Is Instant Pot a Good Steamer?

cauliflower, green bean and yellow bean inside Instant Pot

I love steamed veggies! It’s such a versatile and nutritious dish and they are so easy to make that it’s hard to believe some people don’t like them. But hey, to each their own!

If you’re in my team, you know that steamed veggies work with just about anything. They work nicely as a stand-alone dish, but you can also pair them with a bowl of rice, or you can cook a fantastic stake and use steam veggies as a side dish.

cauliflower, green bean and yellow bean inside Instant Pot

Now, even though I love steamed veggies, I didn’t use to make them too often before I got my Instant Pot.  Why - you ask?

Well, steaming something requires working with hot steam for about 10 to 30 minutes (depending on the food you steam). Since I’m not exactly Mr. Perfect in the kitchen, this also means I have to be prepared for the event of mild burns (hot steam is quite dangerous to handle without proper tools.

So, in the traditional methods of steaming, I usually got at least a burn scare, which curbed my appetite. Luckily, I discovered the Instant Pot, so I could satisfy my craving for steamed veggies and I even got the kids to join me.

And, since I know you have a lot of great questions about steaming in an IP (I get them all the time) I thought it best to put together an article on the topic. So, if you’re curious, make sure to keep reading!

Can I Use My Instant Pot As A Steamer?


Some models have a dedicated steamer function or button on the menu.

Some models don't have it, but can still use the steaming function using the manual option. That way you can customize the cooking process.

How To Steam In The Instant Pot?

Steaming in an Instant Pot is incredibly easy 🙂 Just follow these steps:

  1. Add the required quantity of liquid (in most cases, water) in the inner pot.
  2. Put the veggies in a steamer basket.
  3. Put the steamer basket inside the Instant Pot.
  4.  Place the lid on top and secure it.
  5. Make sure the vent is set to the sealing position.
  6. Press the Steam button \ pressure cooker button and set the desired time.
  7. When cooking time ends and you hear the Instant Pot beeping, do a quick pressure release by moving the vent into the venting position.
  8. Open the lid and take out the trivet
  9. Season with salt and pepper (if needed) and enjoy 🙂

How long do I steam veggies for?

Less cooking time - more natural texture.

It takes a bit of trial and error to get the time setting right. The vegetables still would be delicious and healthy, but you may get a mushy carrot if you are cooking it for too long or a hard carrot if you don't cook it enough.

As a general rule, If you like natural texture of vegetables (to feel the green beans snap, so to speak), reduce the cooking time.

Please note that the time you set, is the actual time for steaming so you don’t have to compensate for the preheating time.

How much water to use to steam vegetables?

Less water - more natural texture. 

The quantity of liquid should be adjusted according to the type of foods you steam and the results you want.

In general, most of the times I'm using 1 cup of water \ other liquid when making steamed vegetables.

Can I Use A Regular Steamer In Instant Pot?

If you’re asking if you can use a regular steamer basket, the answer is “it depends”. If the basket is made from heat-resistant materials and fits inside the inner pot without scratching the walls, then I don’t see why you couldn’t.

What Can I Use If I Don't Have A Steamer Basket?

There are a bunch of things you can use instead of a dedicated steamer basket, but if you’re serious about steaming, you should get a basket.

Still, when in an emergency, you can always use a metallic colander or something made out of metallic mesh. The secret is to find something that will resist the high heat and is big/small enough to fit your IP, while also keeping the food in the best position for steaming.

If you don’t have one, check my guide here. I recommend using a steamer basket with feet (to avoid getting liquid in the veggies).

If you have a steamer basket without legs, you can place the basket on the trivet.

If you don't have a steamer basket, you can make one yourself  or place the veggies on the bottom of the Instant Pot.

What Can I Steam In My Instant Pot?

Most IP users steam veggies (frozen and raw) because it’s a great way to cook vegetables without losing too much of the nutrients. Also, since IP doesn’t let the steam escape until the depressurization step, it keeps almost all the nutrients inside the food.

If you’re a bit adventurous and want to take this one step further, you can also try to steam clams, fish,  and other seafood, chicken, dumplings, and other foods. The reason why I say you need to be a bit adventurous is that it takes a few tests to get the best settings for perfect results.

But once you get them, it’s an open road to steamed foods heaven from there!

Instant Pot steaming recipes




Cauliflower and broccoli

Chicken dumplings

Vegan dumplings

Butternut Squash


What Is the Difference Between Steam And Pressure Cook On Instant Pot?

Since both cooking methods use steam, it’s easy to confuse the two. In fact, I remember asking myself the same question (as a fresh beginner with an Instant Pot).

The difference stands in the fact that when you’re steaming the pot doesn’t use said steam build pressure. As a result, the veggies (or whatever you’re steaming) won’t come out mushy and unrecognizable but whole and snappy.

In short, steaming preserves the natural structure of the food while pressure breaks it down to make it more tender and easy to eat.

If you feel you need more in-depth explanations on this topic, check out this post I just made about this subject.

What's the Best Instant Pot Steamer?

Most Instant Pot pressure cookers come with a trivet, but don’t come with a steamer basket in their kit of accessories, so you need to buy one separately.

Over the years, I’ve tried several steamer baskets, of all shapes and sizes. So, I gathered all my experiences (good and bad) and created a Best Steamer Basket for Instant Pot guide. I talk about how to choose such a device, why it’s important to have one, and I review some of the products I love the best.


I think we can all agree that steamed vegetables are nutritious, healthy, and delicious. Furthermore, they maintain their texture and color, so your plate looks a lot more interesting. This stimulates the appetite but also keeps you full since you’re ingesting protein and fibers which are known to keep blood sugar at a balanced level.

Overall, if you ever want to clean up your diet and take a healthier approach to life, I strongly recommend starting with steamed foods!

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