Instant Pot – Why It’s One Of My Favorite Appliances and How I Use It

One of the kitchen appliances that has become a huge phenomenon since its introduction is the Instant Pot. I had heard so many things about it and after hearing all the incredible reviews, I decided to get one myself on Black Friday 2016 for a really great deal, after making a pro/con list and reading all the reviews, because that’s the kind of person I am:).

After using it just a few times, I knew that it would become of my favorite kitchen appliances and I was absolutely correct! I use it all the time and it really fits my cooking style. After almost 2 years, I still use it several times a week and find more and more ways to use it. I’ve posted a few recipes, but I also wanted to share all the different ways that I use it, how I adjust regular recipes to the Instant Pot, and some of my staple, simple recipes.

A Few Things To Keep In Mind:

  • In almost all cases, if you’re cooking something that doesn’t have any liquid (hard boiled eggs, cooked vegetables, etc.), you need to pour in 1 cup or more of water. The Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker, so it needs liquid to come to pressure and then cooks the food with all that hot steam.
  • The pressure cooker needs time to come to pressure and seal. You need to remember to keep that in mind and add a bit of time to the total cooking time, because it won’t start cooking and counting down the time until it completely seals. Also, make sure the valve is turned to “Sealing”, not venting.
  • While the pressure cooker is coming to pressure or is on or sealed, you will not be able to open the cover.  Manual Release – when the pressure cooker is done cooking, you can manually release it by turning the knob to “Venting”, I always cover it with a kitchen towel first, because it will spout out really hot steam. Natural Release – letting the Instant Pot naturally release as it cools off. It will take much longer, but will eventually release.
  • Sometimes, if I want it to come to pressure faster, I will pour in hot water, or use the “Saute” option to bring something to a simmer first and then turn and then close the Instant Pot. If the contents are already hot, it will come to pressure faster.
  • Never overfill the Instant Pot and DON’T use the manual release when you’re cooking a large amount of broth or soup. You will have a giant mess on your hands. The liquid will be squirting out of the valve and you will lose a lot of the broth that way too, so it’s not a good idea.
  • If you’re using the natural release instead of manually releasing the pressure, your food will still continue cooking. In some recipes, such as hard boiled eggs, corn, potatoes, chicken breast, rice, etc., this is not good. By the time the Instant Pot naturally releases the pressure, the food will be overcooked. For pulled pork, cabbage rolls, Goulash and other recipes like this, it won’t effect the texture of the final dish at all, whether you release the pressure manually or not.

How I Use It:

Currently, I have the 6 quart, 7 in 1 Instant Pot.* It is the perfect size for our family. If you have a large family or cook a lot, you may want to get a bigger one.

  • My favorite way to use this appliance is to meal prep with it. I have shown this in meal prep videos and blog posts, where I prep ingredients and meals for the coming week. I will cook a large batch of oatmeal and then reheat it in the mornings for my boys. Hard boiled eggs are AMAZING in the Instant Pot because they are SO easy to peel when cooked with this method. It’s really handy to have a batch of hard boiled eggs on hand for a simple snack, breakfast or lunch.
  • Cooking broth and whole vegetables is also a great way to make your cooking throughout the week faster and simpler.
  • The Instant Pot is perfect for recipes that braise and need a long time to cook, such as Pulled Pork, Goulash, Cabbage Rolls, whole roasts and cuts down the cooking time drastically, so they are done in a fraction of the time.
  • I use the Manual cooking mode for almost everything.
  • The Saute option is also one of my favorite features, since you can sear meat, brown vegetables and build flavor
  • The Instant Pot is not an end all and be all appliance for me. I still use lots of other cooking methods. It is a wonderful addition and helper in my kitchen, not my whole kitchen.



1 cup steel cut oats, 1 cup milk, 2 cups water, 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook on manual high pressure, 13 minutes. Manually release the pressure or let it naturally release.

Hard Boiled Eggs:

Pour 1 cup water into the Instant Pot. Place the eggs on top of the steam rack, you can use however many eggs you need – stack them on top of one another. Cook on Manual mode, 5 minutes, manually release and place the eggs into an ice bath.

