Instant Pot Buttons for Beginners

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The Instant Pot is the hottest cooking innovation to come along in a while. In this post, we’ll take a look at each of the Instant Pot buttons and note what they do.

Instant Pot Buttons for Beginners

There are actually several versions of the Instant Pot. There are Ultra and Duo, Lux and Max and Mini. At last count, I believe there are 8 different types and you can find the highest rated ones HERE.

Each has different benefits and as such, some have different buttons and can do different things.

Must Read: 15 Instant Pot Tips for New Users (and a FREE printable).

Instant Pot Buttons

Delay Start

Set the cooking function you are going to use and set the delayed start time of your choosing.

Keep Warm/Cancel

When the cooking time has ended, the Instant Pot will switch to Keep Warm. It will be kept at 145–172°F for up to 10 hours.

You’ll also push this button when you are ready to turn off the Instant Pot or when you need to cancel something.

Pressure

Switch between high and low pressure.

Adjust

Adjust cooking times to LESS and MORE. This is also the button that allows you to change the temperature for Slow Cook or Saute.

Manual/Pressure Cook

Press this button, then use the [+] and [-] buttons to change the cook time. You’ll hear a beep when it’s starting the pressure cooking.

Instant Pot Buttons for Beginners

Slow Cook

This button turns your Instant Pot into a slow cooker.

Saute

You can brown meats and saute vegetables using this setting. The really cool thing is that if you’re using the Slow Cooker setting, you can also use Saute to prep the meat and onions, for example.

Wait until it displays HOT before you start.

Yogurt

Yogurt is a little trickier than some of the other things you can make in your Instant Pot. It involves boiling the milk in the pot and incubating the yogurt. More on that soon!

Instant Pot Buttons for Beginners

Soup/Broth

Cooks at high pressure for 30 minutes. Try: Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

Meat/Stew

Cooks at high pressure for 35 minutes. Try: Instant Pot Beef Stew

Bean/Chili

Cooks at high pressure for 30 minutes.

Poultry

Cooks at high pressure for 15 minutes.

Rice

Automatically adjusts cooking time based upon the weight of the rice.

Multigrain

For rice and grains that take longer to cook. It cooks at high pressure for 40 minutes.

Steam

High pressure for 10 minutes.

Cake

Cooks at high pressure for 30 minutes to make soft and moist cakes.

Egg

Cooks at high pressure for 10 minutes.

Less – Normal – More

Press the same cooking button repeatedly until you get to the setting you need.

[-] and [+] Buttons

Adjust the cooking times up or down.

Which Instant Pot Buttons Do You Use Most?

What version of the IP do you have? Are you glad you bought it, or are there things you wish you’d known beforehand?

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124 comments on “Instant Pot Buttons for Beginners”

  1. I follow the instructions and so far it’s burned the 3 things we tried to cook in. Bout to throw it out.

  2. Beverly Trotter

    I have had my instapot for two years and made a pot of rice once and a roast once and nothing else. Too many buttons and I can’t figure them out.

  3. WHEN I turn on the pressure to cook the warm light is on and it won’t go off even when I push cancel.

  4. Betty Wunder

    How the heck does a person get the lid on? I’ve had it since Christmas and still can’t. I’ve had several of my friends try to help and they can’t figure it out either.

    1. Line up the triangle shape on lid with townhome shape on outer lip on front of IP. Tip: three steam vent and release button are supposed to be in the BACK, not the front. (Yep..I do it wrong all the time!)

  5. I have the DUO, 6 Qt. I have cooked wings in it about 5-6 times since I bought Black Friday weekend and we LOVE it! I haven’t quite mastered mac-n-cheese yet, but it wasn’t bad.
    How big of a roast, chicken or turkey will fit in the 6 Qt and proper cooking times, any tips?

  6. It seems you have to season heavily so the flavors are still there after steam escapes.  Am I missing something?

  7. I used my ip for the first time last night cooking beef tips.  I did pressure cook for 25 minutes.  But at the end of the time the count down for natural release didn’t start.  Is there something I missed?  Meat turned out great.

