I see you. You are standing in your kitchen at 6 p.m., wishing dinner would magically appear as you gaze in dismay at the frozen chicken. Eating out is definitely an option, but sometimes the food delivery gives you cold food with missing items. Plus, the cost adds up. If only you had some instant pot hacks to fall back on.
Fortunately, that instant pot you have sitting in your cupboard or saved in your Amazon cart can save your evening. It is easier than you think and life-changing. Hot food in less time than a delivery service can try to dash your dinner.
How Does the Instant Pot Work?
A pressure pot works with steam pressure. The pot is sealed up, and the steam builds inside. As the pressure increases, the food inside cooks quickly without drying out. When you cook on the stove, you can reach the boiling point of 212 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the pressure pot gets you up to 250 degrees.
Also, as the pressure builds up, the steam forces liquid into your food, so even the toughest meat cuts are tender.
Not only that, pressure cookers are heavy gauge stainless steel, which makes it possible to safely build up so much pressure when cooking.
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Are Instant Pot Pressure Cookers Safe?
Yes, pressure cookers are safe. However, just like anything else, you must understand your instant pot’s safety features to do your part in staying safe.
Pressure cookers have steam-release vents at the top of the pot. When the valve is open, steam is released, along with the pot’s pressure. Your instant pot lid is safe to remove when the pressure is built-up. Please stay away from the steam from the valve because it can burn you.
Your instant pot lid’s design is intentional with safety features. Since pressure builds up, you do not want to have your lid on improperly. In fact, many pressure pots have lids with sensors, and your pot will not work if the lid is off-kilter.
Even if your pressure cooker has a sensor to let you know about the lid, be sure to take care that the sealing ring is in the right position, and you twist the lid to the locked position.
Filling your pressure cooker too much is a safety concern, as well.
For instance, you typically do not want to go above the 2/3 line inside the cooker. Food expands, and some foods sputter. You want to make sure the steam valve is clean after cooking foods that might build up.
Lastly, be sure to add water or other fluid when cooking. You need liquid to build pressure.
Why You Need an Instant Pot
Seriously, though. If you were not gifted an instant pot due to the popular kitchen multi-tasker craze, buy one now. We’ll wait.
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First, an instant pot is typically not just a pressure cooker. It does so much more. Most pressure cookers on the market take the place of a rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, and slow cooker.
Also, because pressure cookers use stainless steel, you can wash much of the cooker in the dishwasher. The inner pot and the rack that goes inside and the lid are all safe in the dishwasher.
Essentially, instant pots take the hassle out of cooking, and it delivers hot meal in no time at all. Coupled with some instant pot hacks, you have dinner handled with no meal-prep anxiety.
Sear and brown
There are many instances where the meat and vegetable portion of the meal must be seared before cooking through.
During the process of cooking on the stovetop and oven, the process of cooking and cleaning as you go is derailed with multiple steps.
An instant pot with the saute feature, which most of them have, can help because it can likely sear and sauté your food. After the meat is seared, you deglaze the pan’s bottom and continue cooking without dirtying extra pans.
However, we have a sauté instant pot hack for you. The bottom of your instant pot is not completely flat. Therefore, you may need a little extra oil to coat the entire bottom.
Also, you can use it as a slow cooker too. In fact, many of your slow cooker recipes already suit your instant pot. However, when you are looking to switch to your pressure pot, there are a couple of things to know.
First, make sure you have some liquid in the pot. The creation of steam to cook in a pressure pot depends on the liquid.
Second, there are a few ingredients that do not do well in an instant pot. For instance, if you are using dairy, know the instant pot gets too hot. However, an instant pot hack is to add these to the meal after the pressure pot finishes cooking.
Next, know the cook times are significantly reduced. What might take 6 hours in a slow cooker might take only 40 minutes in your pressure pot. Therefore, it is vital to consider adding ingredients in stages. Your meat takes longer to cook. You might cook your roast first, release the pressure, add your veggies, and give it five more minutes under pressure before serving.
While you are considering your ingredients, know that you cannot fill your instant pot as full as your slow cooker. Pay attention to the max fill line inside your pot.
Well, that is unusual
Do not forget about your instant pot pressure cooker is useful for baking bread, making yogurt, bone broth, and hard-boiled eggs.
Speaking of high-protein, hardboiled eggs are amazing, but getting them just right in a pan of boiling water is sometimes a challenge. Plus, they are often hard to peel.
