Which Instant Pot Buttons to Use

SO MANY BUTTONS! If you own an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker and want to know what each button does and when to use it, my complete guide will tell you everything you need to know about using the Instant Pot buttons for every model and version!

Several models of instant pot and buttons

If you’re just getting started with your Instant Pot, your first question might be “How do I know which Instant Pot buttons to use?” Here’s a detailed explanation that will help.

The most important thing to know is the buttons are just preset, suggested cook times for specific items. If you use the Poultry button, your Instant Pot will not know how much meat is in the pot or whether it’s frozen or fresh. Your Instant Pot CANNOT sense what you are actually cooking and CANNOT tell you when the food in your pot is cooked through. 

So when you’re cooking chicken soup, you can use the Soup button, the Poultry button, the Meat button, or the Manual button. It really doesn’t matter which button you use, just choose the button with the closest cook time to the time in the recipe you’re using (more on that below).

Close up of the buttons on the Instant Pot Duo PlusInstant Pot Duo Plus

THE THREE MOST IMPORTANT INSTANT POT BUTTONS

There are really only three buttons you need to know when you are just starting out with pressure cooking:

Manual/Pressure Cook. This button is is where the magic happens—if a recipe says to cook at High Pressure, this is the button you need. Just press it, then use the [+] and [-] buttons to change the cook time. After a brief pause, the Instant Pot will beep to tell you it’s beginning the pressure cooking process. (The exact name of this button depends on your model of Instant Pot.)

Sauté. Press the Sauté button to brown meats, sauté vegetables, and simmer ingredients in the pressure cooking pot. Adjust Sauté to less for simmer, normal to sauté and more for browning.

Keep Warm/Cancel. Use this button to cancel a function or to turn off your Instant Pot.

Honestly, that’s it! I recommend beginning with some easy, tried-and-true recipes before branching out into converting your old favorites. Since I write my recipes so they can be made in any electric pressure cooker, I rarely use the preset Instant Pot buttons.

Close up of the dial on the Instant Pot Ultra Instant Pot Ultra

FUNCTIONS OF EACH OF THE INSTANT POT BUTTONS

Still, there may be times you prefer to use the preset options or you might just be curious to know how they work. There is a bit of variety among each of the different models (and even between the different versions of popular models); however, all of the Instant Pot buttons cook the same. For your convenience, I’ve created a printable Button Summary Sheet with detailed explanations of the different settings for each of the major Instant Pot models—just click the link on your model below:

Instant Pot Duo (version 3)
Buttons SummaryUser manual.

Instant Pot Duo (versions 1-2)
Buttons Summary. User manualDifferences between Version 1 and Version 2.

Instant Pot Mini
Buttons Summary. User manual.

Instant Pot Duo Plus
Buttons Summary. User manual.

Instant Pot Ultra
Buttons Summary. User manual.

Instant Pot Lux (version 3)
Buttons Summary. Version 3 user manual.

Instant Pot Lux (versions 1-2)
Buttons SummaryVersion 2 user manual.

Instant Pot Smart
Buttons Summary. User manual.

(You can find your model on the control panel next to the Instant Pot logo in small print. For the Duo, if you’re unsure which model you have, the label on the back of the Instant Pot will tell you: Duo Version 3 will read V3 or IP-DUO60. Duo Version 2 will read V2 or IP-DUO60-ENW. Or you can always match your buttons to the pictures throughout the post, if you’re not sure!)

Close up of the buttons on the Instant Pot Duo version 3 Instant Pot Duo Version 3

Every Instant Pot Button Explained

Soup/Broth. This button cooks at High Pressure for 30 minutes. Adjusted to more cooks for 40 minutes. Adjusted to less cooks for 20 minutes.

Meat/Stew. This button cooks at High Pressure for 35 minutes. Adjusted to more cooks for 45 minutes. Adjusted to less cooks for 20 minutes.

Bean/Chili. This button cooks at High Pressure for 30 minutes. Adjusted to more cooks for 40 minutes. Adjusted to less cooks for 25 minutes.

Poultry. This button cooks at High Pressure for 15 minutes. Adjusted to more cooks for 30 minutes. Adjusted to less cooks for 5 minutes.

Rice. This button cooks at Low Pressure and is the only fully automatic program. It is for cooking white rice and will adjust the cooking time depending on the amount of water and rice in the cooking pot.

Multigrain. This button cooks at High Pressure for 40 minutes. Adjusted to more cooks for 45 minutes of warm water soaking time and 60 minutes pressure cooking time. Adjusted to less cooks for 20 minutes.

