16 Instant Pot Hacks You Need To Start Using

The Instant Pot is a marvelous, multifunctional kitchen appliance that every home cook needs to consider getting. Not only does it offer convenience, including reduced cooking time and effort, but the Instant Pot offers many incredible cooking options and settings. Whether you want to pressure cook, sauté, or slow cook something scrumptious, the Instant Pot has you covered. All-in-all, the Instant Pot gives do-it-yourself gourmands the ability to create either simple home meals or restaurant-quality dishes. It really is that versatile.

If you're an Instant Pot lover, you've probably experimented with all the basic functions. Still, like anything in the culinary world, there are always additional tips, tricks, and hacks to learn. The Instant Pot is no different. Hopefully, these hacks will save you precious minutes in the kitchen, as well as open you up to a whole new possibility of culinary options. Let's get into it — your Instant Pot awaits.

Jumpstart the pressure by using the sauté function

One Instant Pot function we really love is the "Sauté" function. It's great for sautéing all sorts of ingredients, but there's actually more than one way to utilize it. When you're using an Instant Pot to whip up a hot dish, the function acts as a great pre-heating mechanism. Although marketed as an "instant" pot, it's not quite as quick as you'd expect. It can actually take anywhere between 10 to 40 minutes for your Instant Pot to come to pressure and start cooking.

So, the next time you begin preparing your ingredients for an Instant Pot dish, remember to turn on the "Sauté" function first and start warming things up. Then, add your ingredients as you go, so that no time is wasted. The goal here is to get the ingredients heated as quickly as possible, but you also get the bonus of potential caramelization when sautéing — adding richness and flavor to your overall dish.

Jumpstarting the pressure by using the "Sauté" function will ultimately reduce the amount of time it takes the Instant Pot to come to pressure, eliminate the need for additional pots and pans, and speed up the Instant Pot cooking process. This is just one of many incredible Instant Pot hacks you'll wish you knew beforehand, but don't worry, we've got many more seamless hacks coming.

Tenderize your tough to cook food items

Whether you're dealing with a tougher cut of meat, hearty root vegetables, or beans that usually take a long time to cook, the Instant Pot's pressurized nature makes it the perfect appliance for tenderizing food quickly. When it comes to meat, the intense pressure and steam inside the pot help break down the connective tissue quickly, while also preventing the meat from drying out. Soft textured meat is created in a fraction of the time it would usually take. We recommend using cheaper cuts of meat like chuck roast since the Instant Pot can tenderize even the toughest cuts. Just make sure to limit the amount of water when pressure-cooking meat. Since the meat sweats out and the cooking process releases steam, you risk a liquid overload, and a diluted-tasting broth.

The Instant Pot is also really great for cooking root vegetables and legumes. Next time you make a mouthwatering dish like chili, try it out. The Instant Pot will dramatically reduce your cooking time since you'll only need to soak your beans for about 30 minutes beforehand. Afterward, you can throw your beans directly into your inner pot — adding them to the other ingredients that have hopefully been sautéing in the meantime. Next, close the lid and pressure cook on high for only one hour. Just like that, you have a hearty chili without the wait. Try out this fiery Instant Pot pinto bean recipe for some inspiration.

Use it as a popcorn maker

Who doesn't love a quick, crunchy, airy snack like popcorn? Popcorn is a crowd favorite, but you don't need a popcorn maker to prepare it fresh at home. It turns out you can use your Instant Pot to make this light snack.

To get started, set the "Sauté" function to high and cover the bottom of the pot with a thin layer of your preferred butter or oil. If you're going for a sweet or kettle corn-style batch, we recommend using coconut oil. After a couple minutes add in your kernels — about ⅓ cup for a personal serving — and then top with your preferred seasonings. Close the lid, click "Pressure Cook" and then listen as your Instant Pop works its magic. Soon you'll be ready to plop in front of the T.V. with your fresh batch of popcorn. Who needs concession stand popcorn when you've got an Instant Pot?

The best part about using the Instant Pot to make popcorn is that it's nearly as quick as a microwaved bag, but definitely more customizable. Try experimenting with seasonings other than salt and butter like za'atar, Cajun, caramel, or chocolate. You also don't have to worry about any hidden preservatives, oils, or sodium-heavy ingredients that often come in a microwavable bag or movie theater popcorn.

Ditch your rice cooker and slow cooker

Why buy a rice cooker and slow cooker when you can save space and replace both with your multifunctional Instant Pot? The Instant Pot generally comes with both a "Rice" function and a "Slow Cook" function, but we've got a couple of hacks for you that will speed up your cooking process.

