These days it seems like everyone and their mom is talking about the Instant Pot. Who can really blame them, especially when the gadget promises to make fall-off-the-bone tender meat in less than 30 minutes? It鈥檚 so popular, it seems the multi-purpose tool has become the Crock-Pot of millennials. But, unlike slow-cookers, which typically have one or two straightforward settings, an Instant Pot has 16 different buttons, numerous different capabilities (like rice- and yogurt-making), and therefore more room for error. If you鈥檙e just about to crack open that Instant Pot for the first time, these are the six mistakes you might run into and how to fix them.

1. You didn鈥檛 add enough liquid; you added too much; or you used the wrong kind.

Since an Instant Pot primarily functions as a pressure cooker, it鈥檚 absolutely essential that you add liquid in some form or another to the pot before you start cooking, otherwise things could get messy. On the other hand, you also don鈥檛 want to add too much liquid. That could increase the pressure release time, which may leave you with overcooked food. In general, always add between 1/2 to 1 cup of liquid.

As for what kind of liquid to add, you need one that will evaporate into steam, since the pressure cooker setting on your Instant Pot uses steam to cook the food. Avoid creams or sauces, like cream of mushroom soup or marinara. You鈥檒l also want to steer clear of adding thickeners like cornstarch or tapioca flour, as those can also inhibit the ability of the liquid to steam.

2. You filled the pot up more than halfway.

When pressure cooking, you鈥檙e never supposed to fill the pot up more than halfway. When it鈥檚 too full, it takes longer to depressurize, which can lead to overcooked food. Alternatively, the pot may have trouble getting fully pressurized if it鈥檚 too full. There is one caveat: When you鈥檙e slow-cooking, you can fill it up toward the measuring lines at the top of the pot.

3. You鈥檙e adding all your ingredients at once.

As nice as it would be to just throw everything in the pot and chill for 15 minutes, different ingredients cook at different rates (for example, rice and beans). Start with the basics and cook grains first, then beans, and so on. Then practice and stick to trustworthy recipes to learn what works and what doesn鈥檛.

4. You聽followed a聽recipe for a standard pressure cooker.

Old fashioned pressure cookers actually cook differently than an Instant Pot. Over the stovetop, old-school pressure cookers can get up to pressure faster than an electrical Instant Pot. If you鈥檙e using a recipe that calls for a traditional pressure cooker rather than what you have, you鈥檒l have to factor in a little more cooking time to get the same result.

5. You didn鈥檛 open the pressure valve fast enough.

When the timer鈥檚 up, release the pressure valve right away. If you wait even for a couple of minutes it might result in mushy food. Yuck.

6. You forgot to put the inner pot back in after you finished cooking.

Skip this step and you may wind up throwing your ingredients into a bare Instant Pot. Gasp! You鈥檇 be surprised how often it happens to avid Instant Pot-users. The same goes for the sealing ring. When you鈥檙e done cleaning everything, put it all back together, so it鈥檚 ready the next time you want to get cooking.

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