If you’ve just received your new Instant Pot Ultra multi cooker, but don’t know what to do next, this beginner’s guide to using the Instant Pot Ultra is going to help you get started. It gives you instructions on the various parts of the Instant Pot Ultra and also gives directions on how to complete the Water Test (Initial Test Run).
I’ve owned my Instant Pot Duo 6-Quart multi cooker for about a year. Before that, I used a stove-top pressure cooker for many years. Growing up in an Indian household, the sound of the pressure cooker in the kitchen, with its hissing and steaming and loud noises, was a regular part of my day.
When my children were little , I would have to warn them when I was getting ready to use the pressure cooker and they would run out of the kitchen! Well, times have changed. The Instant Pot ain’t your momma’s pressure cooker. It’s safe, easy, quiet, and can be left alone unattended. What a change that was for me!
Even though I’ve loved my Instant Pot Duo, I was very intrigued by the new Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1 multi-cooker. I was like a gadget geek waiting for the next smartphone. Well, the Instant Pot Ultra definitely lives up to its name and I love it.
Since I was already using an Instant Pot Duo (6 quart), I’ve found the transition to the Instant Pot Ultra 6 quart very easy. But if this were my first Instant Pot, I can see how it would be pretty overwhelming, with even more functions and features than the Instant Pot Duo.
Soon after I got my Instant Pot Duo last year, I wrote an Instant Pot Duo Beginner’s Quick Start Manual which gives detailed directions on how to use the Instant Pot.
I love getting comments and emails from people who find it helpful, especially because of its step-by-step instructions and photos. So I wanted to do that same type of instruction manual for the Instant Pot Ultra.
If you’ve just received your Instant Pot Ultra, and don’t know what to do next, you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to give you directions on how to use the Ultra for the first time.
This instruction guide assumes you have no prior experience with the Instant Pot. We’ll go over the parts, important features, how to assemble the Instant Pot Ultra and we’ll do the initial test run (what used to be called the ‘Water Test’).
There are many new/different features on the Instant Pot Ultra but I’m not going to detail them here. For example:
- Instant Pot Ultra has the Ultra setting, which allows for sous vide cooking
- Instant Pot Ultra has the Egg setting, which allows you a quick one-touch way to cook eggs
- Instant Pot Ultra allows you to adjust the cooking settings while cooking is in progress.
I’ll give you enough directions to get you started and become comfortable making your first recipe in the Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1. You can read about all the features of the different models of Instant Pots at this guide I put together on which Instant Pot to buy.
If you need even more information, please visit the Instant Pot website.
Note: If you’re looking for Instant Pot Ultra recipes or Instant Pot Ultra cookbooks, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t need any special Ultra recipes or cookbooks – all Instant Pot recipes can be easily made in the Ultra with no changes.
The only difference is how to operate the Ultra (what buttons to press, how to natural release pressure, how to quick release pressure, etc), which you’re going to learn here. At the bottom of this article is a chart showing you some differences between the Ultra and the Duo models.
First Step: Unbox the Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1!
I know that many people order the Instant Pot, and then let it sit around for months because they feel intimidated using it. If you’ve been reluctant to take the Instant Pot Ultra out of its box, know that you’re not alone. But don’t wait another minute! Open the box and remove the Instant Pot and its parts. We’re going to do this together, it’ll be a breeze!
Instant Pot Ultra Parts
The Instant Pot Ultra comes with the following parts:
- Base Unit
- Inner Pot
- Power Cord
- Condensation Collector
- Silicone Sealing Ring
- Steam Rack/Trivet
- Rice Measuring Cup
Instant Pot Ultra Lid (Exterior)
The outside of the Instant Pot lid has these features:
- The Steam Release Valve is a safety mechanism that allows steam to escape and maintains the correct pressure level. It sits loosely on the lid and can be removed to be cleaned.
- The Float Valve is a safety feature that pops up when the Instant Pot reaches pressure and engages the lid’s locking mechanism so the Instant Pot cannot be opened.
