water, close up the pot, and select the “Rice” program. It will automatically choose a cooking time based on the amount of rice you put in.
This setting allows you to use the Instant Pot like you would a steamer on the stovetop. You can steam pretty much any vegetable or even seafood. You just put the wire rack into the bottom of pot, pour 1-2 cups of water in and place your ingredients in a metal steaming basket on top of the wire rack.
For this mode, you use the “+” or “-” buttons to adjust the time according to what you’re steaming. We love to steam artichokes in the Instant Pot, they take about 10 minutes, whereas broccoli only takes 2-3 minutes. In this mode, you want to use quick steam release; the natural release can make your veggies mushy and soggy since they keep cooking a bit as pressure releases.
Making homemade yogurt allows you to control the ingredients and sweetness, and it tastes SO amazing. The Instant Pot makes it pretty easy. You can use individual jars to make it, but we find it’s easier to make one big batch. To do that, you: Pour a 1/2 gallon of milk into the inner pot and then make sure the steam valve is set to “Sealing” and close the lid. Push the “Yogurt” button, and then “Adjust.” The word “boil” should appear on the digital display; after 10 seconds it will beep and start heating the milk to 180°F. (Heating your milk to boiling helps create a thicker set for the yogurt.)
After the cooking time is up, remove the inner pot and set it on the counter to cool. When the milk has cooled to 115°F, it’s time to add your starter culture. The easiest way is to use 2 tablespoons of store-bought/active yogurt. Mix this with a 1/2 cup of the warm milk. Once smooth, stir the mixture back into the warm milk. Return the inner pot to the Instant Pot and close the lid. Push the “Yogurt” button again and use the “+” button to adjust time to 8 hours. Cooking cycle will automatically start after 10 seconds. When cooking time is up, voila: you have yogurt!
This is – hands down – our favorite thing about the Instant Pot. We love our slow cooker, as most every cook does, but we have a tendency to avoid recipes that require you to sear or sauté things first because, well… dirtying another dish and taking the time to heat it up kind of defeats the purpose when it comes to the convenience of the slow cooker. (In our opinion, anyway.) But with the Instant Pot, you just set it to the sauté function and cook your onions or brown your meat or what have you, and then set it to slow cook or pressure cook. All in the same pot. Hallelujah!
Press “Adjust” for a lower temperature (like if you need to simmer a soup after pressure cooking) or a higher temperature (like for searing meat). The digital display will show “On” when it’s heating up and “Hot” when it has come up to temp.
5. Slow Cook
This here is one of the most magical things about the Instant Pot. This setting allows it to function just as a slow cooker does. (So do you really need your slow cooker anymore? Maybe not.) You put all your ingredients in, close the lid, and adjust the time with the “+” and “-” buttons. You can also use the “Adjust” button to change the level of heat. We find ourselves using the Instant Pot to slow cook more often than we use our slow cooker now!
Cooking dried beans in the Instant Pot saves SO MUCH time. And they turn out great. The default setting here is 30 minutes at High Pressure and that really does make a nice chili that’s comparable to one that’s slow-simmered on the stove. You can use the “Adjust” button for “More” (40 minutes) or “Less” (25 minutes) time. Different types of beans take different amounts of time, but you can always consult the manual or do a quick google to find what you need.