The Right (and Wrong) Way to Use Your Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is the newest gadget to find a place in kitchens everywhere. The gadget combines the benefits of a slow cooker with those of a pressure cooker to create an all-in-one machine. Keep reading to learn the right and wrong ways to use an Instant Pot.

Right way: Meal prep with an Instant Pot

Instant Pot
An Instant Pot is a great tool for your kitchen. | Instant Pot Community via Facebook

 An Instant Pot is a fantastic tool to use to prepare food for future meals. Hard-boil a dozen eggs for the week ahead on a Sunday, according to Quartzy. Even pickle the eggs. Make homemade broth or cook a pound of beans to use in different dishes throughout the week.

Hint: Don’t expect a meal to cook in an instant.

Wrong way: When you’re short on time

Healthy food concept
Don’t underestimate the time you’ll need. |

An Instant Pot can take more than an instant to cook a meal (page 5). Say a dish calls for 10 minutes in the Instant Pot. “The Instant Pot needs to come to pressure before the 10-minute countdown begins,” according to Paint The Kitchen Red. Don’t assume a dish will take 10 minutes in total to go from kitchen to table. Be sure to consider the time the device needs to come to pressure if you’re short on time.

Hint: Use an Instant Pot to make perfect rice.

Right way: Cook rice

Bowl of steamed rice.
It can cook a good bowl of rice. | vlad_karavaev/iStock/Getty Images

Never take a bite of a crunchy, undercooked grain of rice again. Here’s how the process works: “high-pressure steam trapped inside a pressure cooker forces itself inside ingredients like uncooked rice, helping them to retain moisture,” according to Quartzy. The result will be moist, plump grains of evenly cooked rice.

Hint: Don’t waste your time with this setting.

Wrong way: Braises and stews

beef tagine or stew
Don’t bother with braising. |

Don’t use the Instant Pot’s sauté function. “The difference browning makes in the final flavor is pretty minimal,” according to Quartzy. Don’t bother with braising a piece of meat in an Instant Pot. The final product won’t taste any different.

Hint: Expect to wait for an Instant Pot to become pressurized.

Right way: Weeknight meals

It’s an easy way to get dinner on the table. | iStock/Getty Images

Sam Sifton made baby back ribs with an Instant Pot and “ate rather later than I would have thought, you know, with an Instant Pot,” according to the newsletter he writes for The New York Times. According to Sifton’s co-worker, “if you’re doing that stuff on a weeknight after work, you’re using the machine wrong.” The problem is the dish. Stick with a meal that doesn’t take a long time to cook even in an Instant Pot.

Hint: Don’t replace your oven with an Instant Pot.

Wrong way: To bake

Assorted cookies
Baked items didn’t have the best results. | Svetl/iStock/Getty Images

Alex Van Buren, of The Washington Post, put her Instant Pot to the test by comparing three recipes side by side in a blind taste test against her traditionally used dutch oven. Allison Plumer, co-owner and chef de cuisine of restaurant, Lot 2, tasted each dish with Van Buren. Both preferred the original cooking method. The Instant Pot “lacks the ability to finesse your dish,” Plumer said.

Hint: An Instant Pot is NOT a slow cooker.

Wrong way: As a slow cooker

Slow Cooker
The slow cooker setting isn’t that great. | matt6t6/iStock/Getty Images

Yes, the device has a slow cooker setting. But Sarah DiGregorio, author of Adventures in Slow Cooking, warns against it. An excerpt of DiGregorio’s book, published in Southern Living, explains why. As with any pressure cooker, the lid seals and locks in place, which “allows for even less evaporation than traditional slow cookers,” Sarah wrote. “That means a dish ends up swimming in liquid when you translate a traditional slow cooker recipe to slow cooking in the Instant Pot.”

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Read more: 10 Crockpot Recipes for Lazy People