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?
You might also like…
How to deep clean your Instant Pot
9 things you didn’t know about your Instant Pot
10 most often made Instant Pot recipes
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.
Lisa P says
Before I found you, I attempted to make mashed potatoes in my Instant Pot. I didn’t use a trivet or anything, just placed the potatoes in the water. Well, the potatoes fell apart into chunks and bits and pieces and there was too much water. Even if I had drained it, there would hardly be any potato left to mash. My hubby calls this a ‘happy accident’ because I just added a few more ingredients and used an immersion blender and voila! We had cream of potato soup lol.
Oh that’s awesome! Love making lemonade out of lemons!
Thank you for this very helpful (and very honest!) article. I too often underestimate the time needed. For me, it is forgetting how long it takes to prepare the things I am throwing into the pot. Thanks again.
Yep I do that too!
Yvonne Gonzales says
I made a pot roast with gravy. When I released the pressure, out came the gravy all over my counter. What did I do wrong?
For a roast you should never do a quick release. It will dry out the meat. Next time you release pressure and something comes out quickly move it back to sealing. Try again in 20 seconds. Go back and forth between the two until pressure is released.
I made the chocolate lava bombs tonight from a recipe I got from 365… for the first time. It doesn’t say whether to put the pot on sealing or not. I am new to this, & I didn’t see it, so I didn’t worry about it. My pot ran out of water because it was steaming the whole time. My husband said that they didn’t seem like they were all the way done. Since I had never made them before, I didn’t know if that was just the texture that they are, or if I should have put the pot on sealing to cook. I want to try them again, but I want to make sure that I am doing the right thing.
Hi Sharee, I’m not sure it was my recipe??? I don’t have chocolate lava bombs on my site.
Joyce Galbreath says
I absolutely love your chicken tortilla soup. Somehow I decided to add some extras: 1 can each of black beans and kidney beans and a bag of frozen corn. Everything was going along smoothly until the dreaded BURN! My beans all clumped to the bottom. Fortunately I was able to save the soup by finishing it in a large pot on the stove. I am wondering what happened to cause the BURN.
I wonder if the beans caused it. That shouldn’t happen though. How annoying! Sorry!
I love your tips and guides. My mom just got an 8qt. She couldn’t make heads or tails of the guide book. She lives out of state and doesn’t have internet. I pulled up your previous emails and walked her through cooking a rack of ribs for her first try. Turned out perfect. She uses it all the time now.
My fav tip is using stock or broth instead of cooking in water. My fav recipe is the homestyle chicken and vegetables. I put a rotisserie seasoning packet in it and it makes a tasty gravy, and it’s more like chicken stew.
I need to try that idea with the homestyle chicken! Sounds so tasty! And how awesome of you to help your mom! That’s great!
Dana Read says
Here’s a good one! Ala Karen, I misjudged the amount of time it would take to “bake” a large potato in my 3 quart IP. Potato not done, put lid back on, turned to venting and set for a few more minutes. Problem? The seal on the lid popped off a bit when opening the IP and wasn’t really sealing on the second go round. Result? After trying to come to pressure for a couple of minutes the lid blew – i.e. cracked open enough to let the steam escape, made a horrible noise, spewed hot steam everywhere and in general, scared the **** out of me! I grabbed a thick kitchen towel and a long handled spatula to turn the vent so all the steam could escape. Disaster averted but what did I learn? If restarting the IP to finish off cooking ALWAYS check the seating of the ring!!!!!!
I’ve done that same thing Dana! Lesson learned!!!
Roy Watanabe says
What determines if you should use low pressure or high pressure with a recipe? I haven’t seen this on recipes so it’s hard to know. Because of this I use the high pressure but don’t know if this a correct assumption.
Roy I use high pressure about 99% of the time. That’s what I’ve see in other recipes so often. Not sure exactly when to use low pressure. Perhaps for recipes that are more sensitive, like soft boiled eggs.
Christina in SW FL says
Tip# 7 was a real eyeopener for me… I will definitely have to rethink some of my recipes. Thanks so much!
You’re so welcome Christina!
Ann Moore says
I am new to the Instant Pot and love it. I have the stacking pans and do not know what to cook in them. I saw a recipe to cook Salmon and Vegetables. I think the Salmon was in top pan. I am not able to find the recipe now. I have several of your recipes and look forward to cooking them.
Chris Phillips says
My husband always wants to know how long its going to take. I just add 30 minutes to the time no matter what I am making or the release because he is so impatient!
When I use the rack i usually always use 1 1/2 cups water just in case.
I P steel cut oatmeal is delicious. I melt some butter and saute the oats for a few minutes before cooking. Yum!
I like the idea of melting the butter and sauteeing!
I have been using the IP Sauté setting to heat the water in the inner section, no lid, and then cancel, go to Pressure Cook after loading the ingredients for whatever the recipe calls for. The time to come to pressure is reduced. I suppose one could also use hot tap water to do something similar.
