[Update February 26, 2017: I’ve added two videos for those who prefer to watch, rather than read.]
I just became an Instant Pot convert and I can’t believe it took me so long to get one! If you just bought an Instant Pot and are ready to start using it or if you already own one but are too intimidated by it, you’ve come to the right place. In this easy-to-understand Instant Pot manual, I’m going to give you a quick introduction to the Instant Pot and its parts, and I’ll show you how to use the Instant Pot. You know how when you buy a new computer, it comes with a Quick Start guide? Well, think of this as a Quick Start guide that will get you going and make you comfortable using the Instant Pot.
When I first got my Instant Pot, I have to admit that it was a bit scary! So many buttons, so many features, and the Instant Pot manual that came with it wasn’t always that clear. At least to me. So today I’m going to give you an overview of the Instant Pot so that you’ll know how to use the Instant Pot for first time without being scared of it! If you’re more of a visual person, like me, you might have an easier time following this Instant Pot manual with photographs. This is the Instant Pot manual you wish had come with your Instant Pot!
Those of you who aren’t yet on the Instant Pot bandwagon may ask “What the heck is an Instant Pot?” Well, it’s this wonderful new appliance that can be used as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker and much more – the convenience is amazing, I just love it. The Instant Pot that I bought from amazon is the Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker. The 7 functions are: Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Saute/Browning, Yogurt Maker, Steamer & Warmer.
I used to have a stove-top pressure cooker. Oh my, what a difference! No need to babysit the pressure cooker any more. And it’s not loud like my old pressure cooker. When I was a kid, my mom’s pressure cooker once exploded (!) and there was turmeric-colored dal (lentil soup) all over the ceiling and walls!! I shudder just thinking about it. No need to worry about such scary things with the Instant Pot. It has lots of safety features including automatically regulating pressure.
I can just put the ingredients in it and leave the house and dinner’s ready when I get home. Rice in 5 minutes, boneless chicken breasts in 10 minutes, bone-in chicken in 15 minutes. You can also set a delay timer and have the cooking start later on. Added bonus – I get so much cabinet space back; got rid of my pressure cooker, slow cooker and rice cooker!
If you want more technical and detailed information about the Instant Pot, please visit the Instant Pot website. In this post, I’ll just be going over the basics of how to use the Instant Pot: assembling the Instant Pot and doing the water test.
Videos: How to Use the Instant Pot for the First Time
If you’re more of a video learner, these two short videos will show you everything you need to know to get started. The first video gets you familiar with the Instant Pot and its parts, and the second video shows you how to do the water test. If you’re more of a reader, just scroll down and the same information is detailed in step-by-step photographs and instructions.
Instant Pot Quick Start Guide – How to use the Instant Pot (Video)
Instant Pot Water Test – How to use the Instant Pot (Video)
Instant Pot Parts
The Instant Pot ships with these parts: base unit, lid, inner pot, condensation collector, power cord, measuring cup, trivet, utensils.
Instant Pot Assembly
Once you take the Instant Pot out of the box, you’ll place the stainless steel inner pot into the base unit.
Next you attach the power cord.
The Condensation Collector is attached to the Instant Pot by sliding it in at the back of the base unit. As far as I can tell, this little doo-hickey is always dry – I’ve never had any condensation collect in it! [Update May 13, 2017: I have had liquid collect in it when there is a lot of condensation on the lid, and I prop the lid open in the lid fin. The condensation drips onto the edges of the lid and drips into the condensation collector]
Instant Pot Lid Features
The outside of the lid has a steam release handle. The steam release handle needs to be in the ‘Sealing’ position unless you’re using the slow cooker functionality or you are releasing steam manually, which we’ll talk about later on.
Try and push the float valve up and down from the inside of the lid. The float valve will be in the down position when the Instant Pot is not pressurized. That’s how you know it’s safe to open the Instant Pot.
and the float valve is in the up position when it is pressurized. This means you cannot open the Instant Pot until the pressure drops.
The inside of the lid has the float valve (on the left) and the anti-block shield (on the right) which protects the exhaust valve.
