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6 Mistakes You Might Be Making with Your Instant Pot

Your Instant Pot can make cooking dinner a breeze, but that thing’s got, like, 20 buttons and knobs. For magical, delicious results, here’s what not to do. 

RELATED: 10 Instant Pot Recipes That Prove It’s the Most Fantastic Cooking Gadget Ever

Adding ingredients without liquid
Look closely and you’ll notice that every single recipe calls for some sort of cooking liquid. You already know the “slow cook” setting needs it for braising to tender perfection. But the “pressure” setting needs about 1 cup of broth or water, too. Here’s why: When steam builds up, it forces moisture into the food—causing it to cook and tenderize very quickly. Pretty nifty.

Filling the pot to the max line
Yep, there’s a fill line inside, but that only applies to the “slow cook” setting. If you’re pressure-cooking, don’t fill up the bowl more than halfway—especially if you’re whipping up something that’ll expand, like grains or beans. Why? The liquid could easily seep through and clog the venting knob, leading to too much pressure or a huge mess. Yikes.

Not factoring in “preheating” time
Mac and cheese in ten minutes? Chicken enchiladas in 15? It all sounds so magical (and it is). But when you’re planning out your evening, make sure to add about 15 extra minutes onto the recipe. It’ll take your pot this long to build up pressure (aka “preheat”).

Opening the quick release valve too slowly
When your masterpiece is finished pressure cooking, open that valve immediately—and quickly. Every extra second steam is trapped inside can mean the difference between perfectly tender veggies and sad, mushy ones.

Using a recipe that’s made for a regular pressure cooker
The Instant Pot’s first cousin reaches even higher pressures, so recipes created for it will have slightly shorter cook times. Unless you want to do a good deal of pre-cooking arithmetic, we recommend sticking to recipes created specifically for your swanky new appliance.

Giving the inside a good scrub
You always thoroughly wash your Instant Pot after you use it, but maybe you’ve noticed that rainbow streaks have appeared on the inner pot. Resist the urge to scrub it down with your trusty brush or Brillo. The company says this is normal and doesn’t affect the way your food tastes. 

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