To get started on the rice hack, all you really need is water and rice. When cooking a popular white rice variety like jasmine, measure out 2 cups of rice. Rinse the rice thoroughly first to clean it and reduce its starch content. Once you're done rinsing, add the rice and 2 cups of water to a standard, 6-quart Instant Pot. Make sure the lid is secured and then click "Pressure Cook" — letting it pressure cook on high for three minutes. Once it's finished, allow the pressure to release steadily. When the valve drops, you can remove the lid and dig in.

When it comes to slow cooking, your Instant Pot's pressure cooking feature will drastically reduce the amount of time you need to spend tenderizing meat, beans, root vegetables, and other foods. It will also infuse your seasoning quickly. Just make sure to put your spices in last so that you don't burn your seasoning on the hot surface of the Instant Pot.

Make a no boil, no peel egg salad

One easy Instant Pot hack you should definitely try is called the "egg loaf". The egg loaf is a way of preparing boiled eggs without needing to boil or peel the eggs. Using a standard-sized Instant Pot, all you have to do is add about 1½ cups of water into the inner pot. Next, spray a little nonstick cooking spray into a heat-safe pan and then crack about eight to 10 eggs into it. Afterward, lower your eggs into the Instant Pot, laying the heat-safe pan on top of your trivet. Then close the lid and seal the steam release knob. Pressure cook the eggs on high for about six minutes. Once the timer goes off, let the eggs sit in the Instant Pot for a few minutes longer. Allow the pressure to quickly release and the valve to drop before opening.

It's important to remember to check that your eggs are fully cooked and use some form of oven mitts when lifting them out of your Instant Pot. Once out, remove your "egg loaf" carefully and give it a few seconds to cool down. You can now slice and dice the loaf to make a number of recipes like a delicious za'atar egg sandwich or perfect egg salad. It's pretty incredible when you're able to make boiled eggs for the whole family in just under 10 minutes — and without any boiling or frustrating peeling required.

Invest in a steamer basket to prepare delicate food items

In our opinion, a steamer basket is a must when it comes to Instant Pot accessories. The steamer basket works incredibly well for preparing delicate food items like dumplings, vegetables, shellfish, and more. It not only provides a gentle, even cook, but also a great alternative to steaming with a trivet. This is because smaller ingredients may fall through the wider cracks of a trivet and into the water below, while a steamer basket cradles the ingredients and protects them from slipping. The steamer basket also simplifies the process of creating some truly elevated dishes with restaurant-quality textures and flavors.

When choosing a steamer basket, there are a lot of different options out there. Yes, you can get the brand name Instant Pot baskets, but you can also choose to buy a different basket. You can even use a colander instead of a basket if it fits inside your Instant Pot. Nothing wrong with a little do-it-yourself action. We also recommend trying to find a steamer basket with handles — including ones made of silicone that bend. Flexible handles make it easier to fold them inside your Instant Pot, as well as simpler and safer to remove your delicious steamed food when it's ready. Check out these tasty Instant Pot recipes for some ideas, including steamed rice varieties.

It can be a bread proving drawer

Not everyone has a bread-proving drawer in their kitchen, but there's a solution to this problem, and it's — you guessed it — the Instant Pot. Proving, or proofing, is the process by which many types of bread doughs slowly rise. Proving requires a warm, sealed-off environment. This gives the dough the chance it needs to expand before baking — allowing air bubbles to form and pockets to appear once baked.

To use your Instant Pot as a makeshift bread proving drawer, place your prepared dough in a greased or parchment-lined bowl and then into your Instant Pot. You can also place your dough directly into the Instant Pot if you prefer. Next, turn on the "Proofing" function. If you have an older model without a proofing function, turn the "Yogurt" function on low instead. Although your dough will not magically turn into yogurt, this function has a set temperature setting that is intended to act as a fermentation chamber. This makes it perfect for proving dough, especially breads like sourdough that go through their own fermentation process. Once proved, your bread is ready for the oven, and a fluffy, airy, incredibly textured bread awaits.

The Instant Pot can brew your tea

Brewing tea is not something that comes to mind when you think of an Instant Pot. Usually, we think of food, not beverages. That being said, making beverages like tea is actually perfect for the Instant Pot. You can easily brew a big pot, or should we say "instant pot" of tea using this hack. Brewing tea this way is especially helpful when you need to serve a large number of people or guests — as the Instant Pot's size is advantageous.

