So you have a brand new, shiny Instant Pot, but now what? So many people are scared to start using their new appliance and leave it sitting in the box collecting dust.
Well, fear no more! I will walk you through the first steps of using your new Instant Pot and help you feel more comfortable using it so you can get cooking!
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure.
If you still haven’t unboxed your Instant Pot, make sure to check out my unboxing video so we can do it together. Then head back over here to start using it.
Instant Pot Don’ts
Here are a few things you shouldn’t do while operating your Instant Pot.
Don’t Be Scared!
There is no reason to be scared of the Instant Pot. Sure, we’ve all heard the horror stories of the old stovetop version pressure cookers, but the Instant Pot is safe and once you get used to it, will likely become your new best friend!
The Instant Pot has safety features that prevent any of the things that made us scared of using a stovetop pressure cooker. So let’s leave our fears behind and get cooking!
Don’t Place Anything Over the Release
So this one is a big no-no. You may hear people saying they drape a towel over the pressure release valve when releasing the pressure. Well, it’s just not safe. The Instant Pot valve was designed to release steam upward, and putting anything over it will impede this, not only making it a hazard but also possibly damaging your unit. Just don’t do it.
The Instant Pot company also does not endorse the use of any steam diverters.
Don’t Place Your Instant Pot Under Kitchen Cabinets
When you release the pressure of your Instant Pot, the steam that comes out is very hot. Placing the pot under kitchen cabinets will likely damage your cabinets. Find a solid, stable place to place your pot and make sure nothing above it can get damaged.
Don’t Place Your Instant Pot on Your Stove
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe how many people place it on their stovetop and accidentally turn on the stove. This will immediately melt the bottom of your pot rendering it useless. Don’t do it!
Don’t Try to Open the Pot While It’s Under Pressure
The Instant Pot comes equipped with a safety mechanism that doesn’t allow you to open the pot while it’s under pressure. That being said, do not attempt to force it open if it is still under pressure and the float valve is still in the “up” position.
Now, let’s get started with our dos!
Here is everything you’ll need to complete this project.
Here is a list of the products featured in this post or products similar to those featured in this post:
- Small Liquid Measuring Cup : All you need is 1 cup of water to perform the water test in your brand new Instant Pot. This measuring cup is the perfect size.
- Trivet with Handles : The handles on this trivet make placing food into and lifting food out of your Instant Pot safer and easier.
- Mini Mitts : I use these mitts daily. They are great quality and are quick and easy to slip on making them super convenient.
- Colored Sealing Rings : These sealing rings are perfect for changing out between sweet and savory meals and help ensure that you don’t transfer unwanted flavors to certain foods.
28 Must-Have Instant Pot Accessories
Make sure to check out my Ultimate List of Instant Pot Accessories! I’ve included everything you could ever need to help make your pressure cooking quicker, easier, and even more convenient.
Instant Pot Dos
These are things you want to do when you get started using your new Instant Pot.
Do the Water Test
I’m sure you’ve heard people saying you have to do the water test before getting started. Confession: I didn’t do it, I just dove right into cooking. So if you’ve already started cooking, don’t worry, everything will be fine if you didn’t do the water test.
But if you’re a bit scared and want to get your feet wet, then the water test is definitely the way to go. The water test will confirm that your pot is working properly and it will allow you to do your first pressure release!
The water test is very simple. All you need is 3 cups of water and your Instant Pot.
Do Make Sure Your Liner and Sealing Ring are in Place
Make sure you have your liner in the pot and your sealing ring is on properly. To confirm you’re doing this right, watch the video above where I walk you step by step through the water test.
You will pour your 3 cups of water into the Instant Pot, and close the top. On the video, I show you how to do this. I struggled with the top my first time so don’t feel bad if you can’t get it to close on your first try!
Do Set Your Pot to Sealing
Once the top is on, move the pressure knob to “sealing”.
Set the pot to “Steam” and using the +/- adjust buttons, set it for 5 minutes.
And that’s it for now. The pot will say “On” for several minutes. Once it reaches pressure and the pin goes up, the countdown will start.
Once the countdown reaches zero and the water is done “cooking”, the Instant Pot will beep and it will switch to “warm” mode. You can now press cancel and it’s time to do the pressure release!
Do a Quick Pressure Release
This is probably the part that scares people the most. I promise, it’s not hard and you’ll be a pro in releasing the pressure in no time. All you need to make sure of is that you don’t put your hands or face above the release valve. The steam that comes out is super hot and it will burn you.
In the video, you can see exactly how I release the pressure. Once all the pressure is released, the pin will drop and you can open your pot. You’re done with the water test!
Do a Natural Pressure Release
If you’ve heard the terms NPR and QPR thrown around you’re probably wondering what it all means. QPR is short for Quick Pressure Release and NPR is Natural Pressure Release. When a recipe calls for QPR that means you will immediately release the pressure manually by turning the release valve from sealing to venting. Once all the steam is released, the pin will drop and you can open your pot.
When a recipe calls for NPR that means you don’t have to do anything, you will let the pot release the pressure on its own. It will seem as though nothing is happening, but steam is indeed slowly being released.
When your cooking time has reached zero, the display on the Instant Pot will change and it will have an “L” on it and it will begin counting up instead of down. This counts the minutes your pot has been naturally releasing.
