How to Use the Instant Pot Buttons

Confused by all the buttons on the Instant Pot? Check out this easy tutorial to learn how to use those Instant Pot buttons for the best pressure cooker recipes.

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Instant Pot on a table

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:

  1. Pressure Cooker
  2. Slow Cooker
  3. Rice Cooker/Porridge Maker
  4. Steamer
  5. Sauté/Browning
  6. Yogurt Maker
  7. Warmer/Cancel

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 and How to Clean Your Instant Pot.

What’s So Great About The Instant Pot?

Safety, speed and easy cleanup are just a few of the reasons for the rising popularity of these trendy kitchen appliances.

an Instant Pot isn’t just an electric pressure cooker. As a true multi-cooker, it sears, browns and sautés food like a stove-top skillet. It also steams delicate items such as fish, eggs and vegetables. Instant Pots double as standalone electric rice cookers as well.

You can use them to bake bread, cakes and other sweets like custards, flan, even cheesecakes. Many Instant Pot models come with special yogurt modes. And yes, they function as slow cookers, too.

Why You Need an Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is definitely not an old school manual pressure cooker. It has plenty of onboard safety features made possible through electronics. For example, a host of sensors help it self-regulate internal pressure and temperature. They’re designed to ensure the Instant Pot operates within preset safety limits.

Sensors also detect whether the lid is locked or not. And unless the cover is firmly clamped down, the Instant Pot won’t take on pressure. Likewise, once the cooker’s interior becomes pressurized, the lid automatically locks in place.

Factor in the numerous preprogrammed settings tailored to the type of food it cooks. All that makes Instant Pots light years ahead safety-wise of their ancient pressure cooker counterparts. Of course you still need to operate your appliance properly and with care.

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)

High Pressure
10.2 to 11.6 psi
239°F to 244°F

Low Pressure
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.

Closeup of an Instant Pot

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.

6. Multigrain

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.

7. Porridge

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.

8. Poultry

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.

9. Rice

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.

10. Soup

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.

11. Steam

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”.

12. 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.

Cancel Button
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.

13. 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.

There are So Many Recipes for Your Instant Pot

The internet has gone wild for the Instant Pot, with countless personal blogs, cooking websites and Facebook groups devoted to it. Together they also generate a copious and steady supply of recipes. From Instant Pot Turkey and Gravy to Instant Pot Elderberry Syrup, it’s all there for the taking and tasting!chances are someone has tried it.

Top Tips For Instant Pot Buttons

  • My 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.
  • 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.
  • When you sauté, make sure to wait until display says “Hot” to add ingredients to the pot. Use Normal for sautéing veggies, adjust to More for browning meats, adjust to Less to simmer.
  • There is a bit of variety among each of the different models (and even between the different versions of popular models); however, all of the Instant Pot buttons cook the same.

More Instant Pot Recipes

Did you try these Instant Pot tips and tricks? Don’t forget to leave a comment below to let me know how it went. You can also FOLLOW ME on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest.

Instant Pot Recipes Made SimpleInstant Pot Recipes Made Simple cookbook on an e reader

Do you wish you could find one-pot meals that are simple and easy to make… and your family will love?

You’re about to find out how simple it is to make healthy, one-pot meals with your Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker with my cookbook Instant Pot Recipes Made Simple. You can download it instantly to your phone, computer or e-reader, so it’s portable and can go with you anywhere!

With this book, you’ll get:

  • Tried-and-true recipes the whole family will love – including pot roast, spaghetti, tacos, carnitas, soups, and easy breakfast meals
  • Instant Pot starter guide on how to use the buttons, tips and tricks, and more
  • Printable shopping lists for ingredients
  • Step-by-step video lesson on how to use your Instant Pot, pressure cooker safety, and some of my favorite tips and tricks
  • Two-week meal plan that you can put into action for no-stress weeknight dinners

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  1. I had to cycle this twice in my instant pot. 1 cup rice, 1 1/4 cup water. Five minutes & 10 min natural release = crunchy rice. Ran it through again, didn’t add anything = perfect rice.

    1. I usually run into that problem with brown rice. My solution is to add 1/4 water more and double the cooking time. That usually works.