Instant Pot Tips and Tricks 101

On December 6, 2017 by Kim

Instant Pot Tips and Tricks 101

**This post may contain affiliate links, but we promise only to point you to products we use and love!**

Welcome back to the last installment in our Instant Pot Series! Just to recap – when we say Instant Pot, we are really talking about a programmable pressure cooker. Catch up on the other resources here if you are just joining us, and then read on for our best Instant Pot tips and tricks.

We’ve compiled our favorite Instant Pot tips, including how to cook your freezer meals from frozen in the Instant Pot!

The number one reason people love the Instant Pot is speed. Whether you are a long time freezer cook or you are just stumbling upon the idea of it, you probably know that the goals of the freezer cook are the same: speed, efficiency, simplicity.

Freezer cooking and the Instant Pot are a match made in heaven, and this is why:

1. You can cook food & meals directly from its FROZEN state!

Yes, that means you can skip the thawing step and still have your freezer meals on the table in record time. But there is one catch to cooking freezer meals in the Instant Pot. Because the appliance is round you cannot freeze your meals in the bag flat. Square peg, round hole – you get the picture. But never fear! Our test cooks weren’t about to let this come in the way of this epic couple.

Check out our Instant Pot Recipes for freezing instructions!

2. Freeze your meals in ROUND containers to fit perfectly!

We typically steer you toward using freezer bags, and laying them flat to freeze as they take up less space in the freezer. But if you freeze your meal in a round container, then you can pop it out and right into the Instant Pot. 64 ounces is should be the right size for four servings (what we normally put in a gallon freezer bag). This works best for soups, stews, or anything else that will easily fill the space.

Our container recommendations:

 

Instant Pot Tips - Freeze Meals in a round container so you can cook from frozen!

3. Freeze your Instant Pot Meals into molds for easy cooking!

Place your freezer bag into bowls, pots, pans, etc. that will fit inside your Instant Pot and freeze them in that mold.

This is a great option if you don’t want to dedicate your containers to the freezer or you don’t want to buy new containers just for your instant pot. Just get creative! This works great for larger pieces of meat (roasts, whole chickens, etc.) that have liquid component as putting the bag inside another container will keep the liquids from freezing flat.

 

4. Allow your Instant Pot extra time when cooking from frozen.

Take into account the amount of time it takes the pot to come to pressure.

You are still going to be getting dinner on the table in record time, but when you cook food from a frozen state it will take a little bit longer than the regular cook time. Remember, it has to thaw and cook the meal all at once.

The Instant Pot will take much longer to come to pressure for the frozen meal than it will for the fresh/thawed version. So while it will only take say 15 minutes to cook, it might take the frozen version 20 minutes to come to pressure, while the fresh/thawed version only takes 5 minutes to come to pressure. So remember that variable when you are trying to have your meal done in time for dinner.

Get more information on adjusting Instant Pot Cooking Times.

 

Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joe's - Freezer Meal Recipe

5. Use caution with recipes that use dairy or flour.

Cheesy dishes, cream soups, and dishes that are thickened with flour are not expressly forbidden in the Instant Pot – thankfully! But you do want to take care to clean the seals and valves when you are done so that these foods don’t get stuck in there. These items are best added during a saute or warming step at the end of the cooking time.

Indigo Nili (she vlogs about food on You Tube) has a great tip on using the “pot in pot” method for recipes such as these. This allows you to still use water to create the pressure seal and not the creamy/thickened liquids.

Nili also has a fun video called A Day in the Life of My Instant Pot.

See more advanced Instant Pot tips & tricks.

 

Buy a Slow Cooker - Instant Pot

6. For frequent use, consider purchasing an extra stainless steel insert.

If you’re cooking almost every meal with your Instant Pot like Nili, you might want to consider purchasing an extra insert so that you don’t have to wash as much between meals.

