The day finally arrived. My brand new, shiny, hyped up instant pot arrived at my doorstep.
I was so giddy.
And as much as I wanted one and had heard about them I found the manual completely overwhelming. I also kind of regretted not doing some research to find out how to use an electric pressure cooker before it arrived…. because every fiber of my being wanted to make something right then.
But I didn’t know how.
So while I had come to the conclusion it was worth the investment to buy an instant pot, my cluelessness left me a little frustrated and gun shy. But I now own 2 and have bought 2 others for friends.
Check out our definitive Instant Pot Resource Guide!
After using my 6-in-1 Instant Pot LUX for quite awhile and even adding an 8 quart 7-in-1 DUO to the cooking family, I am here to give you the run down including all those abbreviations you are in groups and in recipes that you are too shy to ask what they mean.
So let me take you through the basics both for those of you that own one or are considering biting the bullet to buy one.
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Why choose instant pot? What even is it?
- Can cook unthawed meat in approximately 45 minutes
- Has a stainless steel inner pot which is healthier than most other options.
- Can cook unsoaked beans in no time!
- Has a slow cook function, but can also do the same recipes in 1/4 or less of the time.
- Typically you can throw things in with 5-15 minutes of prep, walk away, and have a meal on the table in under an hour.
- Consolidates the need for things like rice cookers, veggie steamers, crock pots, and more. This means especially if you’re low on kitchen space it is a great all-in-one.
What’s the difference between the 6-in-1 and the 7-in-1 instant pot versions?
Whether you have already purchased a pot or not, you might be wondering if there’s any difference between the two models. Because of course, if they sell 2 models, they can’t be the same, right?
Ultimately it comes down to two main differences.
* The LUX (6-in-1) has one standard pressure setting and does not have a yogurt function.
* The DUO (7-in-1) has both high and low-pressure settings, plus has the yogurt button. (And you can use the yogurt function to also proof bread dough).
Differences in design between the LUX and DUO Instant Pots
I feel like these are important to note because I would have liked to have known before purchasing.
- The DUO I received requires a three-prong outlet, while the LUX I have is a two-prong appliance. (I live in an older house with limited outlets of this nature)
- The DUO has slots on either side above the handles to prop the lid up. The LUX does not have an option, leaving you to have to find a place to set the lid.
- The LUX does not have a condensation cup like the DUO does. It’s neither good nor bad, but I feel like it’s something else I could lose.
- There are fewer accessories for the 8qt DUO on Amaon like the silicone cover (my favorite because of stacking in the fridge) and tempered glass lid because its diameter is larger than the 6qt DUO and LUX. Some can be found other places, but since I do a lot of Amazon ordering I like the free 2-day shipping.
Any other variations you need to know?
- If you get the 8 quart model of the DUO, it will have longer pressurizing times, longer release times for it to depressurize, etc.. That’s simply because it’s bigger. And there’s even a smaller 5qt version, but unless you’re single I would at least opt for the 6qt.
- There is also a bluetooth model to control your pressure cooker remotely.
- If you cook bread a lot or anything that needs to rise, the 7-in-1 is a better option because the yogurt function can be the “warm spot” to proof your dough.
In the end, if you haven’t already purchased one, get the one that fits your budget and lifestyle the best. They’re all great.
If you’re looking for a great place to find recipes and get help, check out my co-run group, Instant Pot Recipes for Busy Parents & Families.
Instant Pot Terms, Abbreviations, and Jargon to know
Not all abbreviations, cooking functions, or terms are applicable to every instant pot. For instance the 6-in-1 LUX does not have a yogurt function nor does it have the option to set high and low pressure.
IP – Instant Pot
HP – High Pressure
LP – Low Pressure
QR – Quick Release – This means you are releasing the pressure by turning the pressure valve to the open position immediately after food is finished cooking.
There will be hot steam coming out of the top, so make sure your hand isn’t covering the opening… and that you don’t scare yourself!
NPR – Natural Pressure Release – This allows the pressure to come down on it’s own without releasing the valve and takes a little bit of time. It will also vary based on if you have a 6 quart or 8 quart pressure cooker.
PIP – Pot in Pot – This means using another container inside of your Instant Pot. Since the Instant Pot does not get as hot during pressure cooking (up to 248F) as ovens while baking, you can use any oven-proof container such as glass, stainless steel, or silicone cups.
Sealing Ring – The silicone ring that sits inside the lid. This is what seals the pot, if it is not properly installed and in place, your food will not cook properly. (Some suggest buying an extra sealing ring for smelly foods like garlic or fish. The silicone does hold on to odors of food.)
