I bought an Instant Pot earlier this year to see what all the fuss was about. Since then, I have not become a Instant Pot fanatic or sworn off my stove.
But I like it. I really like it. I use it at least once a week–and my slow cooker has begun to collect dust.
I’m certainly no IP expert. I haven’t tried my hand at yogurt or made that Instant Pot Cheesecake that took Facebook by storm. But I’ve used it enough to have opinions. So if you’re thinking about getting one (or putting it on your holiday wish list) here are my two-cents:
What I Love About The Instant Pot
It saves the day. Seems I’ve made a second career out of planning a slow cooker dish and then realizing at 5pm that I forgot to put the ingredients in eight hours ago. If that happens to you too, the Instant Pot is your dream come true. Because all that stuff you forgot to dump into your slow cooker? Toss it into Ye Olde IP at 5pm and you’re good to go. (That’s Instant Pot Tikka Masala below, and it was delicious–get the recipe.)
It sautés. You know those horrible slow cooker recipes that call for browning meat on the stove before putting it in the slow cooker when the whole idea of making a slow cooker recipe in the first place is to NOT use the stove or dirty a pan? The IP has a sauté function, so you can brown meat first then set it to cook. Genius!
It encourages me to batch cook. It’s so simple and fast to cook a bunch of chicken breasts to shred and freeze or make a big pot of rice to use for lunches all week.
It makes meat incredibly tender, incredibly fast. What takes many hours in the slow cooker (or on the stove) equals mere minutes in the IP. After just 20 minutes of cook time, pieces of stew beef are fall-apart soft.
It whips up perfect rice. This obviously isn’t a perk if you already own a rice cooker. But for those who don’t (and don’t love the 45-minute cook time on the stovetop), the IP is your new BFF.
It’s easy to quickly make stock. Got a picked-over carcass from a chicken you’ve roasted (or from a rotisserie chicken you picked up at the store)? Stick it in the IP with some onion, carrot, celery, seasonings, and water, and you’ve got jars of homemade stock. Here is the recipe I use.
It rocks at proofing dough. This was a happy surprise: The “Yogurt” setting on the IP is just the right temperature for quickly proofing dough. I’ve made loaf after loaf of this Whole Wheat No Knead Bread.
It comes with a built-in community. Go to the Instant Pot Community on Facebook if you need to ask questions, trouble-shoot, or get new recipe ideas. It’s more than 700,000 members strong!
What I Don’t Love About The Instant Pot
It’s not “instant”. Remember the stew meat that’s tender after 20 minutes? Add about 30-40 minutes, possibly more, for TOTAL cooking time. That’s because the IP takes time to come to pressure before it begins cooking, then requires more time at the end to release pressure. So while it’s indeed a time-saver, it’s not magic.
It’s not an exact science. There is tinkering and experimenting involved. You may open the lid of your IP only to discover that your batch of beans is still crunchy (in fact, I still haven’t mastered Instant Pot beans). That can be frustrating, so allow yourself some extra time when trying a new recipe.
It’s big. Bigger than it looks (I have the 6-quart version). Between my standing mixer, food processor, and waffle iron, my cupboards are full of appliances already. I store my IP in the basement stairwell in its box.
Ring Stink. The rubber ring around the inside of the lid will absorb odor from what you’re making and it’s hard, if not impossible, to get it out. Mine smells like pot roast, which, truth be told, isn’t the worst thing it could smell like. I’ve tried washing it, soaking it, setting it out in the sun, but it still smells.
There’s a learning curve. I’m pretty sure everyone has at least one IP Fail. Mine was macaroni and cheese, made when I still didn’t totally understand how all the settings work, and it turned to mush. Now I know it takes just a few minutes of cook time. Here’s my recipe: Instant Pot Macaroni & Cheese.
If you have an Instant Pot, what do YOU love (and not love) about it?