One of the most overwhelming aspects to Instant Pot cooking for the newbie is “how long do I cook that for?”
You bought an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker because you wanted to cook things faster… but how do you adjust the cooking time for your fav meals to be made in the Instant Pot?
Given this is probably the most #1 asked question of 2017, I knew a post was due!
Here are 5 things to know about instant pot cook times:
Cook times are inconsistent across recipes.
If you find 5 chicken breast recipes on Pinterest, you will likely see 5 different pressure cooking times listed for each recipe.
This sometimes frustrating anomaly also goes to show that THERE IS NOT ONE AND ONLY WAY to cook something in your Instant Pot. Just go to the Instant Pot Facebook group and search “eggs” you will see the 1001 ways people are cooking eggs. You will also see that foodies get very defensive about their method – it is crazy!
The cook times on recipes are deceiving
When you see a cookbook recipe, you will be super excited to see it takes 4 minutes. But, it’s not that simple.
Every recipe needs some time on the front end to come to pressure, as well as time to depressurize.
The time to come to high pressure completely depends on what is in your pot, and how full it is.
Something that is cut up into multiple pieces and is filled 1/3 is going to come to high pressure quicker than one solid item with the pot filled 2/3.
Think about this much like an oven preheating. When you see a recipe that says bake for 20 minutes, the recipe didn’t factor in the time it takes for the oven to preheat. As with Instant Pot recipes, you will usually see just the pressure cooking time, without the total time to come to pressure, and time to pressure release (natural pressure release) or venting (quick release).
Size of the food in your pot affects cook time – like any cooking method, whether it is on a stovetop, crockpot, or pressure cooker. So if you see a recipe for a pot roast that says 50 minutes on manual, check the size they used in the recipe and what you have. If the recipe is a 3-pound roast, and you have a 6-pound roast, cooking it for only 50 minutes will leave it tough and undercooked.
Similarly, if you cut up a chicken breast into bite-size pieces, you need to cook it in less time than you would use for a whole chicken breast.
This can be used to your advantage to decrease cooking times even further. While pulled pork has a cook time around 60-90 minutes depending on the size of the pork shoulder, if you cut it up into smaller pieces, you can often reduce the cooking time to 30-40 minutes and still have it fall apart.
The button you use is only important sometimes.
Not all of the buttons on your instant pot are special. Some buttons have special features such as higher intensity heat (steam button), the speed in which it heats up, and the pressure setting (rice is a low-pressure setting). But… some of the buttons are just pre-set cook times and using those buttons is no different than pressing manual for the same amount of time.
I do the majority of my pressure cooking using the manual button, but only the saute, soup, slow cooker, steam, rice and yogurt buttons are special for many reasons. The rest of the buttons are just pre-set times and there is no difference between using those buttons and pressing manual and setting the time yourself.
You don’t need to use the poultry button to cook poultry. In fact, that button is preset to the time to cook a whole, bone-in chicken. Using the poultry button to cook boneless breasts will be major overkill.
Figuring out cook times is often trial and error
Just get in there, look up some recipes on Pinterest and give it a try. Once you cook something, you will know how to adjust the cooking time to meet your preferences!
It can be overwhelming to know where to even start, so I have created this cook time cheat sheet magnet to have a place to start for many common instant pot foods!
When cooking in my Instant Pot, these are the cook times to start with that can guide you, and then based on how you prefer things, you can adjust cook times next time if needed. I can tell you right now that not everyone agrees 5-minute eggs is the way to go – but they are for me!
But, my confidence with Instant Pot cooking started with me just trying a cooking time and then adjusting to land on where I like them (which are the cook times on my magnet).
So, there you have it, 5 Newbie Things to Know About Instant Pot Cook Times to get you started!
Ready to get cooking with your Instant Pot? Check out these perfect, printable newbie recipes to get started!