How To Use a Pressure Cooker – An Ultimate Guide

In our fast and busy lifestyle, making time for everything can be challenging. As a result, we often find ourselves in an awkward position, staring at our forgotten yet important task and hoping we had more time to get it done.

Spending a sufficient amount of time in the kitchen every day is proving to be a struggle for many, especially when cooking tasty and healthy food is concerned. If you are a sufferer also, it's time for you to get a pressure cooker.

The solution named pressure cooker

The simple answer to your enquiring mind is, yes. It is indeed a solution. A pressure cooker will help you to decrease your work pressure in the kitchen.

However, you have to be mindful for managing it to get the best results. Just like other appliances, it has to be handled with proper knowledge. Today, we are here to let you know how to use a pressure cooker with this easy guide.


Pressure cooking: A time saver

Pressure cooking is a method that cooks food in a little amount of time. It uses high pressure to do so.  

It uses steam pressure in a pot that is tightly sealed. When you turn on the pressure cooker, it forms an airtight seal. So, pressure builds up when the liquid in the pot comes to a boil.

Furthermore, the steam gets trapped in the pot and causes the temperature to increase. Generally, the temperature to boil water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and it stays at the same temperature even if you keep cooking for longer. This temperature reaches 250 degrees Fahrenheit in a pressure cooker.

Steam works as an extra force that pushes the high and quick heat into the food in the pressure cooker. This makes cooking much faster.

Concerning your own needs

Before you purchase a pressure cooker, knowing which one to buy is necessary. You will find two types of pressure cooker available.

The first type is of a traditional style. It comes with a weighted pressure regulator on the top of its lid.

The second type has a modern approach in the design. This type also includes spring valves with a closed, sealed system.

These are some common parts that all pressure cookers come with.

Pressure cooker regulator: This part is also called a weight valve or a safety valve. It is made to prevent the pressure reaches a dangerous level. It also maintains the cooking pressure and releases a sound after a specific steam pressure is gained.

The vent pipe: The pressure cooker regulator is attached to it. Its job is to let the extra steam escape.

The air vent: Sometimes called a cover lock, this part is on the lid of the pressure cooker. It releases steam on its own after the pressure cooker gets heated up. The air vent also works as a visual indicator for the appliance cause it slides up while steam creates pressure in the pot.

The sealing ring/the rubber ring: This ring works as a seal between the lid and the pot of the pressure cooker.

The overpressure plug: It helps the extra pressure to get out.

The cooking rack/steamer basket: This helps to cook different dishes separately. You can also steam your food with this basket.

The cover handle: This helps you to take the lid off.

When in doubt, check it out

The pressure cookers available at present are perfectly safe to use, even though there are stories in the past that can create horror into one’s mind. Faulty manufacturing caused some exploding incidents in history. However, safety does require some awareness.

Before you begin to use your pressure cooker, check if there is any cracks or dents. They can occur during the packing and shipping. That’s why you must always check for damages even if you are buying a new one.

Get into the routine of checking your pressure cooker before every single use. Inspect every day if you want to use it regularly. Any crack can release the hot steam and cause you to burn. So, better safe than sorry.

Don’t forget to check the insides of your pressure cooker. Make sure there are no leftovers in the pot. You don’t want your appliance for fast cooking to turn into a health hazard.

Make sure the lid is correctly locked after you throw your food in the pot. Also, inspect the rubber ring that is positioned inside the cover. It has to stay in good condition for the cooker to work correctly. Replace it if there are tears, cracks or signs of deteriorating.

Read the pressure cookers instructions. Different models contain different instruction manuals, and you need to get familiar with it.

Keep an eye on the pressure valve. It can get gunked up over time. Check out the instruction manual of your pressure cookers to remove, clean and refit it.


Let’s start cooking

Using a pressure cooker isn’t a complicated task. Your instruction manual will have some pressure cooking instructions. Don’t forget to read them. However, we are here to provide you a detailed understanding.

A pressure cooker uses hot steam to cook your food quickly. So liquid is an essential ingredient for pressure cooking. Water is the best liquid for pressure cooking. However, the amount of it has to be specific.

Fill your pot with water up to ⅔ cause your pressure cooker needs space for steam.

If you have a traditional pressure cooker, one cup of water/liquid will go for 20 minutes of cooking time.

Add a minimum half a cup of water/liquid if you are using a spring valve pressure cooker.


Most of the pressure cookers come with a steamer basket and trivet. These are to cook vegetables and fruits. The trivet has to be kept at the bottom of the pressure cooker. Then, put the basket on the top of that trivet(it works as the stand for the basket).

Concerning foods

Knowing how to cook different type of foods is extremely important. You don’t wanna dwell in confusion and then end up wasting your food that was supposed to cook perfectly in the pressure cooker. Different kind of foods needs different types of preparations. So, here is an easy guide for you to avoid any complications.