 

Instant Pot Paleo Indian Spiced Roast Chicken - Freezer Meal Recipe

7. Get familiar with the various pressure release methods.

Quick Release versus Natural Release

Cathi at Cherry Blossom Kitchen reminds us that when you are using the pressure cooking setting, that pressure needs to go somewhere once the cooking is all done. There are various methods for different recipes, so check her tips and the instructions in your Instant Pot to use the quick release, natural release, or 10 minute natural release. Also remember that there has to be at least one cup of liquid in the Instant Pot in order to use the pressure cooking function.

See more advanced tips on Instant Pot release methods.

Additional Resources and Instant Pot Tips

**This post may contain affiliate links, but we promise only to point you to products we use and love!**

Instant Pot Tips & Tricks 201 - FB  Transform Freezer Cooking with an Instant Pot  

  50 Instant Pot Freezer Meals  

Great news: we have Instant Pot friendly recipes and menus!

Get Instant Pot Recipes   Instant Pot Meal Plans

You can cook the menu as is, or you can build your own custom menu with your Pro Membership.

 

We are sharing our best Instant Pot tips and tricks including how to cook your freezer meals from frozen in the Instant Pot!

79 Comments

Join the discussion
    1. How many people are you serving and how big are their appetites? We all have the 6 quart and it’s a perfect size to feed our families! But the 8 quart is wonderful as well! It depends on how you answer the first two questions.

    2. My 6 qt used to be fine until my boys got a little older. I just started using the 8 qt because I make 6-7 servings at a time. The smaller pot couldn’t contain all the liquid in some of my recipes when I started making larger batches.

      1. Good to know! Sometimes I have doubled batches of chili or soup for company and I’m still under the limit, but it seems to take a long time to come to pressure when it is more full!

    3. I bought the 6 quart.. It is just my husband and I. I thought the 3 Qt. would be too small and the 8 qt. too big… I would say, it depends on family size…

    4. It depends on how many you are cooking for. I bought the 8qt on a special sale. But I cook mostly for two. There is a minimum amount of volume needed to bring the pot up to pressure and it depends on size of vessel. Bigger the pot more
      Volume needed . If your always cooking for 4 or more the 8qt is fine but cooking for 2 I’m often forced to cook larger amounts than I want (rice, grains, oatmeal). If you are mostly cooking soups, stews, whole chickens, ect… the 8 qt is fine also. For 2 people I wish I had gotten the 6 qt.

  1. When setting the time on a pressure Cooker, if the recipe says 30 minutes is that 30 minutes after the pot builds pressure and heats up? If so my pot takes 20-25 minutes to heat and pressurize so it’s more 50-55 minutes in the pressure Cooker. Am I understanding this correctly?

  2. Hi! Great post! I was curious how you know exactly how much extra time to allow for recipes when you put them in the IP directly from frozen? Are you just guessing or is there a ballpark “add this much extra time to the cook time” if it’s frozen. ?? Thanks so much! My friends and I are doing a freezer cooking session for our IP’s for the first time so just trying to figure it all out 🙂

    1. On our website, we account for this time – as in you shouldn’t need to add any more time if you’re following the cook from frozen directions. This is another one of the reasons we have folks saute for 5 minutes–to help warm up the pot and “unfreeze” it a bit. So that takes time off the amount of time it takes to come to pressure. We do add 10 minutes for large hunks of meat such as a roast that isn’t cut up. Enjoy!

      1. I have the Pressure Cooker XL as well. Are the recipes interchangeable between the two? If the the recipe calls for a cook time of 30 minutes, is it 30 minutes for the Pressure Cooker XL too? 😊

        1. Great question! Our Instant Pot recipes should be interchangeable with any electric programmable pressure cooker using the high pressure setting.

    1. No, the food will need to be taken out of the freezer bag before cooking it. 🙂 If you find the food is being stubborn when it comes time to cook it, you can use warm water on the outside of the freezer bag to help release it to get the meal into your instant pot.

      1. When cooking from frozen, I often just cut the bag off. It seems to be a quicker method than trying to pry it out of the bag, or running under hot water.

  3. If you use the 64oz container for freezing… do you put the container in the IP when you reheat the food on serving day? Or do you dump the contents out into the IP?

    1. You’ll want to dump the contents into the pot. The only type of bowl you should put directly in your IP (when using pot-in-pot method) is an oven safe dish like Pyrex. Happy cooking!

