Today I’m going to share with you 10 Things Not to Do with Your Instant Pot. These tips are great for new (and maybe some old) Instant Pot users. Please share this article with your friends that are new to Instant Pot cooking!
Related: 5 things not to do with your Instant Pot and 5 more things not to do with your Instant Pot
10 Things Not to Do with Your Instant Pot (video)
#1: Don’t add thickeners (yet). You’re going to be tempted to add in flour or cornstarch to your Instant Pot to thicken your soup or sauce. And you’ll be able to do that…eventually. But don’t add those thickeners at the beginning (before the pressure cooking time). Add the thickeners after the food has pressure cooked. If you do add these ingredients they will burn to the bottom of the pot and you may get the burn error message.
#2: Don’t underestimate how long it will take to cook a recipe. Just because it’s called an Instant Pot doesn’t mean it’s “instant!” There are 3 time components to a pressure cooker recipe.
- Building pressure
- Pressure cooking
- Pressure releasing
The time that the Instant Pot takes to build pressure can depend on a few different factors (how full the pot is, what the temperature of the food is, etc.) I usually give myself 10 minutes for the pot to pressurize. More about that in this video:
The pressure cooking time for a recipe is the easy part of the recipe…because you can know exactly how long that part will take.
The third part is the pressure release time. Watch this video if you are unfamiliar with quick release and natural pressure release.
Add these three components together to estimate how long a recipe will take to cook. But also realize that once the food is in the pot you have freedom! Get chores done, emails checked, the dishes washed and all the while your food is cooking.
#3: Don’t forget your yogurt starter. I have been making yogurt in my Instant Pot close to every week for the past 2 years. And there have been a handful of times that I’ve forgotten to add the yogurt starter in with the milk. My yogurt recipe is very simple. But it requires that you add 2 Tbsp of yogurt in with the milk. And, unfortunately, there have been a couple of times that I’ve actually forgotten to stir that in. Then when I go to look for my yogurt the next morning it’s still milk. Womp wah.
#4: Don’t worry if you’re Instant Pot doesn’t have a manual button. When you’re reading a recipe and it says “press the manual button” and you don’t have a manual button on your Instant Pot don’t fret. Some models of Instant Pots have a button called “manual” and some have a button called “pressure cook.” They do the exact same thing. They pressure cook your food.
#5: Don’t overfill your pot. Your pressure cooker liner should have a “max fill line.” It’s about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way to the top of the pot. Make sure that you never fill any liquid over that point. The reason? You need space for the pot to build pressure. If it’s filled all the way to the top there’s no way that pot can build steam and get to pressure when it’s so full. Now let’s say you’re cooking a whole chicken and you have 1 1/2 cups of broth in the bottom of the pot and your chicken comes way up to the top and it’s kind of past that max fill line…don’t worry about that. The max fill line is for liquids. There’s plenty of open space around the chicken for the pot to build enough steam and pressure.
#6: Don’t disregard thickness. Thickness is a very important determinant in how long you’re going to pressure cook. For example, if you have a thin chicken breast that has been sliced into a filet it’s going to take a lot less time to cook than a thick chicken breast. For more info on thickness and chicken watch this video:
#7: Don’t get burned by the steam. The Instant Pot has a ton of safety mechanisms on it. And it is generally really safe. The one thing I would caution you of is when you’re moving the valve from sealing to venting. There will be a rapid escape of steam. Move your hand away so that you don’t get burned. Some people I know like to use a spoon to move the valve from sealing to venting.
#8: Do not use the timer button to pressure cook. The timer button (on some models it’s called delay start) is for a delay start to your cooking. It can be confusing for some people because they assume that “timer” means the time they want to cook their food. If you want to use a delay start set the pressure cook time first with the manual/pressure cook button and then press the timer button/delay start button and set how many hours of a delay you would like.
#9: Don’t brown your meats or saute your onions until the pot says HOT. Many people complain that food sticks to their stainless steel pot when they use the saute setting. Turn the pot to the saute setting and wait for the display to read HOT. Once it says hot you can add in your cool oil and saute your onions or brown your roast. The food won’t stick!
#10: Don’t keep your Instant Pot in the box. Get it out and use it. If you’re nervous and you’re still unsure of how to use it watch my video “How to Use an Instant Pot.”
And if you have it out of the box and you’ve only use it once or twice put it on your countertop. If it’s on your counter you’re going to see it and you’re going to be cued to use it more. The more you use it the more comfortable you’re going to feel with it. You will love your Instant Pot. I promise you.
Want more tried and true Instant Pot recipes?
Receive FREE daily Instant Pot recipes and tips in your email box. Sign up by filling out the gray form below. Other ways to follow: join the 365 Days of Instant Pot Recipes Facebook group and subscribe to my YouTube channel where I share Instant Pot stuff with you weekly.