Herbed Potatoes:

Cut potatoes into about 1 – 1 1/2 inch pieces. Season with salt, tossing the potatoes in a bowl until the salt is evenly dispersed. Pour 1 cup of water into the bottom of the Instant Pot, put the potatoes into a steaming basket inside the Instant Pot. (I use the OXO steaming basket.*) Cook on Manual Pressure, 5 minutes, manually release. Serve the potatoes with melted butter and fresh herbs. Other times, I brown the potatoes in a skillet. You can also toss the potatoes with olive oil, herbs and spices, minced garlic and roast them in a 400F preheated oven until the potatoes are crisp and golden. In this case, cook them 1-2 minutes less, so they don’t fall apart and turn to mush when you’re tossing them and then dry out in the oven. (Here’s my Garlic Herb Roasted Potatoes recipe.)

Cooked Vegetables (Beets, Whole Potatoes, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, etc.)

Pour 1 cup of water into the bottom of the Instant Pot. Scrub the vegetables really well under water to clean them. Place the vegetables on top of a steaming rack. Smaller/medium beets take about 15 minutes, Manual mode, high pressure.

If I am cooking the veggies together (carrots and beets, for example), I turn it on for 5 minutes, turn off the instant pot with manual release, take out the carrots and then turn it back on to finish cooking the beets. This also works if you are cooking smaller and larger beets or sweet potatoes together. I always manually release the pressure when cooking whole vegetables, because they will keep cooking and get mushy if you leave it to naturally release.


  • small/medium beets – 15 minutes
  • large beets – 20-25 minutes

Large Whole Carrots – 5-7 minutes

Whole medium sweet potatoes – 15 minutes

Corn on the Cob:

Pour in 1 cup water into the bottom of the Instant Pot. Place the corn on top of the steam rack, sprinkle with salt. Cook on Manual mode for 3 minutes, manually release.

Chicken Broth:

Place chicken parts, vegetables (onion, carrots, celery, garlic, leeks, etc.), herbs (parsley, thyme, dill, etc.), bay leaf, 1/2 Tablespoon black peppercorns, salt to taste in the Instant Pot. Fill it to just below the maximum capacity with water. Cook on Manual mode, 30 minutes, then wait for it to naturally release. Beef Broth:

Place cuts of beef, vegetables (onion, carrots, celery, garlic, leeks, etc.), herbs (parsley, thyme, dill, etc.), bay leaf, 1/2 Tablespoon black peppercorns, salt to taste in the Instant Pot. Fill it to just below the maximum capacity with water. Cook on Manual mode, 30-60 minutes, depending on the size and type of the beef that you are using. If you have small pieces of high marbled, more tender cuts of beef, such as top sirloin, cook it for 30 minutes. Beef stew meat, chuck, shoulder, cook for  45 minutes if the meal is cut small and 60 minutes if the beef is a large piece.  Wait for it to naturally release.

Cabbage Rolls:

Make the recipe as you normally would, place the assembled cabbage rolls and sauce into the Instant Pot. Cook on Manual mode for 30 minutes. You can manually release the pressure or let it naturally release.

Stuffed Peppers:

Make the recipe as you normally would, place the assembled stuffed peppers and sauce into the Instant Pot. Cook on Manual mode for 15 minutes. If you’re using a raw meat mixture, cook on Manual mode for 30 minutes. (I use my Cabbage Rolls meat mixture recipe to use for stuffed peppers all the time.) You can manually release the pressure or let it naturally release.

Soups With Barley:

My favorite soups to cook in the Instant Pot are the ones that take longer to cook on the stovetop, such as the ones that have barley in them, like Chicken and Barley Soup, Beef and Barley Soup, Rassolnik, Mushroom Barley Soup, etc.

For those soups, I use the Saute option to cook the vegetables (onion, carrots, celery, garlic) until they are tender, about 5 minutes. I then pour in in the broth (which I make in advance the day before and keep refrigerated or frozen), bring the broth to a boil, add the barley and cook on Manual mode for 13 min. Then I add the potatoes and cook for another 5 minutes and the soup is done. 

Do you have an Instant Pot? What is your favorite way to use it? What other recipes would you like me to share?

*Some of these products may be affiliate links. This simply means when I recommend a product or service and if you choose to purchase that product or service from my recommendation, I will get a small referral commission. Of course, this is at no extra cost to you. I really appreciate your support. Thank you!



  • Lana

    I am still on the fence about getting one. I don’t have small children and I don’t work outside my home so I am not in a rush to prepare meals. I also already have a Cuisinart Muilticooker that browns, slow cooks and steams.

