Are you new to cooking with the Instant Pot? Or maybe you’ve had your Instant Pot for a while, but don’t know how to use all the buttons?
Don’t sweat it. I started from scratch just like you and figured out how to use the buttons on the Instant Pot. I mean, yeah, you do have your manual but it’s SO much easier just to look it up here or on Google right? 😉
So there are 7 functions but the unit has 14 buttons (well 16 if you include the + and – buttons too). So what does it all mean? Let’s get down to the nitty gritty and break it down. I’m going to focus on the IP-DUO60 Instant Pot model. This it the 7-in-1 version that seems to be the most popular.
This particular Instant Pot has 7 programmable features, including:
- Pressure Cooker
- Slow Cooker
- Rice Cooker/Porridge Maker
- Yogurt Maker
I’ll explain how to use each button below.
If you’re just getting started with the Instant Pot, check out my quick start guide Top 10 Instant Pot Tips and Tricks You Need to Know.
Where to Get Kitchen Pantry Essentials
Before I share my favorite Instant Pot cooking hacks, I wanted to let you know about my one of my favorite real food secrets: Thrive Market: it’s like Whole Foods meets Costco. I get my cooking and pantry supplies like baking soda, baking powder, vanilla extract, etc. and it’s way cheaper than Amazon or the health food store usually. Organic vanilla extract, for instance, is about $5 at my local health food store and $5.30 on Amazon. But it’s only $3.95 (YES!) on Thrive Market. Great deal right? And the raw honey?! Don’t even get me started how much that costs at the health food store. But on Thrive Market it’s just $5.45 for a 10.5 oz jar of raw honey.
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How to Use the Buttons on the Instant Pot
1. Manual / Pressure Buttons
This is probably going to be the buttons you use most on the Instant Pot. It will allow you to pressure cook and manually select the time you want – rather than the preset buttons (such as Soup/Stew or Meat buttons). You can adjust the pressure, temperature and time by selecting the “+/-“ buttons. Be sure to follow recipes (and add at least 1/2 cup to 1 cup of liquid to the inner pot) and note whether meals should be cooked at low or high pressure. Check out more Instant Pot tips and tricks.
The Instant Pot does default to High Pressure when the “Manual” button is selected, so adjust accordingly. And remember that the “Manual” / “Pressure” buttons are for pressure cooking – not for other functions like saute, yogurt making or slow cooker (which don’t require pressure cooking)
10.2 to 11.6 psi
239°F to 244°F
5.8 to 7.2 psi
229 to 233°F
Note: The Instant Pot pictured in this post shows the “Manual” button. The newer models of the Instant Pot have the same feature – it’s called the “Pressure Cook” button.
2. Saute Button
The “Saute” Button is the second most used function with my Instant Pot. You can do that and basically cook up anything as you would in a skillet or pan. You don’t need the 1 cup of liquid. Just press the “Saute” button, add some cooking oil (l like avocado or coconut) or animal fat like beef tallow or lard to the inner pot and add food you want to cook like a skillet or pan.
You can even adjust the saute temperature:
- Normal mode: 320 to 349°F
- More mode: 347 to 410°F
- Less mode: 275 to 302°F
Instant Pot Hack: I often start with the “Saute” function and then use the “Manual” / “Pressure” button to then pressure cook my meal. It’s fantastic to be able to use one pot for easy clean-up. Check out more Instant Pot tips and tricks.
3. Slow Cook Button
Use your Instant Pot like a slower cooker with this option. Just add food as you normally would to a slow cooker, close the lid (or use a slow cooker lid) and then press the “Slow Cook” button.
It will default to a 4-hour slow cook time. You can use “+/-“ buttons to adjust the cook time.
4. Bean / Chili
One of my favorite things to make in the Instant Pot is beans. It’s so much faster (and tastier) with the Instant Pot. When you use the “Bean / Chili” button, it will default to a High Pressure for 30 minutes. You can adjust for “More” to High Pressure for 40 minutes or “Less” for High Pressure for 25 minutes.
Typically, black beans take about 10-15 minutes, while kidney beans take 20-25. Refer to the Instant Pot Manual for cooking times for various beans and legumes.
Instant Pot Hack: My Homemade Chili normally takes about 2-3 hours in the slow cooker, but with the Instant Pot it’s just 25 minutes. I use a NR for 5-10 minutes.
5. Meat / Stew
Make your favorite stew or meat dish in the Instant Pot. Adjust the settings depending on the texture you want. For instance, the “More” setting is better for fall-off-the-bone cooking.
It will default to a High Pressure for 35 minutes. You can adjust for “More” to High Pressure for 45 minutes or “Less” for High Pressure for 20 minutes.
Instant Pot Hack: For a homemade stew with about 1-2 lb. of meat, I typically set to “Meat / Stew” in the Normal setting (high pressure for 35 minutes) and NR for 10 minutes.
The “Multigrain” button is best for cooking brown rice and wild rice, which typically takes longer than white rice to cook. Cook brown rice to a 1:1.25 ratio rice to water and wild rice to a 1:3 ratio rice to water for 22-30 minutes.
