Even though my kids now use my Instant Pot to make things like homemade mac and cheese, I am totally “one of those” people who left their brand new Instant Pot in the box for over 6 months when I first got one a few years ago. But when we added a new IP to the family, I wanted to show people how EASY it is to unbox an Instant Pot and get it all set up to use.
We made a “first use” video of our Instant Pot that will help you get ready to cook faster, make easy-to-peel hard boiled eggs, and even convert your favorite slow cooker recipes for the Instant Pot. Let’s get your new favorite kitchen appliance out of the box and making your dinner!
Video: Instant Pot First Use and Set Up Tutorial
If you can’t see the video above, click how to set up an Instant Pot to see it directly on YouTube.
Make your Instant Pot work for you!
The Instant Pot has gotten a lot of hype over the last couple years – for good reason. It really can do just about anything.
Although it can seem a bit daunting to use at first, it really becomes quite simple once you give it a try.
Use the techniques, tips and simple recipes from the Instant Pot Guidebook to get started, and before you know it, your Instant Pot will become indispensable!
Step by Step List to Open and Set Up your Instant Pot
To help you unbox your own Instant Pot, print this checklist and make it happen! The process should be the same or doggone close no matter what model/size you have. Wait, what? You don’t have one yet??? Grab this one as a great starter; the 6-quart is big enough for our family of 6, and this 8-quart is the one in the video.
- Take it out of the box and take the packaging off.
- Take all the parts out of the pot and the plastic off.
- Get the little paper out from under the pot by lifting up the pot.
- Pull the valve straight up to take it off (you won’t break it!) and get the string/tag off if it’s there.
- Put the valve back on.
- Check the sealing ring for cracks or issues by pulling it out of the lid. Just pull hard, it’s not fragile but it might be tight!
- Put the ring back in. Promise, it’s not rocket science and there isn’t an “up” or “down” side.
- Slide the condensation collector on. Look on the back side of your Instant Pot under the part that sticks out for the lid, and slide the thin, clear plastic cup thingy straight on. If it stays and it’s straight, it’s correct.
- Peel the clear covering off the button panel. It won’t hurt to leave it on, but a lot of people (me included) forget this part and then later as it gets condensation under it, they think their machine is having a big problem. #notfun
- Put the inner pot back in the machine. Pour in 2 cups of water. (We teach pouring skills to 2-5-year-olds in our Kids Cook Real Food eCourse!)
- Lock in the lid – just line it up in that larger section of the appliance and twist clockwise. You’ll hear a fun noise and know you’ve done it right.
- Make sure the valve is closed (pointing to “Sealing”).
- Press the “Manual” button and use the minus button to reduce the number to 2 minutes.
- Most Instant Pot models will start on their own after that, but some have a start button as well.
- After about 10 minutes, the Instant Pot will release steam out of the valve and pin area. That’s normal.
- When the pin stays up and the steam stops, the unit is up to pressure and the timer begins counting down.
- The IP will beep (for a long time!) when the timer is up.
- You can choose to release the pressure with a “quick release” which means opening the valve (carefully!) like my 12-year-old son does in the video, or you can just let it sit for about 15 minutes and the pressure will naturally release (called a “Natural Pressure Release” or NPR or NR in recipes, by the way). Releasing the pressure is definitely only a job for older kids or adults.
- Either way, you cannot open the lid until the pin is down and the pressure is released – the unit won’t let you turn it. (Safety feature!)
- When you twist the lid and open it, be cautious of the steam that will come out. We use a technique called “Pac Man the lid” in our cooking class for kids.
- Note: Always read the manual that comes with your appliance fully.
Now your Instant Pot is ready for recipes like easy BBQ chicken (adapted from a slow cooker recipe), pressure cooker gluten-free mac and cheese, and apple-cranberry Instant Pot steel cut oats – or start with some basic techniques made easier in the Instant Pot, like steaming veggies, making rice, hard boiling eggs, or even pressure cooking dry beans without soaking in an hour! See all my Instant Pot tips and recipes HERE.
That really wasn’t too hard, was it?
Where to find a Pressure Cooker
This is the 6-quart Instant Pot I started out with. After a few years, we added an 8-quart partly because I knew I would use two at the same time often enough, partly because it was the Prime Day sale, and also because I wanted more space for certain recipes. Both are a pretty basic model and you don’t need more bells and whistles than that!
If you’re deciding on size, most people say it’s better to get a deal on the 6-quart and just have 2 rather than go big, BUT if your family has 5 or more people or you really like to batch cook or do more than a pound of beans, the 8-quart may be the best choice. You can even get a carrying case to travel with it!
If you really want an old school pressure cooker for the stovetop, you can browse them at Amazon – this is the set that I got for our wedding so very long ago. Mine is actually a 7L size (which is over 7 qts) and the one included here is only a 6-quart.
The best thing about these is that they have a glass lid for normal cooking, and they are the two pots we use MOST of all in the last 14 years! So if you have no extra space, just replace a big pot with a pressure cooker and you only need to store the lid additionally. I admit I’m not sure I ever used the pressure function with the smaller pot, but I love both sizes for normal cooking.
If I had to do it over, I’d get this set because it has an 8-quart pot and a larger steamer basket that could also do pasta or potatoes. The members of our Kids Cook Real Food eCourse often ask about how to help kids heft a heavy pot of water to the sink to drain, and this is the best solution – pulling out a basket insert rather than lifting boiling liquids around.
Other Instant Pot Tutorials:
- What is a Pressure Cooker (basics for the rookie cook)
- How to Set up a New Instant Pot (VIDEO)
- Pros and Cons of the Instant Pot
- How to Use the Instant Pot in a Hotel Room (save $$$ on dinner out!)
- 10 Basic Techniques for your Instant Pot
- How to Make Squash in the Instant Pot
- How to Cook Frozen Ground Beef in the Instant Pot FAST
- Instructions to Convert Slow Cooker or Crock Pot Recipes to the Instant Pot (& favorite slow cooker recipes to make in the IP!)
- How to Pressure Cook Dry Beans (even without soaking!)
- Is a Pressure Cooker Still Healthy and Safe?
Other Instant Pot Recipes:
- Paleo & Whole30 BBQ Chicken – used thighs, so frugal!
- Gluten-free Chipotle Beef (chuck roast or stew beef)
- Instant Pot BBQ Beef
- Quick Cauliflower Rice in the Instant Pot (2 flavors)
- Instant Pot Quick Turmeric Rice Recipe
- Easy Mashed Potatoes (no drain!) in the Instant Pot
- Pressure Cooker Mexican Lentils and Rice (chicken or vegetarian)
- Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Meatballs (AIP & GAPS)
- Instant Pot Country Style Boneless Pork Ribs (that just fall apart!)
- Budget-Friendly Instant Pot Chipotle Beef
- Fast Smoky Mexican Chicken Soup
- Curried Lemon Coconut Chicken
- Italian Lentil One-pot Dinner
- Apple Cranberry Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats
- Easy Instant Pot One Pot Meals – that any beginner can make!
- Black-Eyed Pea and Beet Greens Soup
- Gluten-free Instant Pot Mac & Cheese
- Instant Pot Cherry Compote (and 10 Instant Pot Desserts)
My dear friend Wardee at Traditional Cooking School can do just about anything with her Instant Pot – cakes, bread, main dishes, veggies, even “stacking” multiple kinds of food at once!
She’s offering a free sourdough cornbread Instant Pot recipe!
This cornbread is delicious, nutritious, super easy to make, and it only needs 12 minutes of cook time.