- The Steam Release (Reset) Button (also referred to as Pressure Release Button) allows you to manually release pressure from the Instant Pot Ultra. Press down to manually release pressure, and turn counter-clockwise to stop pressure release. The Steam Release Reset Button automatically pops up when the Instant Pot Ultra lid is opened or closed.
Instant Pot Ultra Lid (Interior)
These parts on the inside of the lid need to be thoroughly cleaned occasionally, especially when you cook foamy foods like pasta or rice. So it’s good to know how to remove and replace them:
- The Sealing Ring is made out of silicone and it tightly seals the lid, and it prevents steam from escaping from the Instant Pot Ultra during cooking, which allows it to reach pressure. The sealing ring can retain odors, so I recommend that you buy a second sealing ring if you’re going to be making desserts in the Instant Pot Ultra.
- The Float Valve (as described above in the ‘exterior’ section) is a safety feature that pops up when the Instant Pot Ultra reaches pressure. It engages the lid’s locking mechanism so the Instant Pot can’t be opened.
- The Anti-Block Shield prevents food particles from interfering with the Steam Release Valve, especially when cooking foamy foods like pasta or grains.
The Sealing Ring sits in the sealing ring rack and can be removed for cleaning. To remove the Sealing Ring:
- Pull up on the Sealing Ring and gently pry it out of sealing ring rack.
- Don’t pull on it with too much force, or it can be stretched.
To replace the Sealing Ring:
- Return it back to the sealing ring rack.
- Push it back in, a little at a time until it’s securely seated in the sealing ring rack.
- You’ll know it’s seated properly if you can turn/rotate it in the sealing ring rack, 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.
To remove the Float Valve:
- Pull up on the silicone cover of the Float Valve.
- Both parts of the Float Valve (metal part and silicone cover) can be removed.
To replace the Float Valve:
- Re-insert the metal part of the Float Valve back into the slot from the outside of the lid.
- While holding the metal part in place, replace the silicone cover on the inside of the lid.
To remove the Anti-Block Shield:
- Removing the cover of the Anti-Block Shield can be tricky. Using a silicone/rubber trivet or jar opener makes it much easier.
- Push against the Anti-Block Shield in an upward motion.
- To replace, push the cover back on.
Instant Pot Ultra Assembly
Base Unit and Inner Pot
- Place the stainless steel inner pot into the base unit.
- Slide the condensation collector into the back of the Instant Pot Ultra.
- It will sit snugly against the base unit.
- Although it doesn’t fill up very often, it will collect the condensation that drips down from the lid, if you prop the lid open. To clean it: slide it out, empty, rinse and slide back in place.
- Insert the power cord into the back of the Instant Pot and plug the power cord into an electrical outlet.
- The display will turn on.
Instant Pot Ultra How-to:
Close the Lid
- To close the lid, place the lid on the Instant Pot base unit and line up the arrow on the lid with the “Open” (image of an open lock with an arrow) on the base unit.
- 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 (if the Instant Pot Ultra is plugged in).
Open the Lid
- To open the lid, turn the lid counter-clockwise until the lid arrow lines up with the “Open” (an image of an open lock with an arrow) on the base.
- You’ll hear a chime (if the Instant Pot Ultra is plugged in). This feature can be turned off
- To prop open the lid, insert the Lid Fin into the notch in the handle of the Instant Pot Ultra.
How to Pressure Release
- When the Instant Pot Ultra is under pressure, the Float Valve goes up and the Instant Pot is sealed. It cannot be opened. Don’t try to force it open!
- When the Instant Pot Ultra isn’t under pressure, the Float Valve goes back down, and is level with the lid.
How to Quick Release (QR) Instant Pot Ultra
- To do a Quick Release of pressure (QR), press down on the Steam Release Button until it locks into place, and steam begins to come out of the Steam Release Valve.