It will default at the “Normal” setting is 40 minutes of pressure cooking time. Adjust as needed for the “Less” setting is 20 minutes of pressure cooking time, or “More” at 45 minutes of warm water soaking and 60 minutes of pressure cooking.
Use the “Porridge” button to make rice porridge (congee) and other grains (not regular white or brown rice). It will default to a High Pressure for 20 minutes, which is best for rice porridge. You can adjust for “More” to High Pressure for 30 minutes or “Less” for High Pressure for 15 minutes.
After the porridge is finished, do not use the QR handle. Because it has a high starch content, using the QR will splatter the porridge through the steam release vent. Use the NR.
Make your favorite chicken recipes with the “Poultry” button with the Instant Pot. It will default to a High Pressure for 15 minutes. You can adjust for “More” to High Pressure for 30 minutes or “Less” for High Pressure for 5 minutes.
Instant Pot Hack: I love to make shredded chicken for homemade tacos and burrito bowls. Add about 1 lb. uncooked chicken, 1/2 onion, 1 clove garlic minced, 1 cup bone broth, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/8 tsp paprika, and 1/4 cup homemade salsa. Place lid on and set to “Poultry” to the default at High Pressure for 15 minutes. NR for 10 minutes and then QR. Open lid, use a fork and tongs to shred chicken and add salt and pepper to taste.
You can cook rice in the Instant Pot in nearly half the time as a conventional rice cooker. White rice, short grain, Jasmine and Basmati rice can all be cooked on this setting in about 4 to 8 minutes. In general, you’ll need a 1:1 ratio of rice to water (Basmati is a 1:1.5 ratio). When you choose the “Rice” button, the cooking duration automatically adjusts depending on how much food you put into the unit and cook on low pressure. Be sure to add about 10-12 minutes to the total cooking time to allow the Instant Pot to come to pressure.
Instant Pot Hack: Personally, I prefer to cook rice in the “Manual” mode at high pressure. I add 1:1 ratio of rice to water to the Instant Pot and set to 3 minutes with a 12 minute NR.
Use the “Soup” button to make broth, stock or soup. The Instant Pot will control the pressure and temperature so that the liquid doesn’t heavily boil. You can adjust the cooking time as needed, typically between 20-40 minutes, and the pressure to either low or high.
Instant Pot Hack: Make a homemade bone broth WAY faster than the conventional slow cooker. Select the “Soup” button, set the pressure to low, and set the cooking time to 120 minutes. Once it’s done, let the bone broth NR for about an hour.
Use the “Steam” button to steam vegetables, seafood or reheat food (it’s a great alternative to the microwave). Be sure to use the steam rack included with the Instant Pot, otherwise food may burn and stick to the bottom of the inner pot.
Add 1-2 cups of water to the inner pot, place the steam rack inside the inner pot and with a stainless steel steam basket on top. Add vegetables, seafood, etc. in the basket. Press the “Steam” button and then adjust the time using the “+” or “-“ key. Foods like frozen corn on the cob or a fresh fish filet will take 3-5 minutes, while fresh artichokes could take 9-11 minutes. Refer to the Instant Pot Manual for cooking times for various foods.
Make homemade yogurt in the Instant Pot with glass bottles (such as Mason jars).
It’s basically a 2-step process:
1) Add milk to glass containers. Add 1 cup water to the inner pot, put in steam wrap and place glass containers filled with milk on top of the steam rack. Select the “Steam” function and set the time for 1 minute. Use NR. Keep the water in the inner pot.
2) Let the milk cool below 115°F and then add yogurt starter or yogurt from another batch (or store-bought). Press the “Yogurt” button and adjust to “Normal” mode and adjust time based on your recipe. When the yogurt is done, it will display “yogt”.
15. Keep Warm / Cancel Button
Once the Instant Pot is done cooking, you can use the “Keep Warm” / “Cancel” function to keep food hot or to cancel the pressure cooking mode.
Keep Warm Button
When pressure cooking is done, the Instant Pot will beep and automatically go into the “Keep Warm” function. It will display an “L” in front of a number to indicate how long it’s been warm – e.g. “L0:30” for 30 minutes. It’s a great feature to keep food warm (145 to 172°F) for up to 99 hours, 50 minutes. It’s perfect for pot lucks.
At any time, you can cancel cooking and return to standby mode by pressing the “Keep Warm” / “Cancel” button. This is a great option if you selected the wrong time for pressure cooking and need to stop to make adjustments to the pressure or time.
16. Timer Button
Use the Timer button to delay the cooking start time for the Instant Pot. This works for both pressure cooking and slow cook options.
To use this feature, just press the Timer button with 10 seconds of pressing either the Pressure / Manual button or Slow Cook button. Use “+/-“ buttons to adjust the delayed hours, then wait a second and press Timer again to set delayed minutes. You can cancel the Timer anytime by pressing the Keep Warm / Cancel button.
What Are YOUR Buttons to Use on the Instant Pot?
Comment below with your favorite buttons to use on the Instant Pot.
p.s. Looking for tips to transition to a real food or healthy gluten-free lifestyle? Check out my free Real Food Guide email course and e-book.
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