A hard-boiled instant pot hack is to remember the rule of five. It takes five minutes to come to pressure, and then add five minutes of cook time. Turn the instant pot off and give the eggs five additional minutes to naturally decompress steam. Finally, a five minutes bath in ice and cold water practically makes the shells fall off.
The possibilities are endless, and if you can think of it, chances are you can make it in an instant pot.
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Instant Pot Hacks: What Features and Size Do I Need?
To make the most of the instant pot hacks, you need the right size of pressure pot to meet your needs.
If you are cooking for a family of four or less, and you do not want to have a lot of leftovers, a three-quart should do. However, if you have big eaters and prefer leftovers for lunch the next day, look at the six-quart pressure cookers.
If you have a larger family, you should consider an eight-quart size.
Another of many useful instant pot hacks is to consider if you need more than one instant pot. For example, some families use their pots nearly every day. Therefore, having two going for more than one course is ideal.
Other families buy an extra insert so they can quickly swap out items in just one instant pot without having the wash the first one before reusing it in the same meal prep.
Also, other options for consideration are the extra features. Some of the instant pot pressure cookers on the market are wifi enabled and have all the bells and whistles. Others are more scaled back but still do a fantastic job helping get a meal on the table.
If you want to take the guesswork out of your pressure pot and prefer a ton of useful presets, there is a pressure cooker for that.
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How much time do you have?
Plus, you can cook your meals in a hurry, even meals that usually must simmer for hours.
Knowing the usual cook times for some basic foods and items is crucial when making dinner decisions. It also helps to note how long your favorite meals end up taking for future menu planning.
- Dried beans: 26 minutes
- White rice: 12 minutes
- Brown rice: 25 minutes
- Wild rice: 27 minutes
- Vegetables: three minutes, but possibly five depending on the size of the chunks
- Whole potatoes: 15 minutes
- Oatmeal: 10 minutes
- Corn on the cob: four minutes
- Whole chicken: six minutes per pound
- Boneless chicken: eight minutes
- Bone-in chicken: nine minutes
- Beef roast: 40 minutes
Remember, these times are approximate. Your instant pot manual has model-specific cook times and recommendations. The cook times above are from our experiences.
Who put the chicken in the freezer?
Also, pressure pots allow you to cook with frozen meats. Therefore, those frozen chicken breasts no one thought to thaw out in the morning for dinner will not get in the way of dinner magic.
Although, for food safety, look at your brand and model-specific manual that discusses cook times because times may vary depending on the instant pot.
Instant pot hacks: frozen chicken
A whole chicken takes about 10 minutes per pound in the instant pot if you start frozen. Be sure to release the steam naturally, which means do not turn the steam knob to release the steam quickly. It takes a few extra minutes, but you saved so much time already.
If you are cooking frozen boneless chicken breasts, give it 15 to 20 minutes for 1 to 2 pounds. However, bone-in chicken from frozen is about two minutes longer.
Instant pot hacks: Frozen beef and pork
For beef, you want to take the large cuts of meat and cut them into stew-sized two-inch cubes. It is not recommended whole roasts start from frozen. However, frozen stew meat cooks in 30 minutes.
Also, ground beef takes about 15 minutes from frozen.
The same rings true with pork, although you can cut a 3-pound roast into 4 pieces and cook for 45 minutes. Also, 3-pound pork loin, when frozen, is reading in 45 minutes if you cut it into 3 equal chunks.
Find Yourself an Instant Pot!
The next time you find yourself in the kitchen looking in dismay at a lack of choices or a frozen package of chicken, know that you have options.
Your pressure pot works by safely building up pressure with steam, which cooks your food.
Instant pots are multi-tasking kitchen tools. Most models allow you to do more than just cook. You can sauté, pressure cook, bake bread, and use it as a slow cooker, to name only a few.
Also, choosing the right size of the instant pot is easy. All you must do is consider your family’s size and how big of meals you usually cook. After that, you pick a size that works best for your needs.
With the instant pot hacks, you can quickly take a recipe with which you are already familiar and adjust it to the use of an instant pot.
Best of all, that frozen chicken package in your hands is not a challenge for your instant pot.
What are your favorite instant pot hacks? Answer in the comments.
A teacher by trade, Victoria Caine splits her free time between freelance writing, her camping blog, and (frantically) guiding her teenagers into becoming functional adults.