Top 10 Instant Pot Mistakes – That You’re Probably Making

10 Mistakes Most People Make When Using Their Instant Pot

10 Mistakes Most People Make When Using Their Instant Pot

Have you heard? Instant Pots are all the rage for a few years now! If you were lucky enough to have been gifted with one or ordered one on CyberMonday for yourself, you will have found that they fit in quite perfectly and conveniently into the meal prep lifestyle. You may also have found that there are some common pitfalls that Instant Pot rookies have encountered. By being well informed and taking a few precautionary steps, you can avoid all of these instant pot mistakes and do it up right!!

instant pot on a counter

Photo credit: CNBC

10 Common Instant Pot Mistakes:

#1 no-no – Playing it by ear – The first mistake Instant Pot users make is to assume that they know exactly how to use the thing because “Well,…how hard can it be?” You know what they say about assuming, right? Don’t do it! All pots are NOT alike. They may look alike, but they aren’t exactly alike. Don’t fall for this temptation and look on your guide as a friend who will not let you down. Read it cover to cover.

#2 no-no – Forgetting the sealing ring – Crucial! The silicone sealing ring is a key player in allowing your cooker to keep the pressure it needs. You take it off to clean it, but don’t forget to replace it and make sure it is seated correctly before you start to cook. If you don’t, expect a big mess to clean up and do over on your meal.

#3 no-no – Check the power cord – If you are having trouble after having done everything right…or so you thought…have you checked the power cord? This is especially common if you have a power cord that is detachable. Make sure the connection is snug. It may require unplugging and reattaching.

#4 no-no – Impatience – It is called “Instant Pot” because it is quick. It does take much less time than traditional cooking methods, however, it does take some time. All pressure cookers still go through 3 phases during the cooking process: 1) preheat, 2) cook cycle, and 4) depressurization. And all that isn’t done in a literal “instant”.  

Another wonderful feature is that it does not need constant attention (and “a watched pot never boils” anyways). So take advantage of that and go take a shower, read a book, go out and pull some weeds. Dinner will be right along and probably sooner than you think.

#5 no-no – Instant Pots on stovetops – Placing your Instant Pot on a stovetop or any other source of heat is asking for trouble and a ruined cooker. It is for countertop use only and should always be positioned far away from external heat sources.

#6 no-no – Poor choice of meat cuts – One great Instant Pot feature is that it can cook at such high temperatures that it can break down tougher cuts of meat in no time. Recipes that took tougher meats like chuck roasts, flanks or shanks hours to cook, take a fraction of that time now. But you wouldn’t want to have the same cook cycle for more tender cuts of meat. If you are craving those, you can easily cook chicken or more marbled tender steaks on the saute cycle. So be sure to be mindful that your meat cut matches your recipe and cook cycle.

#7 no-no – Overcooking – A rule of thumb is to adjust your cook time to your main ingredient if you are not using a specialized Instant Pot recipe. If you overcook your food, it can be rather unappetizing. Remember that as compared to the traditional stovetop, cooking times can be cut from ½ to ⅔. So be sure to adjust your cook times accordingly. Here is a helpful guide.

#8 no-no – Thickeners added too early – An interesting nuance when making soups, stews, and gravies that need thickeners like cornstarch or flour, is that if they are added in the early stages of cooking, they can actually scorch the dish. This happens because they tend to be heavy and sink to the bottom. They have also been known to not allow heat to be evenly distributed around the dish causing uneven cooking. Thickeners are best added by turning saute on for a few minutes after the pressure cooking is done if it needs some extra heat to integrate it into the whole dish better or at the end just before serving the dish.

#9 no-no – Pressing the wrong pressure release code – The right venting must be used as it will have a great impact on the outcome of your meal. Which to choose; QR (quick pressure release) or NR (natural pressure release)? Here is a little more information about the differences between the two and when to use them.

#10 no-no – Too much liquid – You can get the most flavorful meals out of your pressure cooker, but the amount of liquid is critical and can make a huge difference in whether the outcome is wonderful or waterlogged. You have to remember that moisture is locked into the cooker there is no chance for liquid dissipation to happen. Make sure that you add the minimum amount of liquid that the recipe calls for in order to not have a drowning meal at the end.

Being forewarned is forearmed. Mistakes and accidents can happen, but with a little knowledge, they are completely preventable. So many wonderful meals can be cooked with an Instant Pot in a fraction of the time it used to take.  It can do the same amount of work of several household appliances combined! Do you have some adventures with an Instant Pot of your own? We’d love to hear your experiences. Leave us a comment on the favorite way of using yours.

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