Got a new Instant Pot? You are done with the setup and water test. But are still confused about how to get started…which functions to use to cook? Don’t worry! We have got you covered. We will go through each button you will find on your instant pot, along with when and how to use it.

Instant Pot- Which Button to Use?

If you have not opened your Instant Pot yet or have not done the water test, check out the Instant Pot Beginner Starter Guide.

What are the various Instant Pot Buttons?

We will go through the following:

  • Main Buttons
  • Pre-programmed buttons

Main Instant Pot Buttons

Intant Pot Duo Buttons

1. Manual or Pressure Cook Button

This is the mode you will use most frequently on your Instant Pot (bottom right corner). This is the main button to pressure cook any dish. Most recipes you will find online use the Pressure Cook button.

Press “Pressure Cook” button, then “+” or “-” to set the time to pressure cook. The maximum time you can pressure cook is 240 minutes.

Note: In old versions and models, the button was called Manual and in newer models it is rightly called “Pressure Cook”.

2. Pressure Level Button

This button is to switch between high and low pressure cooking. Press “Pressure Cook” button, then “Pressure Level” to switch.

3. “+” and “-” Buttons

These buttons are used to increase or decrease the cooking time.

4. Sauté Button

This is the mode to Sauté or brown food in the Instant Pot (bottom left corner). Sauté with the lid open or with a glass lid. This is one of the main advantages of the instant pot, that you can sauté and cook directly in the same pot. This is the second most frequently used mode.

Sauté mode defaults to 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, the mode is canceled.

I use this mode in my Carrot Pudding recipe, and it makes cooking the pudding so much easier without much monitoring.

5 Adjust Button

This button helps to adjust between the “Normal” (Default), “More” or “Less” setting for Sauté mode depending on how high you want the temperature. Press “Saute”, then “Adjust” to change between them. For newer Instant Pot models with no “Adjust” button, press “Saute” multiple times to change between Less, Normal and More setting.

6. Keep Warm/Cancel Button

Press this button to cancel the operation and switch off the Instant Pot.

When the instant pot goes in “Keep Warm” mode, the display shows L0:00 and starts counting up.

Did you know? If you want the instant pot to not go in “Keep Warm” mode after the cooking cycle is complete, press the mode you used for cooking twice. eg. When you want to pressure cook and you press the “Pressure Cook” button, you will see the light on for “Pressure Cook” and “Keep Warm” buttons. Press “Pressure Cook” once again (without any time lapse), then “Keep Warm” will turn off.

7. Timer Button

Use this button to set a delay timer for cooking. You can set the delay timer up to 24 hours.

8. Steam Button

Use the Steam function to steam vegetables. Instant Pot increases the temperature quickly on steam mode, hence it is recommended to use a steamer basket or rack to steam and keep it away from the bottom, so it does not burn. With steaming, you also want to release the pressure manually as natural release will most likely overcook the vegetables.

For Steam mode, you can adjust the cooking time by pressing “Adjust” (“Steam” for newer models) to change between below settings:

  • Normal (10 minutes at high pressure)
  • Less (3 minutes at high pressure)
  • More (15 minutes at high pressure).

9. Rice Button

This is the default mode to cook white rice. It is set to low pressure cooking for rice. The pressure cooking time is automatically adjust according to the amount of rice and water in the pot. You cannot use the “Adjust”, “+” or “-” Buttons with this program.

To have better control, we prefer the manual/pressure cook mode to cook rice. Here are common rice recipes –

10. Slow Cook Button

Use this program to Slow Cook in the instant pot. The preset slow cook program defaults to 4-hours.

Press “Slow Cook, then “+” or “-” to change the cooking time. You can change between 30 minutes to 20 hours.

To change slow cook temperature, press “Adjust” (“Slow Cook” for newer models) to change between below temperature settings:

  • Normal (194-205°F)
  • High (199-210°F)
  • Low (190-201°F).

Pre-programmed Instant Pot Buttons

There are a number of pre-programmed modes in the Instant Pot. These are suggested cooking times for common food items. You can do most of the same cook using the pressure cook button too, however these preset settings give a good starting point.