      1. Why does my food stick to the bottom of the pot when I sauté and then pressure cook? A message comes burn. All times I have had liquid in the pan.

        1. I’m sorry you’re having that experience. Could it be that your pot is not hot enough during the saute portion? You may also try placing your meat on the trivet which will prevent it from sticking.

  4. Just an F.Y.I. If you look at the photo on the top of this page, it shows the freezer bag inside the Instant Pot. Maybe that is why people are asking that question.

    I’ve been using my IP for about 2 weeks. She’s 7-for-7. I love her !!!!!!

    Thank you

    1. That’s a great point, Lori, thank you! So happy to hear you love your IP! We’re big fans around here! 🎉

    1. Each recipe will be different. You’ll find not every recipe calls for a cup of water to cook from frozen. On our site, you’ll find three sets of directions for each recipe. We encourage you to follow each recipe to know how long and what setting to use to heat your meal!

  5. I really like the convenience and speed of mine, but everything I cook sticks and makes clean up a pain. It happens even if I use a little oil in the bottom. Is there a trick I’m missing? Wish they had liners like crock pot liners.

    1. Sherry, I’m sorry you are having trouble with sticking. That is the downside with some recipes. I find that if I saute meat items first to sear them on the outside that sometimes helps with the sticking. You could also use the trivet or a steaming basket to place meat on so that it doesn’t stick.

      1. Do you know the trick about soaking the pot with a used dryer sheet? Run hot water in the stuck pot, toss in a used dryer sheet. Let soak about an hour. Use the dryer sheet to scour out the stuck on food.

    2. My go-to solution for cooked on food is a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Let it sit for 5 to 25 minutes, depending on how stubborn the food residue is. This even helps get those pesky stains off glass bake ware.

    1. I think I read, is it the IP Ultra, will do the high altitude adjustment for you once you turn a feature on. Might be worth it when you’re looking for an upgrade or if you’re still looking to buy!

    1. That’s a great question. I would not. A general rule of thumb is – if you wouldn’t put it in your oven, don’t put it in your IP. I hope that helps!

  6. I’m attempting to decide between the 6 or 8 qt model.
    Are all the accessories one size and that size fits the 6 qt? If that is true then what is the advantage of the 8qt?

    1. To my knowledge, the accessories “fit” all the sizes. The advantage of the 8qt would be if you have a bigger family, a family with bigger appetites, or you’d like to cook extra to freeze – essentially more room.

  7. My husband bought mea Farberware electric pressure cooker with 8 pre-sets (veggie/steam, soup/stew, rice/risotto, beans/lentils, chicken, slow cook, sear/roast and keep warm. A lot of recipes say to cook on low or high pressure or use the manual setting. On this cooker I have none of these buttons. I can add/subtract time, but only after selecting a pre-set. Does anyone know how I can get around some of my recipes that call for the low/high pressure or manual setting? I’m really stuck.

    1. For the most part, we recommend high pressure for our recipes. Also, each individual recipe will give you a certain cook time. Example, 15 minutes. So you’ll likely have to start with a preset and then adjust the time. I hope this helps. Enjoy!

    2. I have one too. I use sear to brown then use meat for roasts. I have cut up chicken,with veggies added broth and pressured on stew,soups. Debone and season for soup. Replacement gasket. I bought instant pot gasket. The measurements matched my 8 qt.. I couldn’t find a gasket for Farberware pressure cooker. Got ip. gasket,placed water in my pressure cooker to test and it worked out fine. Just a fyi. 🙂

    1. Sure! This would be easier with membership 😉 If you have questions we’re happy to chat in the bottom right-hand corner.

  8. I don’t have a dishwasher and can’t seem to get the smell out of the silicon ring after cooking some savory chicken dishes. It’s horrible. I’ve tried baking soda, white vinegar, soaking it overnight and nothing seems to work. i’ve already bought new sealing rings and have only used my pot a handful of times. help!

    1. Instant Pot 7-in-1, 3qt: has 7 functions (including yogurt), holds up to 3 quarts, great for serving 2-4 servings so yes all of our recipes will work in the 3 qt if you are making them for 2-4 people only.

