Do you need to do the Instant Pot Water Test ?
Whether you’re new to Pressure cooking and/or cooking in an Instant Pot you’ll want to perform a “Water Test” before cooking your first meal.
The “Water Test” is essentially an initial test run that allows you the opportunity to get familiar with the Instant Pot (and the sounds you’ll hear while the Instant Pot is on) as well as to make sure everything is operating properly.
During this test you’ll be adding water to the pot and will have an opportunity to experience bringing the Instant Pot to pressure. This is something that will happen each time you cook in your Instant Pot using the Pressure Cooking features.
How to perform the Instant Pot Water Test (Initial Test Run)
- Plug in the Instant Pot – the power cord connects to the back of the Instant Pot (make sure it is securely and firmly pushed in) as well as to the electrical outlet. On some models you’ll hear one beep to let you know the power is on. Other models will display ‘OFF’ until you press any button.
- Place the stainless steel inner pot into the Instant Pot cooker base– The inner pot always needs to be in the unit before cooking. You’ll also want to make sure the bottom of the inner pot is clean before putting it into the Instant Pot (it rests on top of the heating element) .
- Add water– The Instant Pot owner’s manual suggests using the cup that came with the instant pot and adding 3 cups (750 ml) of water. It’s important to note that the provided “cup” is actually 160 ml which translates to just a touch over 2/3 cup so if you’re using the provided cup you’ll need to add a little over 4 ½ of the provided “cups”. Also keep that in mind if you’re using the provided “cup” to measure other ingredients to add to the instant pot. If you’re using a regular measuring cup use 3 full cups.
- Make sure the sealing ring is in place – the sealing ring is grooved to fit underneath the wire that holds it firmly in place. When the sealing ring is situated correctly it should feel firm (and not move freely) you should not be able to pop it out easily.
- Place the lid on the Instant Pot by lining up the two arrows (lid position markers) – one on the lid (in the center) and one on the instant pot rim ( slightly to the right of the display) and turn (clockwise) to seal. You’ll hear three beeps to let you know the lid is closed properly.
- Turn the steam release handle to SEALING – If you have the ULTRA model this automatically happens when you close the lid so you don’t need to set the sealing position
- Press the STEAM button and use the +/- to adjust time to 2 minutes – If you have the ULTRA model turn the middle dial until the STEAM setting is highlighted. Press the center button in to advance to the time selection. Dial to 2 minutes and press the center button in again . Then select START.
- Preheating Cycle– The Instant Pot will display ON and some steam will be released as the float valve pops up ( the little silver button near the steam release valve). After the cooker comes to pressure the Steam program will begin and you will see the time on the display count down from 2 minutes to 0 minutes.
What to expect: it will take approx. 5-10 minutes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure. During this time the cooker will release steam, make hissing noises and the float valve will jiggle around. As the steam builds up you will see the float valve will start to come up slowly. Don’t panic! (like I did) all of this is perfectly normal!
What to watch for: If you see a lot of steam coming from around the perimeter of the lid, you may need to stop the test ( by pressing the cancel button) and make sure the sealing ring is properly inserted.
- Listen for the beeps– this means the cooking cycle is complete. If the ’ Auto Keep Warm’ feature is on you’ll see the timer start to go up (letting you know how long the cycle has been complete for). You’ll know it’s in the keep warm mode because the display will say 00:00 ( the 00:00 is the time since the completion of the cooking cycle.
- Release the Pressure– now that the cooking cycle is complete you can release the pressure by one of two ways:
- Natural Pressure Release (NPR- you’ll see in may recipes the abbreviation “NPR”) This means you do nothing, the Instant Pot will automatically release the pressure on its own.
- Quick Release (QR- you’ll see this abbreviated as “QR” in many recipes) This means you’re going to manually release the pressure by turning the steam release handle to venting. Be mindful that the steam coming out will be hot so don’t have your hands or face over the vent. For the Ultra model push the quick release button down firmly to do a quick release.
For more a in-depth look at Natural Pressure Release vs. Quick Release check out this post.
I’d suggest trying the Quick Release method so you can get used to how that works. Many recipes call for a quick release or a combination (like allowing the Instant Pot to naturally release for a certain period of time and then to do a quick release). Having the ‘Keep Warm’ feature ‘on’ (it defaults to ‘on’) will allow you to know how long the Instant Pot has been naturally releasing (timer starts to count up as the cooking cycle is complete).
Now it’s time to start cooking in the Instant Pot! Here’s a few ideas to get you started:
- Instant Pot Spaghetti
- Quick + Easy Instant Pot Shrimp Scampi
- Broccoli + Cheese Frittata
- Country Style BBQ Ribs
- Instant Pot Beef Stew