May 25, 2017

Is it just me, or are the measuring lines in the Instant Pot off for liquid measurements? Here’s what happened. A couple months ago, I shared this recipe with an exciting tip for making Chinese rice porridge, known as “jook” or congee, here on my blog. My good friend and faithful recipe tester Wendy tried it right away… and it didn’t work. That was very strange, because she is known for her amazing turkey congee, so it was definitely unsettling to learn that not only was it not better, but it was worse.

She said the problem was that her congee was really soupy. The rice and the liquid were just not coming together and it was definitely not the thicker consistency we know and love. She tried cooking it longer. And longer. And longer. I checked if she used a different grain of rice (but should it matter?), or if she had really frozen the wet rice long enough (but again, she made it fine before- why was it WORSE now?!), or maybe she didn’t set her Instant Pot correctly?

It was none of those. A while later, I made my jook again, and as I measured out my seven cups of chicken stock, I noticed something odd. The liquid was not measuring correctly on my pot. Wait. Was that just me? Did I just do a sloppy measuring job? I did it again, and sure enough, my seven cups always seemed to fall short of the Instant Pot’s measurement of seven cups.

If you’re wondering, I usually use the Oxo Good Grips 2-Cup Angled Measuring Cup:

Now, you might be thinking, “Okay okay, I see your point, the Instant Pot is off by a little bit for liquid measuring. But it’s not that big of a deal, right?”

Actually it can be, especially if you are pulling your hair out trying to figure out why your congee is so SOUPY and not thick and PORRIDGEY. Congee is supposed to be an easy and comforting food, and spending all evening trying to figure out why you are failing at what is supposedly one of the easiest recipes in Chinese cuisine is far from comforting.

So I just went and filled up my Instant Pot with water up to the “8 cup” line, measuring out two cups at a time. Guess how many liquid measuring cups I actually had to put in to get it to the IP’s 8 cup line? 11.5 CUPS!! I was so surprised by this that I poured the water back out, two cups at a time, to make sure that was really the case. It was. That 3.5 cups is significant- almost 150% the amount you’re supposed to be adding! No wonder the congee was coming out soupy!

I shared my findings with Wendy, and soon after she tried making congee again- using a liquid measuring cup this time instead of the lines in the Instant Pot, and she said it worked! WOOHOO!

So what do you think? Is it just me, or are the lines off for liquid measurements? Well, if you have also been frustrated with soupy congee in your IP, try measuring your liquids with a measuring cup next time and let me know if you have more success!

7 responses to “Instant Pot Measurements are Wrong for Liquids (and Why Your Instant Pot Congee is Failing)”

  1. Josh B says:

    I’m used to metric cups, which are 250 mL, so the 2 L on the pot should line up with 8 cups, not 6. Definitely something odd going on.

    Having said that, there are many different definitions of “cup”: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cup_(unit)

    But none of the definitions of cup on that wiki page seem quite extreme enough to let 6 cups equal 2 L. I think your pot is just wrong.

    • joellen says:

      That is strange indeed! Okay, glad I’m not the only one thinking something is off with this measuring!

  2. David says:

    Apparently it is “scoops” not “cups.” Try using the provided measuring “cup” and see…

  3. Ellen says:

    I had the exact same problem- why call them cups if they aren’t cups! Finally figured it out by pouring the liquid into a blender with actual cup measurements. Now that’s what I use for large amounts of liquid. I still love the instant pot though. Forever! <3

  4. Grace says:

    I also noticed that. Perhaps it’s using a different measuring standard (U.K. cups are different from U.S. cups for instance.)