I’m sure you have probably seen the latest craze in kitchen gadgets-the Instant Pot. With all the hype surrounding it, I thought I would give you some information to help you decide if you need an Instant Pot.
WHAT IS AN INSTANT POT?
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If you don’t already know, an Instant Pot is a programmable electric pressure cooker that, according to some, is life changing. It has many different settings so you can make yogurt in it (depending on the model), cook rice, or slow cook a pork roast. In theory, it can replace multiple appliances if you have a slow cooker, a rice cooker, and a yogurt maker. I have had my Instant Pot for several years (the IP-DUO60) that I purchased myself, but I just recently began using it. So do I love it? Is it life changing? Do YOU need an Instant Pot?
FEATURES OF THE INSTANT POT THAT I LOVE
First, lets talk about some of the features I love. (These features may or may not be available on all models, however they are on most models and are probably available on other brands of electric pressure cookers too.)
Do you hate doing dishes?
My favorite feature of the Instant Pot is the stainless steel insert. After all the concerns with various non-stick coatings, I’m leery of any of them. The stainless steel insert is easy to clean, and is even dishwasher safe. You can use metal utensils in it, without worrying about scratching the finish.
I also adore the Saute Function of the Instant Pot. I can press the saute button, let it preheat, and then cook some onions or ground beef in a bit of oil. This is great if you are going to use the slow cooker function. You don’t have to dirty up a skillet. YOU CAN BROWN YOUR INGREDIENTS AND COOK THEM IN THE SAME POT! (Yes, I’m shouting!) This is huge for me.
It’s a slow cooker too.
I didn’t think I would use the slow cook function because I already have 3 other slow cookers, but only having to wash one pot means I use this a lot more than I thought. Just the other day I made Humorous Homemaking’s Cowboy Beans in my Instant Pot. Delicious! And I only dirtied the insert not a skillet also.
Do you forget to plan?
The Instant Pot is awesome if you aren’t a planner. Forgot to put the chili on before you left for work? No problem. Throw everything in the Instant Pot when you get home and pressure cook it. Even using dried beans, the chili will be done in about an hour. It will be ready much sooner using canned beans. Want to put that chili on in the morning? Slow cook it to perfection all day in the Instant Pot. Your supper will be ready when you get home from work. Because the Instant Pot can be both a pressure cooker or a slow cooker, it allows flexibility when fixing your meals.
Do you have fresh eggs?
Another thing the Instant Pot does well is hard-boil eggs. We have our own chickens and if you’ve ever tried to peel a fresh hard-boiled egg… Well, you know they aren’t the prettiest. You usually take off half the white part in the peeling process. But pressure cooking them will magically make them so much easier to peel. It won’t shave any time off the process of cooking, but you will still have pretty looking whites. Here’s a tutorial on how to hard boil eggs in an electric pressure cooker.
Do you make broth or stock?
I am looking forward to making stock with my Instant Pot this fall and winter. Usually once Thanksgiving lunch is over, I pull all the meat off the turkey and plop the bones and some veggies in my crock pot with some water. I slow cook this overnight for a delicious broth.
However, when I wake up the next morning, I’m greeted by the smell of broth and that isn’t the most appetizing aroma first thing in the morning. This year I plan to use my Instant Pot and the pressure cook function to make my broth in under an hour!
Do you steam veggies or cook rice?
Some other settings on the Instant Pot include soup, bean/chili, poultry, and meat/stew. (See picture above.) The Instant Pot can be used as a rice cooker, and it also has a steam setting, though I have not used either setting. (Edited to add: I have since used the rice function and it makes The. Best. Rice. Y’all! Use equal amounts of rice and water and just use the rice function. Perfect, non-gummy rice every time.)
Do you eat a lot of yogurt?
It also has a yogurt setting and I’ve made wonderful yogurt in it. Twice. We just don’t eat that much yogurt so it is cheaper for me to buy it than to make it and throw away the excess. If you eat a lot of yogurt though, this may be the way to go.
You can reheat leftovers in the same pot.
One last reason I absolutely love my Instant Pot…If you make a soup or stew in the pot and allow it to cool, you can remove the insert, top it with a plate and refrigerate it. Then, to re-heat the soup, plop the insert back in the Instant Pot, remove the plate, and heat the soup using the saute function. Just be sure to stir often. This saves transferring the soup to something else so that means less dishes. Yay!
Other uses for the Instant Pot
You can use an electric pressure cooker to cook potatoes for potato salad, make a big batch of chili or soup on a batch cooking day, and even take it on vacation with you to make cooking on vacation easier. With so many ways to use it, the Instant Pot can be a great investment. It comes with a stainless steel rack, a spoon, and a steamer basket. Most electric pressure cookers nowadays have loads of safety features to ensure you don’t blow anything up!
While there are only a few downsides to the Instant Pot, I would be remiss not to mention them. First, the price. Instant Pot’s aren’t cheap y’all! There are quite a few models out there, but most start at $80 or more. To me, this is the biggest downside to owning one.
You also have to find room to store it. It is pretty large, about the size of a 6 quart crock pot. However, you may be able to ditch that crock pot after using the Instant Pot and its slow cook feature.
The Instant Pot is also not a pressure CANNER. The manual does not recommend using it like a canner so if you were hoping to use it to put up your garden harvest, this won’t be the pressure cooker for you.
Finally, most recipes do not correctly reflect the amount of time it takes to cook something in the Instant Pot. And let me tell you, this really bugs me. The majority of recipes floating around the internet will say “cooks in 8 minutes” or something like that.
What the recipe fails to tell you is that it takes approximately 10-15 minutes to get to pressure plus an additional 5-10 minutes to release the pressure. Now that time is hands off, but if you start reading the recipe, you might think, “I’ve got time to whip that up before we leave for ball practice” only to realize too late that the recipe won’t be ready in time.
SO, DO YOU NEED AN INSTANT POT?
I have only touched on a few of the basics of the Instant Pot. Is it life-changing? For me, no. Everything it does can be done on the stove or in a crock pot as long as you have planned ahead. Is it worth the money? I can’t answer that for you, but I really do love mine. It is the only way I cook hard-boiled eggs now because they are so much easier to peel. Anytime I have to brown meat for a slow cooker recipe, I pull out my Instant Pot so I only dirty one pan.
Only you can decide whether or not you need one, but hopefully this article has given you some things to think about and help you make a decision. If you need more information (or already have a pressure cooker) you can check out some recipe books to give you some ideas of ways to use it. Hip Pressure Cooking, Great Food Fast, and Pressure Perfect are three books that come highly recommended. There are also many online sites with yummy looking recipes. Here and here are two.
Just the other night I made this Instant Pot Baked Ziti from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe and it was wonderful. Super easy too. You can see my Instant Pot recipe finds by following me on Pinterest. I have a board dedicated exclusively to Instant Pot recipes. (But they should work in any electric pressure cooker.)
So tell me… Do you own an Instant Pot? What is your favorite dish to make an electric pressure cooker?