You’ll need to know how to remove the anti-block shield to clean the exhaust valve. I found it hard to remove the anti-block shield with my bare fingers. But when I used a silicone flexible trivet and pushed it with my thumbs, it came off really easily. You could probably use a microfiber towel or a silicone jar opener too.
The float valve may also need to be removed to be cleaned. Just take off the silicone cover and remove the float valve. To replace, just put the float valve back in and push the silicone cover back on.
The sealing ring sits in the sealing ring rack and can be removed for cleaning. Don’t pull on it with too much force, or it can be stretched. When replacing the sealing ring, make sure it’s securely seated in the sealing ring rack. You’ll know it’s seated properly if you can turn/rotate it, with a bit of effort. If you don’t put it back in correctly, the Instant Pot won’t seal and your food won’t cook. Trust me, I learned the hard way!
To close the Instant Pot, place the lid on the base unit and line up the arrow on the lid with the “Open” (image of an open lock with an arrow) on the base. Turn the lid clockwise until the lid arrow lines up with the “Close” (an image of a closed lock with an arrow) on the base. You’ll hear a chime. To open the Instant Pot, turn the lid counter-clockwise until the arrow on the lid lines up with the “Open” arrow on the base. Again, you’ll hear a chime.
To keep the lid open, insert the right or left lid fin on the lid into the notch in the handle of the base unit.
How to do the Instant Pot Water Test – a Step by Step Guide
You’re now ready to use your Instant Pot! The best way to start out is to do the ‘Water Test’. It’s just a way to make sure your Instant Pot is not defective and to get you familiar with the controls.
Plug in the Instant Pot and make sure the steam release handle is in the “Sealing” position.
Add Water: Make sure the inner pot is seated in the base unit of the Instant Pot. Pour about 3 cups of water into the inner pot.
Close the Instant Pot: Put the lid on and close it by turning clockwise. You’ll hear the chime.
Steam for 2 minutes: Press “Steam” on the control panel and set the time to 2 minutes by pressing the (-) / (+) button till the display reads ‘2’.
Pressurizing: The display will read “On” until pressure is reached. Once the Instant Pot is pressurized, the float valve will be in the up position and the display will show the time remaining (starting at 2 minutes and counting down). Total time can be about 5 or 6 minutes. You might notice a funny, plastic smell. Don’t worry – it should go away and shouldn’t happen again.
Cooking complete: Once the 2 minutes have elapsed, the Instant Pot will beep and go into the Keep Warm mode. The display will show “L0:00” which will be a count-up timer telling you how long it has been since it has been in the Keep Warm mode. So if you cooked something and left the house, the Instant Pot will stay on Keep Warm mode for up to 14 hours.
In this case, we’ll turn off Keep Warm mode, by pressing the Keep Warm/Cancel button to turn the Instant Pot off. The display will read “Off.”
The float valve is up, so that means the Instant Pot is pressurized. You won’t be able to open it. You can either allow the steam to release naturally (Natural Release) or you can manually release the steam (Quick Release.) For Natural Release, just wait for the float valve to go to the down position on its own. This can take 10 to 30 minutes.
For Quick Release, you need to move the pressure release handle from ‘Sealing’ to ‘Venting’ position. The steam can burn you, so be sure to keep your face and hands away from the steam. I like to place a folded towel over the sealing handle and move it to the venting position. The towel should be positioned in such a way as to absorb the steam and protect your hands and face. When your Instant Pot is depressurized, the float valve will be in the down position.
Open the Instant Pot by turning the lid counter-clockwise so the arrow on the lid lines up with the “Open” arrow on the base unit. You’ll hear a chime. Lift the lid and tilt it slightly so the water drips into the Instant Pot. Place the lid fin in the lid fin slot to prop the lid open.
There you have it! I think you’ve figured out how to use your Instant Pot, because you’ve just cooked your first “dish” in the Instant Pot – water! I hope my version of the Instant Pot manual was helpful to you. I’ll be posting recipes very soon. So please subscribe to the newsletter to get the latest updates when a new blog post is published. I think my first post will be a creamy Indian chicken curry very similar to my stove-top Indian chicken curry. Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see any particular recipes or cuisine.