How to Get the Most Out of Your Instant Pot

How to Get the Most Out of Your Instant Pot

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik. Video: Serious Eats Video]

First one person was talking about it, then several, then everybody was, and now, all of a sudden, you own an Instant Pot. Welcome to the club! But…what does it do?

Easy! It’s a pot that’s instant. What more could you want?

Oh. You want Instant Pot recipes? Okay, sure, we can do recipes. We’re recipe professionals, especially when it comes to this totally unique, there’s-literally-no-other-product-like-it-in-the-world Instant Pot. In fact, we’re such Instant Pot insiders, we’ll do you even better: Today, we’re going to reveal the secret Instant Pot settings that will unlock its full potential—settings so secret the creators of Instant Pot hoped you’d never find them out. Seriously, your mind is going to be blown. You will cry Instant Pot–powered tears of joy, so grab your Kleenex and make sure you have a Xerox machine powered up and ready to copy down all these life-changing tips. This isn’t information you can just Google, you know?

Secret Setting Numero Uno: Italian Combo

Top-down view of an Italian combo sandwich sitting in an Instant Pot, with a selection of Instant Pot buttons superimposed

With a few quick button punches, you’ll unlock the first level of your Instant Pot’s true powers: the Italian Combo sandwich setting! Rounds of salami, layered atop rings of ham, layered atop slices of bona fide gabagool, all encrusted in crystallized sodium nitrite and compressed by a solid two-inch-thick plank of provolone that’s been precisely laser-etched to appear as if it’s made up of slices. But that’s not all! This bad boy materializes in your Instant Pot already “backpack-aged,” with the unmistakable soggy loaf, wilted iceberg lettuce, and sweaty cheese of a sandwich that’s been wrapped in paper and shoved in your bag for more than half a day. Possibly a week.

Secret Setting Deux: Birthday Cake

Top-down shot of a small birthday cake with lit candles inside an Instant Pot, with a selection of Instant Pot buttons superimposed

Oh shit, it’s your wife’s birthday, and you forgot. Again.

No worries, your Instant Pot can save you! Just enter the super-top-secret code, and voilà, a cake emerges, complete with flaming candles. She’ll think you had this planned months in advance. But let’s be real: You don’t need to plan anything when you own an Instant Pot. Warning: Instant Pot Birthday Cake Secret Setting is safe only up to the recipient’s 21st birthday. After that, the additional candles required will likely burn your house down. Also, make sure your wife sees the cake but doesn’t eat it. It’s filled with rat poison.

Secret Setting Drei: Sushi

Top-down shot of various colorful sushi pieces inside an Instant Pot, with a selection of Instant Pot buttons superimposed

Let me tell you, Jiro didn’t dream of sushi—he dreamed of an Instant Pot. Sadly, the Instant Pot has been forbidden in Japan since the Meiji era, which means good old Jiro is stuck slicing fish in a subway basement until the day he dies. Not you, though. With this amazing Instant Pot setting, fish that reside within the walls of the Instant Pot are instantly transformed into silky slices of raw sashimi. This setting works only once in the lifetime of an Instant Pot, though, as the cooker’s inner-wall aquarium cannot be repopulated. So use it wisely.

Secret Setting 2 + 2: Glitter Chicken

Top-down image of a glitter-encrusted chicken inside an Instant Pot, with a selection of Instant Pot buttons superimposed

An Instant Pot is more than just an Instant Pot; it’s also a tool for social change. And it’s been working tirelessly to free salmonella of the horribly unfair stigma under which the bacterium has suffered for far too long. The results of that effort are now ready for your eyes, in the re-branding to beat all re-brandings: Say bye-bye to salmonella and hello to fun and festive glitter! That’s right, you understood correctly—salmonella is now glitter. From this day forward, contaminated chicken will be nothing short of a party for your eyes, mouth, and toilet.

Secret Setting Cinque: Dog

Surprised woman holding a dog emerging from an Instant Pot, with a selection of Instant Pot buttons superimposed

No, you sicko, this isn’t a setting for roasted dog meat. It’s a setting that unleashes (get it?) your own personal Fido, alive and barking! Rumor has it that this setting began the same way as many of Instant Pot’s other secret settings, with the need to right an awful, awful wrong. It’s unknown what that wrong was in this case—but hey, if the result is a brand-new puppy, we’re pretty sure that means balance has been restored to the universe. Never forget that for every Instant Pot yin, there exists an Instant Pot yang.

Secret Setting Bonus: Teleportation

A lone potato sitting on a beach with ocean and boats in the background, with a selection of Instant Pot buttons superimposed

It helps to think of an Instant Pot not as a cooking tool, but as a black box. Close the lid, and your uncertainty will multiply to infinity squared. In case you’ve gotten a little rusty on your black-box physics, allow us to jog your memory: Within a black box, there can exist a living cat, or a dead cat—you can’t know unless you look. And if you look, the cat won’t be there anyway, most likely because the black box teleported it to another location, which is probably for the best because it’s really cruel to leave a cat in a black box in the first place. Next time, try a potato.

Secret Secret Setting: Pressure-Cooked Stew

Top-down view of a stew inside an Instant Pot, with a selection of many Instant Pot buttons superimposed

This is by far the hardest of all the Instant Pot Secret Settings, requiring a combination and sequence of button pushes that not even the tidiest memory palace could keep track of. But if you somehow did, if you could manage to enter the sequence correctly—all 5,984 coded inputs, all in under 2.4 seconds—then and only then would you be able to eat this tasty pressure-cooked stew, complete with beans and meat.

So…sorry. While this setting technically exists, it appears that practically no one in the universe is capable of unlocking it. Guess most of us are gonna have to cook our stews the old-fashioned way.

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