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How To Fix 14 Common Instant Pot Mistakes
Let me begin by telling you my story. When I bought my Instant Pot, the first thing I cooked was chicken stock.
The next recipe I attempted cooking in my Instant Pot was my classic pot roast, and it was a total disaster!
I got the burn error. I had filled it too high. I didn’t even turn on the pressure valve of my instant pot!
Disappointed at first, I realized that I was not the first to make these Instant Pot mistakes, and I can bet on my cooking abilities that I am sure I won’t be the last. Now I can warn you ahead of time so that at least you don’t end up ruining your lunch/dinner like me!
As it is evident by now, you can’t just have a magical end to your old favorite slow cooker recipe when you are cooking in the Instant Pot.
Some slow cooker recipes will still work for the Instant Pot, but not all of them will do. I recommend using conversion guide for making slow cooker recipes in the Instant Pot before you dive in lock stock and barrel.
HOW TO FIX 14 COMMON INSTANT POT MISTAKES
YOU FORGOT TO TURN THE PRESSURE VALVE TO “SEALING.”
I STILL make this mistake sometimes even though I’ve been using my Instant Pot faithfully for a few months now.
If you’re expecting to hear that whiz and whoosh of the pressure building inside the Instant Pot and don’t or when you are left wondering why your precious Instant Pot hasn’t beeped yet even when the cooking time has come and gone… be 100% sure that you’ve made this Instant Pot mistake.
The fix is easy – turn the valve to sealing! You might sometimes forget it in a hurry so, I recommend you to include it as an integral part of your Instant Pot cooking routine. It is as simple as putting on the lid, closing it shut and making sure that the valve is set to sealing. Don’t even think of moving on to hitting any other button until you have set the valve properly.
YOU ABSOLUTELY FORGOT TO PUT THE SEALING RING BACK INSIDE THE LID WHERE IT SHOULD BE.
I am yet to commit this mistake, but it sure is common. You took out the sealing ring to clean it because you had cooked something with a strong aroma like garlic loaded recipe but the sealing ring still sitting on the kitchen counter in the drying rack.
Wipe the sealing ring dry it with a soft towel and replace it back into the lid as soon as you’re done cleaning the Instant Pot sealing ring.
YOU DIDN’T START COOKING WITH ENOUGH LIQUID IN YOUR POT.
Unlike slow cookers that don’t get heated fast (which means there’s plenty of time for the food to release juices which in turn cook the food) the Instant Pot gets heated fast.
You’ll either land up burning your food (and get a burn error LIKE I DID ) or pressure won’t build correctly if there isn’t enough liquid in the Instant Pot in the first place.
Always start with a minimum of 1 cup of liquid. The Instant Pot manual, in fact, recommends to start with 1½ cups, but personally, I can say it’s okay to start with 1 cup also.
If you’re cooking something like Instant Pot oatmeal, read the recipe carefully beforehand. The dry:wet ratios might seem off, but that’s only because you’ll need the extra liquid to start out with.
There is little learning involved when it comes to new appliances. Sometimes we have to unlearn certain things to learn new things. These common Instant Pot mistakes are easy to make, but also easy to avoid.
YOU STARTED OFF COOKING WITH THE WRONG TYPE OF LIQUID
This is one mistake I made with my slow cooker pot roast – Though I was proved wrong soon enough, I had thought that starting with homemade cream of mushroom soup would work just fine for me.
I couldn’t have been more incorrect.
There are a handful of ingredients you just CANNOT put into the Instant Pot until your food is done cooking. You can later go through those ingredients on this post.
Pay keen attention in your recipe and don’t think that adding “liquid” components will be counted as the liquid. The instant pot needs to operate efficiently. In case you see a recipe that has “no-no” component listed to be added first, then promptly re-arrange them so that you’re adding them last (or be prepared to ruin your lunch/dinner).
YOU OVERFILLED THE INSTANT POT BEYOND THE ALLOCATED MAX FILLING LINE
You filled it too high IF you open the lid of your Instant Pot and see that your meal is splattered all over the place.
You might have filled it higher than recommended if your Instant Pot won’t build pressure.