  9. I have the 10 quart power pressure cooker XL. Do I need to use the same cooking time as in these instant pot recipes? And if I would double a recipe do I use the same amount of time or do I use more time. We are a family of 9-10.

    1. Pressure cooking cooks each piece of food equally. That means that each piece of chicken (be they 4 pieces or 8) will require the same cooking time, and so will each grain of rice. So the general rule of thumb is to not increase the pressure cooking time. However, more items in a pressure cooker will make it fuller which means it will take longer for the cooker to reach pressure so adding a couple of extra minutes when there is a lot more food is okay.

      If you adjust your serving size, you will need to either increase or decrease your cooking times.

      Below are some of our recommendations for times based on servings.

      Average Cooking Times*

      1-2 Servings: 5-10 minutes
      3-4 Servings: 10-20 minutes
      5-6 Servings: 15-25 minutes
      7-8 Servings: 25-35 minutes
      To increase your serving size for every 2 servings add 2 – 5 minutes

      To decrease your serving size for every 2 servings subtract 2 – 5 minutes.

      Here is a great post with more info: https://onceamonthmeals.com/blog/series/instant-pot/instant-pot-tips-tricks-201/

  10. Found another broken link for you. 🙂 At the top of the page you have a link for Instant Pot Tips & Tricks 201, but the link is dead. I see you posted in the comment just above mine though. Yay! (Yes, I know, I said I had to leave, but now I’m a little addicted and want to keep reading. lol)

    1. Thanks for letting us know! The link seems to be working for me.

      We were having some issues on the site yesterday but they all seem to be fixed today. Please reach out if you find any other links that don’t work so that we can get them fixed ASAP for you!

      Sorry for any inconvenience!

      Thanks!

    1. No, unfortunately you can’t use the liners in the Instant Pot. Anything you place in the pot must be oven safe.

  11. I’m in love with your website! We got a 6 quart instant pot about a year ago and when our rice cooker died a few months back, we just got an 8 quart IP instead! I purchased the round containers you recommended (they just came today!) and I’m excited to look through the recipes on your site.

    I did have a question first, there are two regular Instant Pot recipes that I make that I realized can be frozen and then put directly into the instant pot. How much time do you recommend adding to the cooking time for something that is completely frozen?

    Thank you so much for all your help!

    1. Amy, thank you for the kind words! As far as adding time, that won’t always be necessary. While it does take additional time to come to pressure when it’s frozen, it doesn’t always require additional cooking time. That said, there are so many variables (such as containers used, how thick the meat is, how many portions, etc), that you may find that it actually does require additional time. Some of our users find that setting the IP for half the time listed, venting, opening and breaking apart the (still partially frozen) meal, and then sealing and finishing the suggested cooking time, works well. Hope that helps!

  12. I bought the inserts for my instant pot that allows me to cook two dishes at once. But I don’t know how to use it and I can’t find any recipes for that. Do you know where I could find some?

  13. I just got an instant pot and it has different program keys”..no manual, no adjust and no timer…and the cookbook that I bought uses these directions. Could you tell me which buttons to use in their place?

  14. My daughter forwarded to my cell phone one of your articles, including some recipes, and the recipe I’m most interested in is for ribs. I was able to copy the recipe for rub…but I can’t get the rib recipe. Can you help me? They look SO GOOD and I am so anxious to prepare them!
    Thank you!

  15. You compared IP to a crackpot…. Compare it to a pressure cooker please….I’m debating weather I want to get one or not cause I have and use my pressure cooker a lot….. Your response would be greatly appreciated…..thank you kindly

    1. Hi Kelly – I think this post is what you might be looking for. We are partial to the Instant Pot as it is the one we have found to be most tried and true of the pressure cooking appliances we have tried. Even though we are partial to it we write all of our recipes and resources to be able to be prepared in any programmable pressure cooker. This is a great post for exploring which one is best for you! https://onceamonthmeals.com/blog/series/kitchen-tips/what-is-an-instant-pot/

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