  8. Hi all,
    I too got one for Christmas. I used it last night 12/31/2019. Was scared and also posted last year about not ever buying one, because of scary exploding IP’s. But my sweet brother got me one for Christmas. There was steam released throughout, but not scary. After it was done cooking, I waited 30 minutes before opening. (So no steam came out). If opened early, steam will release when opening. (One lady posted steam cannot burn, however STEAM can burn.) I WAS SO SCARED TO USE THIS THING. I had everyone stay out and away from the kitchen. But it was all a perfect success. No scary anything! Pot roast in 35 minutes with tender meat, perfect potatoes and carrots. Onions kind of disappeared, so I might leave onion whole of cut in half next time. I have a 8qt DUO. Try your instant pot, I am already thinking of what I will try next. AND I WAS THE MOST SCARED ABOUT THIS PRODUCT. Happy New Year!

  9. Kathy Trawick

    I bought one over a year ago. It’s never been used. Never could figure out where/ How to get started. Wished is never bought it.

  10. Lynda Madigan

    I love making chicken and dumplings in my instant pot. All together it takes about an hour and a half. I don’t need anyother pots. The dumplings are perfect. Best small appliance I ever bought.

  11. Corine Samuelson

    I cook eggs on high for 2 minutes….let the pressure go done for about 5 minutes, release the remaining pressure and the eggs are perfect.

  12. Stefan Cramer

    Thanks for the info. Will be using the IP more and more as I learn. 

    With said I don’t see how it justifies as a tool for hard boiling eggs.  Bring water to boil on water boiling burner, add 12 to 18 eggs, start timer for 12 minutes, immediate cold water bath afterwards, perfect every time. 

    Seriously, I don’t see the benefit for eggs.  

  13. Our niece gave us one last Christmas, and we love it. Soups, roasts, beans, ribs, they were all delicious. It’s convenient and easy to clean up.

  14. I received an Insta pot ultra I believe it is, for Christmas need to watch some good videos on how to use it any suggestion?

  15. I can’t figure out how to set timer on pressure to more than 1/2 hour! I get so frustrated that I just put it back in the cupboard & cook old=style! If it cooks in 1/2 or less, it’s good.

  16. My Duo doesn’t have a Manual setting yet all the recipes I’ve looked at say, “press manual…” Not sure how to convert the recipes.

    1. Mine is like yours. Instead of the “Manual” button, yours and mine have the “Pressure Cook” button. They perform the same function. Only “Pressure Cook” makes more sense, so the NEWER models are sold with that button now. However, judging just by the number of blogged recipes, can you imagine how many “Manual” button models must have been sold beforehand?

    2. Same here. Press “pressure cook” button and then click on + or – to “manually”put in cooking time as listed.

  17. Mendy Sarazin

    I got one for Christmas the directions for using it are very vague felt I had to guess at everything to use it for the first time cooking as far as settings and explanations of the buttons and what is the best choice for cooking . Some beginner recipes would be a bonus.

    1. I agree! Directions are not very helpful for first-time users. So it makes it too intimidating to try.

  18. I don’t understand the “natural release”. How long after cooking can you open the lid? How long does the natural release take?

  19. Lorrie McCarty

    I am so afraid to use it, I do cook rice in it but I’m intimidated by it had to go buy a crock pot because I’m afraid of the IP. Is there a IP cooking for dummy’s out there.

  20. I still do not pill how to use all of the buttons but everything we have ever made in it, turned out amazing! I love that I can get off of work at 5 and come home and make a meal I’m really takes half a day in an hour or so.

  21. Thanks this helped me alot just wish I had it so I could go back & refresh my memory every now &then. Love My Ipot

  22. I have the old old one. It has teflon pot. I hate it. I scorced the pot. I want the stainless steel pot. I dont want to buy a whole new machine.
    Do you know where I can buy the newer pots?

    I even called Customer Service. The person who answered was no help.

  23. I have an IP Lux model 6 quart. I was intimidated by it at first, it sat in the box for 2 months. Then one day I started reading the instructions and decided to go for it. I haven’t looked back since, I’ve cooked roast, ribs, made split pea soup a d chicken noodle soup. It’s my go to pot.

