Because of my Instant Pot Duo pressure cooker recommendation, I get email with questions about how to use Instant Pot cookers. This post is to put them in one place, so I can refer everyone to it. So, here we go: Instant Pot Questions and Answers.
If you have a question I didn’t cover, leave a comment, and I’ll do my best to answer.
Q: All your recipes say “cook at high pressure for X minutes.” My Instant Pot does not have a high pressure button. How do I get high pressure on the Instant Pot?
A: Use the "Manual" or "Pressure Cook" button and set the pot for X minutes. On older Instant Pots, the “Manual” button means pressure cooking. On newer pots, there is an actual “Pressure Cook” button. (Hooray!)
The default for both of those buttons is High Pressure. Press the "Manual" or "Pressure Cook" button, and check to make sure the pressure level shows as "High" in the display. If it does not, press the Pressure Level button until it shows high. Then, use the plus and minus buttons to change the cooking time to the "at high pressure time". (X in my example). Once the time is set, leave the cooker alone. After ten seconds of no buttons being pushed, the cooker will beep, and it will start cooking. (If you want to change something, press the cancel button to start again.) Then, let the cooker do the work. It will bring itself up to high pressure and start the countdown timer. When the countdown reaches zero, it will beep to let you know it is done.
Q: Okay, so, How do I get Low pressure on the Instant Pot?
A: It depends. Which Instant Pot do you own?
IP-DUO, IP-SMART, IP-DUO Plus: Use the “Pressure” or “Pressure level” button to adjust the pressure level. Push the Manual/Pressure Cook button, then the Pressure/Pressure Level button until the display says “Low”, then adjust the cooking time with the plus/minus buttons. Don't forget to change it back when you're done!
IP-LUX: The older IP-LUX model does not do low pressure – it’s high pressure or nothing. That said – I never use low pressure. I owned an IP-LUX for years and didn’t realize it was missing Low Pressure mode until someone asked about it for this FAQ.
Q: What about natural pressure release? When the Instant Pot finishes cooking, it switches to Keep Warm mode - is that OK with a natural pressure release? Or should I cancel it?
A: Keep Warm mode does not affect Natural Pressure Release [Updated 2016-01-18] I used to tell everyone to turn off warming mode to speed up natural pressure release, but...I was wrong. (See here for details of my testing.) Keep Warm mode does not slow down natural pressure release. It does not turn the heat back on until it reaches the warming range of 145°F to 172°F, which is well below the temperature where the pressure will release.
Q: When using the Saute button, can you adjust the heat setting? (Related: How do I bring recipes to a boil before locking the lid on the pot, as some recipes recommend?)
A: It depends on your model:
On the IP-DUO Plus and newer IP-DUO (Models without an "Adjust" button): Keep pressing the Saute button to change the heat level.
On IP-LUX or older IP-DUO (Models with an "Adjust" button): Use the Saute button, then use the Adjust button to change the heat level.
The heat level of Saute mode is controlled by the "Adjust" button. From the Instant Pot website: "3 levels of temperature can be chosen with the “Adjust” key for best results:"
- “Normal”: ~160°C (320°F) for regular browning,
- “More”: ~170°C (338°F) for darker browning, and
- “Less”: ~105°C (221°F) for light browning.
I tend to use "Saute - Normal" for most things, including browning. (Shame on me - I forget about the Adjust button.) For boiling, or if I'm in a hurry, I adjust to "Saute - More".
Q: When I put my electric pressure cooker in slow cooker mode, what is the equivalent slow cooker temperature? Is it the same as a slow cooker on High, or on Low?
A: For an Instant Pot? It depends. Like Saute mode, the Slow Cook mode has multiple heat levels:
On the IP-DUO Plus, IP-Ultra, and newer IP-DUO (Models without an "Adjust" button): Keep pressing the Slow Cook button to change the heat level.
On the IP-LUX and older IP-DUO (Models with an "Adjust" button): Use the Slow Cook button, then use the Adjust button to change the heat level.
Unfortunately, the heat levels don't line up well with traditional slow cooker settings; Medium Slow Cook mode is what most crock-based slow cookers would call "Low":
- More (about 210°F) is about the same as Slow Cooker high
- Medium (about 200°F) is Slow Cooker low setting
- Low (about 190°F) is Slow Cooker "keep warm".
Finally, use the plus/minus buttons to set the slow cooking time.
