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Small Appliances

Don't cook these 5 foods in your Instant Pot

These foods are a big nope.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The Instant Pot (aka Instapot) is my favorite cooking tool in the kitchen because it can cook such a wide range of foods almost effortlessly. There are some things, though, it just can't do. 

Here are five foods you shouldn't try to cook in your Instapot.

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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.

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. 

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 like 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. 

Yellow and red lentils

I 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.

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.