- Placing the Instant Pot under cupboards or shelves can damage paint.
- Not adding liquid or filling the Instant Pot with too much food can ruin your meal.
- Not sealing the Instant Pot properly or having the sealing ring be out of place will affect cook time.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
It seems like the Instant Pot has invaded kitchen counter tops across the globe.
The cult appliance is a combination electric pressure cooker and slow cooker, making it ideal for whipping up meals in small spaces or helping time-strapped cooks get food on the table quickly. You can also sauté, steam, and even make yogurt in this multi-talented gadget.
Though people seem to love the Instant Pot, there are a few common mistakes that might sour your experience with it. INSIDER checked in with nutritionists and chefs to figure out how to avoid common pitfalls and get the most from your Instant Pot.
Mistake #1: You add all the recipe’s ingredients to the pot at the same time
Using an Instant Pot isn’t as simple as tossing in all your ingredients and setting a timer. Different food items cook at different speeds, which means that executing some Instant Pot recipes will take a little planning.
“Different foods need different cooking times, and you’ll need to take that into account when you use the Instant Pot to prepare meals,” nutritionist Lisa Richards told INSIDER. “For example, cooking chicken takes around six minutes, whereas rice will take around 20 minutes.”
To prepare the perfect Instant Pot meal, you’ll need to remember to add ingredients based on cooking times. As a general rule, tougher cuts of meat and denser vegetables like potatoes will take longer to cook than items such as leafy greens and soft veggies. If you’re following a recipe specifically adapted for the Instant Pot, the instructions may even indicate when to add each ingredient. Richards advised that using an accessory like a stainless steel, pot-in-pot steamer set will make adding additional ingredients easier.
Mistake #2: You don’t add enough liquid
If you’re used to cooking on the stove or in a slow-cooker, you might assume that tossing chicken in the Instant Pot along with some vegetables and seasonings will result in a perfectly cooked meal. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
“The most common mistake is cooking in the Instant Pot without any liquid. Pressure cookers need some type of steam to pressurize the pot. You’ll need a minimum of one cup of liquid while cooking,” food blogger Charisse Yu told INSIDER.
To make sure your Instant Pot has enough steam to cook your food, always add at least 18 fluid ounces or 500 milliliters of liquid to your pot. That liquid should come from stock, wine, beer, water, thin cooking sauces, or fruit or vegetables juices. Thick cooking sauces or oil-based sauces won’t produce enough steam.
Mistake #3: You forget to seal your Instant Pot’s valve
The Instant Pot uses extreme pressure and heat to cook ingredients, which is why it cooks meals so much faster than a stove or slow cooker. This means that you need to make sure the appliance is properly sealed or your food won’t cook properly.
“One common mistake that people make when using the Instant Pot is forgetting to set the valve to the sealing position,” Carrie Forrest, creator of Clean Eating Kitchen and author of the official authorised Instant Pot book, the Healthy Meal Prep Instant Pot Cookbook, told INSIDER. “You will know that you may have forgotten to set the valve to ‘sealing’ when you hear air escaping from around the sealing ring after the pot has come up to pressure.”
The solution to this mistake is quick and easy. Simply cancel the cooking time and carefully set the valve to the sealing position rather than the venting setting. Then, reset the cooking time and restart the Instant Pot. No harm done.
Mistake #4: You overfill your Instant Pot
No matter how hungry you are, your Instant Pot can only handle so much food. Overfilling the appliance can result in poorly cooked food or even leakage.
“This is a messy mistake because you risk a lot of splatter in the kitchen! Pay attention to the max fill line to avoid this,” registered dietitian Rachel Fine told INSIDER.
Make sure your Instant Pot is never more than two-thirds full. And if you’re cooking food that expands, such as rice or quinoa, don’t fill the appliance more than halfway.
Mistake #5: Your sealing ring is out of place
An Instant Pot’s silicone sealing ring is part of what allows the appliance to retain the kind of pressure needed to cook food. Not installing it correctly or forgetting to replace it after cleaning will seriously compromise your ability to use the Instant Pot.
“The silicone ring absorbs food odours and should be washed after every use. However, it’s easy to forget to put it back on. If the ring is not properly on the lid, the steam will escape out the edge of the lid and the pressure cooker will not come to pressure,” Sandy Wolner, registered dietitian and food and trend innovator at Pampered Chef told INSIDER.
Keep your sealing ring in good shape by removing it from the lid after cooking and washing it with warm, soapy water. Allow it to dry before replacing it on the lid of your Instant Pot.
Mistake #6: You cook with a lot of dairy
Sadly, the Instant Pot may not be the best way to whip up your favourite mac and cheese recipe.
“Foods with lots of dairy don’t do well in an Instant Pot. The high temperatures can cause these foods to burn, curdle, or spoil,” registered dietitian and pediatric nutritionist Jodi Greebel told INSIDER.
If you want to incorporate dairy into your Instant Pot recipes, add the ingredients right at the end of the cooking process or after the Instant Pot has been opened.
Mistake #7: You use the wrong kind of steam release for your recipe
The Instant Pot uses pressurised steam to cook food. That steam has to be safely released before you can open your appliance and remove your finished meal.
“It’s important to follow your recipe to know which way to release the steam. Manual or quick release is not the best option for recipes with a lot of liquid or high starch content, like rice and oatmeal, which may splatter out of the pressure release,” said Wolner.
It’s also important to follow instructions when a recipe notes that you should use the quick release function rather than allow the Instant Pot to depressurize over time. Using the quick release means the food inside the appliance won’t become overcooked. Letting the Instant Pot release steam naturally is a better option for meals that include tougher cuts of meat or legumes you want to soften.
Mistake #8: You place your Instant Pot right under your cabinets
The Instant Pot is touted as a space-saving cooking solution for small kitchens. However, tucking this gadget under cabinets or cupboards may damage them over time.
“If your recipe calls for a manual release, the steam can take a few minutes to release. In order to protect your cupboards, make sure that the pot is place away from them. If not, your cupboards or paint can be ruined from the excess moisture,” food blogger Gwen Leron told INSIDER.
Cooks with limited counter real estate may want to place the Instant Pot on a table or clear off some counter space away from cabinets to avoid damage.
- Read more:
- The differences between a Crock Pot and an Instant Pot
- The 17 best Instant Pot recipes on Pinterest
- I bought an Instant Pot – here’s why it’s not everything it’s cracked up to be
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