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How to set up your Instant Pot

Have you left your Instant Pot in its box for months because you're daunted by the setup? Or perhaps you've just bought one, but you're not sure where to start. 

The good news is it's extremely easy to set up once you know how. In a matter of minutes, you could be whipping up a stew or brewing up homemade yogurt. 

How to set up an Instant Pot

Remove it from its box

The first step is to remove the Instant Pot from the box. Lift it out and place it on a countertop or table so it's at a comfortable height to go through the rest of the setup process. 

Unpack your Instant Pot

You'll find several bits of packaging and other items on and inside your Instant Pot. You'll need to remove and unpack them before use. 

  • Remove the parts and accessories inside: Remove the lid and find all the Instant Pot accessories that come with your chosen model inside. Take these out, remove any unnecessary plastic and set them aside for now. 
  • Unwrap the pot: The stainless steel cooking pot inside the body of the appliance comes wrapped in plastic. Take the cooking pot out and remove the plastic. 
  • Remove the card beneath the pot: Now that you've removed the pot to unwrap the plastic, you may notice a card sitting beneath the cooking pot on top of the heating element. Remove the card and put it in the recycling. 
  • Take the string off the valve: Some models come with a piece of string around the valve on the lid. The easiest way to remove it is to pull the valve off, remove the string and push the valve back into place. 
  • Peel the plastic off the control panel: There's a piece of transparent protective plastic over the control panel. Simply peel it off and discard it. 

Check the seal for cracks

Remove the seal from the lid to check for cracks, splits or tears. If any are present, contact the manufacturer or the place you bought your Instant Pot, as it isn't safe to use with a damaged seal. 

Wash the pot and seal

Wash both the cooking pot and the seal in hot soapy water so they're clean for their first use. Dry them thoroughly before replacing them. 

You can also take this opportunity to wash the accessories that came with it, as well as any extra accessories you bought, such as an Instant Pot springform pan or an Instant Pot steamer basket

Fit the condensation collector

This clear plastic part sits on the back of the appliance to collect condensation that can drip from the unit. It's extremely easy to fit. Just find where it sits and slip it into place.

Plug in the power cord

Plug the power cord into the back of the appliance. It's now ready to use. 


What cooking modes do Instant Pots have? 

A. The exact cooking modes depend on the model you choose, but Instant Pots are part pressure cooker, part slow cooker, so they have both pressure cook and slow cook functions. They can also saute, which is great for browning onions before adding other ingredients. 

You'll need to check your chosen model to see which preset cooking modes it has, but most include the following: rice, grains or multigrain, soup or broth, beans or chili, porridge and meat or stew. Some models have additional modes, including yogurt, cake and air fry. 

What is the keep warm function? 

A. The keep-warm function uses low heat to keep food warm after cooking. It's handy when a dish has finished cooking, but you're not yet ready to eat. 

Do Instant Pots have timers? 

A. Yes, every Instant Pot has a timer function, so you can put all the ingredients inside but delay the cooking start time. This is great when you want to prepare a meal early but don't want to start cooking it right away. 

How do I use the manual mode on an Instant Pot? 

A. If you don't want to use one of the preset programs, use the manual mode. To do so, press the "manual" button followed by the "+" or "-" button to adjust the cooking time. 

Best Instant Pots

Instant Pot Duo
This 7-in-1 Instant Pot is a solid basic model. It comes in 3, 6 and 8-quart varieties. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Instant Pot Duo Plus
With a few extra programs, this model can do things the Duo can't, including making yogurt and baking cake. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Kohl's and Sur La Table

Instant Pot Pro Plus
A more high-tech version of the classic Instant Pot, you have the option of controlling this model via an app. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Sur La Table

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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

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