Mastering Potato Perfection: Unlocking the Art of Steaming Potatoes with an Instant Pot

How to use an Instant Pot to steam potatoes

The Instant Pot has become a revolutionary kitchen tool, bringing convenience and efficiency to cooking. Whether you are a seasoned chef or a novice in the kitchen, the Instant Pot can provide you with a variety of benefits. One of its most versatile uses is steaming potatoes, which can be done quickly and easily. In this article, we will explore how to use an Instant Pot to steam potatoes, understand the science behind how it works, and provide helpful tips for achieving perfectly cooked potatoes.

Understanding how Instant Pots work

Instant Pots are modern versions of traditional pressure cookers that use electronic controls instead of manual adjustments. These innovative kitchen appliances use an intricate system of electronics embedded in the pot to regulate time, temperature, and other settings during the cooking process. To understand how Instant Pots work, it is important to understand the principles of pressure cooking.
Invented in the mid-1600s, pressure cookers work on the concept that higher pressure requires more energy and heat to excite water molecules and produce steam. The boiling point of water varies with air pressure or altitude. For example, water boils at 212°F in Boston, but at an elevation such as Denver, Colorado, it boils at 203°F due to differences in air pressure. In pressure cookers, the airtight seal created by the lid allows the water inside to reach temperatures of 230-250°F, significantly reducing cooking time compared to non-pressure cookers.

Using an Instant Pot

Instant Pots work similarly to traditional pressure cookers, but offer distinct advantages, such as electric heat generation and precise control through sensors and internal electronics. These features make them easier to use and accessible to a wide range of people, from professionals to beginners. There are a few important steps to follow before using an Instant Pot:

1. Check the top seal and lid

The rubber gasket under the lid of the Instant Pot is critical to creating a proper seal and maintaining steam pressure. Make sure the gasket fits snugly against the base of the lid. If it is uneven or does not fit properly, it may prevent the lid from closing securely. To ensure a proper fit, wrap your fingers around the gasket while pressing down to ensure uniformity and to adjust any ejected areas.

2. Seal and Vent Valve

After adding water and food to the pot, seal the lid by placing it over the pot and turning it counterclockwise, or as instructed in the Instant Pot manual. Set the steam release valve to either seal or vent. For cooking purposes, it is best to leave the valve in the “seal” position to retain steam and create pressure. However, when the food is cooked, excess steam can be released by turning the valve to the “vent” position. It is important to note that the cooker will not open until all steam has been released and the internal pressure has normalized.

3. Timer and settings

Once everything is set up properly, just set the timer and let the Instant Pot work its magic. There are two ways to set the timer: manually or by selecting one of the available presets. Instant Pots often have presets for making rice, soups, and even yogurt (specific to Duo models). If you prefer not to adjust the settings, leave everything on high and adjust the timer as needed. The high setting is the standard operating pressure of most pressure cookers, while the low or medium settings generate less heat in the pot.

Steaming potatoes in an Instant Pot

Potatoes, while seemingly innocuous, can be a challenge to cook perfectly, especially for beginners. But with an Instant Pot, cooking potatoes is as easy as pressing a button and waiting. Cooking time for potatoes in an Instant Pot can range from 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. For best results, follow these guidelines:

1. Determine potato size

Potatoes come in a variety of sizes and each requires a different cooking time. To ensure even cooking, it is best to use potatoes of the same size in a single batch. Here is a simple chart to help you cook potatoes of different sizes:

  • Tiny baby potatoes: Steaming time – 5 to 10 minutes; Natural release – 10 minutes
  • Small Potatoes: Steam time – 13 to 15 minutes; Natural release – 10 minutes
  • Medium Potatoes: Steam time – 18 to 20 minutes; Natural release – 10 minutes
  • Large Potatoes: Steam time – 18 to 20 minutes; Natural release – 10 minutes

2. Prepare the potatoes

Before cooking, make sure the potatoes are clean and free of dirt or debris. Pour 2 cups of water into the Instant Pot and place the potatoes on the steam rack or directly in the water. It is important not to exceed the maximum fill line on the pot to avoid safety concerns.

3. Set the Instant Pot

Once the potatoes are in the pot, secure the lid and make sure the seal valve is in the “seal” position. Select the high pressure setting and set the timer according to the size of the potatoes. Refer to the cooking time chart provided earlier to determine the appropriate time.

4. Natural release

At the end of the cooking time, allow the Instant Pot to naturally deflate for 10 minutes. This means leaving the pot untouched and allowing the pressure to release on its own. After 10 minutes of natural release, you can perform a quick release by carefully turning the vent valve to the “vent” position. Be careful of the hot steam and follow all safety precautions.

5. Enjoy your steamed potatoes

When the pressure is released and the Instant Pot is safe to open, carefully remove the lid. Your perfectly steamed potatoes should be tender and ready to serve. You can season them with salt, pepper, herbs, or other toppings to enhance the flavor.


The Instant Pot has undoubtedly revolutionized the way we cook, and steaming potatoes is just one example of its versatility. By understanding the science behind pressure cooking and following a few simple steps, you can effortlessly achieve perfectly steamed potatoes with an Instant Pot. Remember to determine the size of your potatoes, prepare them accordingly, set your Instant Pot correctly, and allow for natural release for optimal results. With this knowledge and practice, you can enjoy delicious, tender, easy-to-cook potatoes in no time.


Can I steam potatoes without using an Instant Pot?

Yes, you can steam potatoes without using an Instant Pot. Traditional stovetop steaming methods, such as using a steamer basket or a covered pot with a small amount of water, can also produce well-cooked potatoes. But the Instant Pot offers the advantage of faster cooking times and precise temperature control.

Can I steam different types of potatoes in my Instant Pot?

Absolutely! The Instant Pot can steam a variety of potatoes, including russet, red, Yukon gold and sweet potatoes. Adjust the cooking time based on the size and density of the potatoes for optimal results.

Do I need to peel potatoes before I steam them in my Instant Pot?

The decision to peel potatoes before steaming is a matter of personal preference. Some recipes call for peeled potatoes, while others suggest leaving the skin on for added texture and flavour. Either peeled or unpeeled potatoes can be successfully steamed in an Instant Pot.

What other ingredients can I add to steam potatoes in an Instant Pot?

When steaming potatoes, you can add a variety of ingredients to enhance the flavour. Common additions include herbs such as rosemary or thyme, garlic, spices or even stock cubes to add extra flavour to the potatoes. Experiment with different combinations to create the flavour profile you want.

Can I use the steamed potatoes in other recipes?

Absolutely! Steamed potatoes are incredibly versatile and can be used in many different ways. You can use them as a side dish, mash them for creamy mashed potatoes or dice them for salads, soups or stews. The possibilities are endless!

Can I freeze steamed potatoes for later use?

Yes, you can freeze your steamed potatoes for later use. Allow the steamed potatoes to cool completely before transferring them to a freezer-safe container or bag. Label and date the container and store in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw frozen potatoes in the fridge before using them in a recipe.