How To Start Instant Pot

Want to join the world of easy Instant Pot cooking? Here is a simple guide on how to start Instant Pot.

Step 1: Get to Know Your Instant Pot

First things first, you should familiarize yourself with the different components of your Instant Pot. Here's a general outline of the parts:
  • Outer pot/Base unit — made of stainless steel, this is where you can find the control panel, heating element, and power cord.
  • Lid — seals the Instant Pot seals under pressure and is top-rack dishwasher safe.
  • Inner pot — removable, made of stainless steel, stovetop-friendly, and dishwasher safe.
  • Condensation collector — gathers condensation drips from the lid, located at the back of the outer pit, and is dishwasher safe.
  • Power cord — a 3-prong cable that's detachable on some models and extends from the back of the Instant Pot.
  • Accessories — these extras include a trivet, measuring cup, and spoons.
You can use the trivet to raise food above the level of the liquid and for Pot-in-Pot cooking. It's also dishwasher safe. (Note that not all models come with the spoons and measuring cup)
Now, let's take a closer look at the crucial components of the Instant Pot to help you get started:

The Lid


The outside of the Instant Pot's lid features the following elements:
  • Handle — grab it to remove and put on the lid.
  • Fin — located in the fin slot of the pot on the base unit to prop open the Instant Pot's lid.
  • Steam release handle — this handle sits on top of the steam release valve to let pressure escape while cooking. You should place it in the "Sealing" position if you're operating the Pressure Cooker mode.
  • Float valve — it traps steam inside to allow for pressurization of the Instant Pot.


The inside of the features the following elements:
  • The float valve's silicone cap — seals the float valve and holds it in position.
  • Locking pin — this is a safety mechanism that keeps the lid closed while under pressure.
  • Anti-block shield — blocks the expelling of food from the inner pot via the steam release tube.
  • Sealing ring rack — secures the sealing ring in position.
  • Sealing ring — provides strong sealing for the Instant Pot.

Steam Release

The steam release system features 2 elements:
  • Steam release handle — this handle sits on top of the steam release valve to let pressure escape while cooking. You should place it in the "Sealing" position if you're operating the Pressure Cooker mode. To release pressure, turn it to the "Venting" position.
  • Steam release pipe — during the release of pressure, steam exits the inner pot through this pipe.

Step 2: Follow Proper Safety Precautions

There are various safety features built into the Instant Pot, but there are additional precautions you should follow as a user to avoid unwanted accidents:
  • Always move your Instant Pot by the handle and be careful to never touch the hot parts, especially the stainless steel surfaces. Wear gloves or mittens when taking out the inner pot.
  • Never put the Instant Pot on or near a gas or electric burner.
  • While operating under pressure, never move the Instant Pot.
  • Never fill more than 2/3 of the capacity.
  • When cooking pasta, rice, beans, or any other food that expands, don’t exceed 1/2 the capacity.
  • Make sure you regularly clean the float valve, sealing ring, steam release pipe, and anti-block shield to avoid clogging.
  • Never open the lid until the Instant Pot is completely depressurized. You'll know it when the float valve is down.
  • Don't place your face or hands close to the steam release mechanism.
  • Don’t obstruct the steam release handle when pressure is being released.
  • Be extra careful when quick-releasing oatmeal, applesauce, pasta, or any other frothy food. The safest way to go about it is to release pressure in small, short bursts.
  • Never use the lid of one Instant Pot model on a different model.
  • When operating the "Saute" mode, don't cover the Instant Pot with the lid. Alternatively, you can use the company's tempered glass lid that's sold separately.

Step 3: Position the Instant Pot and Switch On the Unit

Put your Instant Pot on a stable countertop or a sturdy table and make sure there's a power outlet close by. The area above the Instant Pot should be spacious and open because there'll be plenty of steam coming out from the lid upwards into the air when releasing pressure.
You should also check that the inner pot is clean and sitting inside the unit base. Then, plug the power cable into the outlet.
You should see the Instant Pot turning on and the OFF symbol displayed on the control panel, demonstrating the standby mode.

Step 4: Check the Liquid and Fill Level

Next, you should check the liquid level and the fill level.
Generally, the Instant Pot requires a minimum of 1 cup of liquid in each use to produce enough steam and pressure to complete the cooking.
As for the fill level, you should never exceed the 2/3 capacity marked on the pot, whether with food or liquid before starting the cooking process. When cooking pasta, rice, beans, or any other food that expands, don’t exceed the 1/2 capacity mark.

Step 5: Choose a Cooking Method

Finally, you should pick a cooking method to use depending on what you're making. In most cases, Instant Pot recipes come with instructions for setting up the cooking program.
Generally speaking, you'll have to decide if you want to Sauté the food first and then if you want to use a smart program or a manual mode.


There you have it, a simple guide on how to start Instant Pot. As you can tell, there are a few basics to using an Instant Pot, but once you cook with it a few times, you'll get the hang of it without issues.
Keep in mind that the buttons may be labeled a bit differently from model to model. Also, make sure you go through the owner's manual before using the machine for the first time.