InstantPot manual: slow cooker manual

Overjoyed with your new InstantPot, you unpack it, place it on the counter, and then… A little bit of panic. What are all those buttons for!?! I had the exact same reaction when I received my InstantPot a few years ago. I was so happy with it and really wanted to start using it, but I had no idea where to start. The InstantPot manual that came with it was also not very clear to me (and it is not in Dutch), and I hear that from more people.

However, it is a very nice slow cooker so I’m going to explain how it works here as simply as possible. It is also really very simple, but you have to know it. I will walk you through all functions, buttons, and lights!

Don’t have an InstantPot yet but want one? Then you will find some useful tips at the bottom of the article.

For starters, the InstantPot has 7 different features:

  1. slow cooker
  2. High-Pressure Cooker
  3. steamer
  4. rice cooker
  5. baking
  6. yogurt maker
  7. Keep warm setting

To the left and right of the display, you will see 8 pre-programmed functions, which I will go into further in the InstantPot manual. You also see different lights in the display, buttons with a plus and a minus, and below that, you will find 8 other buttons with which you can control most settings.

InstantPot manual 

The lid

Finally, you will find a valve on the lid, which you can set to ‘Venting’ or ‘Sealing’. The ‘Venting’ position means open – this allows steam to escape. The ‘Sealing’ position means that the InstantPot is closed so that the pressure can build up, you mainly use this position when you cook under high pressure. While using this position, the metal pin will rise as soon as the pressure has been built up sufficiently. When the pressure has decreased, the pin falls back down into the lid.

At the back of the appliance hangs a transparent plastic container, which sometimes fills with a little moisture during cooking. Clean this container regularly after use.

Main functions slow cooker

We start with the main functions, which can be found below the display. The following applies to all programs: Does the appliance start-up too quickly, is your food ready, but the program has not yet been programmed, or have you not set the appliance correctly? You can always press ‘Keep warm / Cancel’, then the program will stop immediately.

Button 1: ‘Slow cook’

With this button, you switch on the slow cooker mode of the InstantPot. This is slightly different from a regular slow cooker because you don’t have to deal with 2 but 3 settings.

  • Fill the InstantPot with your favorite slow cooker ingredients (e.g. meat, vegetables, and herbs for a stew).
  • Close the lid, set the valve to the ‘Venting’ position.
  • Press ‘Slow cook’, the appliance shows a cooking time of 4 hours, on the ‘normal’ setting.
  • The ‘normal’ setting can be compared with the low setting on a slow cooker. For example, if you want to make a stew that has been set on the low setting for 8 hours in a slow cooker, then press ‘+’ until the cooking time of 8 hours appears. The device will start automatically after 10 seconds.
  • Do you want to cook your dish faster, comparable to the high setting of the slow cooker? Then press ‘Slow cook’ –> ‘Adjust’ (the ‘more’ button lights up) –> set the cooking time with ‘-‘ or ‘+’. The device will start automatically after 10 seconds.
  • At the end of the cooking time, the appliance beeps 10x and switches on the keep warm setting automatically. You can turn this off by pressing ‘Keep Warm / Cancel’.

Button 2: ‘Saute’

The sauté setting is ideal when you want to fry something. For example, first brown your meat on all sides before it goes into the slow cooker, or just quickly stir-fry some vegetables.

  • Put a spoonful of coconut oil or another shortening of your choice in the pan, leaving the lid off.
  • Press ‘Sauté’, the appliance shows a cooking time of 30 minutes on the ‘normal’ setting.
  • Usually, the ‘normal’ setting is fine, but if you want the temperature of the pan to rise or fall, use the ‘Adjust’ button to select the ‘less’ (less hot) or ‘more’ (warmer) setting.
  • You can’t set the cooking time, but 30 minutes is almost always more than enough. Stir the pan from time to time, in between you can put the lid on but that is not necessary. Is your meal ready? Then click on ‘Keep warm / Cancel’ and the baking will stop.
  • Do you want to keep your meal warm in the pan after 30 minutes? Then you don’t have to do anything after the cooking time, the keep warm mode switches on automatically.

Tip: Have you baked your meat and do you want to let it stew in, for example, the slow cooker? Then leave the meat in the pan and follow the instructions for the ‘Slow cook’ setting.

Button 3: ‘Manual’

This button activates the high-pressure mode of the InstantPot. For example, do you want to make stew or stock very quickly? Then that is perfectly possible in this position.