J Jo says
QUESTION FOR KAREN:
CAN YOU PUT TOO MUCH LIQUID IN THE INNER POT? I’d rather have too much, i.e. 2 cups, to be safe, than 1 cup and worry it will run out on me). Thanks for your help. : )
The more liquid the longer it will take to come to pressure. So if it’s food that can get overcooked quickly then yes, too much liquid is a problem.
Barbara Krompocker says
I am a 70 year old widow living with my little dog. I have recently purchased an Instant Pot and want to know if I can use it to cook frozen prepared foods such as chicken strips and chunks and French fries. I no longer cook big meals just for me but, boy some of your recipes make my mouth water. So here I am. Chose an Instant Pot over an air fryer so I hope the instant pot will suffice.
I don’t think the instant pot would be good for those types of foods that would be better crispy. The IP is good for steaming, braising, soups…moist heat is used. The foods you are talking about would probably be better just in the oven.
Janet Ortega says
I was making green beans (raw) and put in 2 cups of water, put the Crock Pot Express on steam. There was a lot of green beans (long) and it took fur ever to come to pressure. Actually it was about 10-15′ and it never came to pressure, the aux steam emitter just kept steam g so I stopped it. There was very little water left. It’s done this before with sweet potatoes I think, what do you think went wrong? Everything else cooks with no problem.
This is a very interesting idea! My suggestion to anybody who reads this is- first …. read the Guide! Then, and only then, should you read the comments that are posted here! For example, the comment by Robin from 4-22-19, makes absolutely no sense at all! Re-read what is suggested for cooking with orzo , and proceed accordingly.
Thanks for sharing these “mistakes”! It is a great forum for sharing experiences.
I have this experience to share- do not use the Inner Pot to brown your pot roast! It is a great idea but it will almost always give you the dreaded “BURN” message.
Avoid this inconvenience by searing your roast in a separate skillet and then transferring the roast to the Inner Pot, and using the trivet to keep the roast raised above the bottom of the Pot. You will thank me!
Good tip! Thanks Robin!
Thank you Karen for sharing your mistakes…it reassures us who are more novices…
So far I cook with an 8- and 3-pints and I have had no problems.
However, my mistake is that I wash my silicone every time I use it and I don’t put it back because I don’t want the smell to be too strong in my Instant Pot. When I make a recipe again, I forget to put the silicone back on! Fortunately I quickly realize it! The sound is not the same!
haha! yeah, I could totally see me doing that too.
Jeanette Jacobs says
My Instant Pot is actually a Ninja Foodi which does not have a Yogurt setting. Can I adapt the recipe by pressuring on Low or in some other way?
I would google specifically how to make yogurt in the ninja foodi. I wouldn’t want to give you bad advice.
Im a newbie to IP. I researched and wrote down several recipes I’d like to try. Sat. I prepped my ingredients and had them lined up in bowls waiting to be introduced to the sauted ground sirloin in the IP. I felt a little like a Food Network star. Until i needed to change to the pressure cooking settings.
Pasta e Fazoil recipe told change setting from saute high to pressure (high) 2 minutes. Well from what I ended up figuring out pressure cooking has one setting. Then somehow I was able to set the cook time to 2 mins as needed.
My IP model is a 6 quart Lux Pioneer Woman.
I had one regret…. Not spraying the stainless steel inner liner of the IP with cooking spray. It was tough getting it clean.
Good on you! Sounds like you’ll be a pro in no time.
I’m finding it takes a long time for my instant to pressure down after it’s done cooking. I don’t know if it’s my altitude or something else but it’s usually 15 to 20 minutes if I let it release on its own, even if it’s not very full. Longer if it’s full.
Yeah, it depends what’s in it for me. For example hard boiled eggs always release in less than 10 minutes but a pot of soup can take a long time if I let it.
I’m guilty of not giving myself enough time to do an NPR properly. No excuse, I just get busy and forget to start on time and have to shorten the NPR. Not good.
Janet Hoffarth says
Homemade yogurt sounds like a great idea. I would like to try making it, but have some questions.
How much milk do you use? How do you cool the milk? For the starter, is it plain yogurt or a flavored one?
Here are the exact instructions I use: https://www.365daysofcrockpot.com/instant-pot-greek-yogurt/
Great PC tips. Will you please share your yogurt recipe. I have been wanting to give it a try and would like to try yours. Thanx
Here it is! https://www.365daysofcrockpot.com/instant-pot-greek-yogurt/
Kathleen Kendler says
I was making a recipe last week where everything went into the pot in layers. Instead of prepping it all first, I just dumped in the ingredients as I was chopping. The problem was the first 2 ingredients, water and orzo, clumped together and essentially made a barrier that stopped the pot from coming to pressure. After starting the time over (3 times!) I stirred what was in the pot, loosened the orzo off the bottom and gave it a few minutes to cook. Turned out great, but I learned my lesson! Thanks for the tips YOU shared!
Yah, we live we learn don’t we!
Leslie Shingle says
On your last mistake of cooking time in 8 quart and doubling recipe what do you recommend to do instead? You stated the cooking time was 5 mins but the pot took forever to come to pressure. So what is the solution? I maybe missing something?
I probably should have used only a 2-3 minute cooking time for food that was so fussy.