7 Common Mistakes You Can Avoid As a New Instant Pot User

Instant pot

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What’s the one thing you would want to end your day with after a long and tiring day at work? If you are like most people, it must be a freshly-made delicious meal without having to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

Whether you don’t have time to be in the kitchen for hours on end or you are someone who just doesn’t like to cook, instant pots are there to make your life easier.

However, many new instant pot users often struggle to get the hang of the pot and as a result, cooking becomes all the more stressful and frustrating.

To help you avoid the dreaded learning curve, here’s a roundup of the most common mistakes new instant pot users make with tips to avoid them. Take a look and become an instant pot pro in no time:

1. Cooking Without Any Liquid

An instant pot is a type of pressure cooker that needs some liquid to create steam, which then causes pressure. If you don’t add the liquid, your instant pot will just never develop the required pressure.

Many people learn it the hard way, but if you don’t want to find uncooked food after the end of a cooking cycle, make sure to add at least a cup of liquid in your instant pot. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be water; any liquid will work.

2. Overfilling the Pot

Has it ever happened that you opened the lid of your instant pot and the food splattered all over the place, leaving you wondering what went wrong?

It happened because you overfilled the pot! Ever noticed the ‘max’ line on the side of the inner pot?  It’s there for a reason!

Filling the pot beyond that line can clog its venting knob and if that happens, be ready to clean up the mess in your kitchen.

Overfilling can also lead to lessened pressure, which then will affect the cooking process. Never fill your instant pot past the max fill line for regular foods. But, when cooking foods that create foam or expand while cooking, like beans and chickpeas, it is recommended to only fill the pot halfway.

3. Forgetting To Secure the Seal

The large rubber ring inside the lid of your instant pot is crucial for proper cooking as it ensures that the air doesn’t escape the pot during cooking. If it is not in place, the pot will fail to develop the right temperature and pressure, which then will affect the cooking process.  Always make sure that the rubber ring is in its place before you close the lid.

4. Not Following the Recipe Correctly

Cooking in an instant pot is different than cooking on a stovetop. In traditional cooking, you have the liberty to be a lot more experimental, but in case of an instant pot, there are certain things that you cannot change in a recipe.

For example, if an instant pot recipe calls for a cold liquid, you have to use cold liquid, otherwise, your food won’t cook properly. Using hot liquid, when the recipe calls for cold, would reduce the cooking cycle as the instant pot will reach its peak pressure quickly. In this case, there is a high likelihood that your food will remain undercooked.

While the issue can be tackled by adjusting the cooking time, new instant pot users often do not know how to do that. This is why it is recommended to follow recipes correctly, at least until you get the knack of this newer method of cooking.

5. Forgetting To Turn the Pressure Valve to Sealing

Has it ever happened that your instant pot didn’t beep even though the cooking cycle had been completed? Or you didn’t hear the sounds of pressure building inside it?

These things usually happen when the pressure valve is not set to ‘sealing’, so make sure to check the valve setting if it ever happens again.

6. Cooking Different Foods at the Same Time

This one is pretty simple, but still a lot of people end up making this mistake. While you can cook different types of food together in an instant pot, you have to consider their cooking time. You can’t throw in foods with significantly different cooking times in your instant pot at the same time and expect your meal to turn out just perfect.

For example, if you want to cook beef and broccoli with brown rice, you will have to consider that there is a huge difference in the cooking time for each of these. While your steak will be cooked in about 8 to 10 minutes, broccoli hardly takes a couple of minutes. Brown rice, on the other hand, takes a little over 20 minutes to cook in an instant pot.

If you add all these ingredients in your instant pot at the same time, the recipe will definitely be a disaster.

You can only add different ingredients together in the instant pot when the cooking time is the same or a few minutes apart.

7. Adding the Ingredients That Are No-No for Instant Pot Cooking

An important rule of instant pot cooking that you should remember – add thickening agents, such as cornstarch, potato starch, arrowroot, or roux, and dairy only when your food is cooked.  Adding them along with other ingredients, before cooking, is a big no.

Let your food cook, then open the lid and switch your instant pot to sauté. Now add dairy and mix. To thicken the sauce, let the liquid in the pot come to a boil and then stir in the thickening agent.

These are some of the most common mistakes that make many people think instant pots are not worth buying. Avoid these mistakes and cooking in an instant pot will be a breeze.