It's a bird, it's a plane… no wait… it's the Instant Pot!?! This clever little kitchen appliance has taken over kitchens around the world! Check out these 10 savvy hacks and learn how to use an Instant Pot to save you time and effort!

Instant Pot and vegetables on a counter, from Shelf Cooking

Making a delicious home-cooked meal has never been easier than it is with the Instant Pot. We just cannot get over how efficient this bad boy is!! Not only is it FAST, it's also incredibly versatile! Make anything from yogurt to cheesecake to a full-blown melt-in-your-mouth pot roast and potatoes meal. YUMMM.

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So maybe you're new to the Instant Pot game and need a little help figuring out this magical little appliance, or maybe you're a veteran looking for some extra tips to up your game! Either way, keep reading for 10 clever hacks and learn how to use an Instant Pot in ways you've probably never imagined!!


First, let's start with the basics. Because the Instant Pot is a pressure cooker, make sure you read over the entire manual before you attempt to use it. Don't worry — IT WON'T EXPLODE!! But safety is a top priority to avoid burns and other accidents.

You can easily find this information in your manual, but just to give you a quick overview… Here is a list of basic parts that should come with your favorite appliance:

  • Outer Body – The big contraption that heats up to cook the food. Don't ever put food directly into the outer body!
  • Inner Pot – The pot that goes inside the outer body. This is where your food goes.
  • Lid – The locking lid that seals your pot. On this lid, you will find the pressure valve and the steam release valve.
  • Silicone Sealing Ring – Here's the silicone gasket that sits inside the lid to ensure proper sealing. This should be washed after every use!
  • Condensation Collector – If you're using your pot as a slow cooker, this will catch any condensation that forms.
  • Trivet – The metal rack that sits inside the inner pot when you use it to steam.

The Instant Pot is so much more than just a pressure cooker — it can also slow cook, sauté, and steam! Make just about anything with just the push of a button!? Um, YES please! So now that you have a general idea of how it functions, let's start cooking.


Lasagna on a plate, from Shelf Cooking

One of our absolute favorite things about the Instant Pot is how useful it is when it comes to making one-pot meals. Not only can you make soups and sauces, but you can even make an entire lasagna right inside the inner pot!

With the handy sauté feature, brown your meat right inside the pot before adding in the other ingredients. Meals that used to take three or four pots now condense all into one and cook in less than half the time. Talk about a time saver — spend less time on cooking AND on cleaning up the dishes! Seriously… isn't it INCREDIBLE!?


While the Instant Pot is best known for its pressure cooking wizardry, it's equally as impressive as a slow cooker! Before you decide to whip up a batch of slow-cooked soup, follow these tips to ensure the best results.

If your recipe calls for slow cooking on the traditional low setting, set your pot to “slow cook” first, and then adjust the setting to “normal.” If your slow cooker recipe calls for a high temperature, adjust to the “high” setting and add 15 minutes of cook time for every hour. (High on a slow cooker is about 225-275°F and high on the instant pot is only 210°F.)


While the Instant Pot is obviously great for cooking, it can also sterilize things in a snap! No more sterilizing baby bottles, pumping equipment, pacifiers, and medical equipment in a pot of slooooow-to-boil water.

Just add one cup of water to the inner pot and place the items to be sterilized on top of the included trivet. Click the “steam” function and set the timer for 2 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for at least 4 minutes before manually releasing. And, voila! Sterilized bottles without all the hassle!


Instant Pot and meal on a table, from Shelf Cooking

Because this handy dandy appliance is so incredibly versatile, you can cook virtually anything in it! That's exactly what makes it the perfect thing to take on a trip! As long as you've got an outlet and an Instant Pot, you've got a sauté pan, slow cooker, pressure cooker, and a great re-heating tool all in one magical device! Who needs to lug around all the pots and pans when you've got this life-saver?!

Not only is it convenient, but it can also save you TONS. Eating out can be so expensive and is honestly a total waste of money most of the time. Unfortunately, most people think cooking while traveling is not an option because they don't have access to a stove or oven.

Well, Instant Pot to the rescue yet again! You literally only need an outlet for a delicious made-from-scratch home-cooked meal!