  • Olesya

    I have one but don’t use it much. After reading this post, I can’t wait to take it out and put it to use! Thank you for sharing!!

  • Alyona

    Thanks for sharing your tips and recipes, makes me want to use my Instant pot more often. Love the roasted potatoes picture.

  • Olya

    Thank you Olga this post, it was very informative & very helpful. I just purchased an instant pot & love it.

  • Yuliya Peterson

    Thank you so much for this post! It was extremely helpful! I was wondering how long you would cook the beets/carrots on manual mode.

    • olgak7

      It really depends on the size of the carrots and beets. If they are very small, I would probably cook them for about 10 minutes, if they are large, they may take as long as 30 minutes. Give it a bit less time than you think it needs, check the beets/carrots, and add more time if necessary.
      Also, try to pick beets that are about the same size, so take the same time to cook, otherwise, take the smaller ones out first and keep cooking the bigger beets.

  • Diana

    Is it absolutely necessary to have a steam basket? Can i just put eggs and water on the bottom and cook? And can you use any steam basket if required or do you have to purchase the one that goes with the insta pot.

    • olgak7

      Hi Diana. For this particular method, you do need the steaming basket. It comes with the Instant Pot, so you don’t need to buy anything additional. The method for cooking the eggs is pressure cooking and steaming, not boiling the eggs in water.

  • Anna

    Thank you so much for posting this! ! Any tips how I can make borscht with meat in the instant pot? I got mine on blk Friday last year and Love it. It’s out all the time, I don’t even have the time to put it away.

    • olgak7

      I prefer to make Borsch on the stovetop, Anna, but you can certainly make it in the Instant Pot. I made it a few times in the Instant Pot and liked the taste and texture better on the stove, so I can’t give you the exact recipe instructions.

  • Dina

    Olga, I cooked eggs yesterday and did everything you described-but they turned out to be soft-boiled. Hubby had an egg soup instead of the egg salad, lol! And they were really hard to peel! What did I do wrong? Or maybe it was the eggs? Not sure…

    • olgak7

      Hi Dina,
      I honestly have no idea why the eggs didn’t work out. I have never had that happen to me before. They were obviously not cooked long enough, but I’ve never cooked them longer, so I don’t know why it didn’t work out for you. Did the valve seal completely and the Instant Pot come to pressure?

  • valentina

    hi Olga. i was wondering since the instant pot is one of your favorites. where can i find recipes for this. i’ve searched your website but there’s not a lot of recipes to choose from. my mom had it for a month & still hasn’t used it & your recipes are so easy to follow directions that’s why i asked? will there be more posts for instant pot recipes? thank you so much.

    • olgak7

      Hi Valentina.
      I have some recipes on my blog, but I don’t share too many new recipes, because only a small percentage of my readers have an Instant Pot. I will most definitely be sharing more new recipes in the future.
      In this post, I talk a lot about how I use the Instant Pot, with lots of tips and basics. I convert many of my regular recipes to the Instant Pot. Once you get the hang of it, it’s really easy to make adjustments and figure out how to do that yourself.

  • Kate

    Hi Olga, in your chicken barley soup, at what moment do you put the chicken drumsticks in to cook in the IP? When do you add them? Thinking of making it for dinner.

    • olgak7

      I cook the beef separately first, (just like making broth), strain it, set the meat and the broth aside.
      Then continue with the recipe, saute veggies, then add the broth. I add the beef at the very end, after the rest of the soup is cooked and just heat it through.

  • Katie

    Hey Olga,
    For your cabbage rolls, do you pour sauce on the bottom of the IP bowl then put assembled cabbage rolls with sauce on top? Or how do you do it so it doesn’t give you the burn warning?

    • olgak7

      When I use the Instant Pot, I put the sauce on the bottom of the pot as well as on top of the cabbage rolls. I also add some water or broth to the pot, so that the sauce has a thinner consistency and is stewing/braising in the sauce. If you ever get the “burn”, warning, add more water.

  • Henry

    Hi olga I am trying this instant pot yogurt the way That you do it. How long does it take until the pressure valve pops out and the pressure is established?

    • olgak7

      When making yogurt in the Instant Pot, it doesn’t actually seal, so you don’t have to worry about that part at all. The Instant Pot will keep the milk/yogurt mixture at a perfect temperature for the yogurt to ferment.

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