Evelyn Romans | 

12 Instant Pot Hacks That Will Make You a Better Cook

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Is it a slow cooker? A rice cooker? Or is it a pressure cooker? Instant Pot is all of the above and more.

This thing may just replace the majority of your kitchen appliances — seriously. The cheapest Instant Pot starts at just $99, which is a bargain if you consider everything it can do.

Here are a few essential tips and tricks for your new BFF in the kitchen:


1. Freeze meals in round containers so they’ll easily fit in your Instant Pot.

Prepping a bunch of freezer meals? Instead of laying them flat in the freezer, freeze them in large round containers, or place the zip bag in a large container until frozen, so that you can just pop them into your cooker — no defrosting needed.


2. Turn slow cooker recipes into Instant Pot recipes.

For meat dishes that you’d normally cook in a slow cooker for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high, use your Instant Pot to cook it in 25-30 minutes!

Set your pressure cooker to the Meat/Stew setting for red meats and the Poultry setting for chicken. Just make sure the vent is set to “sealing” and not “venting.”


3. Use it instead of your microwave.

Bye-bye radiation! Use the Keep Warm or Slow Cook function to heat food instead.


4. Use it to pop popcorn.

Speaking of a microwave replacement…your Instant Pot can make some pretty tasty popcorn — way better than your microwave can. You’ll just need some butter, coconut oil, salt, and kernels.



5. Buy an extra inner pot if you use your Instant Pot daily.

Instead of constantly washing the same inner pot after every home-cooked meal, consider buying a backup. It’ll cost you about $30 on Amazon.

While you’re at it, an extra sealing ring (get two for $12) may also be helpful if you use your cooker often.


RELATED: 9 Brilliant KitchenAid Hacks You’ve Never Heard Before


6. Put meat on the bottom and pasta on top.

Yes, you can make whole pasta dishes in your Instant Pot! Crazy, right?

Keep the meat on the bottom so it gets heated through and won’t stick to the pot, unlike starchy pastas that contain sugar and will stick to your pot if overheated. Just throw the uncooked pasta on top of the other ingredients. And you don’t need to fully submerge the pasta in liquid, the steam from the pressure cooker will cook it perfectly.


7. Start in Sauté mode for even faster cooking.

Pressure cookers like Instant Pot typically need about 20 minutes to build the pressure that will speed up cooking. But sometimes you won’t have time for that.

To get around that extra 20 minutes of waiting, set your cooker to Sauté, and add any liquid called for in the recipe or ingredients that could actually use some sautéing along with some olive oil. While those ingredients get sautéed, prep the remaining ingredients needed for the meal, throw them in the pot, and then start the pressure cooking. Steam and pressure will build up a lot faster this way.


8. End in Sauté mode to reduce sauces or make a gravy.

Add flour or a thickening agent to the sauce left over from cooking, hit the Sauté button, and stir to make a quick gravy.


9. Let it naturally release pressure — especially when cooking meat.

Once your Instant Pot is done cooking, you can either release the pressure by switching over to “venting” or keep it in with the “sealing” mode. If you want that fall-apart goodness in the meat you’re cooking, let your cooker release pressure on it’s own.

The steam inside your pot will turn back into liquid and add even more moisture to the meat. It’ll take about 20 minutes to depressurize, but your proteins will be more tender than they would be if you released the steam right away.


10. Cook frozen meat without defrosting.

No need to defrost the meat in your freezer; just place it directly into your Instant Pot and add enough water so it boils. You’ll also need to increase the cooking time by 50% depending on the cut of meat.


11. Always add at least 1/2 cup of water, broth, or other liquid.

Since your Instant Pot is a pressure cooker, it needs some sort of liquid to create steam. You should always have at least 1/2 cup of liquid in whatever you cook.


12. Use it to make the perfect cheesecake.

Your Instant Pot can even replace your oven! Use it to pressure cook a New York cheesecake that’s good enough to serve at parties! This recipe has excellent reviews!


UP NEXT: 20 Make-Ahead Freezer Meals for Busy Moms

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