Getting Started: How to Use an Instant Pot or Electric Pressure Cooker

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Wondering how to use your new Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, Crockpot Express, Power Pressure Cooker XL, or other brand of electric pressure cooker? Let me help you get it out of the box and into your meal plans with this Getting Started Guide! I have all the details you need to get you cooking and loving your machine!

5 different pressure cookers on a countertop including the Instant Pot

Happy Holidays and Welcome to Pressure Cooking Today!

Here at Pressure Cooking Today, we post easy and delicious recipes and training guides for the Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, or any other brand of electric pressure cooker! 

Interested in having us teach you how to start cooking in your Instant Pot?

Our Instant Pot 30-Day Jumpstart beginners course is OPEN for new students until January 14th!

Click here for details and learn how to register.

If you’re just getting started with your electric pressure cooker or Instant Pot—whether it’s new or or even if you’ve had it for a while—you may have lots of questions!

Here are some quick answers to some of the most common:

Keep reading for a breakdown of the different pressure cooker parts and the nitty-gritty of making your first meal in the pressure cooker!

Or, use the form below to download a 24-page full-color eBook of all the parts.

(If the form isn’t showing up for you, click here to be taken to the sign-up page.)

How to Use Instant Pot / Electric Pressure Cooker Getting Started Guide

Getting Started Guide: How to Use a Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot

Electric pressure cookers like the Instant Pot Duo Nova or the Ninja Foodi make cooking faster and easier than ever before, so I know you’re going to love it!

As with any new tool, there are a few things you’ll need to know before you get cooking!

For your convenience, I’ve created a five-part getting started guide that will walk you through getting your pressure cooker out of the box and into your daily routine!

1. Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot Parts Reference Guide
To begin, I break down the basic parts of electric pressure cookers, with specific details for the Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, Crockpot Express, Power Pressure Cooker XL. 

2. Choosing a Pressure Release Method
Quick pressure release or natural pressure release? It’s one of the most common questions I get. Let me explain the difference and when to use each method!

3. Water Test Run for the Instant Pot / Electric Pressure Cooker
The water test is a no-worry way to familiarize yourself with your machine. You’ll learn hands-on how your pressure cooker comes to pressure and get used to the steps of pressure cooking. 

4. Make Your First Meal in Your Instant Pot / Pressure Cooker
You’re ready to get cooking in your new electric pressure cooker! For this post, I break down one of my 30-minute meals into detailed steps, including what buttons to push for the major brands of electric pressure cookers.

5. Easy Recipes to Make in Your New Instant Pot / Electric Pressure Cooker
I’ve compiled a list of easy-to-make pressure cooker recipes for you to start off with and build your confidence using your Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, Crockpot Express, or other brand of electric pressure cooker. 

Before you know it, you’ll be making fabulous pressure cooker meals and wondering how you ever cooked without it!

Four wooden bowls of different types of rice with an Instant Pot in the background
Close ups of three different Instant Pot models for the Instant Pot Comparison

Instant Pot / Electric Pressure Cooker In-Depth User Guide and Reviews

If you already have a pressure cooker, you can read more details about your specific machine in the links below!

(If you’re still researching, definitely read my guide to the Best Instant Pot to Buy for a full comparison of the different Instant Pot models and features.)



Overhead shot of the Evo Plus lid with steam release cover and pressure release switch.

Instant Pot or Electric Pressure Cooker Safety Features

Don’t be intimidated by the word “pressure” because new electric pressure cookers are super safe and easy to use! The earliest pressure cookers were created around a simple concept: Food cooks hotter and faster inside a pressure-sealed pot.

(The science behind the pressure cooking magic involves raising the boiling point of water under pressure, which means food in a pressure cooker can cook about 40 degrees hotter than than you could cook on a stove top.)

Today’s electric pressure cookers have built on this science and have added in a slew of built-in safety features to prevent mishaps, including automatic pressure control, heating and pressure sensors, lid detection, and heating plates that distribute heat evenly. These features work together to ensure you get faster cook times and consistent results. 

Barbara Schieving and Jennifer Schieving McDaniel of Pressure Cooking Today

At Pressure Cooking Today, we believe in making real food with fresh and familiar ingredients.

🥘 Browse my collection of the best pressure cooker recipes here on my website (some of my most popular recipes include Instant Pot Beef and Broccoli and Easy Instant Pot Pulled Pork).

💬 Follow Pressure Cooking Today on Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates. Or join my Electric Pressure Cooker Facebook Group to connect with other pressure cooking fans.

✉️ Or you can join my free email list! You’ll get just one email a week with my latest recipes.

🥧 If you’re interested in more than just pressure cooker recipes, I share my other adventures in the kitchen over at Barbara Bakes. You’ll find some amazing breakfasts and breads, along with the best dessert recipes! Check it out today!

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