So if, for example, a recipe calls for a 10 minute NPR, then your cooking would end and you would allow the time to start counting up. When the display reads L 0:10 you would then release the rest of the pressure manually until the pin drops. If a recipe calls for a Full NPR, that means you would do nothing after cooking is finished and you’d wait for the pin to drop on its own. A full NPR can last up to 30-40 minutes depending on what you’re cooking.
Once again, the video will show you exactly how this all works.
You’re probably wondering if you need to buy lots of fancy accessories for your new pot. The short answer is no. Your Instant Pot will come with everything you need to get started. However, there are some accessories that are definitely nice to have. These are the basic ones I couldn’t live without:
I LOVE my mini mitts! I use them every day, even when I’m not using my Instant Pot. They are durable and I can depend on the quality. I’ve had them for several years and they are still in perfect shape.
Extra Sealing Rings
Sometimes the sealing ring absorbs the smell of whatever you cook in your pot. While you can soak them and try to get the smell out, I like having different colored rings for different meal types. I use my red ring for strong things like curry, chili and things like that and my blue one only for desserts. The white one that came with the pot I use for everything in between.
I do recommend you purchase the brand name rings to ensure they work properly.
Long Handle Trivet
I was lucky that my Instant Pot came with this trivet. I love the long handles that allow me to take the food out of the pot easily. If yours didn’t come with a long-handled one, then the one listed in the shopping list above is perfect.
If you want to see what other fun accessories you can get, check out my Ultimate Must-Haves Guide to Instant Pot Accessories. I wrote descriptions for all of them so you can see which ones would be good choices for you.
Do Join My Instant Pot Group
I have a group on Facebook that is precisely for beginners. It’s a wonderful community with over 200K members. If you have any questions you will certainly get answers there! So head over to Instant Pot for Beginners and get lots of recipe ideas, tips, tricks and everything else you need to get cooking.
Do Get Cooking
Now you’re ready to start cooking in your Instant Pot! I have put together a list of the Easiest Recipes for Beginners. Try them and you will be successful!
I’d love to hear how your first time using your new Instant Pot goes. Comment below and let me know!
18 thoughts on “How To Use The Instant Pot – Dos & Don’ts”
My concern is when releasing the steam !..for the steam not to cause mold on my ceiling because that’s what I’m experiencing. What can I do for the humidity of the steam can be released but not to damage my ceiling?..
Hi Elizabeth! I recommend you get in touch with the Instant Pot Company customer service to see what they suggest. Hope they can recommend a solution for you! Thanks for stopping by!
Hi there, you mentioned not to put the instat pot on the stove for fear of turning on the burner…is that the only worry?
My burner doesn’t work nor does the oven, so basically being used as storage and as counter top…
Would it be safe to place the instant pot on the stove then?
Hi Laila! Yes, the reason for not putting it on the stove is because of the hazard of one of the burners turning on, and it melting your pot. It has happened to so many people. If you’re certain your stove isn’t working then there would be no worry. Thanks for stopping by!
I tried to use my pot from the instant pot on the stove. It would not get hot. Will it harm my instant pot if I use it again in the instant pot?
Hi! Your pot should be fine. I wouldn’t use it on the stove though. Thanks for stopping by!
Still not sure how to use the soup setting. Should steam be coming out the valve or should it be set closed. If so what is the difference between soup and pressure cook. Thx
Hi Bonnie! When pressure cooking, it’s normal for some steam to come out of the knob while the pot is coming to pressure. Once it comes to pressure and the pin is up, then no steam should come out. Make sure you have the knob set to sealing. As far as the soup button, it cooks food on “low and slow” which is perfect for soups. It doesn’t heat up the soup too fast, causing the ingredients to disintegrate. Let me know if you have any other questions!
So happy your out here. I’ve never used a pressure cooker and scares me a little. All I can remember is my grannies blowing up and food all over ceiling etc. That was 65 years ago!
Hi Chris! I’m so happy to help! Don’t be afraid, you’re going to love cooking in it! Let me know if you ever have any doubts! Merry Christmas!
When you do a natural release, do you turn the pot off? Or let it stay in the keep warm phase? Thanks!
Hi Mary Jane! Leave the pot on, this will allow the timer to start counting up and you’ll know exactly how many minutes of natural release you have done. Happy cooking!
Do you have any whole30 recipes?
Hi Cathy! I don’t know much about Whole 30, I couldn’t guide you to any recipe that would be Whole 30 compliant. Do let me know if you find one on my blog that works! Thank you for stopping by!
I’ve had my pot for a year now and wished I saw an article like this when I was newbie. Very informative. I will pass the link on. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Sue! I’m so happy to hear you think the post is helpful! I appreciate you sharing it! Thanks for stopping by!
This was very helpful, thank you.
When you suggest people subscribe to your newsletter, is there a fee?
Hi Val! So glad you found the post helpful. It doesn’t cost anything to subscribe to my newsletter. You will receive about an email per week with my newest recipes and posts. Sometimes, if there’s a special sale out there or something extra special to share, I’ll send out two emails in one week, but that’s about it. You can unsubscribe at any time. Hope this helps clear it up! Thanks for stopping by the blog.