    1. Debbie, May I have your pea soup recipe? I’d love to make it in the IP and am new to this type of cooking. 

  24. Yogurt…a gallon of 1% milk, 1/2 to 3/4cup nonfat instant milk powder in inner pan. Push yogurt button to boil. When it says yogurt, take out inner pan to cool. Usually to just about 100 degrees. Add 3 or 4 Tablespoons plain yogurt
    . Mix well (be sure to skim boiled milk, first). Replace inner pan. You can remove rubber ring on lid if it has strong garlic, onion, etc., smell. Put lid on, no pressure. Push yogurt button till it reads 15, it will roll back to zero. When it says 7:30 up to 8 hours, remove and cool. Can strain for Greek Yogurt, add sweetener, fruit, etc. Leave plain and use as sour cream.

    1. I make yogurt once a week in  my Instant Pot.  8 cups of 2% milk.  Heat and then cool – following directions.  Add yogurt starter (plain yogurt from grocery store  [just make sure it has active cultures] or 3 TBSP from your previously made batch).  I do let mine stay in Instant Pot anywhere from 8 – 12 hours.  I strain through a coffee filter  – saving the whey that drains off to use in our daily smoothies.  You now have Greek yogurt.  Great on cereal with fruit and in smoothies.  IP is a delightful addition to my kitchen appliances.

  25. Feeling super intimidated…wanted one for months, finally bought b/c on sale. Now only used when my daughter cooks for me. Yes, she’s shown me several times!

    1. Check your gasket is in place inside (did you take it out after you bought it?) Make sure the arrows on the lid and the pot are aligned. Check the dial that you have it set for pressure and not release.

  26. Scot V McKinstry

    Now that I see what it can do. I am going to purchase one. I’ve purchased “Snake oil” appliances only to see them in the swap shop within a month. This looks to be a real cooking cure.

  27. Sweet potatoes and the little gourmet potatoes are sides we cook often. IP is the only way I cook hard boiled eggs now. Steel cut oats are delicious but not a spur of the moment breakfast.

    1. Pressure button is the one that says Pressure. If it still doesn’t work the replace your seal (first make sure it is clean)! You either didn’t turn it on pressure or you have lost pressure. Find out let me know…. lid my not be on right as well..

  28. Elizabeth Edmands-Merritt

    I really like my IP. It was a gift. The thing I like most about it is if I use it as a slow cooker and I get home and things aren’t quite done I use the pressure cooker function!

  29. Karen Robertson

    Just received my Instant Pot for Christmas, trying to figure out what to cook and how to cook it.  I thought I’d start out with a roast.  

    1. Look up the recipe for crack chicken! Oh my goodness it’s so yummy! It’s as addictive as crack

    2. I cook my roast for about 3 1/2 hours, vent it’s, add some carrots and potatoes for about 10 minutes. It’s amazing!!

    3. I got mine for Christmas too. My 1st meal was ham & beans, using the Cmas ham hock. Took dry beans, ham, & broth to the max level. I tried high pressure for 20 mins. The beans were a little crunchy so I put it back on high pressure 10 more mins…perfect! Best ham & beans ever.

  30. I used my instant pot duo yesterday to make hard boiled eggs…I used the pressure setting and made sure it was on high pressure…set time for 7 minutes….I put cap on the seal mark…7 minutes later I immediately vented then ice water bath eggs for 1 minute…I peeled eggs and had runny yolks….this was an internet recipe…I have tried this multiple times with eggs and have had bad results…any help is welcomed

    1. I have recipe for perfect hard boiled egg.  Use the rack, put as many eggs in pot as you need.  Add 1 cup cold water (no matter how many eggs you are boiling). 5 minutes at high pressure  (it will take longer than 5 minutes for it to come to pressure, then it will cook at high pressure for 5 minutes )then a 5 minute natural release.  Remove pot and run cold water over.  Peels so easy EVERY TIME.  

    2. It takes five to seven minutes for the pot to pressurize fully. Cook it a bit longer. 

    3. Pam-That’s what Jaime said right above you. Set it for 5, it won’t start the count until it’s at pressure. No need to second guess it and ‘cook it a bit longer’.

