This is How to Become an Instant Pot Whisperer

This is How to Become an Instant Pot Whisperer

The thing that struck me most as I started to use my Instant Pot regularly, as I began to haunt the various Instant Pot groups, and read the comments peppering Instagram (#instantpot), is the following. There are countless people out there who have purchased this of-the-moment appliance who never use it. They're nervous about pressure cooking in general, or have no idea how to weave it into their culinary life. Others let it sit on the counter relegated to occasional bean preparation, or yogurt. Don't get me wrong, the legions of Instant Pot fans are strong (and encouraging, and helpful!), but there are a lot of individuals out there who are clearly overwhelmed, not quite inspired, or can't quite find their Instant Pot tribe (important!). If any of these scenarios apply to you, I hope this post can help a bit, perhaps reframe how you think of this kitchen tool moving forward, particularly if you're a new user.

Here are some suggested ways you can approach Instant Pot cooking from a place of enthusiasm, and (hopefully) an anxiety-free place of mastery and calm! I also have an ever-evolving Instant Pot Starter Guide that I add to regularly, and a growing list of Instant Pot recipes that I've written, and tested. Also, for reference, this is the Instant Pot I purchased: Instant Pot DUO Plus 6 Qt 9-in-1

1. Focus on a Single Function: For me, straight out of the gate, it was the pressure cooker functionality. If you focus on a single function, you're less likely to get over-whelmed with all the other buttons, sounds, different models, and whatnot. Build your confidence one recipe at a time using your chosen "initial" function, and then branch out from there. After pressure cooking, I branched out to the slow cooker functionality.

Instant Pot Mushroom Stroganoff with Vodka Make this: Instant Pot Mushroom Stroganoff with Vodka

2. Easy Answers. If you're a member of the Instant Pot Facebook Group (along with nearly 1,000,000 others!) familiarize yourself with the lefthand "search" function on desktop. It's fantastically helpful if you have a question, problem, or just need a confidence boost. There is likely someone in there who has asked your question before, and chances are, someone has volunteered an insightful answer.

3. Start Simple: Break in your Instant Pot with a simple pot of beans, or a straight-forward weeknight meal. Getting one solid success under your belt makes a huge difference in what you can imagine is possible. This Mushroom Stroganoff with Vodka is a ringer (pictured above). As are the Instant Pot Fiasco Beans (Pictured below).

Instant Pot Fiasco BeansMake this: Instant Pot Fiasco Beans

4. Try at Least Two New Recipes a Month. Or one a week if you're more ambitious ;) It's such a great way to manageably build a repertoire of go-to recipes over the course of a year. And, it's always fun to try new recipes - especially if they work! It's like when I would tell people to try cooking with an ingredient they've NEVER cooked with once or twice a month. Over a year, it's fascinating how much that can impact your home cooking, and what you're eating.

5. Find your People. Said another way, take some time to find your Instant Pot tribe. The main communities are robust, generally welcoming, helpful, fast, and high volume. That said, joining them can be like merging onto a fast-moving six-lane highway, and maybe you're more of a country road type of person? My advice? Patiently take some time to poke around. For example, I know I like to cook and focus on vegetable and plant-centric recipes, so, I've joined a number of Facebook Instant Pot groups that focus primarily on that. There are IP healthy recipe groups, IP paleo groups, IP Whole30, IP for Weight Watchers, IP Indian recipes - lots of options (all these are on FB). Date some groups, see where you feel inspired and at home, and settle in. There's also an #instantpot hashtag and you can watch corresponding Insta-story videos and whatnot.

6. Read the Manual. Do it, but then circle back to recommendation #1 up above. Focus. Single function ;)

There are so many of you out there with a lot of experience. If you can give new IPers a single piece of advice, what would it be? I'm hoping your insights will also inspire anyone just starting out on this journey from the comments. xx, -h

Welcome!

I send an email roughly once a week, sharing new recipes and cooking inspiration. - xo heidi
Heidi Swanson

Comments

What are the IP groups focused on veggie or plant-based foods? I joined the main FB group when I bought my Instant Pot a few weeks ago but was quickly overwhelmed.

HS: Hi Laura, search on Facebook for "vegan instant pot" or "healthy instant pot" or just "instant pot" - if you do the last, you can scroll down and see a long list of IP groups. Hope this helps!

Laura

Hi Heidi - will you return to normal non-instant pot recipes at some point? For those of us with kitchens and budgets too small for one more appliance, it's a bit of a bummer to see so many recipes for things I can't make :(

HS: Hi Katie! I've been trying to rotate between the two recently. Like, every other. So, the last enchilada recipe and the lasagna threaded in between the IP recipes, because that's a pretty accurate reflection on how I've been cooking lately :)! xx!

Katie Waddle

Grateful!!!! Also: you are my tribe. Thank you.

HS: xo Dawn! :) Grateful from this end as well!

Dawn

I truly appreciate this article. So well written and so relatable. I'm getting an Instant pot for Christmas and have been reading as much as I can, to insure I don't end up being one of "those" who don't use it. I'll also be getting that cookbook. Thanks for the recommendation.

HS: Have fun with it!

Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch)

Okay, I'm in. But I have a rule: one in and one out. What appliance can I ditch if I buy the instant pot?

HS: Depends on which one you buy - mine has yogurt, rice, slow cooker, pressure cooker....

cynthia brockett

I like these Instant Pot series of posts.I'd consider getting one. I could cut down on my countertop clutter by getting rid of my rice cooker, yogurt maker, and slow-cooker. This would be a good thing. Btw, have you attempted making yogurt in it yet?

HS: You sound like the perfect candidate ;)! I'm playing with the slow-cooker a bit currently...

Bryan

Cynthia- Not sure what you have already but when I received my IP, I ditched the rice cooker and slow cooker.

Jessica

Hey just found this and am making the black bean one pot version as i write. For the cooking kitchen my instant pot got rid of 5 appliances off my countertop. Use it don't lose it.

Jeanne Queenie

Yes!! Thank you for getting me back on the IP wagon (settling in slowly). I bought the IP about a year ago but for much of the time it has sat on a counter in the pantry because I felt like there were TOO many options and we tend to focus on plant-based meals, while many people I knew were using it to braise meats.

Adding in the need to cook for a toddler (and, increasingly, finger-food appropriate meals for a second child) when both parents work outside the home I felt we were relying too much on pasta and rice and prepared food. I'm looking forward to making the fiasco beans this week. From a long-time reader, thank you for all the wonderful recipes you share and I second the comment that YOU are my tribe! We make your recipes frequently, sometimes multiple times a week :)

Mostly relying on the older recipes as the newer ones feel luxurious and more of a commitment in terms of the number of ingredients, but someday cooking will be more of an indulgence, again, and less of a means to an end. Looking forward to that day!

HS: Thanks for the nice note Maggie! Definitely trying to chip away at more A+ plant-centric, weeknight friendly dinner recipes, I hear you. Some good ones here, most with pretty tight ingredient lists....more to come!

Maggie

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