In this post, we cover the most common obstacles new Instant Pot owners face. Can you relate to any of these? Don’t worry! We will share a few tips for how to overcome these little hiccups so you can become the master of your pressure cooker!
When the Instant Pot comes into your life, you’re bound to have a few questions. There has been compelling enough evidence for you to have purchased this gadget in the first place, but what comes next? Everyone is always talking about how the Instant Pot is so easy and SO quick! However, we have a feeling not everyone feels that way at first. In fact, we know it.
When we surveyed our Instant Pot readers about what obstacles they’ve faced or the setbacks they’ve had with the pot, there was no shortage of answers. Some folks get too psyched out to even open the box, and they let the thing collect dust. While we understand how the Instant Pot can be intimidating at first glance, our goal is to help you see that it’s not. Moreover, anyone can use it and master the art of cooking with it.
So, what are the most common obstacles for new Instant Pot owners?
1. Not realizing the INSTANT pot has to come to pressure
The Instant Pot boasts quick cooking times and a hands-off approach to creating masterpiece meals. However, many recipes fail to mention this one thing: the Instant Pot takes time to come to pressure. Building pressure is technically where the cooking of the food begins, and it can actually take a while depending on the amount of food and liquid.
The average time is probably around 10-15 minutes if you have 1-3 cups of water in the pot. For larger batches of food – especially liquid-heavy meals like stews, broths, or soups – you might wait even longer.
Don’t fret when the pot doesn’t start counting down immediately, and make sure to budget in those extra few minutes when you’re planning dinner. Even with that additional time tacked on, the Instant Pot is still a fast way to cook great meals!
You can learn more about how the Instant Pot actually works here.
2. Being afraid of explosions or other kitchen mishaps
The Instant Pot shouldn’t be confused with the stovetop pressure cooker you may have seen or used in the past. While they serve the same purpose, they have a few key differences. The Instant Pot is a rather “smart” device with tons of built-in safety features. It is designed to be intuitive, easy, and exceptionally safe to use so don’t be afraid.
First and foremost, the pot is designed to release excess steam and pressure buildup which can help you to feel assured there will be no explosions. The temperature control mechanisms also ensure the pot never surpasses a safe temperature. Furthermore, the lid locks for safety and finally, the pot will send a burn notice if that’s what’s going on inside.
Many folks claim they’re intimidated or afraid of the Instant Pot before using it and simply never do. Trust us – the Instant Pot has got your back and anyone can use it without mishap. Don’t worry too much.
3. Not reading a manual OR OTHER GUIDES
When surveyed, there’s a common theme amongst confident Instant Pot users who feel prepared for anything that comes their way during the pressure cooking process: they read the manual. The manual or a guide to your Instant Pot can help ease your mind and answer all of your questions.
Maybe you’re thinking, “How many folks read a manual from front to back?” Very few! Let’s face it, they are boring and not very user-friendly. That’s why we’ve created a more friendly, organised, and thorough guide ourselves that will explain everything you need to know. Read our post on How To Use The Instant Pot For Beginners here.
4. Starting off with complicated recipes
Basic recipes are your friends, and not just in the beginning. You’ll find yourself using your Instant Pot the most often and most seamlessly when you know exactly how to prepare perfect rice, mashed potatoes, boiled eggs, lentils, beans, and meats without having to think twice about the method.
Sure, you’ll also branch out and try more complicated recipes featuring more than a single main ingredient, fancy accessories or multi-stage cooking. Before you take the next steps though, the most simple recipes will help you get in sync with your Instant Pot and learn more about its features and quirks. Begin with failproof, basic staple recipes and you’ll certainly bypass a lot of common problems and mistakes.
Check out these step-by-step, designed-for-beginners recipes:
- How To Cook Rice In Instant Pot
- Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes (Instant Pot Step-By-Step Recipe)
- Easy Instant Pot Pork Shoulder & Gravy (Step-By-Step)
- Instant Pot Tuscan Chicken Pasta (Step-By-Step)
- Instant Pot Taco Meat
5. CONFUSED BY WHICH BUTTONS TO USE
This is a very common question or complaint we hear from new Instant Pot users, especially because so many available recipes only use the Pressure Cook/Manual setting. So why are all those pre-programmed settings/buttons there and which one should you use and when? How does the Instant Pot Saute work? What about the Slow Cook button? How do I adjust the settings and why?
This common obstacle often results in people not utilising all of the available functions of the Instant Pot, which is a shame because it is capable of doing so much more! We found that the official manual doesn’t give a detailed enough overview of all the buttons or actual examples of how and when to use them, so we’ve put together a very comprehensive guide to all Instant Pot buttons and settings here. Once you read that, you will be confident enough to choose the right setting for the right occasion!
6. Not adding enough liquid to the pot
The pressure cooker MUST have liquid to work effectively and safely. Most recipes you read will specify the amount of liquid (and what kind) should be used in a dish, but you might find yourself forgetting it down the line. This may also be an issue if the liquid you’re using is too thick. For example, tomato sauce (ideally) should not be stirred into the liquid, but instead, placed on top of it and blended later unless you’re mixing it with a lot of water or stock.
In the event of forgetting liquid, you will probably get a burn notice or your food will turn out wrong, to say the least. If you’re wondering why you’re getting bad results or your pot isn’t functioning, this is one of the first things to troubleshoot even if you think you’re in the clear.
7. Your pot DOESN’T SEEM come to pressure
Sealing the deal is key with the Instant Pot and you have to make sure it’s done correctly every time. The vent knob must be turned to the sealed position. Your silicone ring (on the inside of the lid) has to be perfectly in place, and sometimes, it can get stretched out or misplaced. These are the first things to check if you’re your Instant pot doesn’t seem to come to pressure.
Remember: the pot takes a bit of time to come to pressure. Moreover, it’s normal for the pot to blow off some steam while it comes to pressure. Don’t worry if you think you’re losing some before the countdown starts.
8. Never taking the Instant Pot out of the box
The first step is often the most important, and sometimes, it’s not even that hard. With the Instant Pot, a lot of people buy it on sale or receive one as a gift only to let it collect dust. This is actually more common than you’d think! Set it up and at least do the water test just to stoke some motivation to use it. The longer you leave it, the more intimidating it will seem to have to start using it.
Okay, now we’ve got the tough stuff out of the way and you should be ready to tackle pressure cooking with your Instant Pot! In our opinion, the design and functions of the Instant Pot are intentionally meant to mitigate problems making all other troubleshooting fairly easy. If you know the main things to look out for going into it, the process is much more intuitive.
These are the most common obstacles we would recommend knowing about before using the Instant Pot. Now, go and cook with confidence!