How To Improvise Instant Pot Seasoning Without Burning Your Spices

Ground spices don't fare well under intense heat; the taste can quickly go from fragrant to foul, then burnt. This can pose a problem when adding them to an Instant Pot. The tabletop appliance requires long cooking times, which means some spices can lose their flavor by the time you're done. But with some improvisation, you can keep all your layered flavor profiles intact. Simply tweak the order of ingredients, adding them last so they sit on top of whatever you're cooking. This will ensure they're not touching the pot's bottom or sides, which produces too much heat for them to withstand.

Depending on your recipe, you can take this step further and not add your spices until the end of cooking. Spices contain essential oils that are released under heat, but if left on for too long, they begin to evaporate and lose their punch. Not only will they have less flavor, but if they reach their smoke point, they'll become bitter and potentially ruin your dish. By waiting until the last minute, you ensure that the spices' integrity stays intact.

Other ways to protect your spices

One precaution you can take when trying to develop flavor in your soup, stew, curry, or what have you, is to reach for whole spices rather than ground ones. This is because whole spices have a higher tolerance to heat, and they won't singe as quickly or easily as the ground ones. Just remember that depending on which spice you use, it may be necessary to toast it beforehand to release its flavor.

If all you have on hand are ground spices, revert to your normal order of operations but take the trouble of adding a small amount of oil or water to the Instant Pot to prevent the spices from sticking to the bottom and burning. And if you add spices after the pressured cook, stir well and check them frequently as they may not incorporate adequately and settle on the sides or bottom of the pot.