Get Your New Instant Pot Out of the Box & Start Using It TODAY!
Did you get a new pressure cooker… and it’s still sitting in the box?? Get over the intimidation of pressure cooking… Here’s how to get your Instant Pot and start using it TODAY! The unboxing video is included!
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Did you get a new Instant Pot… and it’s still sitting in the box?
Though I consider myself an Instant Pot expert now, my Instant Pot story started out with much fear and trepidation
On Black Friday 2015, I ordered my first 6-quart DUO Instant Pot. But, when it arrived, I was so overwhelmed by the size of the box, by the concept of pressure cooking, and by my complete lack of knowledge or skill, that I didn’t open it!
In fact, that Instant Pot sat unopened in the corner of my living room for over a month!
Does this sound familiar?
No worries! I’ve got you. I’m going to walk you through the whole process so you can start using your Instant Pot TODAY!
This kitchen gadget is hands-down my most used and most favorite gadget. I use one (or both — here’s why I have 2!) of my Instant Pots on a daily — sometimes more than once daily — basis.
It has saved me so much time and effort and gotten me out of many a meal-planning pickle.
So, let’s get your new Instant Pot out of the box!
Open that Instant Pot Box!
When you open the box, you’ll notice a diagram of the box’s contents on the underside of the box’s lid.
Pay attention to this. You’ll use it to make sure you have every part and piece.
Here’s what your box should contain:
- Instant Pot cooker body with handles and a control panel
- a stainless steel inner pot — often called the “insert”
- the lid with a float valve, pressure release handle, and clear silicon ring
- power cord
- a metal steam rack or trivet
- condensation collector
- plastic measuring cup, rice paddle, and soup spoon
- quick reference guide
- recipe book
- user manual
If you’re missing any of those items, you can contact customer service of the store you purchased your pot from, return it to Amazon and request a replacement, or contact Instant Pot directly and ask about replacement parts.
When To Use What Parts
Well, obviously, the Instant Pot with stainless steel insert pot and the lid are all necessary. The pot will not come to pressure without the silicon ring or without the float valve and pressure release handle turned to “Sealing”. So, these components are used every time you cook.
The Instant Pot will technically work without the condensation collector cup in place. However, I’d advise you to use it each time you pressure cook. You never know when you’ll have a watery mess!
The metal steam rack (trivet) is necessary when hard-boiling or soft-boiling eggs, when “baking” in your Instant Pot, or when using any pots, ceramic dishes, or other accessories in the pot. It provides space between the items on the rack and the bottom of the pot to prevent burning.
If you already have an assortment of measuring cups and utensils, you may find that the plastic measuring cup, rice paddle, and soup ladle are unnecessary. Actually, I’ve discarded all of these items because I don’t like using plastic utensils with hot food and I have enough measuring cups.
What About the User Manual, Recipe Book, & Quick Reference Guide?
It’s always good idea to look over the user manual and familiarize yourself with the different features of the Instant Pot.
For example, you may not know that, in addition to pressure cooking and making yogurt, your Instant Pot also has a feature just for steaming vegetables. Still, you’ll soon find that the best teacher is to simply use the IP!
Honestly, I think the recipe book is superfluous. Many of the recipes are boring and bland; others use processed or unfamiliar ingredients.
If you’re cooking for a keto, Whole30, or paleo lifestyle, you won’t find much to use from the recipe book. Confession: I tossed mine out and never looked at it again! (See the photo above!)
The Quick Reference Guide is a new feature to me. It was not included in my previous 2 Instant Pot boxes.
After looking it over, however, I find some of the cook times accurate (such as 2 minutes for broccoli), but other cook times are inaccurate based on my 4 years of experience (such as the recommended 20 minutes for wild rice and 8 minutes for a whole chicken).
If you’ve never used an Instant Pot before, my advice is this: find a few recipe sites you trust and use their tested recipes rather than using this Quick Reference Guide.
Are Accessories Necessary?
Ever since the Instant Pot made its debut, the world has figured out how to make everything from soup to cheesecake to egg bites to muffins to quick breads in it.
Most of these require accessories as they cannot be cooked directly in the stainless steel insert pot (except soup).
Some of the most popular Instant Pot accessories include:
- tempered glass lid
- egg bites mold
- extra silicon sealing rings
- ceramic baking dish with lid
- 7-inch spring form pan
- bakeware sling
- stackable steamer
- steamer basket
- baking cups
Whether or not you use any of these accessories depends entirely on your cooking style, how you meal prep, and more.