Porridge. This button cooks at High Pressure for 20 minutes. Adjusted to more cooks for 30 minutes. Adjusted to less cooks for 15 minutes.

Steam. This button cooks at High Pressure for 10 minutes. Adjusted to more cooks for 15 minutes. Adjusted to less cooks for 3 minutes. Use this function with a rack or steamer basket because it heats at full power continuously while it’s coming to pressure and you don’t want food in direct contact with the bottom of the pressure cooking pot. Once it reaches pressure, the steam button regulates pressure by cycling on and off, similar to the other pressure buttons.

Less | Normal | More. Adjust between the Less | Normal | More settings by pressing the same cooking function button repeatedly until you get to the desired setting. (Older versions use the Adjust button.)

[-] and [+] ButtonsAdjust the cook time up [+] or down [-]. (On newer models, you can also press and hold [-] or [+] for 3 seconds to turn sound OFF or ON.)

Close up of the buttons on the Instant Pot Mini Instant Pot Mini

Slow Cook. Adjust to slow cook on low (180–190°F), normal (190–200°F), or high (200–210°F). Use [+] and [-] to increase or decrease the cook time. (Temperatures are slightly different on older versions of the Instant Pot.)

Pressure Level. Switch between High and Low Pressure settings for pressure cooking programs. Works with all buttons that cook at High or Low Pressure.

Keep Warm. Turns the Auto Keep Warm function ON and OFF. Keep Warm keeps the contents of the cooking pot between 145–172°F.

Yogurt. Adjust to More for boiling the milk, use Normal for incubating the yogurt. (Making yogurt is fairly technical, see this post for details: https://www.pressurecookingtoday.com/pressure-cooker-yogurt-in-the-instant-pot/)

Sauté. Wait until display says “Hot” to add ingredients to the pot. Use Normal for sautéing veggies, adjust to More for browning meats, adjust to Less to simmer.

Delay Start. Select a cooking function and set adjustments, then press Delay Start and use the [+] and [-] buttons to set amount of time you’d like to wait before the Instant Pot starts cooking.

Cancel. End a cooking program at any time. (On newer models, hold this key until the Instant Pot beeps to reset to factory default settings. Also, for the Ultra, this key returns you to the previous step selecting your cooking options.)

Pressure Cook. Use Pressure Level to switch between High and Low Pressure and [+] or [-] to adjust cook time. When pressure is reached, time will begin to count down.

Close up of the buttons on the Instant Pot Duo version 1-2Instant Pot Duo (version 2)

Adjust. On older Instant Pot versions, use this button to toggle from the Less | Normal | More settings. Press the feature you wish to use, then press Adjust until until the light under Less | Normal | More is adjusted to the desired setting.

Pressure. Switch between High and Low Pressure settings for pressure cooking programs. Works with all buttons that cook at High or Low Pressure.

Timer. Select a cooking function and adjust time/pressure, then press Timer and use the [+] and [-] buttons to set amount of time to wait for the Instant Pot to start cooking.

Manual. Set a custom pressure level and cook time using the Adjust and [+] or [-] buttons. When working pressure is reached, time will begin to count down. (On the older Instant Pot versions, it was easy to confuse the Pressure and Manual buttons, which is why the terms were changed for newer versions.)

Close up of the buttons on the Instant Pot Lux Instant Pot Lux

Cake. This button cooks at High Pressure for 30 minutes. Adjusted to more cooks for 40 minutes. Adjusted to less cooks for 25 minutes.

Egg. This button cooks at High Pressure for 5 minutes. Adjusted to more cooks for 6 minutes. Adjusted to less cooks for 4 minutes.

Central Dial. Unique to the Instant Pot Ultra, you turn this dial to scroll between menu options and push to select.

Ultra. Unique to the Instant Pot Ultra, this setting allows you to control every part of the cooking process—whether to cook at High/Low/No Pressure, set custom temperatures, and select any time you’ll need.

Temp. Turn the dial on the Instant Pot Ultra to select a custom cooking temperature.

Close up of the buttons on the Instant Pot Smart Instant Pot Smart

USING THE INSTANT POT BUTTONS MAY SEEM A LITTLE INTIMIDATING AT FIRST BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY, BUT REALLY, IT’S EASY!

Before you know it you’ll be whipping up fabulous meals and desserts that will impress your friends and family. Have fun!

For step by step instructions, watch my how to use an Instant Pot multicooker video.

For more information on using your new Instant Pot, come join my Facebook community at https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheElectricPressureCookerGroup/.

***Many thanks to my friend Sigrid for alerting me to the updated information about the latest versions of the Instant Pot buttons.***

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The complete guide to Instant Pot Buttons