Like many others, I received an Instant Pot for Christmas. This wasn’t an item on my list, but something my family members argued I must have. For me, I wasn’t completely sold on it, as I already have a slow cooker, am fine with stove-top rice and honestly had no more room for another appliance.
But the buzz behind it was hard to resist, and I can’t help falling in love with the idea of one-pot, quick and healthy dinners. I wasted no time opening that box and digging into the manual (something I highly suggest you do, as it is a bit intimidating with all its features).
The Instant Pot is a “7-in-1 multi-function cooker combining the benefits of a pressure cooker, saute, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, and food warmer” among other things. I’m very intrigued by the “cake” mode (yes, it does cheesecake). There are six different models, many of them less than $100 on Amazon.
My first quick dish was mashed potatoes. Since then, I haven’t even put the Instant Pot away because I am constantly using it. I’ve started with easy recipes and am gradually working my way up to see what this baby can do.
Here are a few things I have learned:
1. Do some reading beforehand. While the Instant Pot is recognized for being one of the safest pressure cookers, make sure you read up and know how to properly work it. It isn’t self-explanatory. In addition, I watched some You Tube videos and read a handful of articles online.
2. Start with easy recipes. This helped get the hang of it pretty quickly. Pinterest is packed with Instant Pot recipes. My first few dishes I made were mashed potatoes, rice, sauteed bacon with steamed green beans and spaghetti sauce where I again used the saute to brown the meat, and then pressure cooked the sauce for two minutes to perfection.
3. Things aren’t exactly instant. Although my mashed potatoes were set to cook in eight minutes, the pot takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes to reach temperature before steaming. Timing is something learned. When I threw my bag of frozen broccoli in, they were done before the pot even reached temperature (about 5 minutes heat-up time). It is really something you have to play with to figure out cooking time.
4. Hands down, best hard-boiled eggs. Before I got an Instant Pot, I was turned onto an electric cooker for eggs — the Dash Rapid Egg Cooker. It solved the notorious sticky shell dilemma. The cooker made hard-boiled eggs that the shell literally slipped off of with just the move of my thumb. The Instant Pot does it too. If you have chickens or are just a hard-boiled egg fan, this alone makes the Instant Pot a win. They take five minutes, too (of course, after the pot reaches heat).
5. Evenly distributed heat and a “keep warm.” Weeknight dinners are pretty fast in my house. I tend to stick to a protein, vegetable and starch. Often those vegetables are frozen and end up taking the longest out of everything to cook because of poor heat distribution in the microwave. I’m tired of stopping and stirring. Anyone else? Once the Instant Pot reaches temperature, the steam function is fast and cooks evenly. Then, simply hit the “keep warm” button until dinner is completed. The pressure cooker also makes for incredibly tender, moist meats.
6. Not good for a crisp or crunch. I sauteed bacon in the Instant Pot prior to adding frozen green beans for a quick steam. While it took less than 10 minutes and eliminated bacon splatter on my stove, the bacon gets mushy during the steam process. It was still tasty, but if you are really looking for a crunch, saute and remove food or keep to the fry pan.
7. Less mess. I can’t even enjoy dinner if there is a messy kitchen to clean up. Besides some steam and water spouting (not too much, though), cooking everything in one-pot and then being able to take the interior pot out to serve is another win. It cleans up fast and easy, too. Another tip, the lid has a feature with built-in holders on top of the Instant Pot so when you remove the hot lid, you don’t have to set it down on the counter. You can fit a tab on the side of the lid into either of the Instant Pot’s handles, and the lid will stand up on its side.
For a fun article on the history of the Instant Pot, read here.