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I bought an Instant Pot pressure cooker recently. One of the features is its "Smart Cooking Programs" that can program the settings with the touch of a button. I haven't seen any recipes the use of these buttons, and even the book that came with the Instant Pot uses "Manual" for everything. Should I use them?

  • Interesting, I didn't notice that about the Recipe Book. A "User Manual" also came with the pot. My manual has directions for the buttons (albeit, no recipes) starting on page 11. Of course, yours may differ. – Paulb Oct 11 '15 at 16:31
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For the most part, the buttons just have pre-set cooking times. For other times, then it's best to just use manual modes. A few of the programs are particular, like the bean, multi-grain and porridge programs have a long pre-soak before pressure cooking. And newer models (SMART, DUO-ENW) have the rice program pre-set to cook at "low" pressure.

Instant Pot made nice little charts of these programs and posted them online.

In my personal experience, the extra soaking time of these programs just takes longer - especially if you're already using pre-soaked beans.

That's why I always use manual mode - and the recipes I wrote for their recipe booklet always call for it as well.

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Since the buttons are unique to that model, you won't find common instructions that make use of them.

The booklet it came with was probably not customized for that model.

You'll use them (or not) with your own experience. If you know their meaning, you can try them and continue to use them, or not.

I have automatic stuff on my microwave oven, for example, and I tried using it to reheat a leftover Philadelphia sandwhich. I learned that the automatic cycle is 15 to 20 seconds too much, so I still use the button but stop it early.

And there's the problem: if the preset is not quite right, how do you adjust? With normal settings you can change the values slightly.

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