Here’s What Those Buttons on Your Instant Pot Actually Mean

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Your dreams have officially come true! You finally got that Instant Pot and it’s time to start whipping up a few delicious meals. But…how, exactly, do you work this thing?

People rave about how easy and quick it is to use, but looking at all the Instant Pot buttons, it seems that only a genius could actually figure out what all of them mean. Which button do I choose for what? What’s the difference between the “Normal” “More” and “Less” settings? And should I cook on Low Pressure or High Pressure?

These questions instantly come to mind, but don’t sweat, we got you covered. Here’s a full guide to all of your Instant Pot’s buttons. So make sure to bookmark this for later!

Manual

Don’t want to bother with any of the automatic settings? The manual button keeps it simple by allowing you to punch in your desire pressure cooking time. The maximum time to pressure cook is 240 minutes.

+/- buttons

These buttons simply increase or decrease the cooking time.

Sauté

This button helps to sauté, brown or simmer anything in the pot—and with the lid open. It has three different temperature ranges. “Normal” is 320 to 349 degrees Fahrenheit, perfect for regular sautéing or browning. “More” is 347 to 410 degrees, great for stir-frying or browning something even more. “Less” is great for simmering or thickening a sauce, typically at 275 to 302 degrees.

Slow Cook

No need to have a slow cooker when the Instant Pot also has the same slow cooking function. Typically a slow cooker temperature range is 190 degrees (for the low setting) to 300 degrees (to the high setting), depending on the type of slow cooker. The Slow Cook button has three different temperatures to work with: “Normal” which is 190 to 200 degrees, “less” which is 180 to 190, and “more” which is 200 to 210. Use the button when you want to slow-cook something on a low setting.

Pressure

This button changes your cooking time by switching from low to high-level pressure-cooking.

Adjust

Not sure how to change your settings from “Normal” to “Less” to “More”? This is the button that does it! If you plan on cooking something at a higher temperature, click on this button to switch the setting to “More.” Keep in mind that if you increase the temperature, you’ll need to set the timer for less time. Conversely, when you lower the temperature, and you will need to increase the cooking time.

Yogurt

Yes, that’s right, you can make yogurt in your Instant Pot. But it’s not as easy as dumping milk in and hitting this button. There’s actually a ton of steps you need to follow in order to make the perfect cup of yogurt. And it doesn’t look incredibly easy

Timer

So this seems pretty self-explanatory, but there’s a small part of the timer button that you may not be aware of. Trying to make sure all of the food for dinner is done at the same time? This timer button actually works as a delay button as well, letting you set how much time you want your item to take to cook so it will be done at your preferred time. “More” increases the time, and “Less” decreases it.

Bean/Chili

Cooking dry beans has never been this easy before. On the “Normal” setting beans will take around 30 minutes to cook; increase cooking time up to 40 minutes using the “More” button and as little as 25 minutes using the “Less” button. Don’t have time to slow cook a chili? This feature can prepare a delicious chili in just 25 minutes.

Soup

Ever make a soup that tends to heavily boil and spill all over your kitchen? Well, the Instant Pot can save you from the mess! It heats up to 230 degrees and will cook your soup between 20 to 50 minutes (depending on the amount of time you choose, based on the recipe).

Multigrain

Best for cooking brown rice and wild rice. Starts off with a 50-minute soak at 140 degrees, than ramps up to 248 degrees for about 9 minutes.

Meat/Stew

Love when your meat falls right off the bone? This feature will absolutely make that possible. You can cook meat on the “Normal” time setting for the default 35 minutes (230 degrees), “More” increasese the time for up to 45 minutes, or “Less” time for as few as 20 minutes.

Porridge

This will make rice pudding or grains other than rice. To make rice porridge, it will default cook on High Pressure for 20 minutes (230 degrees). You can adjust the timer to “More” for up to 30 minutes or “Less” for as little as 15 minutes.

Poultry

This can make your favorite chicken recipes in a simple 15 minutes! You can adjust the timer for “More” for up to 30 minutes, or “Less” for as little as 5. This is actually great for when you need a quick batch of shredded chicken for a recipe.

