11 Handy Hacks That Will Make Your Instant Pot Even More Useful
Your meals just got better with these tips for accessories, cleaning, and cooking—plus 15 of our best Instant Pot recipes.
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Whether you just acquired a new Instant Pot or you’re a longtime fan of the electric pressure cooker, chances are good you could use some tips to take your meal prep to the next level. To that goal, here are some Instant Pot hacks to make life easier—as well as recipes to put the ideas into play.
Instant Pot accessory hacks
Depending on the model of your Instant Pot, the selection of included accessories can vary. But regardless of the model, some additional accessories can be helpful.
1. Buy an extra sealing ring
The flexible silicone ring that surrounds the inner lip of the Instant Pot cover can absorb odors over time. That's a great reason to invest in an extra sealing ring so you can switch out rings between making a curry and a chocolate cake, for example, and avoid mingling aromas. Plus, this way, whatever you’re making, there’s no wait to wash the sealing ring when you want to keep cooking. Color-coded sealing rings make it easy to designate rings for different kinds of food; be sure to get the size that fits your pot.
2. Buy an extra inner pot
If you have a spare stainless-steel inner pot—the removable metal pot where the food goes—you can use it not just for cooking but for storing leftovers, too. Cover the pot with a reusable cover or plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator. As with the sealing ring, be sure to buy the right size for your Instant Pot.
3. Try a steamer basket
While the trivet included with your Instant Pot can be useful for keeping food raised from the bottom of the pot, a silicone or metal basket is a worthwhile addition for steaming vegetables and dumplings. These tools range from flat-bottomed silicone steamers (similar to bamboo ones used for Chinese cooking, which some cooks opt for instead), to metal mesh baskets, and classic folding steamer baskets. Measure the inside of your Instant Pot to be sure the basket will fit.
4. Get a springform pan
Have you tried making cheesecake in an Instant Pot? You don’t want to miss out, so be sure you have a springform pan that will work for your pot. You'll need a 7- or 7 ½-inch springform pan for a 6-quart or 8-quart Instant Pot.
Pro tip: While some Instant Pot models have a “cake” setting, some don’t and can still make a cheesecake, no problem! This easy Instant Pot cheesecake, for example, uses 35 minutes of cooking time followed by a natural release for 10 minutes, and then a quick release. Easy indeed.
5. Keep a serving trivet nearby
No need to stand on ceremony here—you can serve right out of your Instant Pot’s inner pot! Just set it out on a trivet (a small stand for serving a hot object, different from the trivet that comes with the pot and is used for cooking inside it) to support the hot inner pot without damaging your countertop or dining table.
Instant Pot cleaning hack
While proper cleaning isn’t exactly a hack in itself, making good use of what's at hand may feel like a shortcut.
6. Use your dishwasher
The lid, sealing ring, and inner pot of the Instant Pot are all fine for the dishwasher. (Use the top rack for all but the inner pot.) Separate the sealing ring from the lid before washing. Ideally, you should also remove the anti-block shield (a perforated metal piece that looks like a tiny colander) from the underside of the lid and wash it by hand.
You’ll need to wipe down the base of the Instant Pot (it can't go in the dishwasher). If the steam release valve on the top of the Instant Pot seems dirty, you can gently pull it off and wash it by hand as well.
Instant Pot cooking hacks
Being an Instant Pot whiz is partly about keeping things easy when you’re cooking and partly about making the most of the machine’s capabilities.
7. Do an initial test run
If this is your first time with the Instant Pot, take a few minutes to perform the water test. This is a very simple procedure that involves heating a cup of water in the machine to make sure the seals, metal float valve, and other parts work as they should. Plus, it gives you a chance to familiarize yourself with the buttons and knobs of the Instant Pot without anyone's dinner at stake.
8. Use the built-in lid holder
No need to search for a place to rest the lid when it comes off the Instant Pot; just use the handles. The little “wing” handle on either side of the lid fits into the matching slot on the side of the Instant Pot (at the top) to safely and conveniently stow that lid.
9. Signal a no-go zone
Hack your routine to avoid accidentally tossing food in the Instant Pot’s electrical parts. If the inner pot is out of the pot and the heating element at the bottom of the pot is exposed, place a large wooden spoon across the top to remind yourself the Instant Pot is temporarily unavailable. The goal is to keep your food going where it belongs: the stainless-steel inner pot.
10. Use the Instant Pot as a slow cooker
Though the high-pressure cooker capability of the Instant Pot often gets all the attention, don’t forget that your Instant Pot is a slow cooker as well. Be on the lookout for slow cooker recipes, particularly ones that will work with either pressure cooking or slow cooking, such as this Instant Pot Chicken Teriyaki. This allows you to fit the recipe to your schedule. While the cook time for slow cooker recipes is of course longer than with pressure cooker recipes, sometimes the ability to start a weeknight meal as you start your day is just what you need.
11. Use your Instant Pot to make bread
The “yogurt” setting (available on most models except the Lux) not only lets you use the Instant Pot as a yogurt maker; that low heat is also the perfect temperature for letting dough rise.
(Just got your Instant Pot? Also check out our Instant Pot Guide for Newbies!)