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Instant Pot Beginner Guide will answer all of the questions on your mind! What is a trivet? Why do I keep getting the BURN message? What does Natural Release mean? We will cover it all and more!
Instant Pot Beginner Guide; AKA all the questions on your mind, ANSWERED! If you have a question that isn’t answered here, comment below and I’ll be sure to answer back! Let’s get to it!

What is the condensation collector and where does it go?

  • This is the little plastic ‘cup’ that came with your Instant Pot. It slides into place on the backside of your Instant Pot. This will collect any liquid that comes out when you quick release the pressure.Location of condensation collector

What is the water test? Do I have to do it?

  • Basically the water test is to get comfortable with the Instant Pot. No, you don’t have to do the water test, but I found it very beneficial!

How do I do the water test?

  • Fill the Instant Pot liner with about 2 cups of water. Secure the lid, and make sure the knob is turned to sealing. Press Steam and then adjust the timer so it is set for 2 minutes. It will take 5 or so minutes for the pot to come to pressure. The pot is to pressure when the pin pops up. It will take another minute or so until it starts counting down. Once the Instant Pot beeps, move the knob to vent. HOT steam will come shooting out, so either use the back of a spoon or be careful to not put your hand in the way of it’s steam.

How do I know when the Pot has come to pressure?

  • The pin will pop up, it will take another few minutes for the timer to start counting down. The ‘pin’ is the silver circle. It might be red, depending on your model. 

Yes, the knob IS supposed to be that wobbly. 🙂

What does NPR and QR mean?

  • NPR- Natural Pressure Release AKA letting the pot’s pressure come back down to normal level on its own. You don’t do anything, once the pot beeps you will just leave it alone until the pin drops. QR- Quick Release AKA moving the knob and letting the steam shoot out until the pot is back to normal pressure. Some recipes will say to NPR for a certain amount of time and then QR. This means to wait for the specified time and then manually releasing the pressure by turning the knob.

Why does my IP show L00:00 and is now counting up?

  • This is the time that has gone by since the set timer has gone off. For example, L00:06 means it has been 6 minutes since the cook that has been over.

My sealing ring smells like the last thing I made in the Instant Pot. Help?

  • Yes, this will happen. There are many remedies out there from soaking in vinegar, setting it out in the sun to putting it in a baggie with baking soda. My advise is this, just invest in a few different rings. One for sweets (can you say cheesecake?), one for savory, and one for spicy. It will save you a lot of headache. I have 3 sealing rings in  different colors to make it easy to tell them apart.

How do I get the ‘stains’ off of the bottom of my Pot?

Do I have to buy Instant Pot Brand accessories or are off brand okay?

  • I am a huge off brand person, BUT sealing rings are a MUST when it comes to buying the Instant Pot brand. If you use a knock off brand, it will void your warranty! Trivets, steaming baskets, glass lids etc. are all okay to buy off brand.

What does Pot in Pot mean? How do I do it? When do I do it?

  • This refers to when you cook food in an oven safe dish, inside of the Instant Pot. You will want to do PIP when you want to cook something in the Instant Pot but it will either burn easily (we will talk about that too!) or if you don’t want it watered down (we will talk about that too!). When using the PIP method you will put about a cup of water into the bottom of the Instant Pot, in goes the trivet, and then your oven safe dish goes on top of the trivet. Then you will pressure cook as normal.

Why do I need to add liquid to a dish I used to make when I make it in the Instant Pot?

  • In order for the Instant Pot to come to pressure, there needs to be liquid and steam.

What is considered a liquid?

  • Short answer: anything the consistency of water.

What burns easily in the Instant Pot?

  • Tomato based sauces and bbq sauce are the main burners. If you are planning on using either of those, make sure to either add quite a bit of liquid or layer your ingredients. When I make bbq chicken, I put the broth down first, then my chicken breast, and then put all of my bbq sauce on top of the chicken breast. Once it is done pressure cooking you can shred, or stir to your hearts content, but it is important to have the liquid ‘layer’ on the bottom of the pot.

Why do I keep getting the burn message?

  • If you just sautéed something prior to pressure cooking, you need to ‘deglaze’ the pot before trying to pressure cook. This means, using a liquid and scraping the bottom of the pot to get off any little stuck on pieces.
  • Not enough liquid, refer to number 13.

How do I know when to use the trivet?

  • If you are following recipes, the recipe will tell you. If you are winging it (my kind of people!) you will want to use the trivet if you don’t want something soaking in liquid. For example, my all purpose chicken breast recipe, I sear the chicken breast first, and I want it to keep that color and texture so I place the chicken breast on the trivet. For things like french dip sandwiches, I don’t use the trivet.

Do I HAVE to have a spring form pan?

  • Nope! A spring form pan just makes things look prettier. 🙂

How do I get the spring form pan back out of my Instant Pot?

  • You can make a ‘sling’ out of foil. Basically you take a long sheet of aluminum foil, and fold it until you have a long strip about 2 inches wide. Place your pan in the center of your sling and lift with the foil to put in and take out of the Instant Pot.

Can my meat be thrown in frozen?

  • Yes, I have found it may take an extra minute or two if it is really thick meat.

I have a different size Instant Pot than the recipe states, do I need to change anything to the recipe?

  • Nope! Everything stays the same.

What if I half or double a recipe, do I change the time then?

  • Negative! Everything stays the same.

If you have any other questions, comment below! I plan on regularly updating this page.

About Karli Bitner

This blog is a little glimpse into my kitchen, family & life. I hope you’ll giggle the days away with me and enjoy the craziness that goes on at my house. If you are Cookie obsessed like I am, check out my Sister Site, Cookies for Days.

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  1. I am an InstaPot beginner and so far I love it. I have used a regular pressure cooker all my life so I just moved from the stove to a plug. Your tutorial was a great help in understanding my InstaPot. Thank you so much. Now to try some of your recipes. Keep up the good work.

  2. I am a single dad and venturing into this instant pot world. I like the idea of faster meals. Tonight I’ll be trying your chicken bacon ranch pasta. Will report back the results.

  3. Well I looked to your site to find out how to instant pot chicken tenders. Behold! The answers were there! Thanks for the info. I’m just using this pot for the first time, have had it for over a year and didn’t feel comfortable using it. Was a slow cooker gal. Every recipe seemed too complicated. So now I will venture forth into the world of Instant Pot and Instant Pot to my hearts content!