Also, the Instant Pot has some limitations as a slow cooker. For more info, see this post: Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker.
Q: What about the other buttons? Soup? Rice? Steam? Multigrain?
A: I don't know - I never use them. I just use Manual mode for my pressure cooking. I don't know what they're doing in those other modes, so I'd rather use manual mode and control it myself.
Q: How do you adjust the cooking time in recipes designed for a traditional 15 psi stove top cooker?
A: I add 20% to the cooking time. The Instant Pot operates at 11.5 psi, so to make up for the difference, I add an extra 20% of time for electric pressure cooking. That means 10 minutes stove top is 12 minutes electric; 20 minutes stove top is 24 minutes electric; 30 minutes stove top is 36 minutes electric. (And so on).
The good thing about most pressure cooking recipes is they are not very precise - a little overcooking won't hurt, and probably helps. If you're cooking something that needs precise temperatures, you shouldn't be cooking in a sealed pressure vessel.
Q: Why does my pressure cooker come with a max fill line? I can only use ⅔rds of the 6 quarts?
A: Pressure cookers need headspace to build pressure - don't fill them past ⅔rds full. Pressure cookers are measured by total volume of the pot - how much it can hold if you fill it to the brim. But you can only use ⅔rds of that.
Why can you only use ⅔rds? Because pressure cookers need headspace to come up to pressure. The cooker needs space for the steam to build up, which is what pressurizes the pot. Also, this is a safety feature - if the bubbling ingredients in the pot get into the pressure valve, it can clog, and that's when your pressure cooker can get into trouble with over-pressurizing.
Why don't they measure the pressure cooker as ⅔rds of the pot volume? I don't know, but every pressure cooker I've seen measures their size this way. I know it can be frustrating to find out your brand new 6 quart cooker can only cook 4 quarts of food. I've got the angry comments to prove it. If anything, I think the Instant Pot, and other modern, electric multi-cookers have a better argument for using the total volume - if they can also work as a slow cooker or a normal, electric powered pot, then you actually can use the entire pot.
Q: What is the minimum liquid amount for the Instant Pot?
2-3 cups, according to Instant Pot support About 1 cup, according to Instant Pot's Facebook page.
[Updated 2015-08-06 with answer from Instant Pot's Facebook Page]
1 cup is the minimum liquid amount, unless you're cooking something that will absorb water. From a back and forth on Instant Pot's Facebook page:
The short answer is "about a cup".
The general point is to have enough liquid to reach and maintain pressure. When cooking absorbent foods, think rice, this will require enough for the food to absorb, plus some to bring the pot to pressure. When cooking moisture containing foods, say mushrooms which release moisture when cooked, this can be achieved with less added liquid. So, as is often the case in life, "it depends". The Instant Pot is so well sealed that even a small amount of moisture can be sufficient, depending on the foods being cooked. [2015-08-06: Instant Pot Community Facebook Page]
I would NEVER suggest that you can go as low as ½ a cup of water, like I do all the time...um...I mean...nope, not me, not going to suggest it.
Q: Can I use the Instant Pot for pressure canning?
A: No. The Instant Pot, and all other electric pressure cookers, are not suitable for home canning, according to the USDA and the NCHFP (National Center for Home Food Preservation.) The NCHFP says that they don't believe the processes recommended by the USDA are transferable to electric pressure cookers - you can't trust them to hold high enough temperatures for the length of time needed to ensure safe canning. For more information, see this post on the NCHFP website: Can I Can in a Multi-Cooker?
Q: I forgot the pot liner, and poured stuff into the base. What do I do?
If it was water: Unplug it, dry it off, let it air dry for 72 hours.
If it was oil: That's not good. It probably needs to be replaced. Call Instant Pot Support.
If it was dry goods: Shake 'em out. (Remove the vent cover on the bottom if necessary to get all the dry stuff out.) The pot is ready to use once everything is out of there.
More details in this article: What do I do if I dump liquid into my Instant Pot without the pot liner?
Q: How do you know all of this?
A: I read manuals. And contact support when I have questions. (Yes, I read manuals, all the way through. I can’t help myself.) Instant Pot makes this easy; their manuals are online. Go to InstantPot.com/benefits/specifications-and-manuals/, click on the link to your Instant Pot cooker type, then scroll to the bottom and pick the User Manual you want (in English, French, Chinese, or Spanish).