Thanks for the detailed notes on cooking chicken breasts whether frozen or fresh. Very helpful!
And yes — DO NOT leave your IP in the box! I resisted buying one for a couple of years, because a) I was already a good cook, and b) I had a well-supplied kitchen, and c) I didn’t think I needed another “gadget,” and d) I wasn’t sure where I would store it. BUT I made space for it and I have used it *at least* once a week since I bought it. It’s defintiely not just another “kitchen gadget”!
I’m so glad you use it! It really is a versatile and helpful kitchen tool.
I agree! And sometimes I use it twice in one day! Hard-boiled eggs in the morning, and dinner in the evening!
I think the most important tip for a lot of people is #10. I don’t know how many people who say they have an Instant Pot but haven’t used it yet! Sure, there’s a learning curve but it’s worth it!
JoAnn Fare Miller says
No matter what the recipe, Meats are ALWAYS too over cooked for me! Especially chicken + pork.
I’ve tried reducing the cooking time of course + keeping or reducing the pressure releases as well, but no go! I know that the amount of pressure is very important in returning moisture to meats. I am very discouraged + my family complains when the IP comes out! I’m bummed.
Karen, you do have many other non-meat recipes + your tips are always terrific and I appreciate you for that a great deal! I just wish I could get past that “too dry” meat issue.
I have the sme problem with the meat. It is tender, falls apart when I pick it up, but it is so tough that we cannot chew it. What is the problem?I have literally given up on cooking meat.
Phil Davis says
I really appreciate all the recipes you send out. The one tip that I believe is very important is not overfilling the pot. We recently made Beef Burgundy and the unit never came to pressure even though it was below the fill line. Won’t make that mistake again. Thought maybe it was the seal but it was not. Had used it the day before and used it the day after. Have had my unit for almost 3 years and love it.
Good tip! Thank you!
Judy Plouff says
I found a recipe for clotted cream that uses the yogurt button and I do not have a yogurt button. How can I work around that?
This may help you: https://www.reddit.com/r/instantpot/comments/igmczz/how_does_one_make_clotted_cream_without_the/
Love your recipe & my XL pressure cooker, I use it about 3 times a week.
Thinking of buying a smaller one too for making my steel cuts oats in the am.
Excellent for making hard boiled eggs, they peel easily!
Making hard boiled eggs in the IP is a life changer!
How can I find your chicken Parmesan soup recipe?
Kim B. says
Try the search feature at the top right of this webpage. Type in ‘chicken parmesan soup’ & you’ll see several recipes….they sure look yummy!
Thank you for all the tips and recipes. I wonder if I’m doing something wrong as everything come out a little runny. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Do you have any recipes for the air fryer?
It’s hard because you have to start with liquid in the pot for it to come to pressure. So foods do tend to have a lot of liquid. I like to thicken with a cornstarch slurry or a flour roux. I do have a couple air fryer or air fryer lid recipes: https://www.365daysofcrockpot.com/recipes/?fwp_method=crisplid-or-air-fryer
Lynn Imeson says
Thanks so much for mentioning adding COOL oil to a pot ready for sautéing when HOT is displayed. Somehow I missed this instruction until now and it may be why I had various items stick a bit during the sautéing process. Love the Instant pot DUO 6. Have been using it very often for 1.5 years, more in the cooler weather. Also very happy I happened on your website when I was quite new to the game.
I’m glad you are here Lynn!
I’ve had my instant pot for about 3 years ( in the box ) now and finally decided to take the plunge and start using it. I was very intimidated by it and all it’s buttons. I searched the web for any advice or help regarding my IP and found you….thank you. I use it everyday now and love it. I love my IP because of your great advice and recipes. I too make yoghurt weekly now. Keep up the great work!
I am SO proud of you! Good work! I am glad you are here.
Pamela McKinley says
If i do get a burn message when using my IP on the Pressure Cooker setting, I cancel the program and release the pressure quickly so I can open the IP and scrape the bottom of the pot. This was particularly frustrating when I received 3 burn messages in a row. My question is should I decrease the original time setting and start over? I’ve only had my IP since Christmas, but I’ve had many successful meals by using your cookbook and the website recipes for my Duo Evo Plus IP. Thanks for your help.
Cora Purvine says
Where can we get your cookbook. I have had my IP for 3 years and only used it once and didn’t like how it turned out, but after reading your notes, I know why so will start using it again. Thanks!!!
I have an e-book that you can order here: https://www.365daysofcrockpot.com/order-your-cookbook-now/
Karen, enjoying tips. I have learned a couple things about making yogurt in the IP.