All you need to do is pour some water into your Instant Pot followed by your choice of tea. If you're using tea bags, make sure you have about one bag per cup of water. If you're using loose leaves, make sure you purchase some disposable tea bags so your tea leaves don't float around in the water. Next, set your Instant Pot to the "Manual" function and run it on high pressure for about four minutes. When the timer goes off, you can manually release the pressure and carefully open the lid. It's up to you whether you serve it hot but we recommend turning it into iced tea instead. Just let the brewed tea cool for a bit and then grab a large glass pitcher. Fill it about halfway with ice, and then pour the tea in. Now you've got fresh iced tea for everyone to enjoy.

Cook two different foods at once

Also known as the pot-in-pot method, we think this Instant Pot hack is going to become one of your favorites. Instead of doubling your Instant Pot recipe to fill the pot, why not make two separate dishes at once? It'll save you much-needed time and effort during your busy weeknights.

To get started you'll need a small pan or oven-safe bowl, as well as a trivet or steamer rack to separate the two different dishes in your Instant Pot. Start by pouring a cup of water at the base of the inner pot and then placing your first dish in. You'll probably want to cook your main course, or protein here at the base of the Instant Pot. Next, place your trivet in so that separation is created from the bottom dish, and then place your next dish on top. Consider a side dish like steamed vegetables or rice in a steamer basket for the top dish — as the steam and aromas will collect and cook the food perfectly. The Instant Pot setting for this method will largely depend on the dishes you're making, but you can always use the "Manual" function and check readiness after your first go at pressure cooking. All-in-all, the Instant Pot Instant continues to prove that it's one of the most quick and versatile kitchen gadgets on the market.

Utilize a sling to remove finished food

When you use a heat-safe pan or steamer basket to cook food in your Instant Pot, it's a lot easier to use a sling when removing it. This way you won't risk spilling any food or burning your fingers on the inner pot in the process of extraction. Using a sling is especially helpful when it comes to the pot-in-pot method since you'll need to remove the top dish first.

There are many types of slings out there to choose from, but we recommend buying a silicone sling — preferably one with handles. Silicone is not only a great heat insulator, but it's malleable like rubber. This makes it easy to maneuver inside the Instant Pot and allows you to bend the handles into your pot as well. You won't have any trouble closing your lid this way, which is a huge plus. If you don't want to purchase a sling, you can always make one out of aluminum foil at home — folding it lengthwise a couple of times. It won't be as sturdy, but it's still easily shapeable and will get the job done.

Whichever sling you choose, make sure you place it underneath the heat-safe pot, trivet, or steamer basket before lowering it into your Instant Pot. This way, once your Instant Pot dish is finished and the steam is released, you can carefully grab the edges of the sling — or its handle — to lift it out.

Prop the lid into the handle

This may seem like a simple, unimportant tidbit, but vertically propping up the lid into your Instant Pot's handlebars is quite useful. As it turns out, the handlebars are actually perfectly designed to fit the lid — a commonly missed design feature. First off, the fitted handlebars allow you to prop the hot lid up and avoid being burnt by steam. This also allows built-up condensation to collect on the lid, and slowly drip down instead of making a mess of your countertop. Lastly, the handlebar spot ensures that you don't have to find a place to set the hot lid down. Oftentimes, there isn't any more counter space available, but you have to put the lid down somewhere in order to free up your hands for serving. So, instead of setting the lid down on your stovetop, or somewhere you don't want water to collect, just prop it up on the handlebars.

This last hack also keeps the lid cleaner, especially if you're planning on returning the lid for further cooking or using the "Keep Warm" function. Just remember that the propped-up lid is designed to be stable but it's not secured like with a rice cooker. So, if you have small kids or lots of people in the kitchen, be cautious.

Use a clear glass lid to check on cooking progress

You're probably used to the standard sealing lid that comes with every Instant Pot, but it doesn't have to be your only option. If you're whipping up a new recipe, using the manual timing option, or even trying out one of the out-of-the-box hacks we've given you so far — a glass lid can be really useful. Just make sure that the recipe called for doesn't need to be pressure-cooked. Since the glass lid doesn't have the same sealing mechanism as the standard one, it's best to stick to options such as sautéing, keeping food warm, or even slow-cooking meals.