    4. You have to let it natural release for a period of time.  I use extra large eggs and cook for 5 minutes on high pressure, natural release for 5 minutes and then quick release through the vent.  After the pressure is gone, 5 minutes in an ice bath.  Best eggs ever!

    5. Usually I cook about 6 eggs on the trivet and add 1 cup of water (without water they won’t cook lol). Press the “Egg” setting which shows 6 minutes.  After that time is up, I let it rest for about five minutes before releasing the steam.  Then put them in an ice water bath to cool, before refrigerating.  The whole process takes about 15-18 minutes.  Eggs are always done with creamy yolks and usually no green outer edge on the yolk.  I have a Duo.

    6. Coinneach McClarence

      I use my IP to make hard boiled eggs at least once a week. I put a cup of water in the bottom, place the trivet in the water and load it with anywhere from 6 to 12 eggs. I manually set it for 2 minutes on high pressure. When it’s done, I turn it off (although it hasn’t hurt when I’ve forgotten and let it stay on “Keep Warm.” I wait and let it naturally release, then stack them in a pyrex bowl and out them in the fridge. I’ll do a quick ice bath if I’m going to use one right away so it doesn’t burn my fingers. They peel easily and are always done. I’ve been utterly confused by all the recipes that I see calling for up to 10 minutes. 10 minutes is how long it takes to cook chicken breasts from frozen in an IP. Seems like that would drastically overcook an egg. 

    7. Best boiled eggs; Place in cold water on STOVE,
      Once boiling starts, time exactly 5 whole minutes of rapid medium boiling. Remove pot and place under running cold water for whole minute. Voila, medium/hard eggs you don’t choke on…deelish!

    8. Is the Natural Release just letting the instapot just release after it’s finished cooking? I just got one for my birthday and used it once and pushed the pressure release on top. I think I have the duo nova model. Does anyone have the basket to place inside is it helpful when needing to drain noodles and veggies? 

    9. I use the 5-5-5 method. 5 minutes on high, then wait 5 minutes before venting then 5 minutes in ice water. Works great! And shells practically fall off

    10. John Ritchie. Put water in a saucepan with eggs in it. Bring to a boil. Then take them off the heat. Leave the eggs in the water until the water cools down. Take them out and you’ll have a perfect hard boiled egg !!! Learned this from Gordon Ramsay !! On his show !  Let me know if you try it. Gwenny Kulesza 

    11. I pressure 5 minutes and natural release 5 minutes then quick release. I have to set a timer for the last 5 or I forget.

    12. I’ve boiled 18 eggs in an 8qt with 1 1/2 cups water 
      Pressure for 5 min…let it naturally come down for
      5 min and then cold water bath for 5…perfect every time!! 

    13. Stevie Hutchinson

      What I don’t get about eggs, I boil in a pot 7 minutes and they are cooked and peel fine. Why would I drag out the IP?

    14. Some people use the IP as, like me, they don’t have a real stove. Tiny apt so other ways to cook are needed.

    15. If you have fresh yard eggs, they can be almost impossible to peel cooking them on the stove, but with the IP, they peel so easily!

    16. I don’t drag mine out, it has counter space of it’s own and sits there always.

    17. I let my eggs vent on their own and they come out perfectly and I only cook them for 5 to 7 mins.

    18. Do you have to have the egg holder or can you just plan the eggs in the IP with water?

    19. You don’t put them directly on the bottom of the pot. You can use your trivet to keep them off the bottom. And I have done an easy dozen that way.

    20. Place eggs on rack with a cup of water. Pressure on high for 7 minutes. After the alarm goes off just leave them in the pot to let the pressure come down for 7 minutes. At this point you can manually release the remaining steam and remove the lid and place the eggs in cold water for a couple of minutes. I use the 7-7-7 rule and they come out fine.

  31. I love my IP! I was afraid to use it but now I have cooked two turkeys, pulled pork, beans, stuffed peppers, meatloaf… I love that I can cook a 10# turkey in 45 minutes! Now my family asks me to use it because the food is do tender and moist.

