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So you got an Instant Pot for Christmas: Now what?

Adriana Velez is Food Editor for SheKnows. She spent her formative years in Brooklyn, which pretty much explains everything about her. She now lives somewhere else and has discovered life after kale and kombucha. She's written for Civil ...

Start using your new Instant Pot today

So. You got an Instant Pot for Christmas/Hanukkah. It happens to a lot of people. Maybe you hinted that you wanted one. Or maybe someone gave you one because that's what everyone was giving this year. It's the kitchen appliance people rave about. It's supposed to change your life.

More: These pressure cooker accessories are going to change your life

And then you open the box and pull it out and you're, like... ????

It's OK. We're here to help.

Read the stupid manual

I know. I hate reading those things too. They're boring. But at least you'll know how to adjust the time and which button to use for what. Oh, you threw yours away? Well good thing it's online.

You can't cook everything in an Instant Pot, no matter what they tell you

First of all, let's talk about what the Instant Pot isn't going to do. It's not going to brown and roast like the oven can. You can cook cheesecake in there, supposedly, but I think you're better off baking cakes and cookies in the oven. Pastry and pressure cookers are not friends. It is not a deep fryer. It will not make good hamburgers. And It's not going to suggest dinner ideas for you. (But maybe it should, Instant Pot makers. Maybe it should.)

Please read this: How pressure cooking is different from slow cooking

Try not to fall into the dump meals trap

I mean, maybe you love the dump meals, in which case go with Goddess, I guess. But there are scores of people who are awfully fond of pouring anything into the Instant Pot, shutting the lid and letting it all cook into indistinguishable mush and then telling you all about how great it was via Facebook post. I want you to know: You don't have to do that. It's not your only option. Do not go gently into that rotini-ground-beef-cream-of-mushroom-cheese-tater-tots-green-bean-goulash night.

More: 9 foods you didn't know you can make in a pressure cooker

Know what the Instant Pot does best

Basically, the pressure cooker setting on the Instant Pot excels at speeding up the cooking time for anything that requires a long time to build flavors or soften textures. So here's what it does best:

  • Bone broth
  • Stock
  • Curries
  • Rice
  • Beans, lentils, chickpeas
  • Pulled pork and jack fruit versions thereof
  • Soups and stews
  • Chili
  • Big ol' squashes

And this is one of my favorite things the pressure cooker does: You can do sequential cooking. So if you need chicken stock to make a soup, you can make that stock first in 20 minutes or so, and then throw in your other ingredients to cook the soup itself.

More: 12 reasons pressure cookers are the new slow cookers

The other stuff

And yes, the beauty of the Instant Pot is you can use it as a slow cooker and a yogurt maker and a number of other things. Although, why make your own yogurt when there's so much of it in the store? Is that blasphemy? Will they take away my Instant Pot if I say that out loud?

More: 16 pressure cooker taco recipes that let you blow off some steam

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