Do you feel overwhelmed by all the functions or settings on your instant pot? You are not alone! Regardless of your model or make, learn EVERYTHING you need to know about each Instant Pot Setting and how to use them!
Once you learn how to use your Instant Pot, you may be wondering what do all these buttons do, and which setting is best. This guide will walk you through exactly what each function does and which ones you should use. Spoiler Alert: Most of the settings on the Instant Pot are USELESS!
When my Instant Pot first came in the mail, I was a bit baffled at where to begin.
I had purchased the Instant Pot Duo model and there were SO many buttons!!! Even after completing the initial water test, It took me a bit of time (and a few mistakes) to realize that there is really only a few functions I need to utilize when pressure cooking to make delicious instant pot recipes.
Instant Pot Settings
At first glance at your electric pressure cooker, it looks like you can cook just about anything with a simple touch of a button.
Manual/Pressure Cook Setting
The manual or pressure cook setting allows you to set the cook time to whatever you would like. This is by far the MOST utilized function on the instant pot. Basically you are just setting a specific cook time on high pressure. This means YOU control the outcome!
To Use the Manual Button:
- Hit Manual.
- If you need to adjust pressure, hit the pressure button until high or low pressure is lit up (unless you have the Instant Pot Lux--it only cooks on High pressure)
- Hit the plus or minus sign to adjust time.
This function is great for browning meat, sauteing veggies or thickening up a sauce at the end of pressure cooking. I use this function for my Instant Pot Mongolian Beef and Instant Pot Chili.
To use Saute Function:
- Press the "Saute" button.
- Select a temperature with the “Adjust” key for “Normal”, “More” or “Less”.
- When Instant Pot reaches the given working temperature, it displays “Hot” and you can start sauteing.
- One full “Sauté” session will run for 30 minutes.
- Normal is like medium heat on a stove top and More is like high heat on a stove top and less is like low heat on a stove top.
The yogurt function is only used only to make yogurt.
The yogurt button is able to be adjusted by hitting the "adjust" button until it says "boil" or 8:00 or 10:00. These functions are unique to yogurt recipes.
If you plan to make Instant Pot Yogurt, I STRONGLY suggest investing in a model that has the yogurt setting.
This function adjusts pressure for high to low--not an option on the Instant Pot Lux. And is RARELY used! Most recipes are designed to be cooked on high pressure. But it is important to pay attention to because if you accidentally hit a button that causes the pressure to drop from high to low, your results will be drastically impacted.
To use the Pressure Button:
- After you hit manual, hit pressure to adjust to high or low pressure.
- Set your timer on for manual cooking as needed.
The adjust button is to adjust the temperature of the instant pot when using the slow cooking, yogurt, or saute functions between less, normal, and more.
The timer function is used to delay the cooking time. This is great when making Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats or Instant Pot Brown Rice. You can prep the rice in the morning and set to be ready at dinner time or prep oats and wake up to warm oatmeal!
There are two things to keep in mind when using the delay start option. You don't want to leave anything raw or that could spoil in your Instant Pot for an extended amount of time. So perfect for cooking oats in water or rice in water, but NOT using for Instant Pot Pot Roast.
The second thing to keep in mind is you are setting the timer as to when you want your pressure cooker to START--not when cook time will start. The delay start does not account for the time it takes to come pressure. Therefore, if want dinner ready in 2 hours but the recipe takes 20 minutes to come to pressure, 20 minutes to cook, and 20 minutes to release pressure set your timer for just 1 hour, so that it begins the cooking process in 1 hour and in 2 hours it will be completed.
To Use the Timer Function:
- Select either manual (pressure cooking) or slow cooker mode, as these are the only two modes compatible with the timer function.
- Set your cooking time.
- Within 10 seconds of setting the cooking time, press the ‘timer’ button.
- Use the +/- keys to set your delay time.
Slow Cooker Button
The Instant Pot Slow Cooker function is not equivalent to the temperatures on a slow cooker. I have a guide on how to use your Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker. Spoiler Alert: It DOES NOT work like a regular slow cooker!
Other Instant Pot Buttons
Depending on the instant pot model you have, your electric pressure cooker may have settings for meat, chicken, rice, cake, eggs, sterilize, steam and/or soup/stew. These are functions that I do not use or recommend. It is much better to cook on high or low pressure and manually adjust the temperature yourself based on what you are cooking.
Click on picture for Download!
I recently learned the yogurt function can be used to proof yeast dough! It reduces some of the rise time.
I have several recipes that refer to the programmed buttons such as "Meat/Stew" but my Instant Pot does not have these buttons (I have the Duo Crisp). Is there a cross reference chart somewhere that converts the programed buttons into plain English so I can tell what to set my Instant on?
Cooking is not my forte, my wife was the cook and she passed away so I'm winging it on my own. I don't want to waste money ruining food trying to guess.
Hi John. I am sorry to hear about your wife. I completely understand you not wanting to waste food or money--it is a pet peeve of mine as well. You do not need the programmed buttons, like Meat, Chili, Stew, etc. Instead, use the PRESSURE COOK button. To do this, hit PRESSURE COOK, be sure under the time it reads high, not low. If your screen shows "low" hit the PRESSURE COOK button again. Then use the +/- buttons to adjust the time. Once the time is selected, hit START. I hope that helps and feel free to reach out with questions anytime.
I am new to instant pot and the one question I have.... I am following the Instant pot app recipe for pot roast end it gives you the steps and after the steps says start timer so when I get to the end and everything is in and I press the timer.... is that the total time or am I not supposed to press the timer until after the pressure is built. I really do like this thing but wow directions are tough
I hope you can help!
Hi Cindy! The directions are very unclear. To cook under pressure, hit manual or any function and then put in the cooking time. It won't begin to count down the time until after pressure is reached which can take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes depending on what you are cooking.
I, m new to IP n have the duo 6qt.
My question is about the saute function..
1.how long after pressing the saute button does the HOT display come on?
2.Can u pour in oil before pressing the saute key or after?
Its a bit confusing, and appreciate your explanation on using the saute as it should..thanks
Hi! It can take 5-10 minutes for the Instant Pot to read hot. I suggest hitting saute and letting heat for 2-3 minutes, then add in the oil. You can certainly add before you press saute, but it may overheat slightly.
this may sound dumb but when I set time for saute pressure cooker what do I push
No dumb question. You shouldn't set a time for the saute function. It should turn the Instant pot on and heat. Then saute as needed and turn the IP off once done. Some models will turn off after for 30 minutes. I hope that helps.