  • Place the ingredients in the InstantPot.
  • Close the lid and set the valve to ‘Sealing’ – this will allow pressure to build up in the pan.
  • Press ‘Manual’, the appliance shows a cooking time of 30 minutes at high pressure.
  • Adjust the pressure with the ‘Pressure’ button – with which you can switch from high pressure to low pressure and vice versa.
  • You can adjust the cooking time with the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ buttons, this is per minute. So you can set the device very accurately.
  • After 10 seconds the program starts automatically, first, the pressure builds up, then the time starts to count down.
  • At the end of the cooking time, the appliance beeps 10x and switches on the keep warm setting automatically. You can turn this off by pressing ‘Keep Warm / Cancel’.

Tip: When cooking under high pressure, you should not fill the InstantPot higher than 2/3, so not to the ‘max’ line in the pan. Do you cook beans, rice, or dried vegetables under high pressure? Then you should not even fill the pan more than half full.

Tip 2: Always add enough liquid when you cook under high pressure, this is necessary to build up the pressure. Is there too little moisture in the pan? Then your InstantPot makes a beeping sound (within half an hour of starting) and gives an error message. Then add some extra moisture and reset the device.

To make stew and stock under high pressure:

A cooking time of approximately 40-45 minutes at high pressure (‘High pressure’) applies to stews. For stock, you also use the ‘High pressure’ setting, but then let it cook for 90 minutes. It is best to wait for the pressure to release naturally after cooking, this generally takes 15 minutes, then the lid will open. If you want to speed up the pressure reduction, you can set the valve to ‘Venting’. ATTENTION: do this under the extractor hood and do not hold your head above it! A lot of hot steam comes out.

Button 4: ‘Timer’

This button is suitable when you use the slow cooker function or when you cook at high or low pressure, and you want the device to be ready a little later. Follow all instructions for the program, set the cooking time, then press ‘Timer’. A time of 6 hours appears on the screen. You can adjust this time with the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ buttons.

Example: You leave for work at 7 AM and want the slow cooker to be ready at 5 PM, a time difference of 10 hours. However, the slow cooker program only lasts 8 hours, so you want InstantPot to start cooking 2 hours later. Then select a time of 2 hours using the ‘Timer’ button, then the device will only start with the slow cooker program after these 2 hours.

So do not confuse the Timer button with setting the cooking time 😉

Button 5: ‘Yogurt’

This was the main reason for me to buy an InstantPot, I was finally able to make a large amount of coconut yogurt in one device. Awesome! I have to say that I am really very satisfied with this setting, making the yogurt goes very well, the result is better every time than when I did it in a yogurt maker.

Button 6: ‘Keep Warm / Cancel’

Do you want to cancel the selected program, or do you think you have set the cooking time a little too long? Then this button will come in handy.

Simply click on ‘Keep Warm / Cancel’ and the program will stop. That’s it!

However, do you want to keep a dish warm in the pan? Then press ‘Keep Warm / Cancel’ twice after the cooking time. After the first press, ‘OFF’ appears on the screen, after the second press, a time of 10 hours appears on the screen. You can set this time using the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ buttons.

Pre-programmed functions

The InstantPot has 8 different pre-programmed functions. I myself rarely or never use these functions, because I prefer to set my cooking time and pressure using the ‘Manual’ function. But of course, some of these functions are super handy!

soup

You can use this function to cook soup or stock under high or low pressure. If you press this button, you will see that the standard cooking time is 30 minutes, under high pressure. If you press the ‘Adjust’ button, the cooking time changes to 20 or 40 minutes (the lights ‘less’ or ‘more’ will light up). Using the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ buttons you can set the cooking time even more accurately. You can also switch to the low-pressure setting with the ‘Pressure’ button.

Which pressure and time you set depend entirely on the dish you are going to make. In all cases, set the valve to ‘Sealing’.

Meat/Stew

You generally make stew under high pressure, the meat is really super tender. This function is set to 35 minutes under high pressure by default. If you press the ‘Adjust’ button, the cooking time changes to 20 or 45 minutes (the lights ‘less’ or ‘more’ will light up). Using the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ buttons you can set the cooking time even more accurately. You can also switch to the low-pressure setting with the ‘Pressure’ button.

In all cases, set the valve to ‘Sealing’.

My experience is that stew is the tastiest at 40-45 minutes on high pressure.

Bean/Chile

I really never use this function, but if you want to cook beans (for pea soup, for example!) then this position is very handy. This function is set to 30 minutes under high pressure by default. If you press the ‘Adjust’ button, the cooking time changes to 25 or 40 minutes (the lights ‘less’ or ‘more’ will light up). Using the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ buttons you can set the cooking time even more accurately. You can also switch to the low-pressure setting with the ‘Pressure’ button. Also here set the valve to ‘Sealing’.

