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The Instant Pot, a sleek, easy-to-use, completely programmable pressure cooker, is the newest favorite tool of home cooks everywhere. Whether you’ve had your Instant Pot for a while, or you’re just getting started, these five hacks will help you get the most out of your Instant Pot.

  1. Zero minutes for vegetables: Vegetables steamed in the Instant Pot maintain flavor and vitamins lost in stovetop boiling or steaming. But even three minutes cooking under pressure is too much for some of the more delicate vegetables like asparagus, haricot vert, and broccoli rabe. The answer is to set your pot to cook for 0 minutes. The Instant Pot will come up to pressure then immediately shut off. Follow that with quick venting, and you should end up with crisp, delicious veggies every time.
  2. Venting meats: Instant Pot recipes aren’t consistent about whether meat dishes should be quick vented or allowed to vent naturally. But regardless of what the recipe says, any piece of meat you would have slow cooked or braised before you got your Instant Pot–roasts, short ribs, shoulders, stews–ought to be naturally vented, a process that could take up to 45 minutes. The meat will continue to cook during this cooling-down time, which should serve to make it that much more tender. Quick venting will mean your meal will be on the table quicker, but with the larger, tougher pieces of meat, it can also draw water out of the final dish, leaving it chewy and dry.
  3. Foil on cakes: You’ve probably figured out by now that you can steam cook a moist and delicious cake in the Instant Pot. Make those unique desserts even better by laying a piece of tin foil loosely over the cake when you put in the pot. That will keep the water that inevitably collects on the lid of the Instant Pot from dripping into your cake and making it mushy.
  4. Avoiding foam geysers: Certain starchy dishes like pasta, rice, potatoes, or stews can foam up during the intense boiling that follows pressurized cooking. If you try to quick release right away, you could end up spewing hot cooking liquids into the air and over the side of your machine. Avoid this by filling the Instant Pot not more than halfway with such meals. Also, allow the dish to naturally vent, if you can without overcooking. If that’s not possible, allow at least five minutes for the pot to cool naturally, then vent the steam in short burst rather than a long stream, all of which should serve to keep the foamy mess from covering your kitchen.
  5. White vinegar cleanse: To easily degrease and deodorize your Instant Pot, place two cups of white vinegar, or one cup of water and one of vinegar in the pot, cook at high pressure for five minutes, let vent naturally for five minutes, and quick release the rest of the steam. The vinegar will reach into every crevice to eliminate the smells of past meals that can cling to the pot.

Serious home cooks everywhere are turning to the Instant Pot for meals that are quick, convenient, healthy, and flavorful. And though the Instant Pot is incredibly easy to use, there are still tricks you can learn to make it work even better for you. These five tips should help you get the most out of this essential kitchen tool.

Instant Pot Accessories

If you’re looking for accessories for your instant pot cooker, these simple-to-use, instant pot friendly steamer baskets are ideal for cooking vegetables, meat or fruit.

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