    1. Hi Carla, I would like to purchase IP but I dont know what size to purchase to make turkey and whole chickens. What IP do you have?

  32. I can’t stand the smell of the lid (the seal).. for this reasoni have used mine twice . And likely won’t use it again. Am I missing something? Am I the only person bothered by this?
    Please don’t tell me to use vinegar. I have doesn’t do anything

    1. I have multiple seals. One that I use for pastas, potatoes, eggs, etc…

      One is for baking or sweets.

      The other is for savory or more smelly items like soups, sauces, meats, etc…

      I wash them in the dishwasher between uses on the top rack.

      That seems to do the trick for me.

    2. Maybe order new rings or get some un used coffee grains and let ring soak in them for a day the rubber smell will disapear. Promise letme know. Good luck. 

    3. I just put the lid on my instant pot upside down when not in use. No problem with smells. Don’t seal it tight when not in use. 

    4. I’m with you on this method.  Always just let the lid air.  Seems like common sense to me!

    5. Hi Lianne, I agree. It smells like burning rubber. I hope the smell will diminish in time with more use. I have only used it twice so far, but I like it! Happy New Year!

    6. Amazon sells extra seals for insta pot, different colors for different meat a d so on. Very inexpensive for three seals ($8.99).

    7. Is it safe or ok to put aluminum foil in the instant pot. I found a meatloaf recipe that says shape the meatloaf on aluminum foil, then place loaf in the instant pot. But doesn’t say with or without the foil. I just got mine never used it so was a little concerned didn’t want to burn it up first thing..

    1. Hi Cheryl…don’t be afraid of the Instant Pot! They are not like the pressure cookers that our Mom’s used years ago. My daughter had hers for a couple years. We went to visit her and we made first I.P. dinner which was a huge success. Now she uses it 2-3 times a week when her work schedule permits. She also sends me pics of what she makes that night. Check out Pinterest for many easy recipes.

    2. Rhonda R Glassgow​​

      Dive in, you will wonder how you did without it ☺ Follow simple recipes first to get a feel for it. Do boiled eggs for instance, my first trial. Amazing how great they come right out of the shell.

    3. Well I have the pioneer woman one also and the buttons do not match the recipes.
      There is No pressure button! 

    4. Candy Nordahl

      Brand new IP for Christmas. Havent opened or used it yet. I am very comfortable with my crockpot, and not trusting of this new device.

    5. Originally I too…Try potatoes first. Place 6 medium washed potatoes on rack with 1/2 inch water. Press poultry button for 15 minutes on high pressure closed. Once beeps off, release pressure with fingers because the hot steam is ever warm and doesn’t burn you.
      Correct steam that doesn’t burn..right!?!
      Perfect soft potatoes…just liked baked!

    6. Steam burns are very painful.  Do not put your hand over the vent .Water boils at 212deg. F. Steam is hotter .

  33. I love my 6 qt IP. I have done, pasta, turkey breast, rice pilaf, beef stew, pasta w ith ground beef to name a few and I love it. I haven’t had success with cooking a brownie in it yet but I’ll get there. I just bought myself the Instant Vortex Air fryer and have done french fries and clam strips so far. Looking for other things to do as well as long as it’s more a long the lines of healthy.

    1. Would have been better if you had posted a pic under each I instruction with an arrow showing what you are talking about. I have 2 instant pots & don’t really use because I follow book instruction & it doesn’t cook my dry beans in 30 minutes or less. I end up cookies get them all day. I can cook my dry beans on the stove quicker.

    2. Sounds like you are not cooking them using the “pressure cooker”. It doesnt take but a fraction of the time. Be patient and if this particular post doesnt help you then just Google it more till you get it. Once you get it down you will use your IP nonstop!! I love my IP (thanks to my mother-in-law)! I cant wait to make all my recipes…..

    3. I put my dry beans in a pot on stove, and bring to boil then turn off and let sit for an hour. Then I drain and put in IP. They are done everytime.

    4. That wouldn’t work, different models have different buttons, and they’re not all in the same place.

  34. I am a beginner when cooking with instant pot on top if the lid should you have the release button on seal? Thank you