Rice

It’s a slow cooker and rice cooker all in one! You can cook white rice in a simple 4 to 8 minutes in this thing. However, you may want to take just a bit more time to ensure the rice is fully cooked. Some recommend around 10 to 12 minutes of total cooking time.

Steam

Have steamed vegetables ever been this easy before? Probably not! Reheat or steam your food with this simple feature. Make sure to add a steam rack so your food doesn’t stick and burn at the bottom!

Now that you understand all of the buttons, it’s time to get cooking! Here are 27 Instant Pot recipes that you are going to absolutely love.

32 Comments on "Here’s What Those Buttons on Your Instant Pot Actually Mean"

  1. Brenda  February 23, 2019

    Great information but your “More” and “Less” times are switched. It takes less time to cook on “More” pressure and more time to cook on “Less” pressure.

    Reply
    • Chef Sallie  March 11, 2019

      Thanks for pointing that out. You are correct, the higher the pressure, the less time it takes to cook your recipe. I reworded the post to try to clarify things a bit. The “More” and “Less” buttons are strictly for setting the cooking time, unless you are cooking on the “Manual” setting, when you can use the same button to switch between “High” pressure and “Low” pressure. All of the pre-set programs, such as “Soup”, “Porridge”, etc. use High pressure and you use the “More” and “Less” buttons to increase or decrease the cooking time. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  2. Kathy H  June 23, 2019

    What is the temperature on the ‘keep warm’ button?

    Reply
    • Nichole Furlong  June 29, 2019

      This is a standard temperature that is set by the brand, we recommend checking your user/owners manual for specifics.

      Reply
  3. Ronda  June 29, 2019

    I’ve been using the instant pot for hard cooked eggs with great success. Lately my egg shells are splitting. Anyone have suggestions?

    Reply
    • Nichole Furlong  June 29, 2019

      Your eggs are possibly too cold so when they suddenly heat up they shells split. Try letting them warm at room temperature for a little bit (not too long) before cooking.

      Reply
      • Stephanie Krueger  October 15, 2019

        I use the steam button for hardboiled eggs…5 5 5 method

        Reply
        • Nichole Furlong  October 17, 2019

          Great tip, Stephanie!

          Reply
    • Leann  August 16, 2019

      Add a tablespoon of vinegar to the water. That’s what I put in my water to boil eggs. Stops them from cracking or splitting.

      Reply
      • Nichole Furlong  August 17, 2019

        Great tip, Leann!

        Reply
  4. Mandy  August 3, 2019

    After using my Instant Pot at least four times a week for more than a year, I’ve yet to find a real use for the soup, meat, bean, poultry, rice or porridge buttons. There are too many variables in recipes for these to do what’s appropriate for a specific instance. Go by what your recipe calls for and your own experience. The saute and the yogurt buttons, on the other hand – they’re pure genius!!

    Reply
    • Nichole Furlong  August 3, 2019

      Thanks for the tips, Mandy!

      Reply
  5. Leann  August 16, 2019

    I am confused about the time settings. Mine shows 00:00:00. If I want to cook for 15 minutes, I would guess that I would use the – = + button to set the time. But I can’t get mine set at .15 minutes.
    If I set it a 1.5 I get 15 minutes. But looking at the display it shows as 00:0.1:50. To me that looks like one minute and 50 seconds not 15 minutes. So I don’t understand the timer settings. To me, 00:00:00 would be hours: minutes: seconds. What am I missing???JM

    Reply
    • Nichole Furlong  August 17, 2019

      Hi Leann, you might want to check the user manual for your Instant Pot. This could be something specific to the brand of the pot you purchased.

      Reply
  6. Judy  August 30, 2019

    I am totally confused on the less normal and more. If this is just for time why? I have + – for times.
    I only use pressure and manually set time. I never use the pre-set buttons it only confuses me. Except for yogurt and sauté. Love the yogurt setting and no not much to making yogurt. I do cold start and it takes me 5 min mix my milk and starter.

    Reply
    • Nichole Furlong  September 5, 2019

      Some people prefer to have preset times! The Instant Pot is a great item for anyone to have as it fits all personal preferences! If you prefer to use the + and – to adjust your time that will work great!

      Reply
      • Amy  September 11, 2019

        I have tried to use the chilli function a few times but it always burns on the bottom- then the pot reads “burn” and just stops cooking- resulting in stuff still being crunchy. What am I doing wrong??