To please your-carnivore-self, prepare the meat beforehand by seasoning it. Moreover, You can brown the meat with a small amount of oil in the pressure cooker before pouring in the water or liquid such as beef or vegetable stock. Just keep the pressure cooker on medium-high temperature and without putting the lid on. In case you don’t wanna use the pressure cooker for browning the meat, just use a pan before transferring it in the pot.

To fulfill your seafood cravings, use the steamer basket (put some vegetable oil on the basket, so the seafood doesn’t get stuck). Add minimum 3/5 cup of water or liquid of your preference. Nevertheless, clean the seafood first cause you need to work with clean and properly washed food.

In case you love to eat beans(dry) and chickpeas, try to soak them in water for 4-6 hours before pressure cooking. Avoid adding salt to this water. Drain them before throwing them in the pressure cooker, combine your preferred amount of water with 1-2 tablespoons of cooking oil.

For rice and grains, know the amount of water you have to add. Otherwise, rice would be overcooked and mushy. Soak wheat grain berries in some warm water for around 4 hours to yield best results.

In case you are dealing with frozen veggies, defrost them. Fresh veggies need to be washed properly before pressure cooking. Place the vegetables in the steamer basket and add water in pressure cooker pot(the basket would be above the water). Add half a cup of water if the cooking time is 5 minutes. For 10 minutes of cooking duration, add 1 cup of water. Different veggies require different cooking time. For instance, root veggies need more time than summer veggies. So, modify the amount of water according to your cooking duration.

If you are working with fruits, wash them thoroughly and put them in the steamer basket. Add a half cup of water for fresh fruits, 1 cup of water for dry fruits.

All the recipes don't require the same amount of water. In case you are following a specific recipe, then adjust the water with the amount of the meal.

Remember to check the instruction manual that came with your pressure cooker. Some models include the ‘how to cook with a pressure cooker instructions,’ and they are beneficial for you.


How to use Instant Pots (Aka Pressure Cookers)

Using a pressure cooker might seem like a daunting task, but you will find it very easy as soon as you get a hold of the process. Now that you are all set with your food prep, liquid and safety guidance, it's time to turn on your pressure cooker.

Place your ingredients inside the pressure cooker pot and add the proper amount of water or liquid in it.

Take off the safety valve/ weighted pressure regulator. Then, close the lid by sealing it correctly. Also, make sure that you have locked the cover.

After that, place your pressure cooker on stove-top. The heat should be set to high so the water can convert into steam. It will be the beginning of the pressure cooking process.

The instant pot will start to obtain pressure, it would also rise gradually. As soon as the steam pressure reaches its pressure limit, your food will begin to simmer.

In case you are dealing with an old jiggle valve, notice the vent. Steam will start to pour out of it, and the little top regulator will begin to jiggle. When the steam comes out of the nozzle, just put the safety valve on it.

If your instant pot is new and without a jiggle regulator, notice the valve. It will have marks on it, and it will indicate the pressure that is inside the pressure cooker pot. The marks usually appear after the pressure increases.

The next step is to reduce the cooker’s heat to the lowest point if possible. Lowering the temperature will make the cooker simmer and stop the valve’s whistling. After this, you can start timing your pressure cooker according to your recipe.

To cook your meal, you have to maintain the pressure during the entire cooking time.

Try not to keep your food longer in the pot. It will continue to cook the meal inside, and you will find your meal with the texture of “baby food.” Turn off the heat as soon as your cooking time is done.


To take off the lid

Do not take off the cover after turning off the heat. The pressure inside the cooker has to be decreased before you do so. There are three ways to lower the steam pressure.

The first method is known as the natural release method. It takes around 15-20 minutes and suitable to use for foods with long cooking time. This method is a natural way to release the steam, and you are required very little to do for it. Only let the cooker sit, and it will release the steam.

The second one is known as the quick release method. This method will be possible for you if you have a new pressure cooker as the new ones come with this feature on its lid. You just have to release the button, and the pressure gets out slowly and steadily from the pot.

The last process is called the cold water release method. It is the fastest way to let go of the pressure. However, this method doesn’t work on an electric pressure cooker. You have to place your appliance in the sink and run the cold water on its lid. This process will make the pressure level go down quickly. Make sure that the water doesn’t come into direct contact with the regulator.

Finally, check if there is any pressure left inside the pressure cooker pot. Move around the jiggle valve (if your pressure pot has it) and check for any sound or steam coming out. No noise or steam means no pressure left.

Take off the lid cautiously and get your food out. Serve the food and enjoy it.

Additional tip:

What will happen if you forget to lower the heat? The pressure in your cooker will keep rising and to prevent the steam pressure to reach a dangerous level, the safety valve will be triggered by the steam. The safety valve will open and release all the steam for your protection. 

A pressure cooker can make a massive difference to your time in the kitchen. With practice, it will be effortless to learn how to use a pressure cooker. Appropriately maintained and handled with mindfulness, it will become your valuable companion in no time.