Also, Instant Pot support is good at responding if you have questions. Drop them a line if you have a burning pressure cooker question you need answered.
Q: Which Instant Pot should I buy?
A: The IP-DUO Plus 6 quart electric pressure cooker.
Why? See my post: Which Pressure Cooker Should I Buy?.
Q: What recipes should a beginner use in the instant pot?
A: Soup, Stew, Beans, Chili, and...Mac and Cheese?
…from there, go to the Pressure Cooker recipe index on the bar at the top of the page, and look for recipes that catch your fancy.
Q: I think my Instant Pot is broken. It's not coming up to pressure/steam is escaping from the lid/nothing happens when I push a button...
A: I'm sorry to hear that! You should probably contact Instant Pot Support for help. Instant pot has a great support department. If you think your cooker is broken or malfunctioning, contact them at InstantPot.com/support
What do you think?
Other questions? Leave them in the comments section below.
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Just purchased our first Instant Pot IP Duo 60. However, it seems to take forever (like 14-19 minutes) to get up to pressure and releases lots of steam in the process, before actually switching over to the timed cooking. Any experience with this?
Mike V says
Where is the steam coming from? Is it escaping all around the lid, from both valves, or jus from the small valve with the pop-up? Does steam stop escaping when the pop-up pops?
How much liquid is in the pot? When it is full to the max fill line, it takes longer to heat up and boil.
But, if it is steaming the whole time, it seems like you have a leak somewhere...or there is something wrong with your unit.
Hi! I just got my Instapot Duo and was looking through recipes to start with. I've noticed some recipes (none from your site) that suggest bringing food to a boil or high temp before starting the pressure. How do I do that with the Instapot? I don't see any adjustments under the manual mode for controlling temp directly.
Thanks so much
Mike V says
Use the "sauté" button, then adjust or plus "+" button to get to "more" sauté. (I forget which button it is to adjust the sauté temp, but it is one of those two).
Berny Bergman says
Can I can with jars a small amount of food in the instant pot?
Mike V says
Not according to the National Center for Home Preservation. Details here:
Phyllis Meeks says
I usually heat my milk to 190 degrees when making yogurt. How do I override the 180 degree temperature that the instant pot does?
Mike V says
I don't think you can. Contact Instant Pot support at http://instantpot.com/contact-us/ or call them at 800-828-7280
Can you bake in an Instant Pot? I know a lot of European models have Bake mode for cakes, baking meat in foil, etc?
Mike V says
I'm not a baker, so I've never tried it. I have read a lot of people singing the praises of pressure cooker cheesecake:
I feel like a dummy asking this question, but what is the Anti Block Shield for? Should I use it every time I used hte Instant Pot?
Mike V says
Yes, attach it and use it all the time. (You should only remove it when you are cleaning the lid.)
For recipes that require sugar and honey, can I add them with everything else in the pot, or should I wait till cooking is done and add them afterward? Thanks!
Mike V says
You can add the sugar whenever you would add it the a regular recipe.
Can you cook meat/poultry from the frozen state? How much extra time does it need?
Mike V says
Great question! Yes, you can, if the meat is thin enough. If the meat is no more than an inch or two thick, and cut into strips, cutlets, or cubes, then add 5 to 10 minutes of cooking time.
Arthur Davies says
I just received my Instant Pot IP-Lux 60 pressure cooker and would like some advice please.
My question is if as you suggest because the Instant Pot operates at 11.5 psi instead of 15psi that you add 20% cooking time for traditional stove top recipes. If I decide to use the natural release that takes between 8-20 minutes when the food continues to cook don't you have to reduce that 20% extra timing accordingly?
Arthur (South Wales UK)
Mike V says
Most recipes I see specify Natural Pressure Release or Quick Release, so the natural pressure 20% is accounted for in the recipe. Now, if you are switching a recipe from quick release to natural release, then you do need to adjust.
I'm sorry if you've already answered this and I missed it. I just got an Instant Pot and I am so excited to find your site! I understand the time conversion for a stovetop cooker recipe but what about an electric one? Are they all about the same amount of cook time or do I need to convnert the time for those as well? Thank you SO much for all of your great information!
Mike V says
If you have a recipe for an electric pressure cooker, it should be good for your Instant Pot. Almost all electric pressure cookers cook between 11 and 12PSI on their high setting, so you don't need to change anything in a recipe written for an electric pressure cooker.
