Tips for Cooking With Electric Pressure Cookers

— By Kate McCarty, Food Systems Professional, University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Often known by the brand name (Instant Pot being a popular one), electric pressure cookers are beloved by home cooks for their ability to cook food quickly through a combination of high pressure and heat. I’ve made beef stew, hard boiled eggs, pulled pork, butternut squash, and even yogurt in a fraction of the time using my Instant Pot.

Electric pressure cookers are similar to stovetop pressure cookers that our parents or grandparents may have used, but powered by electricity and improved with new safety features. Programs and multicook functions make these appliances versatile and convenient. With these tips for using your electric pressure cooker, you can turn out delicious meals and save time while you’re at it.

Tips for Beginners

  • Most of the appliance’s exterior does not heat up during cooking, but any metal parts of the lid can become quite hot, so avoid touching the lid during cooking.
  • Be sure not to overfill the pressure cooker’s insert. Don’t fill past the max line inside the pot and don’t fill more than halfway with starchy ingredients like beans and rice.
  • One of my favorite tips—you can cook frozen foods in your electric pressure cooker! This tip is so helpful when you didn’t plan ahead. The cooker will take longer to come up to pressure, but the cooking time remains the same.
  • A quick release will produce a large volume of steam, so be sure to position the vent so it isn’t underneath cabinets or close to walls.
  • All of the parts of your electric pressure cooker are dishwasher-safe, so you can disassemble the lid and thoroughly clean it. Silicone parts can trap strong smells, so be sure to clean them often and let it dry before storing.
  • Adjustments for altitude may be required. At or above 2,000 feet, you need to add time to compensate for the thinner atmosphere. Consult your appliances’s guide to see how much time to add.

Safe Internal Temperatures

Although the electric pressure cooker reaches temperatures of up to 240°F, the temperature inside your food is still important to consider. You can still risk foodborne illness if you don’t reach the proper internal temperature of fish, meats, and eggs cooked in an electric pressure cooker. 

Be sure you know the recommended internal temperature for the food you’re preparing and measure the temperature using an instant-read thermometer. 

Canning Isn’t Recommended

Despite what the appliance’s manual may say, canning in these appliances is not recommended. Research conducted by Utah State University Cooperative Extension indicates that these appliances do not get hot enough for long enough to take the place of a stovetop pressure canner.

Electric pressure cookers are also not big enough to maintain a proper amount of heat to safely process jars. The USDA recommends using a pressure canner no smaller than one that can fit 4 quart jars inside of it. Even the biggest electric pressure cooker doesn’t meet these requirements.

With these tips, you’re on your way to enjoying time-saving, delicious meals in your electric pressure cooker!


No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.