The best part about a glass lid is that it's see-through. You'll be able to check on your food's progress without having to lift the lid, which would release heat and slow down your cooking process. Glass lids are also pretty easy to lift up and don't require any pressure releasing. So, if you're making a recipe that needs occasional stirring, this hack goes a long way. Luckily, Instant Pot sells its own tempered glass lid for every sized Instant Pot. You can order it right off its website so you don't have to worry about compatibility issues and can get right to cooking.

Divert steam using your vent hood or diverter tool

Anyone who owns an Instant Pot knows it can release quite a bit of steam throughout the pressure cooking process. Since condensation can build up in your kitchen and underneath your cabinets, you'll want to try and manage the steam. Too much moisture in a closed environment can lead to a buildup of grime, mold, and other unwanted problems over time.

The good news is that you can use a few different tactics to prevent this from happening. One of the best options is turning on your vent hood and placing your Instant Pot underneath it so the steam is drawn away. If you don't have a vent hood in your kitchen, place your Instant Pot somewhere it's least likely to affect kitchen cabinets. A center island with an outlet is a great spot. Lastly, if the only counter space you have is under a cabinet, use a diverter tool like a silicone steam diverter to push the steam in a certain direction. Forcing the steam towards an open window would be the most optimal, but away from the kitchen cabinets, in general, will also do. You'll have to place the diverter tool on top of the release valve, so make sure your Instant Pot is off when doing so. Also, when your food is done, use gloves to remove the diverter before touching the pressure release valve — you don't want to harm your hands or face in the process.

Defrost food or reheat leftovers

You can cook pretty much anything in an Instant Pot — but did you know that you can also use it to defrost frozen food or reheat leftovers? Not only is it quick, but it reduces the chances of uneven heating you sometimes get using a microwave.

The Instant Pot works wonders for quickly thawing out frozen food like vegetables and meats. All you have to do is pour about one cup of water at the bottom of your Instant Pot and then place your frozen items inside the trivet or steamer basket. Next close the lid, seal the vent valve, and set the manual pressure cook function to high. When it comes to timing, consider about 10 minutes of cooking per pound of food. When done, quickly release the pressure, click cancel, and then start the "Sauté" function. This will allow some of the excess water to evaporate. You should also use a tool like a turkey baster to remove excess water faster. Now that the defrosted food is cooked, you can proceed to seasoning as you see fit.

The Instant Pot works just as well for reheating leftovers. You'll want to place your food into a heat-safe container — preferably glass or stainless steel. Then, lower the bowl onto the trivet, close the lid, and seal the vent valve. Next, set the Instant Pot to the manual pressure cook function on high for about five minutes. When done, release the valve.

Deodorize sealing rings with lemon, vinegar, and water

Sealing rings act as a type of vacuum for keeping your food airtight during the cooking process. Some people aren't aware that they actually need to be cleaned regularly, as they accumulate lots of moisture and food particles which should be removed for sanitary purposes.

What's great about the Instant Pot is that you can actually use the pot itself to clean your sealing rings in only a few minutes. To put this do-it-yourself, chemical-free Instant Pot cleaning hack into action you'll need water, vinegar, and a lemon. Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of vinegar into the inner pot. Then add about half a lemon, sliced, and include the rinds. Next, close the lid and click the "Steam" function, letting it run for several minutes. If needed, you can always run it again until the Instant Pot and sealing rings have been deodorized to your liking.

If the odor persists, you prefer not to clean, or the sealing rings are showing signs of wear and tear, you can always opt to buy new sealing rings as replacements. The Instant Pot website has various options to choose from in order to make sure you buy the right rings for your model.

Sterilize baby bottles

A great hack for those with little ones at home is to use your Instant Pot as a baby bottle and sippy cup sterilizer. Using your Instant Pot instead of washing each item one by one will save you both much-needed time and energy.

All you have to do is add more or less one cup of water into your inner pot, depending on the size of your Instant Pot. Next, place the trivet or a steamer basket inside, and set all bottles and cups that need to be sanitized into it. Make sure to check that the items aren't touching the water below. Next, secure the lid and click the "Sterilize" function, given your Instant Pot has one. Not all Instant Pot models have this function, so if you have an older model you'll have to use the "Steam" function — which still works great. Let the steamer function run on high for about 15 minutes. Afterward, let the pressure release naturally and open the lid after about four or five minutes. Set the sterilized items on a drying rack or a clean towel to air dry. With that, your bottles and cups are now ready for your kiddos — all in about 20 minutes as opposed to a two-hour dishwasher cycle.

Static Media owns and operates Tasting Table and Mashed.