How to Use an Instant Pot

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Crunchy, Browned Food: Any place you’d want to have crunch or crispness, like the delectable fried chicken above (our guide can help you with that) – unless you plan to broil or fry after cooking in the pot. For example, you can cook pork ribs in the pot until they’re falling apart tender, then broil them to crisp the edges.

Quick Sautéed Food: Anything that you can sauté in a pan on the stovetop in under 15 minutes (small pieces of meat like cutlets, delicate vegetables and fruits, certain egg dishes, pasta) will do better on the stove – particularly if you are looking for browning or caramelization. You also won’t save any time, even if you’re using the pressure cooking setting. By the time you bring everything up to pressure, allow for the cooking time and then release the pressure, it will probably take at least 15 minutes. So if you can do it faster and better on the stove, you might as well.

Rare Steaks and Other Meats: Save these for the grill, a cast-iron pan on the stove top, or the broiler.

Fish and Seafood: Because they can go from done to overdone in a matter of seconds, most fish and seafood do better using methods other than the pressure setting. You can get a great result from pressure cooking, but your margin of error is pretty small. Always follow the recipe exactly for the first time when cooking fish, or err on the side of less time. Generally, low pressure is sufficient, rather than using high pressure. Slow cooking, on the other hand, can work really well with fish and seafood, especially for seafood stews, braises, and steamed mussels and other bivalves.

Pasta: You can cook pasta in the multicooker, but it’s not nearly as intuitive or easy as boiling it on the stove. Pasta casseroles and lasagnas can work, but they will not brown on top unless you transfer them to the oven, and the sauces will not condense and deepen in flavor.

Cakes and Other Pastries: Most cakes taste better, and will rise better when baked in the oven. This is because the multicooker steams rather than bakes them. The notable exceptions are cheesecake, delicate custards and puddings. They cook well in the multicooker’s moist environment, without the need to set up a Bain-Marie as you would in an oven. When cooking under pressure, use low pressure for custards and puddings to ensure the mixture doesn’t curdle. Hardier cheesecakes can stand up to high pressure. When using the slow cooker function, keep an eye on the water level so it doesn’t evaporate before the custard is set. It can take a while.

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