How to Steam in Instant Pot without Steamer Basket?

In this article, we are going to tell you how you can steam vegetables and other food items in your instant pot if you don’t own a steamer basket. But, first, let us tell you about the instant pot and steamer basket.

What is an Instant Pot?

An instant pot is the state-of-the-art multi-cooker on the market, using modern technology with a very old cooking technique to accomplish something incredible – cook foods up to 70% faster. Imagine being able to cook dried beans from scratch in one hour or preparing moist, fall apart pot roast in less than half the time of traditional cooking methods.

And it’s not just for busy people. An instant pot can help cooks of any skill level by simplifying common cooking processes like steaming vegetables and fruits, pressure cooking beans and broth from scratch, slow cooking casseroles, making yogurt at home, or even preparing a cheesecake. It truly does make the best-tasting food in less time.

In short, an instant pot is a pressure cooker, crockpot, rice cooker, sauté/browning, yogurt maker, steamer, and warmer all in one built with 14 smart programs for perfect cooking.

What is a Steamer Basket?

A steamer basket is a utensil that helps you steam your food. It sits inside the instant pot. Its perforated design allows the liquid to pass through to the food. This eliminates the need for oils or fats, making steamed food taste lighter and less caloric.

These baskets come with handles and are made with stainless steel, silicon, and other materials that are non-toxic and safe for human consumption.

Steaming Food in Instant Pot without a Steamer Basket

Is it possible to steam food in an instant pot without the steamer basket? Yes, you can. There are many ways to use your instant pot as a steamer. From stacking vegetables on top of each other, using the trivet that came with your pot, or even just putting them directly into the water. You can also steam multiple things at once by using different racks and stacking them inside one another like a pyramid. If you prefer not to use metal inside your instant pot, there is always the option of using glass pyramids or simply placing something heatproof between the two layers of foil.  Here, I’ll go over several different methods for steaming food in an instant pot without needing any special equipment (steamer basket).

Using Aluminum Foil Balls

Aluminum Foils

Using aluminum foil is an easy way to make steamers for your favorite veggies. All you need is some aluminum foil (be sure not to use non-stick foil, as it may leave a metallic taste) and about five minutes of preparation time. Start by wrapping one or two scrunched-up balls of aluminum foil at the bottom of your instant pot. Add a cup or two of water, place your favorite vegetables on top, and then secure the lid onto the pot. Cook as you would normally, choosing a cooking time that is appropriate for the kind of vegetable or fruit you are steaming.

Using Trivet or Steaming Rack

Trivets or steaming racks do come with instant pots. You can use these accessories to steam your veggies, fruits, and other items. All you need is to add one cup of water into the pot and place the trivet. Put the food items that you want to steam over the trivet and close the lid. Make sure your food is not sitting in water because it may get a little soggy.    

Using Pot-in-Pot (PIP) Technique

This method is quite popular in the instant pot community and uses a stacking technique to save time and money. It’s also great for cooking larger portions of food. It works by adding your veggies or meal into a stainless steel pot, which sits inside the instant pot over water or another meal.

You can either place the pot directly into your instant pot over water or use a trivet or steamer rack to hold the pot so that the bottom meal can’t come in contact with the top meal if you are preparing two meals at a time.

Using a Stainless Steel Colander

Yes, you can also use a stainless steel colander for steaming your food items in an instant pot. But make sure it fits well inside your pot. It is usually used for rinsing veggies and fruits, but you can also place it inside your instant pot to steam cook your different eating stuff. Just add water into the pot, place your food inside the colander, put it inside the pot, and here you go.

After steaming, remove the colander with the help of its handles or make use of a claw to pull it up.

What else can you use?

What else can you use? You can use just about anything. If it is heatproof and fits inside without touching the sides or lid, you are good to go. A few things that work great are Pyrex glass containers, cake pans, bread pans, etc.

Read More: How to Use a 3 Tier Steamer Pot


How does an instant pot work?

It works by employing a technique called ‘pressure cooking,’ which uses steam and pressure to cook foods in a fraction of time.

By sealing food in an airtight environment, the water in the pot boils at a much higher temperature than normal. This creates steam that can reach up to 120°C (248°F) – much hotter than the simmering point of water. The superheated steam penetrates deep into the food and cooks it in a fraction of time.

After the cooking cycle finishes, the steam is released in a controlled manner so that the food doesn’t lose any of its precious moisture. The intense pressure and heat continue to cook foods through residual heat instead of being cooled down by evaporation in the pot.

Set the cooking time and forget about it while you do other things. The machine will keep your food warm and at a safe temperature until you’re ready to serve.

How can you differentiate between an instant pot and a pressure cooker?

differentiate between an instant pot and a pressure cooker

Pressure cookers and instant pots are both kitchen appliances that help to cook food quickly and efficiently. They do this by cooking your food under pressure, which can reduce cooking time. However, some differences between them make them apart.

  • An instant pot is quite safe to use as compared to a standard pressure cooker. You can cook your food without any fear of pot exploding under high pressure.
  • The pressure inside the stovetop pressure cooker rises up to 15 PSI, whereas the pressure inside the instant pot can reach up to 12 PSI. However, its MAX model can reach to 15 PSI.
  • An instant pot is also quite easy to use. There is no need to keep an eye on the cooking process or make sure the pressure or temperature is right. The programmed buttons make your cooking fast and easy. On the other hand, pressure cookers do need some checking from time to time.
  • Traditional pressure cookers can only do pressure cooking, but instant pots are more versatile and have a lot of functions.
  • If you want to do slow cooking, an instant pot will help you do that.
  • Instant pots are expensive than pressure cookers.
  • Instant pots take more space on your kitchen counter.

What can you steam in your Instant Pot?

There are so many things that you can steam in your instant pot: vegetables, fruits, eggs, meat, seafood, frozen items, and more.

Does steamer basket come along with an instant pot?

A steamer basket doesn’t come along with an instant pot. Instead, most of these pots come with a trivet or a steaming rack.  

How much water is recommended to use in an instant pot?

The exact amount of water depends on the type of food you are cooking. Also, it depends on the quantity of food. When steaming your veggies, fruits, or other food items, at least add one cup of water inside the pot so that it can build the right pressure. Adding too much or too little water could be bad for both the machine and your food.


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