But, I have not found it necessary to purchase the steamer basket or egg bites mold. I steam veggies inside parchment paper sitting on the metal trivet — not in a steamer basket.
If you’re brand-new to using the Instant Pot, I recommend keeping it simple at first. You can always add on accessories as you find recipes and get comfortable with your IP.
The Water Test
Ok, now are you ready to turn this thing on and use it??
First, make sure there’s nothing in the cooker body. (There’s a piece of paper that comes in it and should be removed prior to using.)
Second, check that the silicon ring is securely in place in the lid.
Add 2 cups of water to the stainless steel insert pot. Place the lid on the Instant Pot. You will hear it sing you a little song when you open and close the lid. 🙂
Next, turn the pressure release handle to “Sealing”.
Press the “Pressure Cook” or “Manual” button. (The name of the button will vary depending on the model.)
Then, press the + button to adjust the cooking time to 2 minutes.
You can also press the “Pressure Level” button to make sure your Instant Pot is set to high pressure.
The Instant Pot will sound a long beep to let you know that it is programmed and ready to pressure cook.
Step back and let ‘er go!
Nothing much happens at first. Then, some steam will begin to escape out of the pressure valve. Soon, the Instant Pot will come to pressure, steam will no longer escape, and the screen will display the time (2 minutes). This means your Instant Pot has successfully pressurized!
When the time runs out and the Instant Pot beeps, this means your water test is complete!
You can immediately switch the pressure release handle from “Sealing” to “Venting” to let the pressure off. Or, you can let it sit and naturally release pressure on its own.
Which bring us to…
Manual Pressure Release vs. Natural Pressure Release
In the Instant Pot world, you’ll find 2 different ways to release the pressure once the time has run out and the pot has beeped:
manual pressure release (abbreviated MPR) and natural pressure release (abbreviated NPR)
Manual pressure release means flipping the pressure release handle from “Sealing” to “Venting” as soon as the pot beeps. No time is wasted. The food is ready and leaving it under pressure risks overcooking.
Foods and dishes that employ the manual release are: steamed vegetables, fish, and seafood — anything that doesn’t need to cook any longer than it’s cooked.
Natural pressure release means, once the Instant Pot beeps, you allow it to automatically switch over to the “Keep Warm” function with the pressure slowly and naturally releasing. Depending on the dish, this could take a few minutes (like for rice) to over an hour (like bone broth).
Some recipes have a set amount of time for natural release, then instruct you to manually release any remaining pressure after the allotted time. For example, jasmine rice is cooked for 5 minutes on high pressure, allowed to naturally release for 10 minutes to steam, then any remaining pressure is manually released.
I use the manual pressure release much more often than the natural pressure release. Be sure to check the instructions in Instant Pot recipes. The difference in how the pressure is released really can make or break the recipe!
Once you get your new Instant Pot out of the box… what should you cook first?
Obviously, if you’ve only done a water test, you haven’t cooked anything… except water. 😉
So, now, it’s time to get to the really fun part! What to cook first in your new Instant Pot?
This is easy, inexpensive, and requires no prep work.
There is GREAT debate on the best way to cook hard-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot in the Facebook groups and online. Many folks swear by the “5-5-5” or “6-6-6” methods. The eggs pressure cook for 5 minutes, naturally release pressure for 5 minutes, followed by a 5-minute bath in ice water. (Or 6 minutes of each, respectively.)
Personally, I found that those methods ALWAYS over-cooked my hard-boiled eggs. Then, I realized it was likely because I was using non-refrigerated, farm fresh eggs.
Of course it takes less time to cook a cold egg than to cook a room temperature egg!
So, I came up with my No-Fail Method for Hard-Boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot — specifically for farm fresh eggs that are stored at room temperature.
Regardless of the temperature of your eggs, I recommend beginning your Instant Pot journey with hard-boiled eggs. Use my method for farm-fresh eggs; use the 5-5-5 or 6-6-6 method for refrigerated eggs.
Ok, but what’s next?
Are you really gung-ho to start pressure cooking all the things??
Even if you’re ready to swim in the deep end without a life jacket, I still recommend practicing using your Instant Pot with some beginner recipes.
Here are some to start with:
- No-Peel Instant Pot Applesauce
- No-Fail Instant Pot Soft-Boiled Eggs
- Super Simple Instant Pot Salsa Verde Chicken
- Instant Pot Chai Hot Chocolate
- How to Make Any Blended Soup in the Instant Pot
- How to Cook a Whole Chicken in the Instant Pot
Not feeling like a novice? Then, go ahead and dive in!
Once you get your new Instant Pot out of the box and start using it, the sky is the limit!
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