How Much Liquid To Add To Your Instant Pot + How To Remove Excess!


There’s certainly a learning process that goes into using an Instant Pot. An while I’d agree that the process is well worth it, it can at times be frustrating. In fact, one of the biggest issues I had when we first bought an Instant Pot was the amount of excess liquid after cooking.

I found the best way to reduce excess water in an Instant Pot is by cooking the food on saute mode either prior to or post-cooking. Be sure to monitor and stir the ingredients inside the pot throughout. If this doesn’t sound like it will work for you, there are a few other suggestions below.

In this article, we’ll be looking at why you still need to add a certain amount of liquid to your Instant Pot and how to determine the right amount for each recipe.

We’ll also look at everything I’ve ever done to remove excess water from the meals I’ve cooked.

Do You Have To Put Liquid In An Instant Pot?

Instant Pots work by converting the water into steam to generate pressure. As a result, some liquid is always required when cooking any meal in an Instant Pot.

However, the exact amount required is likely to depend on the food you’re cooking and the recipe you’re following.

For example, if you’re cooking a stew in the Instant Pot it’s going to require some additional liquid.

However, if you’re cooking mushrooms and chicken then these ingredients already have high water content and therefore will require little to no additional liquid in order to be effectively cooked inside the Instant Pot.

The same goes for sauces. As these are already a form of liquid you’ll need to add little to no additional water to the pot in order for it to cook the food effectively.

If you’re in doubt refer back to the manual which came with your Instant Pot, check the Instant Pot website or query the amount of liquid with the person who created the recipe you’re following.

If you’re converting a traditional recipe into an Instant Pot recipe then you’ll simply need to reduce any additional water content as there’s little to no liquid lost during the cooking process because of the way the Instant Pot is sealed.

What Happens If You Put Too Much Liquid In An Instant Pot

It’s very important that you do not put too much food or liquid inside your Instant Pot.

This could potentially lead to dangerous pressure levels or cause your venting knob to clog. Both of which are likely to cause significant damage to your machine.

All Instant Pots have a fill line on the metal insert bowl which provides you with guidance to ensure that this doesn’t happen.

If you add slightly more liquid than required but still fill the Instant Pot to below the MAX line then you’ll likely find that your food takes longer to cook.

This is due to the amount of time it takes for the high power to push the large volume of liquid to a temperature which is suitable for pressure cooking.

What Happens If You Put Too Little Liquid In An Instant Pot

An Instant Pot works with liquid, and while this can often be found naturally in some foods (such as sauces or meats).

It’s still advisable to add additional amounts to ensure that the pressure can build effectively inside the pot, this is required to complete the pressure cooking process which will be used to cook the ingredients inside your Instant Pot.

If you don’t put enough liquid inside your Instant Pot then you may find that your Instant Pot is unable to reach the target pressure point and never begins the cooking process.

You’ll know this as the timer on the Instant Pot only begins once the pressure has been reached and the cooking process begins.

Not enough liquid in the Instant Pot could also lead to the food burning and sticking to the inside of the Instant Pot rather than cooking. In this case, you may also experience the ‘BURN’ error on your Instant Pot.

How To Reduce Excess Liquid In An Instant Pot

The methods you can use to remove excess liquid inside your Instant Pot are likely to depend on the volume of liquid and the food you’re cooking. Below are a number of different techniques I’ve found work well.

In most cases, using your Instant Pot is trial and error and eventually, you’ll learn exactly how much liquid to add to an ingredient to minimize excess liquid while cooking your food without complications.

Saute On Low – Depending on the dish you can use the saute setting on your Instant Pot to bring the liquid up to a boil prior to beginning the pressure cooking process or after the cooking process to cook down the amount of excess liquid.

If you follow this process then be sure to monitor your Instant Pot at all times.

Use Cornstarch – Cornstarch or plain flour can be a great ingredient used to thicken liquids into more of a sauce which can be delicious in some recipes.

I’ve also found xanthan gum works really well too. The right ingredient is likely to depend on the dish you’re cooking.

Instant Pot Recipes – The amount of water used in a standard recipe when compared to the amount of water (or other liquid) used in an Instant Pot recipe should be significantly different due to the way an Instant Pot cooks foods.

Be sure to follow a dedicated Instant Pot recipe to ensure you’re adding the right amount of liquid, to begin with.

Consider The Ingredients – Frozen chicken often has water injected in it to help it freeze better, meanwhile, mushrooms are actually 92% water. You should consider the foods you’re putting into your Instant Pot and use that as a guide when adding liquid.

If the ingredients are likely to have a high water content then you need less additional liquid. Meanwhile, if the ingredients are dry you may need more.

Drain Excess – Again, depending on what you’re cooking in your Instant Pot you may be able to drain the excess water either into a pan to thicken into a sauce or gravy or simply into the bin / down the sink.

Be sure to take note of how much liquid you used in the dish so you can reduce in stages each time you cook to find the right amount of liquid.

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