ENSURE you DO NOT fill it past the max fill line if you’re making something that foams while it cooks (i.e. pasta, beans, grains).
Don’t fill the pot past the maximum filling line. Use the natural pressure release so that the foam has time to go back down after cooking is finished. In case natural pressure release isn’t an option that you want to try, then slowly turn the pressure release valve and if at all you happen to see any foam then promptly reseal it. hang in there for a few minutes, and then retry.
YOU’RE COOKING VARIETY OF FOOD ITEMS TOGETHER.
It is definitely possible to cook beef and broccoli and brown rice in your Instant Pot and that too all at the same time but you can’t just throw it all in there and then expect it to turn out ok also.
22 minutes – Brown rice
8 minutes – Steak
as little as 0 minute – Broccoli
Now just figure out for yourselves what a mess you’ll have on your hands if you tossed all these ingredients in there together. Your rice would be done perfectly, but you’ll also have mushy broccoli and beef shreds to deal with!
Follow the directions for recipes thoroughly and start being attentive to the times it takes for certain objects to cook.
Make a cheat sheet when you have to, however, learn the cooking times for some of the objects you prepare dinner most customarily.
Invest in a pot-in-pot steamer set so you can upload additional gadgets to the pot.
If you have to throw things together in the pot to save on your cooking time, then ensure the cooking time of all items is within a few minutes of each other.
Forgot to put the seal in the lid?
Left the vent open?
Didn’t calculate enough time?
All of these simple mistakes can be easily avoided. Follow this guide to troubleshoot.
Related Post: 5 Best Instant Pot in Pot Cookers And Their Utility
YOU ADDED ONE OR MORE OF THAT “NO-NO” INGREDIENTS TO YOUR INSTANT POT.
Cornstarch, potato starch, arrowroot or any similar flours or thickeners (including a roux) are an absolute “NO-NO” for the Instant Pot.
You also can’t add tomato paste to the bottom of the Instant Pot (but you can surely add it on top of everything else).
Prepare your cornstarch slurry or roux and set it aside. Whilst your food is accomplished cooking in the instant pot, open the lid and set it apart. Press the “sauté” button and whilst the liquid starts to bubble, add your slurry/roux and whisk it in. The sauce will eventually thicken just as you’d desired!
YOU ONLY TOOK THE COOK TIME INTO ACCOUNT
Always bear in your mind that before it can cook your food, it must first come into pressure. Not only this it also has to come down from pressure AFTER the food is done the cooking.
I can guarantee that your dinner will not be ready on time if you’re only taking into account the actual cooking time for the food.
Read the recipe thoroughly before starting out.
No mention of the time? Then double the cooking time and assume that’s how long it will take to come to pressure.
If your Instant Pot isn’t full and/or there’s plenty of space between the food for air to escape (i.e. stacked corn on the cob), you’ll likely be overestimating.
In case your Instant Pot is full and/or there’s little or no air circulation in between your food items (i.e. soup), then you might want to add a few more minutes.
Always be sure to add 20 minutes for natural pressure release and at least 7 odd min for quick pressure release.
YOU STARTED YOUR JOURNEY WITH A “DIFFICULT” RECIPE
Nothing will deflate your hopes more than attempting to make a “DIFFICULT” recipe.
Before you jumpstart into Instant Pot beef and broccoli, try something super easy like Instant Pot BBQ chicken, Instant Pot brown rice or even Instant Pot chicken noodle soup.
Perfect a few simple recipes under your belt so that you can get to know your Instant Pot better and slowly build your confidence!
Consider changing the cooking technique OR a different recipe…if you’re eyeing a recipe and you’ve never made the individual components yet. So you’ll be making some of it in the Instant Pot and some of it in the oven or on the stove (however you may be used to cooking).
There will always be several common mistakes to make with the Instant Pot. Thankfully, most of the mistakes are easy to avoid. Simply follow this tutorial to troubleshoot these common mistakes!
YOU HAVEN’T BEEN USING THE INSTANT POT OFTEN ENOUGH LATELY!
Ever since I have learned that the Instant Pot can cook dry beans perfectly in under an hour without having to soak them and make chicken stock in under an hour, I seldom prefer to use any other cooking method to prepare these food items.
