13 Instant Pot tips, recipes and features everyone should know

Here's proof we spend way too much time with the Instant Pot.

Alina Bradford CNET Contributor
Alina Bradford has been writing how-tos, tech articles and more for almost two decades. She currently writes for CNET's Smart Home Section, MTVNews' tech section and for Live Science's reference section. Follow her on Twitter.
Alina Bradford
3 min read
Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The Instant Pot is a pressure cooker that also also sautés, slow cooks, makes poultry tender and juicy and can even be used for canning.  While all the buttons, valves settings and accessories may seem daunting, we've rounded up some of our best tips to make you a skilled Instapot user.

Read more: 5 reasons you should own an Instant Pot

The basics

But first, an explainer

Whether you're eyeing an Instant Pot or are a longtime owner, start with this explainer about the Instant Pot. It covers how it works, what you can cook in it and basic tips, like using the pressure release valve. Our friends at Chowhound also have a handy guide to the Instant Pot worth reading.

Use all the Instant Pot's buttons

The Instant Pot has a lot of buttons -- don't overlook them. Here's a guide on how to use all of the buttons on your Instapot

Natural vs. Manual pressure release

Learn how to use the natural and manual pressure releases. Sharon Profis has a great explainer on how to release pressure in this article

Always add enough liquid

In order to build enough pressure, the Instant Pot needs to have liquid. Always add 2 cups (480 ml) of water or other liquids -- like broth -- when pressure cooking. Without liquid, the cooker won't pressurize properly. If you're cooking juicy meats, like chicken or brisket, you can lower the amount down to 1 cup (237 ml). 

Know the safety rules

With any pressure cooker, safety is a must. While the Instant Pot is much safer than traditional cookers, there are still a few things to remember.

Keep your hands and face away from the steam valve to avoid scalding burns. In fact, use a wooden spoon to turn the valve to venting after cooking to keep your hands far away from the hot steam.

Be careful with how you fill the pot, too. Only fill your cooker to the two-thirds line. If you're cooking cereals -- like rice -- and beans that will expand, only fill the inner pot halfway. 

The red/silver button by the valve will tell you when it is safe to open the lid. If it's up, the pot is still pressurized. If it's down, it's OK to open the lid. Even when the pressure is released, the inner pot is still very hot. Use potholders to lift it out.

Cleaning the Instant Pot

With enough usage, the Instant Pot can start to take on food stains and even unpleasant smells. Never submerge the main cooking unit to get it clean. Instead, use these cleaning instructions.

How to make tasty pots of rice in your new Instant Pot

See all photos

Recipes and cooking ideas

You could probably survive by cooking with just the Instant Pot alone. There are so many recipes on the Internet, especially Facebook communities, but here are some of the best.

Throw an Instant Pot dinner party

We love the idea of not using anything but your Instant Pot to entertain family and friends.

Convert slow cooker recipes

Converting slow cooker recipes to Instant Pot versions is easy. Here's your guide to switching up your favorite recipes.

Use it as a rice cooker

Here's a great recipe for getting rice perfectly fluffy in an Instant Pot, which is as close as you'll get to a dedicated rice cooker.

Cook breakfast

Breakfast options in the Instant Pot are endless! Our friends at Chowhound rounded up some of their favorite breakfast recipes

Bake and proof bread 

Make quick bread by steaming it. Here are step-by-step instructions and some recipes for Instant Pot quick bread.

Cook "rotisserie" chicken

 Have a whole chicken and not a lot of time? Use your Instant Pot to turn it into fall-off-the-bone chicken. Here's the full recipe for Instant Pot rotisserie-style chicken (and other recipes).

Discover CNET's favorite recipes

Lots of CNETers are obsessed with their Instant Pot. Here are our favorite Instant Pot recipes

Smart home compatibility tool: Find out what smart home platforms work with your existing kit and vice versa.

CNET Smart Home: We transformed a real house into a test lab for the hottest category in tech.