Poultry

Want to make a quick chicken (for example, pulled chicken!)? Then this function is ideal.

The ‘Poultry’ function is set to 15 minutes under high pressure by default. If you press the ‘Adjust’ button, the cooking time changes to 5 or 30 minutes (the lights ‘less’ or ‘more’ will light up). Using the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ buttons you can set the cooking time even more accurately. You can also switch to the low-pressure setting with the ‘Pressure’ button. Set the valve in the lid to ‘Sealing’ again.

Half a kilo of chicken is cooked perfectly with the standard-setting. Don’t forget to add liquid (for example stock) and other seasonings to the chicken.

rice

The rice setting of the InstantPot is really well thought out, I almost regret not eating rice. Depending on the weight of the contents of the pan, it automatically adjusts the cooking time! How nice is that?

You need an equal amount of rice as water for almost all types of (white!) rice. You put this in the pan, close the lid, set the valve to ‘Sealing’, and press ‘Rice’. This is then cooked under low pressure as standard with a cooking time between 4 and 12 minutes. The slow cooker takes care of all this for you.

Multigrain

Love brown rice? No problem! You can use the ‘Multigrain’ setting, for example, to cook brown rice or wild rice.

This function is set to 40 minutes under high pressure by default. If you press the ‘Adjust’ button, the cooking time changes to 20 or 60 minutes (the lights ‘less’ or ‘more’ will light up). Using the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ buttons you can set the cooking time even more accurately. You can also switch to the low-pressure setting with the ‘Pressure’ button. Set the valve to ‘Sealing’.

I’ve read that the ‘More’ setting in this function first soaks the contents in hot water for 45 minutes and then cooks it under high pressure for 60 minutes (or under low pressure if you have set it). But since I haven’t tried that yet, I can’t say for sure. If anyone has experience with this, please let us know below!

Porridge

As the name suggests, this setting is suitable for all kinds of porridge, such as oatmeal or quinoa.

This function is set to 20 minutes under high pressure by default. If you press the ‘Adjust’ button, the cooking time changes to 15 or 30 minutes (the lights ‘less’ or ‘more’ will light up). Using the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ buttons you can set the cooking time even more accurately. You can also switch to the low-pressure setting with the ‘Pressure’ button. Also here set the valve to ‘Sealing’.

steam

And lastly.. The steam function! For this, you need the metal steam rack that comes with the InstantPot. On the steam function, the pan gets very hot and the rack prevents your ingredients from burning or sticking to the pan.

  • Put a layer of water or stock at the bottom of the pan, place the rack in the pan and place your ingredients on it.
  • Press ‘Steam’.
  • This function is set to 10 minutes under high pressure by default. If you press the ‘Adjust’ button, the cooking time changes to 3 or 15 minutes (the lights ‘less’ or ‘more’ will light up). Using the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ buttons you can set the cooking time even more accurately. You can also switch to the low-pressure setting with the ‘Pressure’ button.

    Extra: Which InstantPot do you choose?

    If you’ve read through this article and got excited about an InstantPot, it can be difficult to pick one. There are various InstantPots on the market and also various accessories. Which one do you take, and which one is useful?

    I myself have the InstantPot DUO 7-in-1 and I really like it, I especially like the yogurt function. Pay attention; the InstantPot 6-in-1 does not have a yogurt function.

    Accessories InstantPot

    • Extra silicone rings – These are very handy to have. The smell of dishes tends to get into this ring, so you may not want to use the same ring for pot roast and yogurt.
    • Glass lid – For those who really want to be able to look into the pan, this is of course very handy. You can use this lid for the slow cooker setting or when you bake something – in other words in all cases where the valve in the lid must be set to ‘Venting’. This lid is not suitable for cooking under high pressure, for this you use the standard lid with a valve.
    • Steam basket – When steaming vegetables, the supplied rack is just a bit too coarse – pieces of broccoli easily fall through, for example. This steamer basket is easier when steaming larger quantities of vegetables. You can even stack these silicone steam baskets on top of each other, 2 fit in them.

    Furthermore, there are of course many more nice InstantPot accessories available, but do you need them? At least not in the beginning. Only if you are really used to the slow cooker and use it often, you might consider it. A non-stick pan is also available, but my experience is that the standard stainless steel pan (healthier material!) is very easy to clean, even when it has been baked a bit. It can even go in the dishwasher.

     

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