Do you feel overwhelmed by all the settings or buttons on your Instant Pot? You are not alone! Regardless of your Instant Pot model or make, learn EVERYTHING you need to know about how to use the Instant Pot Settings.
Once you learn the basics of using an Instant Pot, you may be wondering what all the 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!
Many Instant Pot Models have multiple buttons. There is often a surcharge on models with extra functions. However, the reality is that only a few functions are needed to make delicious instant pot recipes.
Reasons Most Instant Pot Buttons are Useless
At first glance at your electric pressure cooker, it looks like you can cook just about anything with a simple touch of a button.
It may be tempting to put the chicken in the instant pot, hit the button labeled poultry, and walk away. However, relying solely on the pre-set cooking functions, could very well result in over-cooked chicken, under-cooked rice, or dried-out beef.
These settings are programmed with a cook time based on the AVERAGE cooking time and are just a starting point and don't know what you are actually pressure cooking. The Instant Pot settings for poultry, meat, stew, eggs, beans, and grain are completely useless functions and are almost guaranteed to cause you to ruin dinner if you rely on the pre-set cooking time.
What Instant Pot Functions You Need
In my opinion, the only thing you need to look for in an electric pressure cooker is one with the capability to saute and manually control the cooking time. If you have the desire to make Instant Pot yogurt, I strongly suggest purchasing a model with a yogurt setting.
Instant Pot Buttons Explained
Below the detailed explanation of settings, you will find a printable cheat sheet that will explain when to use an Instant Pot function and how to adjust each setting on the Instant Pot.
Manual/Pressure Cook Function
The manual or pressure cook setting allows you to set the cooking time to whatever you would like. This is by far the MOST utilized function of the instant pot. Stated simply, this function allows you to set a specific cooking time and if you cook on low or high pressure. This means YOU control the outcome!
How 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. Note, if you have an 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 when making things like Instant Pot Chili, sauteing vegetables when making things like Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup, or thickening up a sauce at the end of pressure cooking such as Instant Pot Butter Chicken.
How To Use the Saute Button:
- Press Saute.
- Select a temperature by hitting saute again OR hitting the adjust button to adjust between less, normal, or more. If compared to cooking on a stovetop, normal is comparable to medium heat, more is comparable to high heat, and less is similar to low heat to high heat.
- After heating, some models will display "Hot” on the screen. and you can start sauteing.
- One full session using the saute function will run for 30 minutes.
The yogurt function is mainly used to make homemade yogurt, although some people like to use it for proofing dough as well. If you plan to make Instant Pot Yogurt, I STRONGLY suggest investing in a model that has the yogurt setting.
The yogurt button can be adjusted by hitting the "adjust" button until it says "boil" or 8:00 or 10:00. These functions are unique to yogurt recipes.
This function adjusts pressure from high to low and is RARELY used! Most recipes are designed to be cooked under high pressure. But it is important to pay attention to this because if you accidentally hit a button that causes the pressure to drop from high to low, your results will be drastically impacted.
How to Adjust the Pressure:
- 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 used to adjust the temperature of the instant pot when using the slow cooking, yogurt, or saute functions between less, normal, and more. Simply hit the button to change the temperature.
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 it 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 or cooking oats in milk.
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 the cooking time will start. The delay start does not account for the time it takes to come under 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 2 hours it will be completed.
How 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 the desired 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!
Click here or on the picture for the download to be able to be printed!
Click on Picture to DOWNLOAD printable directions for Instant Pot Functions.
Other Instant Pot Functions
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.