        Reply
        • Nichole Furlong  September 14, 2019

          Hi Amy, there may not be enough liquid in the pot. Personally, I prefer using the manual function so I can adjust the pressure, time, etc. to cook perfection.

          Reply
  7. Linda  September 13, 2019

    I get grey rings around my egg yolks when I hard boil them in the IP. I can do it faster in a pot of boiling water and not get the dark rings.

    Reply
    • Nichole Furlong  September 14, 2019

      Hi Linda, grey rings appear when the egg is over cooked. You can reduce the time on the Instant Pot and you will no longer have the rings.

      Reply
  8. Teresa Cabeza  October 13, 2019

    Hello,
    I just recently got an Instant Pot and have only used it once with minimal success. I kind of like the preset buttons myself. I have so many questions (or possibly overthinking) How do you know the pot is actually releasing steam on natural release? I didn’t really hear a thing with the meat I was cooking so I did quick release. Any advise greatly appreciated. Thanks

    Reply
    • Nichole Furlong  October 13, 2019

      You won’t hear the steam releasing when it’s naturally releasing. This is a much slower processes. Typically, a recipe will say something along the lines of “let the steam release naturally for about 10 minutes before manually releasing the steam”. The natural option allows the food inside to continue cooking a bit longer, become more tender, etc and does this more gently than full on pressure cooking.

      You hear the steam release when manually releasing because the steam is coming out of the pot faster. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  9. Gloria  October 14, 2019

    My IP seems to be stuck on “auto” (it doesn’t move on from there). Is there a button I need to push to reset to normal functioning?

    Reply
    • Nichole Furlong  October 17, 2019

      Hi Gloria, if you Instant Pot is stuck (and any other button you push doesn’t seem to do anything) we suggest checking your user manual for troubleshooting tips or calling the maker of your pot.

      Reply
  10. Christine Manning  October 23, 2019

    I love my instant pot. I really had to study it when I first got it. I experimented just with water. Just to get the idea of cooking with it. I have not had a disaster yet. But I will stress to people the importance of following the exact directions on the recipes. I wanted to make a 2 pound meatloaf instead of a 1 pound meatloaf and that wasn’t a disaster. I just had to cut it in half. And put it back in and cook it longer. But I learned from that. I wish I would’ve had it a electric pressure cooker with my daughter was growing up. You can still mix up the recipes. With different spices and different vegetables. Just always use the liquid that it tells you to use. It can really be a lot of fun and it produces very good food .

    Reply
    • Gale Compton  October 27, 2019

      Christine, Thank you so much for the tips. 🙂

      Reply
  11. Crissy  October 26, 2019

    I have favorite soups that I make in the slow cooker. I’d love to make them in the IP instead. How do I convert them?

    Reply
    • Nichole Furlong  October 28, 2019

      Hi Crissy, converting will vary depending on the soup. For the most part, you should be able to follow the directions for your slow cooker soup and just adjust the cook time. The time will vary per soup, but should be right around the 30 minute mark. To help figure you the timing, you can always look up recipes for a similar soup made in the IP and see what the cook time would be.

      Reply
  12. Colin  October 27, 2019

    Have had an IP for 7 months, used to prepare soups, stews, casseroles, pasta sauces, rice and baked potatoes. Works flawlessly.
    I do have the advantage that I’ve used traditional pressure cookers for a great many years and understand the principles nonetheless IP makes it easy

    Reply
  13. Sam  October 30, 2019

    Actually, yogurt is really easy to make in the IP if you use the cold start method.

    Reply
  14. Char  November 5, 2019

    I agree with Sam….cold start yogurt easy peasy!!!!! Even the other way is not difficult just takes another step.

    Reply
  15. Jill Hudson  November 10, 2019

    I have tried only cooking beans on the pressure cooker part and had different outcomes everytime and 2 times burnt the fire out of them. Tried to do natural release but the little needle never went down and we had to do a manual release. Last time we did the beans on the slow cook but over half way through realized there was different settings to cook on. They turned out better. I didnt want to try anything different if we cant even figure out beans. I think we are overthinking the whole process of using it. I think when we figure it out more we will like it. So far it’s just difficult to figure all the settings out

    Reply

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