1. Bean/Chili Button

This mode is for cooking beans or chili, or chickpeas. Press “Bean/Chili”, then “Adjust” to change between below settings:

  • Default Normal Setting – 30 minutes at high pressure
  • More Setting – 40 minutes at high pressure
  • Less Setting – 25 minutes at high pressure

We use this mode to make Chana Masala, Cook Chickpeas, Red Kidney Beans and Madras lentils.

2. Meat/Stew Button

This setting is to cook meats that take longer to cook. Press “Meat/Stew”, then “Adjust” to change between below settings:

  • Default Normal Setting – 35 minutes at high pressure
  • More Setting – 45 minutes at high pressure
  • Less Setting – 20 minutes at high pressure

3. Poultry Button

This setting is to cook chicken. Press “Poultry”, then “Adjust” to change between below settings:

  • Default Normal Setting – 15 minutes at high pressure
  • More Setting – 30 minutes at high pressure
  • Less Setting – 5 minutes at high pressure

In our experience, 5 minutes works well for chicken cut into pieces.

4. Porridge Button

This setting is to cook porridge and pudding like foods that you want to be cooked at a maintained lower temperature. Press “Porridge”, then “Adjust” to change between below settings:

  • Default Normal Setting – 20 minutes at high pressure
  • More Setting – 30 minutes at high pressure
  • Less Setting – 15 minutes at high pressure

We use this mode to make Rice Pudding.

5. Soup Button

Make soups using this setting. Press “Soup”, then “Adjust” to change between below settings:

  • Default Normal Setting – 30 minutes at high pressure
  • More Setting – 40 minutes at high pressure
  • Less Setting – 20 minutes at high pressure

As is obvious, we use this mode to make Hearty Brown Lentil Soup and Minestrone Soup.

6. Yogurt Button

The Yogurt setting is used to make yogurt, pasteurize milk and make Jiu Niang. Press “Adjust” (“Yogurt” for newer models) to change between below settings:

  • Normal (Make yogurt)
  • More (Pasteurize milk)
  • Less (Make Jiu Niang aka fermented glutinous rice)

The yogurt setting maintains the temperature in this range 106°F – 113°F.

For recipe to make yogurt, see the traditional yogurt making process and no-boil/cold ingredients yogurt.

7. Multigrain Button

This setting is to cook mixed grains such as wild rice, beans, etc. Press “Multigrain”, then “Adjust” to change between below settings:

  • Default Normal Setting – 40 minutes at high pressure
  • Less Setting – 20 minutes at high pressure
  • More Setting – 45 minutes of warm water soaking, then 60 minutes of pressure cooking.

For newer models

8. Egg Button

This setting is to cook extra large eggs. For smaller eggs, adjust cooking time. Press “Adjust” to change between below settings:

  • Default Normal Setting – 4 minutes at high pressure
  • More Setting – 5 minutes at high pressure
  • Less Setting – 3 minutes at high pressure

9. Cake Button

This setting is to cook cakes and cheesecakes. Press “Adjust” to change between below settings:

  • Default Normal Setting – 40 minutes at high pressure (Denser moist cakes)
  • More Setting – 50 minutes at high pressure (Lighter moist cakes)
  • Less Setting – 25 minutes at high pressure (Cheesecakes)

10. Sterilize Button

Use this setting to sterilize bottles or their utensils. Not recommended for pressure canning.

Common Insant Pot Cooking Scenarios

Here are 2 common cooking scenarios which you will use most frequently.

Recipe says “Start instant pot and sauté for 3 minutes”. How do I do it?

  • Press “Sauté” Button.
  • Wait until the indicator says HOT, then add ingredients to can start sautéing.

Recipe says “Cook at high pressure for 5 minutes”. How do I do it?

  • Press “Manual/Pressure Cook” button.
  • Press “+” or “-” button to change the cooking time.

Frequently Asked Questions about Instant Pot

My Instant Pot does not have a Manual Button. What do I do?

