Instant Pot 101

Written by Sharon Charles BSc Nutrition (Candidate)

Reviewed by Andrea Miller MHSc, RD

If you have been hearing about the instant pot lately, it is for good reason! The instant pot is just what it sounds like – it cooks food in almost an instant. This magical gadget also saves clean up time, because you can cook everything in just one pot.


Ever since I brought my instant pot home, it has been the one kitchen tool I’ve been constantly using, not only because of my excitement in having something to experiment with, but also because it is just that convenient!

The instant pot is a multipurpose tool. It can be used as a slow cooker, rice cooker, sautéing pan, yogurt maker and pressure cooker.

General tips on how to use an instant pot:

  • When using the pressure cooker features of the instant pot, ensure that the knob is switched to seal and not vent so that pressure can build up in the pot to be able to cook the food.
  • The small metal button beside the knob indicates the pressure in the pot. If the button has risen to the top, this indicates that the pot is pressurized. Do not open the pot when it is on high pressure.
  • Keep your face and hands away from the knob when manually releasing the pressure in the pot as it is releasing hot steam.
  • Only when the small metal button beside the knob goes down should you open the lid of the instant pot.
  • Press the sauté button for variations of temperature (low, medium or high) when sautéing or frying foods.

Here are three very easy recipes to get you warmed up to using an instant pot!

  1. Brown rice

Brown rice is a great option to keep you full for longer periods of time, as it is high in fibre. You can pair it with steamed or roasted veggies and a protein of your choice. It adds a wonderful nutty flavor to a dish.

The instant pot comes in handy when cooking brown rice since it will cut cooking time in half. Add 2 cups of brown rice to the instant pot, along with 2 ½ cups of water or vegetable broth. Close the lid and set the knob at the top to seal. Go to the Manual setting and set the cooking time to 22 minutes. Once the instant pot beeps, it is time to press cancel (to turn the cooker off) and proceed to switching the knob to vent and unlocking the lid when it is safe to do so.

  1. Hard boiled eggs

Did you ever wish that you could hard boil your eggs any faster? The instant pot does the trick! Using the instant pot to hard boil your eggs makes it much easier to peel, the eggs, once they are cooked.

Add 7 eggs to the metal rack that is included in the box with your instant pot. Fill the bottom of the pot with about one cup of water. Close the lid and set the knob to seal. Press the steam function and set to 6 minutes. If you prefer soft boiled eggs, lower the time to 3 or 4 minutes instead!

  1. Yogurt

Have you ever tried making your own yogurt? If not, you definitely should! I personally find homemade yogurt delicious, although some may people may find it a bit more sour than store-bought versions.

To make yogurt in the instant pot, add about 1.5 L of milk to the instant pot. Press the sauté button and whisk the milk until it reaches 180ºF. Once it reaches that temperature, take the metal instant pot insert out and allow it to cool back down to 115ºF. At this time, add in a ¼ cup of plain yogurt as the culture needed to make the yogurt. Set the knob to vent and close the lid. Press the yogurt function and set to 12 or more hours depending on how sour you like your yogurt (beyond 22 hours makes a more sour yogurt). Enjoy this recipe with honey, fresh fruits or blended into smoothies. The yogurt keeps in your refrigerator, for about one week.

Share your comments and favorite ways to use your instant pot, below.

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