- Be sure your hand is not above the Steam Release Valve while the pressure is being released.
- The Float Valve will go from the up position to the down position once the Instant Pot Ultra has de-pressurized and all the steam has been released.
- It is now safe to open the Instant Pot Ultra.
How to Natural Release (NR) / Natural Pressure Release (NPR) Instant Pot Ultra
- To do an Instant Pot Natural Release of Pressure (NPR), wait for the Float Valve to go down on its own.
- This can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes, depending on how much liquid is in the Instant Pot. The more liquid you have, the longer it takes for the Instant Pot to release pressure on it’s own.
- If you’re in a hurry, you can wait for 15 minutes for the Instant Pot natural release, and then release the remaining pressure using the quick release method.
Instant Pot Ultra Initial Test Run / Water Test
- Attach the power cord to the Instant Pot Ultra , and plug it into an outlet.
- Pour 1 cup water into inner pot. You can add more water, but your Instant Pot will just take longer to come to pressure.
- Close the Lid.
- If the display is off, press the knob/dial to turn on the display.
- The ‘Pressure Cook’ option will be blinking.
- Press the dial to select the ‘Pressure Cook’ option.
- The cooking time (in my case it’s 00:20 i.e. 20 minutes; your display may have a different time) will have a box around it that’s blinking.
- Press the dial to select the cooking time.
- Now, the time will be blinking.
- Turn the dial until the time changes to 00:02 (2 minutes).
- Press the dial to confirm the time.
- We’ll keep the default settings for Pressure level (High), Delay Start (Off), and Keep Warm mode (On).
- Press Start to begin the pressure cooking.
- The Instant Pot Float Valve will go from the down position to the up position once the Instant Pot has sealed. This can take up to 10 minutes for 1 cup of liquid.
- There will be some hissing and steaming, and all sorts of noises coming from the Pressure Release Valve and the Float Valve while the Instant Pot is coming to pressure. There is nothing to worry about!
- You might also notice a plastic-like odor. This can happen during first use, and shouldn’t happen again.
- The display with change to ‘On’ and will remain ‘On’ until the Instant Pot reaches pressure.
- Notice that the graph on the bottom of the display will show that the pre-heating is complete.
- The Display will change from ‘On’ to 2 minutes (00:02) and will count down from 00:02 to 00 00.
- Notice that the graph on the bottom tells you the cooking progress.
- Once the Instant Pot Ultra is in ‘Keep Warm’ mode (as seen on bottom right of the display), it will begin to count UP from 00 00.
- Do a Quick Release of pressure (QR) as detailed above in the How to Quick Release section.
- Or wait till the pressure releases on its on as detailed above in the How to Natural Release (NR)/ Natural Pressure Release (NPR) section.
- Press Cancel.
- Open the Instant Pot.
- Initial Test Run is now complete!
Now that you’ve completed the initial test run / water test, you’re ready to cook your first dish. I suggest either Instant Pot Rice or Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs for your first attempt. But all my recipes are written with beginners in mind and have step-by-step instructions and photographs.
I also strongly recommend that you follow the recipe exactly the first few times – don’t substitute ingredients and change quantities. Once you’re more comfortable with cooking in your Instant Pot Ultra, you can modify the recipes to suit your needs.
If you’re looking for Instant Pot Ultra recipes, my newer recipes are written with step by step photos of the Ultra, especially useful for new users e.g. Instant Pot (e.g. Instant Pot Korean Beef). Even if you don’t want to make the recipe, looking at the step-by-step photos and instructions might help you in making another recipe.
If the recipe you’re looking at was written for the Instant Pot Duo (e.g. Instant Pot Chili), you can translate it for your Instant Pot Ultra pretty easily.
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|Pressurizing and Steam Release|
Disclosure: My thanks to the Instant Pot Company for sending me an Instant Pot Ultra 60 for the purposes of creating this instruction manual / quick start guide. All opinions are my own, and the Instant Pot company had no input into this post.
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