In older models and versions of Instant Pot, the “Manual” button is used to pressure cook. In newer models, “Manual” button is rightly renamed to “Pressure Cook”.

How do I set the timer of the Instant Pot?

Press the “Pressure Cook or another preset program, then press “Timer” and adjust the delay time by pressing “+” or “-” buttons. You can set the delay timer up to 24 hours.

Why does my Instant Pot not have a Yogurt button?

The LUX series of the Instant Pot do not have a yogurt mode. The DUO series has the “Yogurt” mode.

Why does my Instant Pot not have a Poultry button?

The Instant Pot DUO Plus does not have a Poultry preset mode. However, don’t worry; you can still cook using the Manual/Pressure Cook mode.

Why did you not use the Poultry button to make Chicken? Why did you not use the Rice button to make Rice? Why do many people just use the Manual/Pressure Cook button for all recipes?

The Poultry, Rice, Bean/Chili, etc modes are mainly preset modes. What that means is that you can do the same cooking using the manual button, adjusting the pressure level and cooking time. You can still cook the same way even without using the preset buttons.

We do tend to lean towards using the Manual/Pressure Cook button more often, as that gives the best control to cook.

Now you have gone through and reviewed all the buttons on the Instant Pot. Pin this page for future reference.

Check out other Instant Pot Resources

If you have not already, start cooking and have fun with you new instant pot! Check out 10+ Easy Instant Pot Recipes for new owners.

I highly recommend initially following some recipes, rather than making adjustments. Find a trusted website for instant pot recipes, and then follow along. Feel free to ask questions, so you can be successful with your initial recipes.

I have 100+ tried and tested Instant Pot Recipes, do check them out. Leave a comment on the recipe or on any social media channel. I always respond to questions/comments.

About Meeta

I strongly believe that each one of us has a chef inside us, we just need to explore the ingredients and create great food. My passion is to share easy, healthy, and wholesome recipes made using Instant Pot & Air Fryer, that are well tested, so you can cook with confidence.

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10 Comments

  1. Hi Meeta. I thought that pressing the “Yogurt” button would shift between the options of High, Normal and Less – but my IP displays BOIL instead of Less and I have no idea how to get to that option. Do you have any ideas? Mine does not have an ADJUST feature.

  2. I am using PMC pressure cooker just wondering the safety valve does not come up as I pressure cook but cooks food well , is this a problem? Secondly I don’t seem to have saute function.Thanks

    1. Hi – I have not used PMC pressure cooker. It might have different functionality. But I guess as long as the food is cooking well, it must be functioning as expected.

  3. I think this is just a quirk that I just noticed, but when I press the pressure cook button the less-normal-more indicator changes with it. In high pressure, the low indicator is on.

  4. I have no adjust button as well so how do I change my slow cooking to low? If I use sauté button and goes to low my slow cooking button goes off. Am I only able to slow cook on high?

    1. Hi Louise – Can you try pressing the slow cook button multiple times. That might be the way to change between different settings of slow cook mode.

  5. I am new to cooking at all, and new to Instant Pot.

    Instant Pot controls are mysterious, and undocumented. And so, when I saw the CLEAR photo of my Instant Pot’s control panel in your

    https://pipingpotcurry.com/which-instant-pot-buttons-to-use/

    I fell upon it eagerly. But it appears that your prose is addressing an Instant Pot model different from the one in the photo. Mine (and the photo) has no “Adjust”, no “Timer”. The “Keep Warm” and “Cancel” are two separate buttons.

    A particular mystery for me is the “Less-Normal-More” bar just above the “+” and “-“. I cannot make out whether it’s an indicator or an active control (is it the “Adjust”). Is it for temperature, time, or pressure? Or something else? Or is it another “Everybody knows THAT”?

    1. You are right. There are now so many models of instant pot, and the functionality has evolved. If your instant pot has no “Adjust” button, then pressing the function such as “Saute” multiple times will switch between the “Less-Normal-More”. And that solves the 2nd question. The “Less-Normal-More” are sauté temperatures. Hope that helps. Let me know if this helps or if you have any other questions.