How To Prevent Food From Sticking To Instant Pot


It’s no secret that I love my Instant Pot. However, understanding how an Instant Pot works and getting it to work perfectly does require some practice.

One frustration for Instant Pot beginners (and something I experienced myself) is food sticking to the inside of the Instant Pot pan.

There are three main ways to prevent food from sticking to the inside of your Instant Pot; add the sauce to meals with sauce included first, coat the inside of your pot with oil, and add the oil at the right temperature.

In this post, we’ll discuss all three strategies to help you decide which one is right for your Instant Pot recipes.

How To Prevent Food From Sticking To Instant Pot

Here are the three techniques I’ve found work great in preventing the food from sticking to the inside of your Instant Pot.

The right technique is likely to depend on the meal you’re cooking so keep this in mind when deciding which method is right for you.

#1 Add Sauce First

First things first, adding your sauce or any cooking liquid into your instant pot should be done before you add any pasta, rice, or any other dry ingredients.

When you add in the tomato sauce, stock, or cooking wine, you’re introducing a liquid barrier to the bottom of the pot which will mean that your dry ingredients are less likely to get stuck.

This is one of the reasons why, when cooking in a traditional pan, you add the oil first: having the oil be a barrier will help make sure your ingredients don’t stick.

For example, say you’re planning to cook a dish that involves meat, sauce, and pasta. You can add the sauce to your pot first, followed by the meat, and then the pasta. The sauce will stop the meat from sticking, plus any juices that the meat releases will also help.

In this example, the pasta is the only thing that might stick to your pot. The starch in the pasta contains sugars, and these sugars will stick to your pot if they’re overheated. Therefore, if you put the uncooked pasta on top of your other ingredients, it is much less likely to stick.

#2 Add Oil To The Inside Of The Pot

Another way is to coat the inside of your instant pot with oil. Of course, do this when your instant pot is cold and then allow the oil to heat with your pot, as otherwise, you may burn yourself.

Since the vast majority of recipes have a water-based sauce (tomato juice, cooking wine), and because oil and water won’t mix, the sauce will not be able to touch the sides of the pot, meaning the ingredients that you’re cooking simply won’t stick.

When cooking in a more traditional pan, you always pre-heat the pan and then add your oil. This gives the oil that you’re cooking with time to heat, which means that when you add your ingredients, they won’t stick.

#3 Warm The Oil Before Adding Ingredients

A lot of people might make the mistake, when using an instant pot, of adding the oil when the pot’s cold, and then allowing the pot and the oil to heat together.

This, simply, won’t work. You need to add these important ingredients to your instant pot in sequence and allow them to heat up independently.

The reason for this is that when using an instant pot, you’ll often be agitating the ingredients in the pot a lot less than if you were using a more traditional pot.

Because of this, ingredients can sink to the bottom and stick, so you need to make sure that you can adequately coat ingredients with oil by adding them in the right order.

How To Remove Food Stuck To Inside Of Instant Pot

If you’ve already cooked with your instant pot and you’ve scorched food onto the bottom, there is a way to fix it.

Rather than taking some steel wool to your pot and scrubbing, as you might with a saucepan, you can instead use some of the inbuilt features of the pot to do the work for you.

The fix is this, pressure cook a mixture of vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio. After that, let the instant pot cool naturally, ideally overnight, and your problem should be solved.

The acidity of the solution that you made in your instant pot will mean that you can scrape most of the gunk right off the bottom.

The brilliant thing about this solution is that you’re using only food-safe products to clean your pot. This means that as soon as you’ve cleaned your instant pot, you can cook in it again after a quick rinse.

This is hugely preferable to using store-bought chemicals to clean your pot, as chemicals while being generally safe, may not be truly food safe. This means that even after the initial process of allowing your instant pot to clean, you may need to go through another cleaning cycle.

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