After the milk temp reaches 180F, let it set covered for 5 minutes before cooling, and somehow it helps the final product be thicker.
The starter yogurt can just be placed directly into the pot and stirred up. This sure saves some time messing with a little container. I use a pancake flipper with holes in it which mixes things up well, gets into the corners and scrapes up the bottom also. I stir in the starter when temp cools to between 105-115F.
Using 3.5% milk and above, I do not strain and have very little whey settle out, but I do not need thick as store bought Greek to enjoy. I find less time and mess and I am more likely to make the yogurt.
Great tips! Thank you Denny!
Karen, you rank far above the food network “tv chefs“, culinary wizards, & their flashy, splashy backdrops,. You are REAL, understandable & so eloquent in providing everyday delicious meals for busy Moms, working women, single gals & guys & retired folks looking for nutritious, inexpensive solutions. Bless your heart. Your side kick (instant pot) is a winner too. Thanks for all you do. You are appreciated!
Ahhh, thanks so much Peg!!! That was so nice. I’m glad I have been helpful to you.
Kitty Nutting says
I have followed you from the day I got my pot and you have truly been a Godsend. I was scared of it at first because I’ve had some problems with pressure cookers. We just bought an RV and are considering taking the pot for just about all our cooking. Thank you so much for delicious recipes and very helpful hints! You will be on the road with us!
How fun to hear this! Thanks Kitty!!
Barry Watkins says
Karen, I am 78 and single and have had an Instant Pot for a number of years but hadn’t used it much. You are a God send. Learning more every day and actually using it more now that i have some good recipes. It is kind of fun and i sometimes surprise myself with how good things taste. Your recipes are large enough that i break them into smaller portions when i can and freeze for future use.
Anne Volk says
I love my instant pot. But the gasket has absorbed the odor and as much as I clean it let it dry etc, the smell just never goes away. I would never make anything other than savory recipes in it. Other than ordering a new gasket, not sure what else to do.
It is an issue that I haven’t found a great solution for. I ordered a cheap pack of gaskets on amazon for sweet foods.
Rob Stevely says
Dish washers help a lot, but still not completely. Doesn’t bother me tastes are not transferred anyway.
Leigh Sheppard says
Exactly! It is a fruitless and unnecessary battle trying to get rid of the smells picked up by the silicone ring. Just stop sniffing the gasket!!! The silicone picks up the smell of whatever you cook, but it does not seem to transfer to new dishes. If you prefer, I have found it helpful to use colored gaskets (available on Amazon). Red for spicy foods. Blue for sweet. White for regular use… it soothes the OCD in me.
I put a bowl of baking soda in my cooker when it is not being used at all times. That has been a great way to get rid of any and all odors.
Judy Cameron says
After every use, I clean the pot then I run it through a cycle with 2 cups water and 1/4 to 1/2 cup lemon juice or vinegar. I usually let it go for 20 minutes, then let it sit for 20 minutes on the slow release . I do not have any odors in the pot doing this. It always smell clean and the pot is super clean. I hope this helps
KATHY KLEMAN says
I SEEM TO HAVE TROUBLE GETTING THE GASKET TO SEAL WITH THE CHEAP ONES. I FOUND ONE (RED) ABOUT 6 MOS. AGO THAT WILL FINALLY SEAL. I ALSO GET THE ODOR. I SOAK THIS ONE IN VINEGAR FOR AWHILE. IT SEEMS TO DO THE TRICK FOR ME. I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WILL DO WHEN THIS GASKET WEARS OUT.
You can order more on amazon!
Michelle Markley says
Hi Karen, my IP sat in its box for the first year I had it! Then I found your blog. Now I use it regularly!!! Even tho it’s just me, I either share what I’ve cooked, or freeze it for those nights I just don’t feel like cooking. My adult granddaughter received an IP for Christmas and was afraid to use it. I have shared your blog with her, now she too is using hers! Even my sister, who is afraid to use hers is slowly beginning to see how great it is because of your blog! My sis in law told me she wants one after listening to me sing the praises of mine, but I was quick to give the credit to your blog!!!!!
I can never thank you enough for all the time and effort you put into helping others become comfortable with their IP’s and the FANTASTIC recipes you offer, but I do offer a heartfelt THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!
awwww thanks so much this was so fun for me to read!!! Thank you for sharing the love 💗💗💗
Hey Karen, Allie here, I’ve wrote you several times now. I keep your site on call all the time as for example I have had to change my phone loosing most of my info, and just had to change my tablet loosing the info on it. Love all your time and hard work you put into this site, I thank you. I do have two other sites I get recipes from but yours is a favorite. Again, thank you!! Allie
How nice! Thanks so much for being here Allie 😊
My number one thing to not do in an instant pot is add liquid without putting in the liner first. Your 10 things are useful as are all you posts and videos.
