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Getting the most out of your Instant Pot Smart Programs

Are you using all the Smart Programs of your Instant Pot?

Whether you’re already an Instant Pot owner or you are still undecided whether to buy, the wording 7-in-1, 9-in-1 or even 10-in-1 is popular amongst Instant Pot descriptions. You are probably aware that this terminology means that the cooker has that many Smart Programs in the one single appliance, but did you know that many Instant Pot users only use the ‘Pressure Cook’ Smart Program and generally ignore all the rest?

The Instant Pot is a clever piece of kit, and conveniently stores cook times and pressure levels for the programs you use most often, or if you haven’t used that program before, it is pre-set with the optimum time and pressure levels for that food category anyway! (so, even more reason to not use Pressure Cook every time!)

In this latest blog post, you can find out exactly what each Smart Program* is for, and how we recommend you use each of them.

(*note that not all Instant Pot model has every Smart Program)

Pressure Cook

As mentioned previously, the most widely used Smart Program! Simply choose between high or low pressure and set the time as stated in the recipe you are following.

Choose high pressure for most meats, stews and grains, and low pressure for delicate foods such as vegetables and fish…. Even though this Program can be used on pretty much everything, don’t let that stop you from using the other Smart Programs too!


The Steam Smart Program is perfect for vegetables, as it retains more of those important nutrients and the food colour! We suggest low pressure for this, and the use of a trivet or steam rack is recommended to prevent soggy veg.  You can also use (QPR) Quick Pressure Release after steaming to avoid overcooking.


This Smart Program allows you to brown meats and vegetables to lock in moisture prior to pressure cooking. It is also great for simmering soups or reducing liquids. You can use Sauté exactly as you would with a pot on the hob. Sauté then Pressure cook all in the same pot = less washing up!

We recommend using the Medium setting for browning meat and vegetables, the High setting for boiling down a sauce, and Low setting for foods that can burn easily.

Slow Cook

Did you know you can use your Instant Pot as a slow cooker? Select Less/Low to correspond to a low and slow cooker setting (8+ hours); use Medium for an average slow cooker setting (6 hour); and use High for a high slow cooker setting (4 hours).

A top tip for when using the Slow Cook Smart Program is to use a different lid – whether that is the lid of another pot or saucepan you already have that fits on top of the Instant Pot, or you can purchase glass lids on our online store. If you don’t have a different lid you can use, then another option is to open the pressure valve all the way (so it is venting, not sealing) whilst Slow Cooking. This allows some moisture and steam to release and keeps the Instant Pot from overcooking slow cooker recipes.


This Smart Program brings soups to a slow simmer as the pressure suppresses any boiling motion. It is particularly useful when making soup with poultry because the soup becomes clearer. We recommend high mode for meat soups, but low for vegetarian/vegan soups.


This is perfect for non-poultry meats and stews, and even great for curries. It is recommended to use high pressure on this setting (unless your recipe says otherwise)

Bean/Chilli or Bean/Grain

This Smart Program makes cooking dried beans or grains quicker and easier. High pressure for beans or chilli, and Low pressure for quicker cooking grains such as quinoa.

Rice or Rice/Grain

This Smart Program is best for white rice, rather than brown rice, as cooks with lower pressure. If you prefer a firmer texture of rice, use the low mode, and for rice that is softer, use the high mode.


When making homemade yoghurt, this Smart Program has two modes for you to use. High mode for pasteurising milk, and the medium mode for fermenting milk.  The default fermentation time is set to 8 hours, but you can adjust the time if desired.


This Smart Program replaces an oven completely! You can use the high mode to create a very moist, dense cake, while the low mode for a lighter, moister cake.

Sous Vide

Feeling fancy? This Smart Program allows you to recreate restaurant quality meals at home! It ensures perfect cooking results every time with accurate temperature controls within +/- 1°C and keeps the vitamins and minerals within the food. Follow a recipe for suitable cooking times, as this depends on the thickness of the food inside the vacuum sealed bag.


This Smart Program pre-sets to high pressure for different lengths of time depending on the desired texture of the chicken. Normal setting for a very soft texture, More setting for fall-off-the-bone chicken, and Less setting for soft texture.


Say goodbye to electric sterilisers or boiling water in a pan! This Smart Program provides a pressurised water bath so you can sterilise baby bottles, utensils and dummies right inside the Instant Pot. This Smart Program is set to a temperature high enough to destroy harmful bacteria, or to rid food of potential microbial hazards during cooking – it couldn’t be easier.


This one is self-explanatory… but the ideal settings for cooking eggs within shells.


Again, self-explanatory… use this Smart Program for porridge. High pressure is recommended, followed by (NPR) Natural Pressure Release.

Keep Warm

The Smart Program automatically turns on after pressure cooking programs have finished (not sauté or slow cook, yoghurt or sterilise) to keep your food inside warm. The display timer begins counting so you can easily see how long the ‘keep warm’ program has been on. You can easily adjust the temperature as required for serving different foods.

And not forgetting Air Fryers…

The Instant Pot Duo Crisp has 5 Air Fry Smart Programs, which are compatible with the Air Fryer lid. This Instant Pot model also includes a multi-level fryer basket, which gives you even more space for food.

Air Fry

This Smart Program allows you to fry your favourite foods with 95% less oil than traditional frying methods. Whether fresh or frozen, it ensures food has a great crunch on the outside whilst remaining juicy and tender on the inside.  The default cooking time for Air Frying is 18 minutes at a temperature of 204°C, however this is easily changeable on the control panel.


The Roast Smart Program is like Air Fry, however more suitable for joints of meat allowing you to cook quicker than a traditional oven. The default settings for Roasting is 40 minutes at 193°C, but again this can be adjusted.


Transform your Instant Pot into tiny oven with the Bake Smart Program, where you can create decadent brownies, puffy cakes, flaky pastries and more. You can bake with the multi-level air fryer basket or any oven-safe baking dish, such as a springform pan that fits inside the Instant Pot.


Broiling involves direct top-down heating, which makes the Duo Crisp the perfect environment for this method of cooking, as broiled foods benefit from being placed close to the element… Hello Air Fryer lid! For best results, use the broil tray in the multi-level air fryer basket to get close to, but not touching the lid.


The Dehydrate Smart Programs applies a low heat over a long period of time to safely dry out food items.  The default cooking time for Dehydrating is 7 hours at a temperature of 52°C, however this can be adjusted if the recipe requires. You should always follow a trusted recipe when dehydrating meat.

We have plenty of Instant Pot Recipes that you can follow, which we hope will get you starting to use the various different Smart Programs your Instant Pot has to offer!

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