Pressure Valve – The black valve on the top of the lid that seals or releases pressure. There are to settings for it sealing (pressure) and venting(slow cooking or releasing pressure).
Important functions and buttons on your Pressure Cooker
Your Instant Pot is really well designed and the buttons on it will help you cook your food better. So the sensors that know how hot certain food should and need to get will even help not burn or overcook the food you’re trying to serve up.
While it’s not fool proof and you’re still in control of the time and eve if you send it through another cycle, it’s got so many wonderful safety features and programmed cooking features.
Keep Warm/Cancel – This will cancel any program that has been set and puts the cooker in standby. When the cooker is in standby, pressing this key will activate the keep-warm program and can last to almost 100 hours.
Soup – This is for making various soups or broths. The default for this setting is high pressure for 30 minutes. This can be adjusted with the ADJUST or plus and minus buttons.
Porridge – This is for making porridge or oatmeal of various grains. The default for this setting is high pressure for 20 minutes. **DO NOT use quick release for this setting, it will result in a mess** This setting should only be used with the pressure valve set to SEALING.
Poultry – This is for making meals with poultry. The default for this setting is High Pressure for 15 minutes.
Meat/Stew – This is for making Meats or stews. The default for this setting is high pressure for 35 minutes. If you are wanting bone-stripping effect on meat, add time by selecting “MORE”.
Bean/Chili – This is specifically for cooking beans or making chili. The default for this setting is high pressure for 30 minutes. If you want well done beans, select “MORE”.
Rice – This is the rice-cooker setting. It is a smart program for cooking regular or parboiled rice. Be sure to use the provided rice measuring cup and the water measurements on the inside of the pot. The default for this setting is an automatic program that cooks rice at low pressure.
FROM THE MANUAL: The cooking duration is adjusted automatically depending on the amount of food content. To cook 2 cups of rice, it takes about 12 minute pressure keeping time; for 3~5 cups of rice, it takes about 14 minute pressure keeping time; more cups will take longer time accordingly. Total cooking time is not displayed, whereas the pressure keeping time will be shown when working pressure is reached. The “Adjust” key has no effect on this program. Please note: You can cook as little as one cup of rice with the correct ratio of water.
Multigrain – This is for cooking mixed grains such as wild rice, brown rice, mung beans, ect. The default for this setting is high pressure for 40 minutes. “LESS” setting is 20 minutes of cooking time. “MORE” setting is 45 minutes of warm water soaking followed by 60 minutes of high pressure cooking time.
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Steam – This is for steaming – veggies, seafood or reheating foods. If you NPR in this setting, you will most likely overcook your food. Default for this setting is high pressure for 10 minutes.
1-2 cups of water is sufficient for steaming. Because this setting may burn food that is in direct contact with the bottom of your pot always use a steamer rack or basket.
Manual – This allows you to manual set your cooking time and pressure. Maximum time is 240 minutes. Use if a recipe says to pressure cook on high pressure for a specific number of minutes
Sauté – This is for open lid sautéing, browning or simmering.
- “Normal”: ~160°C (320°F) for regular browning,
- “More”: ~170°C (338°F) for darker browning, and
- “Less”: ~105°C (221°F) for light browning.
Slow Cook – This allows you to use your pot as a slow cooker for up to 40 hours; however the default for this setting is Normal heat for 4 hour cook time.
Yogurt – There are 3 programs: make yogurt, pasteurize milk, and making Jiu Niang(a fermented rice). Default for this setting is an 8 hour incubation. Adjust to MORE for pasteurizing milk or LESS for fermenting rice or proofing bread.
Timer – This is for delayed cooking.
Many confuse this with an actual cooking timer and don’t understand why their pressure cooker isn’t coming on like they expected.
To start, first select your cooking program (steam, poultry, chili – any program functions except “Sauté” and “Yogurt”), and then press the “Timer” key. Use “+” and “-“ to set the delayed hours.
Press “Timer” key again to change the minutes. The time you are setting is the delayed time before the program starts. Please allow sufficient cooking time and cooling down time before serving
Need help learning the Instant Pot or want to help family & friends?
Check out the preview for this awesome FREE cheat sheet. It has 14 Instant Pot tips and tricks! And is the perfect list to laminate and post on the fridge or near your own pressure cooker. It will help you remember as you become more familiar or will help others in the household learn to use this great kitchen tool too.
What other questions about your new Instant Pot Pressure Cooker do you have?
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!