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Are you wondering how to use an Instant Pot? This tutorial will show you how you use your insta pot, what the buttons are, and even start you off with a few easy recipes, too!

Check out these simple tips on how to get started using your programmable pressure cooker.

How to use an Instant Pot! Learn how to use an instant pot pressure cooker and discover easy recipes for beginners.

How to Use an Instant Pot

If you’ve just received an Instant Pot or you’re considering buying one for yourself, you might be wondering what the best way to use it is.

In this post, I’ll walk you through what you need to know to get started cooking with your new gadget.  If you’re new to pressure cookers, it might seem a little bit overwhelming. But, I promise it’s not.

This is basically an electric pressure cooker. Unlike the pressure cooker your mom or grandmother had, this is a stand-alone small appliance that lets you cook under pressure safely.

Your Instant Pot has many built-in safety features that a traditional pressure cooker doesn’t have. This makes it fun and safe to use.

What can I do with this?

Your IP is far more than just a pressure cooker. You can saute, slow cook, steam, warm, and cook your food. And, some models even let you make yogurt.

Because your Instant Pot cooks under pressure, one of my favorite things to do with it is to tenderize meat. You would be surprised how easy it is to make even the toughest cut of meat tender and easy to cut with your fork.

What does my Instant Pot come with?

There are several different styles of this pressure cooker so yours may vary slightly depending on which model you received. But, at the minimum, your Instant Pot will consist of:

  • Base unit
  • Inner pot
  • Lid with steam valve and condensation collector
  • Trivet
  • Instant Pot user manual

Some models will also include a set of measuring cups and utensils. Be sure to read your safety instructions carefully.

Cooking with an Instant Pot

It’s really very simple to use an Instant Pot. But, there are a few basic things you need to understand first.

  • The steam is very hot. Never put your hand or your face over the Instant Pot or over the steam valve while cooking or releasing pressure.
  • You will need to use at least one cup of water each time you use your pressure cooker. This allows the unit to create steam and pressure needed to cook your food. Without it, your food will burn.
  • The inner metal pot has two fill lines. Do not fill your pot more than 2/3 full with food or liquid. When cooking food that expands like rice, don’t fill it more than 1/2 full.

We love cooking with our instant pot, click here to see the one we have.

What are the buttons on the Instant Pot?

  • Pressure or Manual Cooking – When you want to start cooking, you can either choose a preset option like “poultry” or “stew” or you can set the amount of time yourself using the manual or pressure cooking button.
  • + / – – This changes the amount of time you will cook for up or down.
  • Keep warm or cancel – To end your cooking cycle press this button. Your pressure cooker will automatically keep food warm when it’s done cooking.
  • Saute – You can saute before you add the rest of your ingredients. Or, you can use this function to thicken sauces.
  • Preset Buttons – Some Instant Pots come with programmable options that let you cook common foods with the touch of one button. Just a few options include soup/broth, bean/chili, meat/stew, cake, egg, rice, yogurt, etc.

what are the buttons on an instant pot? A photo of the controls and of an instant pot cooker

How do I release pressure?

Your Instant Pot cooks food under pressure using steam. That means that before you can open it safely, the steam must dissipate. There are two different ways to do this.

  • Natural pressure release – After your meal is done cooking, the steam will release naturally as the pot cools down. This can take between 10and 20 minutes. This method works best when your pot is full.
  • Quick-release – The second way to release pressure is by manually forcing the pressure vent to the venting position to release steam. Be careful using this method so that you don’t burn yourself. I use a wooden spoon and hold the valve open to the side until I no longer see steam coming out.

How to use an instant pot for beginners

That’s basically all there is to the controls of an insta pot.

Now that you know how an Instant pot works, it’s time to put that knowledge to use and make a few simple recipes. 

Don’t have an Instant Pot? You can buy one here »  (keep scrolling down for a few easy recipes!)


Instant Pot Recipes For Beginners


What should you make first? Great question!

Here are a handful of Instant Pot recipes for beginners to get you started!

Instant pot recipes for beginners

Beef Stroganoff


This Instant Pot Beef Stroganoff recipe is a fast, easy, and delicious family meal and is perfect for beginner instant pot users.

Instant pot beef stroganoff, a beginner IP recipe

Beef Stroganoff

Buffalo Chicken Sliders


Buffalo Chicken Sliders is a super easy appetizer or light meal and can be made in super-fast time in your IP!

Juicy, saucy, with creamy ranch and blue cheese – you’ll make this recipe over and over.

Easy instant pot recipe, buffalo chicken sliders.

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

Sweet & Sour Meatballs


Super easy 3 ingredient sweet and sour meatballs!

This foolproof recipe is quick and kid-tested making it the perfect dinner meal!

Instant Pot sweet and sour meatballs recipe

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Beef Stew


This recipe is a little more advanced.

You get to use the sautee mode as well as the pressure cooking mode.

Once you get the hang of using your new kitchen appliance, recipes like this beef stew will be a breeze.

Easy Irish Beef Stew Slow Cooker Recipe

Instant Pot Beef Stew Recipe

I really hope this article helped you learn a lot about how to use your electric pressure cooker, regardless of which brand you use.

Dive right in, don’t be worried – it’s real easy to use! Make a few recipes and you’ll be on your way to a whole new way of cooking!

Be Inspired!

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