Yep that’s a good one!!!!
Elizabeth Robert says
I’ve been using my IP for about 2 years…after a couple weeks of hit and miss with it, I went searching for a place with info and recipes and I stumbled onto this site. BLESSING!
I love having the info and recipes coming straight to my INBOX, I never miss a thing, and it’s easy to forward to family and friends.
Keep up the great work….💖
Ahhh, thanks so much Elizabeth!!!!
JANET PEARCE-EULA says
Just love all your hints and recipes.
You make it so easy to pressure cook.
Keep up the good work!!!!!!
Thank you so much Janet. I’m glad you are here!
Rhonda Morgan says
I’m so new to this , & a bit scared, but the first thing I really need to know,,, can I use my new “Ninja” the same as an IP.
So far I’ve cooked a pork butt, & wasn’t totally thrilled, but I don’t know what I did wrong.
Yes I really think most electric pressure cookers should be about the same as the Instant Pot. Keep at it and you’ll feel more comfortable!
Have an IP ultra, what does the ultra button do? Thank you!
Unique to the Instant Pot Ultra, this setting allows you to control every part of the cooking process—whether to cook at High/Low/No Pressure, set custom temperatures, and select any time you’ll need. Temp. Turn the dial on the Instant Pot Ultra to select a custom cooking temperature.
Kaye M. says
I’m sorry if this is the wrong place to address this, but I could not find any article I was sure you would have on your blog. Have you addressed the SLOW COOK function on the IP? I would like to use it, but have heard so many conflicting stories about it…saying it’s not like a regular slow cooker (I understand that) but not really how to use it correctly. Could you please do an article on your understanding of how to use it?
Yes that is something I should have written up long ago! Basically the less button is like “warm”, normal is like “low” and more is like “high.” IP cooks from the bottom and not the sides like a normal slow cooker. I don’t love how it works as a slow cooker but it works in a pinch.
Along with the “don’t get burned” tip: Do buy sturdy silicon gloves. It can be awkward working with them on but going to the emergency room is worse.
Hope you don’t know this from experience Mandy!!
I have an electric pressure cooker which does that same things as an Insta pot. It doesn’t have a yogurt button though. Is there a way to make yogurt in it?
Yes there is. If you don’t have a yogurt button: https://www.sparklestosprinkles.com/how-to-make-instant-pot-yogurt-without-the-yogurt-button/
geri Anthony says
Very good recipes, I use my lp all the time and your site is so helpful.l have given your advice to alot of people. Geri
Thanks so much for your support Geri!
Susan phillips says
What do you use to strain your yogurt. I use cheese cloth and a strainer, but it’s kind of messy. Any suggestions? Thanks. Love your blogs!
Shannon Rode says
I use a paper towel inside a mesh strainer.
I do this too sometimes 🙂
I use the round coffee filters. I turn them inside out first. ((if that makes sense, it makes them easier to line the strainer, They sit better.
I have used those thin flour sack towels and a strainer or paper towels.
I bought a yoghurt strainer. A little pricy but definitely worth it. No mess and no stress
I also bought a yogurt strainer, but now don’t use it. I find if you stir in 2 – 3 tbsp of dry milk in (I put it in before the heat cycle) It thickens the yogurt so I get hardly any whey. give it a try
Your blog is my #1 go-to for instant pot tips and information. Your recipes are always delicious and reliable, which I truly appreciate. I’m thankful I found your site when I received my Instant Pot Ultra for Christmas 2018. Honestly, your videos and posts are the reason I use my IP so often. Thanks for all you do!
This is so nice to read! Thank you so much! I’m glad that I have been helpful to you.
Sherry Brown says
After Viewing your video on chicken and thickness and frozen and unfrozen it said that you could print a list a whole page of what you covered in the video but I could not find it anywhere can you please send that to me at my email address: [email protected]. I enjoyed all thre videos because this is all new to me.
Hi Sherry, you can find all the chicken info here: https://www.365daysofcrockpot.com/how-to-cook-chicken-breasts-in-the-instant-pot-frozen-or-fresh/
Patty Dison says
Thanks Karen for all the info. Been following you about a year…just bought an Instant Pot….omg…will be watching all your how to video’s.
Yay Patty! You can find all my videos here: https://www.youtube.com/user/karenbellessapeterse
Thanks for the helpful info. Haven’t used my pot yet but am storing all the info for the big event! Can’t wait to give it a go. Been out of town for a while,
You’ve got this Robyn!
Marilyn Shelman says
This segment you shared is so good!!! Just what I’ve been needing…. Thx so much…..
Yay! So glad it was helpful to you Marilyn!