As you plan your meal each week, choose 1-2 things you can execute in the Instant Pot. You’ll quickly gain confidence, you’ll save time AND learn how easy it truly is to operate too!
YOU HAVE BEEN USING THE WRONG TYPE OF PRESSURE RELEASE
Your food immediately doesn’t stops cooking just because the timer went off. The appliance may no longer be actively generating heat, but your food is still hot (standing time) and it’s still sealed up inside the Instant Pot. Not using the quick pressure release could be disasterous for your meal. It could honestly mean that you are over-cooking your meal.
Some food products need that extra time to come out as tender and delicious.
Meat is one of those foods. Not always but often one gains from the natural pressure release method.
Be attentive to the type of pressure release that is needed for the recipe. Don’t stray from the recipe until you’re confident of your Instant Pot skills!
The Instant Pot is extremely easy to handle, however, there are a few beginner’s teething mistakes that are easy to make! I go through several common mistakes that you can avoid.
YOU INVARIABLY FORGOT TO “TURN OFF” THE “WARM” BUTTON
Do you recollect, how I had mentioned that the food still cooks even though the timer has beeped?
Well, worse than that is having the “warm” button because the food is LITERALLY still cooking.
Depending on when you had hit the “go” button, your food could be very overcooked by the time you sit down for lunch/dinner.
Be aware of whether or not you actually need to use the “warm” button.
More often than not, I’ve affirmed that leaving the Instant Pot sealed is often enough to keep your food warm until it is the serving time.
If not, using the sauté button will quickly warm your food as well.
YOU USED THE “TIMER” BUTTON TO SET THE COOK TIME
Most kitchen appliances have a “timer” button to set the cook time, so I can see how easy this Instant Pot mistake is.
But as you’re pressing buttons, remember that the cook time is automatically set depending on what cooking method you choose, and it’s adjusted using the + or – buttons, NOT the timer button.
The timer button is used to delay the cook start time.
Don’t get in the habit of pressing the “timer” button. Forget it’s even there and you won’t be tempted to press it. Then when you really do want to delay the start time, it will feel weird to press it (and you’ll recognize this weirdness!).
YOU FORGOT TO PUT THE INNER POT BACK IN
I know how it goes – you cooked dinner, you took out the pot to wash it and it’s sitting upside down on the counter drying off… right next to the sealing ring, right?
Just like the sealing ring – as soon as you’re done washing the inner pot, give it a quick towel dry and stick it in the Instant Pot to thoroughly finish drying.
Follow this guide to avoid the common mistakes made with the Instant Pot. You don’t have to worry about making the same mistakes twice with this easy troubleshooter.
COMMONPLACE INSTANT POT QUESTIONS
I get a lot of queries about my Instant Pot, so here’s a super quick FAQ for you all (don’t forget to thank me later):
What’s the size of the Instant Pot that you have?
I prefer the 8-quart DUO 7 in 1 Instant Pot. I chose this larger Instant Pot for a few reasons.
My slow cooker is 6 quarts and can’t fit some of my favourite recipes.
The larger Instant Pot gives me more scope to prepare double recipes.
Key for saving time in the kitchen? Cooking once and eating twice.
I’d rather have extra room in my Pot than have it all cramped up
There is a maximum fill line for liquids. You have to leave a certain amount of space in the pressure cooker when using it.
The general rule is to avoid filling the Instant Pot more than 2/3rd full. The 8 quart thus gives me more room to cook my food.
Is there any Instant Pot hack?
One Instant Pot hack that I have learned is to use a 3-quart pot inside a 6-quart pot and an 8-quart pot. That way it’s easy to cook two elements of one meal.
Is there anything I should know first before purchasing an Instant Pot?
YES! Before you buy the Instant Pot, there’s a good bit of information that you should know. Be rest assured that one of it is bad, but it’s definitely worthy to read ahead before taking the plunge and investing your money.
Can the Instant Pot save you money?
Yes!! I crunched the figures using common sense. You save on time and fuel both at the same time. Guess that’s good enough.
“Have you made any instant pot mistakes?
“If so, can you share them?
“What goof-ups did you do to cause them and consecutively what did you do to fix them?
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