Instant Pot Terminology and Acronyms

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New to pressure cooking and want to understand all of the Instant Pot terminology and acronyms you see and hear? This guide will explain the terms you need to know to best use your new Instant Pot.

Close up of a 6-quart Instant Pot Duo Crisp on a dark wood table.

The Instant Pot has become a beloved kitchen appliance for many home cooks in recent years. With its multi-functional capabilities and ease of use, it has quickly become a go-to tool for busy families and individuals who want to make healthy, delicious meals in less time. However, for those who are new to using an Instant Pot, the various settings and functions can be intimidating and confusing.

In order to fully appreciate the Instant Pot, it’s important to understand the terminology commonly used with this appliance. From basic terms like “high pressure” and “natural release” to more advanced techniques like “deglaizing” and “pot-in-pot cooking,” there is a range of terminology that you’ll encounter when cooking with an Instant Pot.

Moreover, there are several acronyms that are commonly used when discussing Instant Pot recipes and instructions. These acronyms can help streamline the cooking process and make it easier to follow complex recipes. However, if you’re new to Instant Pot cooking, you may not be familiar with these acronyms or their meanings.

In this post, we’ll explore some of the common terms and acronyms associated with using an Instant Pot. By understanding this Instant Pot lingo, you’ll be able to navigate recipes with ease and make the most of this versatile appliance. Whether you’re a seasoned Instant Pot user or a newcomer, this guide will help you understand the terminology and acronyms that are essential to using an Instant Pot effectively.



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Instant Pot Terminology

In this section, we’ll explore some of the common terms that Instant Pot users need to know. Understanding these terms will help you make the most of your Instant Pot and create delicious, healthy meals with ease. Whether you’re pressure cooking, sautéing, or slow cooking, these terms will help you navigate the Instant Pot and create meals that your family and friends will love.

Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is a brand of electric pressure cooker that has multiple cooking functions, including pressure cooking, slow cooking, sautéing and more. It is a popular appliance that has gained a following due to its versatility and ease of use.

Inner Pot

The inner pot, also known as the cooking pot or insert, is a removable container inside the Instant Pot where the food is cooked. It is made of stainless steel or ceramic and is designed to withstand high pressure and high temperatures. The inner pot is available in different sizes and capacities depending on the model of the Instant Pot.

The inner pot is a crucial component of the Instant Pot as it’s where the food is cooked under pressure. The size and shape of the inner pot are designed to distribute heat evenly and ensure food is cooked thoroughly. The inner pot is also easy to clean and can be washed in the dishwasher or by hand.

Pressure Cooking

Pressure cooking is a cooking method that involves cooking food in a sealed pot with high-pressure steam. It cooks food faster than other methods and helps to retain the nutrients and flavors of the food.

Quick Release

Quick release, also referred to as quick pressure release, is a term used to describe the process of releasing the pressure from the Instant Pot after the cooking cycle is complete. This is done by turning the pressure release valve to release the steam quickly.

Natural Release

Natural release, or natural pressure release, is the process of allowing pressure to release on its own after the cooking cycle finishes. This can take up to 20 minutes and helps to ensure that the food is cooked thoroughly.

Sauté Function

Saute mode is a function of the Instant Pot that allows you to brown meat, sauté vegetables, and cook other ingredients on the bottom of the pot before pressure cooking. This function adds flavor to the dish and can be used for preparing stews, curries, and other recipes. Older models typically have one heat level whereas some newer models have both low and high heat levels.

High Pressure

High pressure is a setting on the Instant Pot that cooks food quickly and thoroughly. It is used for cooking tough meats and other ingredients that require a longer cooking time.

Low Pressure

Low pressure is a setting on the Instant Pot that cooks food at a slower rate than high pressure. It is used for cooking delicate ingredients and for making sauces.

Keep Warm

Keep warm is a function of the Instant Pot that keeps food warm after the cooking cycle is complete. It is useful when you need to keep food warm while you prepare other dishes.

Float Valve

The float valve is a safety feature on the Instant Pot. It prevents the lid from opening when there is still pressure inside the pot. This small, round valve pops up when the pot is pressurized and goes down when the pressure is released.

Pressure Release Valve

The pressure release valve, sometimes referred to as the steam release valve or venting knob, is a small knob on the top of the Instant Pot that is used to release the pressure inside the pot. Some newer models have this valve, but there’s no need to move it between the sealing position and venting position.


