7 Most Common Instant Pot Mistakes I Make –I’ve used my Instant Pots hundreds of times but I still make mistakes. Here are some of my most recent mistakes. Sometimes failure is the best way to learn! Maybe you could learn from my mistakes.
7 Most Common Instant Pot Mistakes I Make (+video)
Mistake #1: Forgetting to put in yogurt starter
I make my yogurt recipe about once every 2 weeks and I absolutely love it! I eat it for breakfast most days of the week with berries or bananas and a little granola. I use it in recipes too. I love how creamy it is. It is a great high protein snack. My brother-in-law started making it almost weekly. He stirs protein powder into his yogurt to flavor it. It’s almost like eating pudding.
Since I make this recipe so often I don’t even need to look at instructions anymore. I just have the process memorized: Warm up the milk to 180 degrees, cool the milk to 90 degrees, add in the yogurt starter and then cook on the yogurt setting for 8-10 hours, cook the yogurt and strain the yogurt.
The last time I made yogurt I took it straight from the cooling process to the Instant Pot and forgot to stir in my starter (which is just 2 Tbsp of yogurt). LUCKILY I remembered about an hour later and stirred it in and it worked. Otherwise I would have woken up to warm milk and not to yogurt. That would have been a sad day!
Mistake #2: Cooking by time instead of by thickness
Most of the time you can go by simple rules like “cook a frozen chicken breast for 1 minute for every ounce.” But the thickness of a particular food like a sweet potato or big hunk of meat is more important in determining pressure cooking time than just weight alone. And sometimes when I’m being lazy I’ll throw a super large potato in the pot and expect it to cook at the same rate as my medium size potato. The Instant Pot is magical but it’s not that magical. Common sense does need to come into play!
So when you read that doubling the recipe doesn’t mean you double the cooking time that is true but remember…doubling the THICKNESS of meats, veggies, and other foods DOES require increasing cook time. Also remember that a 2 pound roast is not necessarily twice as thick as a 1 pound roast. If you double the time just due to weight your food may not turn out.
Mistake #3: Not giving myself enough time
Sometimes I underestimate the time that a recipe is going to take from start to finish. The Instant Pot usually takes about 10 minutes to come to pressure (less if the pot is less full with hot liquid and more if the pot is fuller and with lots of cold liquid).
Most of the time I get into trouble when I’m doubling a recipe for company and the pot seems to take 90 days to come to pressure. Then the company is ready to eat dinner and I haven’t even released the pressure yet. If the pot is super full the release process can take up to 5 minutes! That can seem like an eternity when hungry people are hovering.
I made my cheeseburger soup in the 8 quart pot the other day and doubled the recipe. I made the mistake of not starting early enough. It did taste delicious when we finally got to eat it though!
Mistake #4: Not natural pressure releasing meats
As I mentioned in mistake #3 sometimes I don’t give myself enough time. This is the story of my life. I have a habit of underestimating how much time something will take (how long it takes me to get ready in the morning, how long it will take me to mow the lawn, how long it will take me to drive downtown). It is a huge fault. And I never seem to learn.
This can lead to me quick releasing foods in the Instant Pot that I really should let natural pressure release. One time I made a pork roast and I was so behind schedule and so ready to eat that I did a quick release after the roast had cooked for 70 minutes. This was a big mistake because what could have been awesome pull apart shredded pork was more like a large paper weight. Wah!!!
Mistake #5: Running out of liquid
As I mentioned in this article you need enough liquid in the bottom of your pot in order for it to come to pressure. There have been at least 2 times that I was trying to make baked potatoes in my Instant Pot and I threw a cup of water in the bottom and placed the potatoes on a trivet. Because the potatoes filled up the pot and were quite heavy the pot took much longer to come to pressure and the liquid all evaporated before the pot could reach pressure. There’s also a chance that my sealing ring wasn’t properly in place and so the steam escaped more than it should have. Anyway, for food on a trivet like baked potatoes I would suggest 1 ½ cups to 2 cups of water instead of 1 cup.
Mistake #6: Halving recipes I shouldn’t
I am the only person in my family that will eat oatmeal happily. So sometimes I try to halve a steel cut oats recipe that I read online. The problem with this is that steel cut oats absorb so much of the liquid that half of them stick to the bottom of the pot. Really I must remember that if want to halve steel cut oats (or other moisture absorbing foods like rice or grains) I should use the pot-in-pot method with a trivet.
Mistake #7: Overcooking doubled recipes
Sometimes when I use my 8 quart pot I get into trouble. The other day Greg and I were cooking dinner for some of his family. We decided to make homestyle chicken and veggies in the 8 quart pot. We also decided to double the recipe because we wanted to have lots of food for everyone.
This recipe is a little finicky because it has cut up pieces of chicken breast (cook quickly), cut up potatoes (cook quickly) and green beans (cook quickly). The recipe calls for a 5 minute pressure cooking time. But because I doubled the recipe and used an 8 quart pot it took what seemed like FOREVER for the pot to come to pressure. Which meant that by the time the pot reached pressure the food was probably already overcooked. When we removed the lid the potatoes were complete mush and the chicken was tough. Sad sad sad day.
Remember when your pot takes longer to come to pressure (because of fullness or because it’s a larger pot) the food is still in there cooking away! This doesn’t matter much for roasts and dried beans and foods that require long pressure cooking times. But for soft little red potatoes it matters a lot!
So there you have it! Those are some of my most common mistakes I make with my Instant Pot. I’d love to know…What are some of yours?
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What Pressure Cooker Do You Use?
Typically I use a 6 quart Instant Pot Duo 60 7 in 1*. I love this Instant Pot because it has the yogurt making function which I use almost weekly. It has two pressure settings (high and low), and there are also little slots in the handles so that you can rest the lid there instead of putting it down on your counter-top.
*Karen Petersen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.