I would like to have a recipe for pork chops.....nothing fancy. The recipe I have uses sour cream, mushrooms, cream of chicken soup etc. and cooks for 8 minutes. Does that sound like a long enough cooking time?
Mike V says
For pork shoulder chops, it doesn't sound long enough. I'd go at least 15 minutes for thin cut pork shoulder chops, with a natural pressure release. For pork loin chops, you don't really want to cook them in the pressure cooker. Loin chops are too lean, and they'll dry out in the PC.
I'm a new owner of the IPDUO60. As per Debbie's question about pork chops I like to use cream of mushroom and added herbs. Should I worry about the creamy soup burning when I pressure cook? I usually do this type of dish in a slow cooker so there's no chance of a burnt sauce. Thanks!
Mike V says
I don't know for sure - I've never used cream of mushroom soup in the PC. My guess is it would be OK, that it's thin enough not to burn, but I'm just guessing. Try it and find out!
FYI.. I make yogurt all the time, and one thing I have learned is NOT TO USE THE QUICK RELEASE after steaming the milk, It spurts out of the top. This makes a huge mess horrible clean up.
Bad move. Let it cool on its own.
I make yogurt all the time, I don't ever get the pressure up when I scald the milk, I don't even use the gasket.
I make a large pot (at least 10 cups of milk) every week. My routine is: scald pot with steam/2 min. and gasket lid; rinse out pot with cold water (this keeps the milk/yogurt from sticking in the bottom for me); add milk/cream, put glass lid on; touch yogurt button and then adjust to get "boil"; when it beeps, I put the stainless pot into the sink and run cold water up half way (cools it down to 110 much faster); after cooled, add starter, gently incorporate; Using same glass lid in place hit yogurt button; after eight hours, the most perfect yogurt ever. About 9 1/2 to 10 hours total.
I am new to Instant Pot/pressure cooker too. Your Q&A is helpful-thank you.
Do you have a recipe you would recommend to help us newbies get introduced to the Instant Pot?
Mike V says
...then go to the "pressure cooker" tab on the top of the page and look for recipes that catch your fancy.
Deb Brainard says
Question: I've just received my Instant Pot - have never owned a pressure cooker before. I'd like to cook a roast - do I add 2 - 3 cups liquid to the cooker? Seems like a lot of liquid - like boiling the roast or soaking it. Is this correct? Thanks for your cooking help! Deb
Mike V says
Deb, if you want a pot roast, yes, add 2-3 cups of liquid (and use a tough cut like shoulder).
Mike V says
Update...should have mentioned: you can probably get by with as little as 1/2 a cup of liquid, but 2 to 3 cups is what Instant Pot support told me was the minimum (I asked them via email.)
But Mike, will my pot explode if I use only 1/2 cup?
Mike V says
No. If anything, it would have the exact opposite problem: not enough steam to come up to pressure.
thanks for the recipes and the information. I recently bought the Instant Pot and look forward to trying more of these recipes. The questions and answers are an excellent source of info to help me use the cooker more efficiently. The instructions that came with the cooker are not the most clarifying.
judy grimes says
when using the Saute button, can you adjust the heat setting. I found a recipe that said to turn saute to low.
Mike V says
Yes you can! Use the "Adjust" button. From the Instant Pot website:
> The new Instant Pot IP-LUX60 is equipped with an advanced sautéing/browning function key. 3 levels of temperature can be chosen with the “Adjust” key for best results.
“Normal”: ~160°C (320°F) for regular browning,
“More”: ~170°C (338°F) for darker browning, and
“Less”: ~105°C (221°F) for light browning.
Jing Hao says
Hello Mike V,
I have a new question here. I have my pressure pot for about 3 year. Recently, the beans are not always cooked as well as before with everything the same. We changed the sealing ring. But it didn't help. It seems the less cooked issue come and goes over the time. But it is not reliable anymore. Do you have an idea?
Mike V says
Get in touch with instant pot support - maybe they can help you?
I have had trouble selecting a setting every time I use my IP lux. The light stays on for the warm/cancel button and I can’t cant select any setting. Any ideas? It’s pretty annoying...
Mike Vrobel says
You may have a defective unit. You should contact http://instantpot.com/support for help.
Jamie Jarvis says
Are your beans older? Beans that have been in storage a long time take longer to cook. Also don't add any sugar or foods containing natural sugar (like tomatoes until your beans are done. Sugar will stop the cooking process.