Everyday cleaning is simple; just wash out the inner pot and clean the lid! Sometimes food particles can get trapped in the steam valve, so be sure to clean it out! It should just pop right off with a little pressure. Make sure to pull out the silicone sealing ring and wash it after every use, too.

If your pot is smelling a little funky, just throw in one cup of water, one cup of white vinegar, and a few lemon halves. Set to “steam” and set the timer for 2 minutes. When the pressure has naturally released, remove the sealing ring and let it air dry. Bye-bye, stinky smells! 😉


Have you ever turned on your Instant Pot, sat down to relax while dinner cooks, then hear the dreaded *BEEP BEEP* burn notice as soon as your bum hits the couch!? SO frustrating!! Here are a few tips to help you avoid the burn and cook your meals hassle-free!

  • Layer Your Ingredients – The best way to avoid the burn with an Instant Pot is to layer your ingredients properly. Add in all the liquid ingredients first and the more dense ingredients to the top. This allows steam to build without scorching things on the bottom. We know it sounds crazy, but never ever stir!
  • Add Enough Liquid – Make sure there is enough thin liquid in the pot so pressure can build without overheating.
  • Use the Pot-In-Pot Method – Place your burn-prone food into an oven-safe dish and place that inside the inner pot of the Instant Pot (never inside the outer body)!
  • Deglaze the Pot – If you seared or sautéed first, make sure you deglaze the pot to get all the stuck-on bits of food off the bottom before bringing it up to pressure. Simply add a little broth into the hot inner pot and scrape clean with a silicone spatula.

With these tips, we're sure you'll avoid the burn and have a tasty meal ready in no time!


This appliance is a meal planner's DREAM! Not only does it cut down cooking time, but it also cuts down on prep time, too! Use your Instant Pot to make large batches of shredded chicken, beans, perfectly cooked rice, hard-boiled eggs, and so. much. more.

Put these staples into the fridge for meals during the week or throw those you can freeze into freezer bags where they'll be ready to pull out in a pinch! Thank you, Instant Pot!!


Yogurt in a bowl, from Shelf Cooking

Have you ever realized that there's a “yogurt” button on your Instant Pot? If you're like us, you may have thought to yourself, “hmmm, what does that do!?” Well, we're about to tell you just how magical that little button can be!

If you've ever had homemade yogurt, you know there really is no comparison to the stuff at the store. It's creamier, sweeter, and it has way less sugar! Use the built-in yogurt setting to make the BEST yogurt you've ever eaten — regular or greek!


Need a gift in a pinch? Instant Pot has a solution for that too! We know… it's seriously SO COOL! Here are a few quick and easy homemade gift ideas, courtesy of the enchanting little pressure cooker.

Make Homemade Apple Butter

Make apple butter in the Instant Pot and you'll never go back to store-bought! Stick it in a jar with a ribbon and you've got a wonderful gift! Just remember — unless you properly can it, it must stay refrigerated!

Use Fun-Shaped Crayon Molds

We hear you, non-crafty people!! Trust us, this is SO. STINKING. EASY. Find some old broken up crayons, remove the paper, and put them into oven-safe cups. Throw 1 cup of water in the Instant Pot, add the trivet, then add the cups with the crayons.

Melt the crayons by turning it to warm. (There's no need to pressurize!) Once melted, carefully pour into fun-shaped molds and let cool. Bag them up, add a cute label, and you've got an adorable gift made for free!

Cook Instant Pot-Ready Soup in Mason Jars

Okay, so for this one you don't actually need an Instant Pot, but it's a great gift for your fellow unicorn-appliance lovers! Grab a clean mason jar and fill it with all of the dry ingredients of your favorite pressure cooker soup recipe. Layer the ingredients to make it a little extra fancy and add a cute instruction label. Soup in a jar!!

And there you have it, 10 incredible Instant Pot Tips to save you time, effort, and even money in the kitchen. Stop overworking and let that pressure cooker do its thang!

Now that you know how to use an Instant Pot, be sure you check out our Facebook Shelf Cooking Community for even more hacks, tips, and recipe ideas! We love the wonderful resource that the community is!

Image with text that reads "how to use your Instant Pot" from Shelf Cooking

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Now go hug your Instant Pot and thank it for how wonderful it is! 😉