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10 foods you should never cook in your Instant Pot

Cooking some foods can be disappointing, or downright dangerous.

instantpot

Some foods are a big nope.

Instant Pot

The Instant Pot (called "Instapot" by many) is one of our favorite cooking tools because it can handle such a wide range of foods almost effortlessly. And Instant Pots range from those that tackle the basics of pressure cooking to those that can sterilize items and cook food via the sous-vide method. There are also models you can control with Wi-Fi.

Plus, if you are looking to expand your range of kitchen appliances, Instant Pot brand just released an air fryer you can use to make rotisserie chicken and even homemade beef jerky. There's also this separate Accu-Circulator device you can use with your Instant Pot to make sous-vide fish, steak and all the rest.

The now-iconic Instant Pot works like a pressure cooker to cook foods fast using heat and steam. Although we've cooked everything in it from perfect carnitas to hard boiled eggs, not every ingredient or preparation will work. Steer clear of these 10 things you shouldn't try to cook in your classic Instant Pot.

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Crunchy, crispy food

Your Instant Pot is not a pressure fryer and isn't designed for the higher temperatures needed to heat cooking oil for something like crispy fried chicken. Of course, an Instant Pot is perfect for a dish like carnitas, but to get the final crisp on the meat, after you remove the meat from the Instant Pot, transfer to a skillet and brown for a few minutes or to a baking sheet and crisp up in a hot oven.

Dairy

Just like in a slow cooker, dairy products such as cheese, milk and sour cream will curdle in an Instant Pot, no matter if you use the pressure cooking setting or the slow cooking setting. Add these ingredients after the dish cooks or avoid making the recipe in the Instapot altogether. 

There are two exceptions. One is when you're making yogurt, and that's only if you use a recipe specifically for an Instant Pot. The other is if you're making a cheesecake, and again, only if you're following an Instant Pot recipe.

Pasta

While you technically can cook pasta in an Instant Pot, it may come out gummy or unevenly cooked. Honestly, unless you don't have the option, boiling the pasta in a pot on a stovetop is just as fast and easy and will yield consistently better cooked pasta.

Two recipes at once

Cooking your roast with potatoes and carrots is a time honored recipe, right? Not in this case. Don't try to cook a main dish with a side dish in your Instant Pot. They may fit in the pot together, but each food will need its own cooking time. Cooking items together will inevitably result in a dry or mushy mess.

Cakes

You aren't really baking a cake in an Instant Pot, you're steaming it. The cake will be moist -- which works for something like bread pudding -- but you won't get a nice crust on the cake or the chewy edges that everyone fights over with baked brownies. However, if you do need to throw something together for a potluck or quick family dessert, you will get a moist sponge in half an hour or so, excluding prep time.

Canning

Canning, the art of cooking and sealing foods in jars, is often done in a pressure cooker. So, it may seem like a good idea to make a batch of jams, pickles or jellies in your Instapot. Don't do it. 

With an Instant Pot, you're not able to monitor the temperature of what you're canning as you would with a regular pressure cooker. With canning, cooking and sealing the food correctly is key. Improper cooking and sealing can lead to bacteria growth that can cause food poisoning.

While you want to avoid canning with an Instant Pot, some of the newer models, such as the Duo Plus, do have a Sterilize setting that lets you clean baby bottles and kitchen items like jars and utensils.

Rare or medium-rare meats

A pressure cooker is not a barbecue. An Instant Pot does great with tougher cuts of meat -- which the pressure cooker can easily break down -- but not so good with ones that are best eaten medium-rare, like a steak. Save those for the grill.

(If you are looking for beef recipes that are perfect for an Instant Pot, our companion site Chowhound has several nice collections for quick meals and summer dining.)

Yellow and red lentils

We love lentils, but not all of them can be cooked in an Instapot. Brown and green lentils can hold up to pressure cooking, but the more delicate yellow and red versions turn to mush because they cook so quickly. Stick to cooking these on the stove for the best results.

Sous-vide

Don't try this trendy method of cooking with most Instant Pots models. The Instant Pot Max is an exception because it gives you the ability to accurately control cooking temperature. If you don't own an Instant Pot that has that level of control, you are better off using an Instant Pot attachment to do your sous-vide cooking, if you are really set on using your pressure cooker this way.

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Seafood

In general, seafood such as fish, oysters, shrimp, muscles and clams are just too delicate for pressure cooking and slow cooking modes. They are foods that are meant to be cooked quickly at just the right temperature, which is hard to do with an Instant Pot. A few seconds too long or at the wrong temperature and you can end up with mush or rubbery lumps.

Besides, fish, shellfish and crustaceans are easily cooked with other methods, so breaking out the Instant Pot for them won't guarantee better results, like it can for tougher meats.

The only exception is octopus and squid. Pressure cooking these tough creatures can make them tender while keeping the meat juicy. Just be sure to find a recipe that is specifically for the Instant Pot.

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Instant Pot Max
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