Hey, I get it. Your Instant Pot is intimidation central. It’s a pressure cooker, and you’re online enough to know that pressure cookers can be dangerous. You’re scared to blow up the house, at worst, or ruin food, at best. But, is the Instant Pot dangerous?
Buttons, Buttons, and More Buttons
One of the things that makes this thing so intimidating is all the buttons. It’s almost like the cockpit of a 777, with all the buttons. (I am neither admitting to nor denying exaggeration.) What if you push the wrong button? What if you blow up the house? What if you ruin $30 worth of food? What if everyone hates it because you did it wrong?
It’s Basically a Microwave
So, the control panel of an Instant Pot is not the same as the cockpit of a 777. (No kidding.) It’s actually more like the control panel of a microwave, and I bet you use your microwave without fear. Right?
Microwaves are very user friendly, wouldn’t you agree? Like you can just do a 2.5 on high if you want, or you can press the popcorn button. Right? And the popcorn button is just an automatically programmed specialty button that programs the microwave to cook at 2.5 minutes on high. And there are other specialty buttons, too, like potato or beverage or sometimes even a setting for dinner plate for reheating leftovers.
Same, But Different
Well, an Instant Pot is similar to a microwave, in that it has a bunch of presets, or specialty buttons, to make it more user-friendly. (Unfortunately sometimes it has the opposite effect.) Most of those buttons are just pre-programmed settings to make your life easier. The Soup button, for example, will cook whatever you have in there on high pressure for 30 min. (Even if it’s not soup.)
Pressure Cooker, and More
Of course, the Instant Pot does more than just pressure cook. It sautes, it slow cooks, and it pressure cooks.
Pressure Cooking is its Specialty
Because it’s a “pressure cooker plus”, the specialty buttons are only for pressure cooking. You won’t find a preset for sautéing or slow cooking.
Don’t Overthink It
My best advice when approaching Instant Pot cooking is, “Don’t overthink it.” You can live your whole life in total sync with your instant pot and NEVER use a specialty button. You might have to push three buttons instead of one. (GASP!) Manually programming your Instant Pot is easy and you do NOT need to worry about the specialty buttons unless you want to. If your recipe specifies which specialty button to push, go for it.
It’s Not That Smart
Don’t overthink it. If you’re cooking something other than soup, and you want to cook it at 30 minutes at high pressure, be a rebel and press the Soup button. I promise your Instant Pot does not know its contents; it really is not that smart. But you are!
The Scary Part
Briefly, I will address the “explosion” part of your fear and why you might ask “is the Instant Pot dangerous?” It’s not that it’s not valid; explosions are scary and pressure cookers are infamous for blowing up. But, I ASSURE YOU, that was the pressure cookers of the past. The ones that you put on the stove. The ones my grandma used (and she blew one up no lie).
It IS that Smart
Remember when I told you that the Instant Pot is not that smart? Of course you do; it was two paragraphs ago. Well, it’s smart enough to not explode. (which, if you think about it, is both smart and not that smart. Think of all the dumb things out there that know how to not blow up. Rocks, for example. Ever heard the expression “dumb as a rock”? And yet, rocks don’t explode. So…)
So is the Instant Pot dangerous?
The Instant Pot is built with internal fail safes to prevent accidents. You will not be able to open the lid while the pot is still under pressure. (And please don’t try this at home just to prove me wrong. Wait for the pin to drop before attempting to open the lid.) If the pot senses too much pressure, it will vent itself (that’s why the valve is so loose—so pressure can escape if it needs to, even at the sealing setting). I’m not going to sign a guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen, but I assure you that Instant Pot was designed with safety in mind first and foremost. It’s one of the greatest things ever—same results as Grandma’s pressure cooker, but not the same risk.
Let It Go
At the risk of sounding like an over-played Disney song, I implore you to let it go. Let go of your fear. Let go of your intimidation. Just start using it. A great place to start is our list of The First 5 Things You Should Make In Your New Instant Pot. (It doesn’t matter if your pot is new or if it has 1 inch of dust on the box because you were too scared to use it…until now.)