Deglazing is a cooking technique that involves adding liquid to the Instant Pot after sautéing or cooking meat to scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. This technique helps to add flavor to the dish and can be done using water, broth, wine, or other liquids.

Steam Function

The steam function on the Instant Pot allows you to cook food using steam instead of pressure. The steam cooking function is useful for cooking delicate ingredients like fish or vegetables, as well as for sterilizing baby bottles and other items. I like to use it when making Instant Pot Egg Bites!

Yogurt Function

The yogurt function on the Instant Pot is designed for making yogurt at home. This function allows you to heat the milk and keep it at a constant temperature to encourage the growth of yogurt cultures. The yogurt function is easy to use and produces delicious homemade yogurt that is free from additives and preservatives.

Delay Start

The delay start function on the Instant Pot allows you to set a time delay for the cooking cycle to start. This is useful when you want to prepare a meal in advance and have it ready at a specific time. With this feature, you can add ingredients to the pot in the morning and have dinner ready when you come home from work.

Manual Setting

The manual setting on the Instant Pot allows you to set the cooking time and pressure level manually. This is useful for recipes that require a specific cooking time or pressure level that is not available in the preset functions. With this feature, you have full control over the cooking process and can adjust the cooking time and pressure as needed.

Sealing Ring

The sealing ring, also known as the silicone ring, is a flexible, circular ring made of food-grade silicone that fits inside the underside of the lid. It creates an airtight seal inside the Instant Pot during pressure cooking, which is essential for the appliance to function properly.

This ring is removable and can be washed in the dishwasher or by hand. However, it’s important to take care of the sealing ring to ensure it’s in good condition and functioning properly. Over time, the sealing ring may absorb odors from the food that you cook in the Instant Pot, which can affect the flavor of future dishes. To prevent this issue, it’s a good idea to have separate sealing rings for different types of dishes, such as one for savory dishes and another for sweet dishes.

If it’s damaged, cracked or worn, it may not create an airtight seal, which can result in a loss of pressure and longer cooking times. To prevent this, it’s recommended that you inspect the sealing ring regularly and replace it if necessary.


The trivet or steam rack is an accessory that is included with most models of the Instant Pot. The primary purpose of this metal rack is to elevate food off the bottom of the pot, so the food to cooks evenly and doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom.

It can also be used for pot-in-pot cooking, a technique where you place a smaller pot or container inside the Instant Pot that you don’t want coming into direct contact with the bottom of the inner pot. Another use for the metal rack is for steaming vegetables, fish, or other foods.

Heating Element

The heating element is a component of the Instant Pot that is responsible for heating the inner pot and the food inside it. It’s located on the bottom of the appliance and is made of a metal coil that heats up when the unit is on. The heating element is what allows the Instant Pot to cook food quickly and efficiently.

Condensation Collector

As food cooks and releases steam, it can create excess moisture that can accumulate on the lid and around the pot. The condensation collector is designed to catch this excess liquid, preventing it from dripping onto the counter or stovetop.

It’s typically located at the back of the Instant Pot, beneath the hinge of the lid. It is easy to remove and can be washed in the dishwasher or by hand. To use the condensation collector, simply slide it into place on the Instant Pot before you begin cooking. Once the cooking process is complete, you can remove the condensation collector and discard any excess liquid.



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A 6-quart Instant Pot Duo Crisp on a dark wood table at an angle.

Instant Pot Acronyms

It’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the terminology associated with any kitchen appliance, and the Instant Pot is no exception. By understanding these acronyms, you can better navigate Instant Pot recipes and cooking instructions.

  • IP – Instant Pot
  • NPR – Natural Pressure Release
  • QR – Quick Release
  • PIP – Pot in Pot Cooking
  • HP – High Pressure
  • LP – Low Pressure
  • SAUTE – Sautéing function
  • KEEP WARM – Keep Warm function
  • LID – Pressure Cooker Lid
  • POT – Inner Pot
  • YOG – Yogurt function
  • MFP – Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker

I hope this guide helped familiarize you with the common terms and acronyms associated with using the Instant Pot. Now you can make the most of this powerful cooking tool and create delicious meals for your family and friends.

Next, check out my Instant Pot 101 Guide for New Users and my post on Troubleshooting Common Instant Pot Mistakes. These posts will teach you how to do a water test for your initial test run and set you up for success with your Instant Pot. You’ll be a pro before you know it!

Easy Instant Pot Recipes

Instant Pot Quick Start Guide

Email series to help you start using your Instant Pot today!

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