Can You Use Instant Pot Without Lid?

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Instant pots have taken over the cooking world; they can do anything from boiling grains to making perfect rice and even baking a cake. However, their biggest selling point is the ability to cook 70% faster than regular pots, thanks to the locking lid and seal. But can you use an instant pot without the lid? 

You can use an instant pot without the lid. This is called the saute mode. While you can’t place an instant pot on the stove, you can still use it as a regular cooking pot to make anything you want without the pressure cooking function. Simply switch to saute mode and leave the lid off.

This cooking mode heats the insert pot and allows you to cook with the lid off, which means the pressure won’t build within. If you haven’t tried this before, let’s look at a few instances where it’s recommended to use an instant pot without the lid.

When To Use the Instant Pot With the Lid Off

With regular pressure cookers, leaving the lid off is all you have to do to make it a regular pot. This won’t work with an instant pot, so you have to press the saute button to activate this cooking mode. With that in mind, you can go ahead and use the instant pot without the lid.

You can use this handy feature for a variety of cooking tasks:

  • Brown or saute ingredients
  • Thicken sauces
  • Cook regular food
  • Reheat food
  • Finish cooking food

Below I will discuss each of these functionalities of using your instant pot without the lid.

Brown or Saute Ingredients

Many recipes call for browning or searing meat or sautéing vegetables before cooking the rest of the meal. This brings out the flavor and prepares the main ingredients before adding all the other components. 

Instead of dirtying a different pan, you can do this in your instant pot. It is super convenient—we are all about dirtying as few dishes as possible around here.

Thicken Sauces

Cooking most dishes in the instant pot calls for quite a bit of water. But since the water doesn’t evaporate, your sauces can come out runny even after the meal is well cooked. 

The solution? Add a thickening agent.

This is not something you can do during pressure cooking because it’s dangerous and can cause scorching. 

Here is how you can thicken a sauce using the instant pot saute mode:

  1. Let the pressure release completely.
  2. Open the lid and press the saute button.
  3. Add the thickener of your choice. 
  4. Allow your food to simmer for a few minutes or until it thickens to your satisfaction.

This is a quick and easy way to thicken up a loose sauce.

Cook Regular Food

There are two reasons you might choose to use an instant pot in place of a regular pot: it is the biggest pot you have around, or you have no stovetop. For example, people in RVs can use the instant pot for cooking any meal if they don’t have other pots or a stove.

If you have guests and the biggest pot around is the instant pot, feel free to cook any meal with it. You can cook any type of eggs, prepare bacon or hot dogs, make a stir fry, or even surprise yourself with a delicious skillet meal. You can even heat water using the instant pot.

Reheat Food

When you have leftover food from the night before, especially stews or soup, you can use the instant pot to reheat them. In this case, you will be using the pot without putting the lid on. Your food will heat up fast without getting overcooked, and you don’t have to use an extra pot. 

To Finish Cooking Food

Sometimes, you open your instant pot after releasing the pressure and realize the food is not completely done. What do you do then? Instead of putting the lid on and risking overcooking the meal, simply set the pot to saute mode and let it cook a while longer without the lid.

Using a Different Lid on an Instant Pot

When they hear an instant pot can work as a regular pot, many people wonder whether they can use the lid to a regular pot on their instant pot.

The answer is yes. When making your regular meals in the instant pot, you may want to cover the food to ensure it cooks properly. If you are slow-cooking a meal for many hours, use the regular instant pot lid and set the value to venting, so the pot doesn’t build up pressure. Your food will cook slowly and stay warm because of the original lid.

However, if you are using the saute mode to make a quick meal that needs a lid, instant pots have a glass lid accessory – the tempered glass lid with stainless steel rim that you can buy separately. 

Go for the Instant Pot Tempered Glass Lid on Amazon, as it’s specifically made to fit instant pots. This lid is also colorless, so you can see your food inside while it cooks. 

With the glass lid, you can take it off and stir your food as you like. The lid will trap some steam and moisture inside the pot, ensuring your food cooks fast but not pressure-cooker fast. The trick here is to buy the correct size to fit perfectly on your pot.