Instant Pot 101: Your First Recipes

This is Part 2 of our Instant Pot 101 series. You can find part 1 here.

So you did it. You clicked “buy now” on that Instant Pot on Amazon.com. Your brand new and shiny Instant Pot arrived on your front step and you excitedly brought it inside. You set it on your counter, stood back, looked at it and said,

“WHAT NOW?” What do I do with this? I don’t know how to cook with the machine! I don’t even know any Instant Pot recipes!Instant Pot 101: Your First Recipes

Many people out there stop at that very step. The act of opening that box and plugging in the Instant Pot is so daunting, they leave it in the box and walk away for days, weeks, or even months. I’m here to tell you though—OPEN THAT BOX! Get started now, because you are going to fall in love with this appliance!

When you open your box, you’ll find a few things inside. The Instant Pot, of course. You’ll also find the cover, stainless steel insert, condensation collector, stainless steel trivet, measuring cup, soup spoon and rice paddle. Get everything out, and clean everything with warm water and dish soap. You’ll also need to install the condensation collector at the back of the pot- your guide will have instructions for that.

Here is what is inside the Instant Pot Box

This is when you take a big breath and get brave. It’s time for your test run! Follow these steps to get yourself acquainted with using your pot:

  • Add 3 cups of water into the inner pot using the plastic measuring cup provided. (MAKE SURE THE INNER STAINLESS STEEL POT IS INSERTED! There are too many people out there that have not put in the inner pot, and now regret it because they ruined their Instant Pot.)
  • Close the lid. Turn the steam release handle to the Sealing position. (Don’t worry if the release handle seems loose- it may even fall off when you’re taking your pot out of the box. It pops right back on, and it’s supposed to be a little loose.)
  • Press the Steam button and press the +/- keys to adjust the steaming time to 2 minutes.
  • The preheating cycle will start after 10 seconds, and the cooker will display On. Traces of steam will release until the float valve pops up. The Steam program will begin after a few minutes when working pressure is reached. The cooker will beep and switch to Keep Warm mode if the Auto Keep Warm function is on.
  • Release the pressure (the part that scares the most people) using one of the following methods: Natural Release or NPR- Allow the cooker to cool down naturally until the float valve drops down. This may take 10 to 40 minutes. Quick Release or QPR- Turn the steam release handle to the Venting position to let steam out until the float valve drops down. BE CAREFUL! The steam can burn you, so don’t put your hand (or face!) over the steam release valve.
  • Once the valve drops down, you can open your pot!

WHEW. You did it! Easy right? Not as hard as you thought it would be. But now you should cook some actual food! Here are the recipes that I started with- easy recipes you can start with too.

HARD BOILED EGGS (I make a dozen at a time and keep in the fridge- my kids love snacking on hard-boiled eggs!)

BLACK EYED PEAS (A New Year’s Day tradition!)

CHICKEN BREASTS (From frozen!)

RICE (No more rice cooker!)

SPAGHETTI (My favorite busy weeknight one pot meal!)

These recipes are the ones that absolutely sold me on my Instant Pot. All of them are simple food that every family will love.

Once you’ve cooked a few things in your Instant Pot, you’ll find yourself searching for recipes. Recipes are easy to find- I started finding recipes by simply googling my ingredients- “instant pot chicken breasts frozen.”

Pinterest is another good source for Instant Pot recipes. (Link is to my Instant Pot Board!)

Amazon has a variety of great cookbooks- I have Instant Pot Miracle, with a great variety of recipes.

My favorite place for recipes, though, is the Facebook Instant Pot community.
In this community, you’ll find thousands of other people who love their Instant Pot, and many others that are getting started just like you. I’ve found some delicious recipes there, and it’s also a good place to ask questions if you’re having trouble. A warning though- don’t get overwhelmed by the people who have recipes fail or are having trouble with their Instant Pot. Mistakes happen, but if you follow the cooking steps to the letter, you will have success every time with your own pot.

Have fun getting started with your Instant Pot this week! Be sure to comment below with any questions- I’ll be sure to answer them for you! In the following weeks, I will cover some more complicated recipes for your Instant Pot, including different techniques you can use. Let me know if there’s a specific recipe you’d like me to cover.

Happy Cooking!

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Written by Esther Burns
I'm a pastor's wife and mom to three great kids. I am also Dakotapam's bestie, a Target lady, and an Instant Pot Wizard!