Follow this method for cooking Instant Pot sweet potatoes and get perfectly fluffy and delicious sweet potatoes every time!
Do you find yourself intimidated by your Instant Pot? Perhaps not sure how to use it, or what to cook in it? Instant Pot sweet potatoes are one of the easiest things to start with, and are the first thing I learned to use my Instant Pot for!
Let's start at the beginning.
What is an Instant Pot
Is it a pressure cooker? A slow cooker? A steamer? A yogurt maker? A warmer?
Answer: it's all of these and then some.
It can be intimidating at first. One pot with anywhere from six to nine kitchen tools or appliances that it is replacing. That's a lot for anyone to keep up with!
It has multiple functions, lots of buttons, and doesn't come with a whole ton of instructions on exactly how all of these things are supposed to work. So, like the rest of us, you turn to the internet to figure out how to use it, amiright?
The thing is, you can use it in multiple ways, so there's no one right answer. When I first started cooking in it, I decided to start out with basics. Sweet potatoes, chicken breasts, and eggs.
And for six months, those were the only three things I cooked in my Instant Pot. (Not joking.)
If your Instant Pot is still in the box, check out this post on how to finally start using it once and for all.
How to set up Instant Pot sweet potatoes
First things first - not all sweet potatoes are grown equally. (As you can see from my jumbo on the far left, and middle minis.)
Ideally, you want to make sure all the potatoes you're cooking are roughly the same size. Sometimes I get lazy and just throw them all in, which is fine - they still cook.
Just know they will cook at different rates. You'll want to choose your time based on the largest sweet potatoes in the batch, because no one likes undercooked sweet potatoes.
You'll want to keep the rack in the pot. This keeps the potatoes from sitting in the liquid. You want them to steam, but not turn into a mushy mess of watery mashed potatoes. So make sure you keep the rack in there, and arrange the potatoes on it.
You can stack potatoes if they won't fit in a single layer. You'll need to increase cooking time depending on how many layers/potatoes you have, but other than that, everything else remains the same.
How to cook Instant Pot sweet potatoes
Once you've got your potatoes set up, just follow a few easy steps:
1. Add water.
This is key. You need the water in the pot to steam the potatoes. No water = no steaming. Dry, not delicious potatoes. No bueno.
2. Make sure the lid is set to Sealing not Venting.
If you have the lid set to venting, it won't ever reach proper pressure. If it doesn't reach pressure, your sweet potatoes won't cook. No bueno.
3. Use the 'Steam' function. Make sure pressure is set to High.
Low pressure function is used for things more delicate than sweet potatoes. (Like eggs.) Hardy, thick, sturdy, starchy, frozen, meat - if any of these describe the item you are trying to cook in the Instant Pot, High is the right answer.
4. Set your timer.
The amount of time depends on the size of the sweet potatoes. Think about it like this - increase by a minute or two for each step up in sweet potato size.
My go-to time is 14 minutes for a batch of average sized sweet potatoes. Most of my sweet potatoes that fit this bill tend to be about as long as my hand. For anything that gets really fat (see far left potato in image above) I add a couple of minutes. The thicker it is, the more time it needs.
5. Allow time for natural release.
There are two ways to open an Instant Pot after cooking - natural and manual.
Natural release means the pot depressurizes all on its own, which takes time. Manual release means you flip that valve on top from Sealing >Venting, and all the steam pours out the top until it's depressurized enough to open.
Give your Instant Pot sweet potatoes about 10 minutes or so to naturally release. If you pop open the pot right when it's done; it's unlikely the potatoes will be cooked through.
You can leave them for much longer than 10 minutes as well. I've cooked mine and left the house for a couple of hours and come back and eaten them hot when I returned.
The Instant Pot sweet potato hack
Now, here is my favorite hack for instant pot sweet potatoes. If you set the timer, and then you give them their 10 minutes of natural release, and then you open the lid, and poke them with a knife, and the knife doesn't glide through...
Then, put the lid back on, lock it, and leave it on keep warm. Give them 10-20 more minutes to hang out in there and your problem will be solved.
If I cook a batch of sweet potatoes in my Instant Pot, and they are different sizes, this hack comes in handy.
I open it up, take out any of the smaller ones that are done, and then close it back up to let the fattys steam a little bit longer.
No need for sizing sweet potatoes, or cooking in different batches. Just a little patience and creative thinking will get the job done. Fluffy, Instant Pot sweet potatoes, of varying sizes, cooked and ready for your favorite sweet potato recipe. Which brings me to...
Instant Pot sweet potato recipes
There's so many things you can do with steamed Instant Pot sweet potatoes. Here are a few of my favorites!
- Sweet potatoes
- Instant Pot
- sweet potatoes
- Set your Instant Pot up with the steamer rack inside.
- Rinse your potatoes, then add to the pot on the rack. It's ok to stack 'em if you need to!
- Add about 1 cup of water to the Instant Pot. (I usually average about ¼ cup of water per potato.)
- Close the lid and set to sealing.
- Press the 'Steam' button and ensure the pressure is set to high.
- Adjust the timer to 15 minutes.
- Once the timer is done, allow it to naturally release for 10 minutes.
- Manually release any remaining pressure, then remove the lid. Watch for steam!
- Check to make sure potatoes are cooked through by piercing with a knife. Allow to cool and serve or store for later use.
Cooking times will vary depending on sweet potato size. A cooking time of 14-15 minutes is about average for 4 medium sized sweet potatoes. If your potatoes are larger, or you have a lot of them, or they are stacked, increase your cooking time. If you have less, or they are smaller, decrease it. Work in about 2 minute increases or decreases depending on which way you're headed!
If you cook a batch of sweet potatoes in the Instant Pot that are not all the same size, that's ok! You'll want to make sure the smaller ones don't get too mushy, and make sure the larger ones get cooked all the way through. Here's how to do that:
Set the timer for your smaller sized potatoes. When they're done, and the 10 minutes of natural release is up, open the lid and test with a knife. Any potatoes that the knife glides through, take out. Any potatoes that the knife sticks in a bit, leave in.
Close the lid and leave the keep warm function on. The remaining steam in the pot, the heat internally in the potato, and the keep warm will allow it to finish cooking through the thicker ones.
Check on them in 20 minutes or so - chances are your knife will glide right through!
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