How to Steam in Instant Pot Without Steamer Basket?

The Instant Pot is now the only kitchen device I cook in. It has simplified my life like no other. I am now able to prepare anything from scratch.

Fancy dishes like pull-apart meat are now done in half the cooking time compared to traditional stovetops.

The other day I was looking at the accessories I got along with my instant pot and saw the trivet (metal insert with collapsible sides).

It is designed to keep raw food away from the water/base of the pot. I always wanted to try out the steamer function in my pot.

Since I don’t have a steamer basket, I wonder if the trivet can help me steam or if there is any other alternative way to steam without the basket in my instant pot.

Can We Steam in Instant Pot Without Using the Steamer Basket?

Here is some good news.

Yes, you can steam in the instant pot without using a steamer basket!

You can steam with the help of the trivet and a metal plate, stack foils on top of each other and place your food, or just simply place the veggies in water.

In simple terms, you need some heat-proof material inside that will lift the food away from water. Make sure the dimensions fit well inside the instant pot (IP), staying away from the side walls.

Let us look at some of the methods you can opt for steaming food in your instant pot.

How to Steam in Instant Pot Without Steamer Basket (Different Techniques)

Here are some different techniques you can apply to steam without the steamer basket in your instant pot:

Use the Trivet

A trivet is a metallic rack that comes as an accessory with your instant pot.

Set of 3, Stainless Steel Trivet Rack Stand, SourceTon 3 Sizes Heavy Duty Pressure Cooker Steam Rack, Steaming Rack, Pot Pan Cooking Stand- 1.2 Inch, 2 Inch, 2.6 Inch

Place your trivet in the bottom of the instant pot and then add some water.

Make sure the water stays at a level lower than the trivet. I added one cup of water and it was sufficient.

Make sure the food you place does not touch the water underneath. Close the lid and enter the steam setting

Use Aluminum Foil

If all you have got is aluminum foil, you can easily steam your food with it. All you need to do is roll up the foil into a few balls.

Scrunch up the foil into four or five balls. Keep a rack/Plate/pot on top (make sure the plate can withstand the heat).

Add water so a quarter of the balls get submerged while ¾ remain dry.

Add a stainless steel rack or plate on top and add the food. You could also wrap the veggies in foil and then place the foil wrap on top of the balls.

Use a Stainless Steel Pot

Take any small stainless steel pot that can fit inside your instant pot. There are two ways of doing this.

After adding raw food to the pot, insert the pot above a trivet placed at the base of the Instant Pot (IP).

You could also put the stainless steel pot directly above water without the trivet. This will make it float on top of the water.

I do this sometimes when I cook two foods in one go. I put one at the base and the second inside the pot.

This kind of stacking method is also called a pot-in-pot technique. You can also do this technique with oven-safe pans like bread or cake pans.

Use the Vegetable Colander

A colander is another good way to steam inside the instant pot. It is generally sold to rinse your fruits and vegetables. As it is collapsible, it can easily fit inside the instant pot.

Add a cup of water to the base of the Instant Pot. Add your food to the colander. Now insert the colander inside.

Removing it after cooking can be a task. You can use a claw or wear mitts and remove it using their handles.

Now that I have told you the different ways of steaming, let me now tell you how to go about steaming in your instant pot.

How to Steam in the Instant Pot – The Methodology

There are two methods you can use to steam food in your instant pot:

  • Using the steam button function
  • Using the saute button function

Using Steam Function

  • After you have placed the food inside using any of the techniques mentioned above, place the lid and secure the lock by turning it clockwise. The arrow on the lid and the pot should be in syn.
  • We need the steam to stay locked inside so the vegetables turn tender. Turn the valve from the steam release position towards the sealing position. In different IP models, this valve venting switch can be differently designed. Turn it according to manual instructions towards the sealing position.
  • Next, enter the settings. You need to press the steam button. The time settings can be adjusted according to the recipe.
  • Once the food is cooked, you will hear a beep. Gently turn the valve from sealing to the venting position. Make sure to protect your hands by wearing mitts.

Using Saute Function

Another way to steam your veggies can be through the saute function.

For this, you need to remove the pressure cooking lid and replace it with a normal lid.

  • You will find the saute button on the left side of the control panel. Press the button so the water can begin creating steam.
  • Enter the timing by pressing the positive or negative button. Once the timer is set, your food will begin to steam. You can set the timer to 30 minutes maximum in the saute function.
  • When water boils, place your glass lid to capture the steam.
  • Check the texture of your veggies and once they turn tender, press the cancel button to stop the steaming process.

Time Requirements for Steaming Different Food in Instant Pot

Let me tell you in detail about the different time settings.

Each food has its time requirement.

FoodCooking time for fresh foods Cooking time for frozen food
Fish steak3 to 4 minutes4 to 6 minutes
Prawns1 to 3 minutes2 to 4 minutes
Whole fish4 to 5 minutes5 to 7 minutes
Beef20 to 25 minutes for 450gmsThaw for 45 minutes at room temperature
Chicken10-15 minutes for 450gmsThaw for half an hour to 45 minutes at room temperature
Lamb15 minutes for 450gmsThaw for 45 minutes at room temperature
Pork20 minutes for 450gmsThaw for 45 minutes at room temperature
Beans1 to 2 minutesTwo minutes
BroccoliOne minute1 to 1 ½ minutes
Carrots2 to 3 minutes3 to 5 minutes
AsparagusOne minute2 to 3 minutes
CabbageOne minute3 to 4 minutes
Corn1 to 2 minutes2 to 5 minutes
Mixed veggies1 to 3 minutes3 to 5 minutes
Apples2 to 3 minute3 to 5 minutes
Peaches2 to 3 minutes4 to 5 minutes
Apricots2 to 3 minutes3 to 4 minutes
Plums2 to 3 minutes4 to 5 minutes
Pears2 to 3 minutes4 to 5 minutes

This is a general guideline to estimate the cooking time for steaming food in your instant pot. You can decrease or increase the steaming time according to your preference.

If you are trying out a stovetop recipe in your instant pot, you need to multiply the stovetop time by 1.07 or 1.15 to increase the time duration.

This is because Instant Pots have lower pressure.

The pressure inside the stovetop can go up to 15 PSI whereas the pressure in the instant pot usually lies between 10 to 12 PSI (the usual range lies from 10.15 PSI to 11.6 PSI).

Don’t forget to add a cup of water before setting the timer. For more details, visit the website here.

A Helpful Tip

After steaming, I usually saute the steamed veggies in garlic-infused olive oil. Here is how I do it. 

I add some oil and press the saute button.

Once the oil turns hot, I add the garlic and saute for half a minute and toss in all the steamed veggies. Finally, I season the veggies with salt, pepper, and a dash of lemon.

You can store the steamed vegetables after sauteing for up to a week in the fridge.


It is very easy to steam food in an instant pot without a steamer basket.

You can use the trivet, scrunched-up aluminum foil balls, or a smaller stainless steel pot, cake pan, or even a colander.

You can steam using the steam function of the instant pot or the saute function.

Don’t forget to go through the timing table mentioned for fresh and frozen foods. Enjoy your steamed food recipes in minutes!

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I’m Jueria and I am a regular contributor on In my articles, I share time-saving techniques, appliance wizardry, and health-friendly recipes to bring taste and wellness to your table. So raise a glass (or a spatula) with me, to good health and good food, made easy!