InstaPot / Instant Pot Review: Find the Best Electric Pressure Cooker of 2018
I’ve spent the past few years simplifying my kitchen and getting rid of the appliances and tools that I don’t use. Now I only have the things I use on a regular basis and my kitchen has all the appliances that I use on an everyday basis. Of all the appliances that have been allowed to stay in my kitchen, none of them stand out more than the humble little Instant Pot.
The unique instapot, which is able to perform a range of cooking tasks including pressure-cooking, has garnered a sizeable following. The official Facebook page for the product has well over 630,000 members. The people there get together to swap recipes for Greek yogurt, roast chick, and other great meals that can all be cooked in in the Instant Pot.
Readers were interested in our opinion on the Instant Pot, so we picked up the Instant Pot DUO60 7-in-1, which cost us $100. The DUO60 has seven functions (pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker, making yogurt, sautéing, and warming). The appliance has preset programs built in that eliminate the guesswork involved in cooking stew, chili, and other popular dishes, while the stainless steel pot had a capacity of 6-quarts. There is also an 8-quart model on offer. The warranty on the pot is good for one year.
The instapot sells itself as a way to cook up healthy food quickly, so the real question is how well does it live up to this claim.
To put it simply, the Instant Pot combines an electric pressure cooker with other functions to make cooking hands-off and give you time to do other things. While it doesn’t necessarily make food taste better, it does make cooking much faster and easier than using a stovetop.
It took around 43 minutes to cook two cups of brown rice using the pressure-cooker mode, faster than the 60 minutes it would have taken to cook on the stove. We had delicious and tender red beans ready to go in an hour. We didn’t soak them in order to save time, but they still turned out great. The same thing happened when cooking black beans and pinto, which would take around two hours to cook on the stove after being left to soak overnight. By the way, these cooking times do take into account how long it took the pot to reach pressure and release it.
As impressive as the instapot is, it doesn’t have enough power to properly sear meat. While we got Kung Pao chicken to cook nicely, it didn’t brown like it should. This is really the only complaint we had after putting the Instant Pot through the ropes, and that’s saying a lot.
What is The Instant Pot?
To keep things simple, an Instant Pot is a programmable electronic pressure cooker that comes packed with different functions. This ain’t your mother’s pressure cooker you’re dealing with here.
While I’ve been using my instapot for some time, I hadn’t tried all the different functions yet. It gets used by our family as a simple pressure cooker, and now I’m making most of recipes I used to make in slow-cooker in the Instant Pot.
The Instant Pot is advertised as being one kitchen appliance able to perform the jobs of seven different kitchen appliances, including serving as a rice-cooker, steamer, pressure cooker, and yogurt-maker. It’s essentially a elaborate electronic pressure cooker but don’t let that take away from how impressive it is at doing this job.
The Pros and Cons of the Instant Pot
This handy appliance met the criteria of having multiple uses so I thought I’d try it out for myself. Now it’s become perhaps the most-used appliances in my kitchen. It does a lot more than you’d expect, so don’t think it’s only good for one thing or another.
The Pros of the Instant Pot
• Stainless Steel Interior
The Instant Pot stands out from other electronic pressure cookers in that the interior is made entirely of stainless-steel, meaning that only stainless steel comes touches food. Even though there are materials such as plastic used in the exterior of the appliance, they never touch the food in the pot. There is also no non-stick surfaces such as Teflon. It’s nothing but pure – and safe – stainless steel. So don’t worry about the Instant Pot contaminating your food.
Given that this is a multi-use gadget, the instapot can potentially replace a rice cooker, a slow cooker, a sauté pan and even a steamer. I’ve had some friends of mine tell me they find themselves rarely using their oven and stove because of how much they use their Instant Pot. I don’t think I would go that far with it and I don’t see it replacing my stove or oven any time soon, but I could certainly rely on it to be there for me if those appliances were to break down on me.
• Replaces a Slow Cooker
While my Instant Pot isn’t about to replace my stove any time soon, it has already replaced my slow cooker. I’m even thinking about getting rid of our crockpot as our Instant Pot is faster and generally offers better tasting food. I imagine that people with small kitchens will appreciate this electronic pressure cooker because it can replace a range of different kitchen appliances.
• Saves Time
This is perhaps the main benefit of using the pot and I noticed it almost as soon as I started using my instapot. It’s able to cook a recipe that usually takes 6-8 hours in a slow cooker in just one hour. I can even have a roast prepared for dinner in as little as 40 minutes. This is a major help on the days when we aren’t home throughout the day and have to quickly prepare a meal at night (and on the days that I just forget to defrost food until it’s too late or forget to put food in our slow cooker in the morning).
• Good Value for Money
Even though the Instant Pot is more expensive than a generic single-use appliance such as a rice cooker or a slow cooker, it’s cost-effective when you use it as a replacement for these gadgets. I was able to get mine at half price in a promotion, and it’s certainly paid for itself given how much space and time it saves. Put it this way; would you rather spend $200 on a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, and a rice cooker separately, or pay $100 for one appliance that does all of these jobs and more?
Another great advantage that separates the Instant Pot from a regular pressure cooker and slow cooker is that it can be programmed. Given that it can cook food so quickly, there are times I don’t need to cook something as soon as I put it in the Instant Pot, but I would like it to be ready by a certain time. The instapot has programmable features that mean you can set it up 24-hours in advance to cook food at a set time. There are many options pre-programmed into the pressure cooker that make it easier to use as well.
• Energy Efficient
The Instant Pot is similar to a slow cooker in that the heating element is a built-in electronic one that doesn’t need a separate gas/electric stove, saving you money and making it more energy efficient for the environment. Given that it is self-regulating, it’s also my opinion that the pot is safer and easier to use.
• Easy to Clean
Given that the cooking bowl is made entirely of stainless steel it’s super easy to clean by hand and is dishwasher safe.
The Cons of the Instant Pot
• The Up-Front Price
As mentioned before, the price is reasonable considering that it can replace other kitchen appliances, but it still retails at up to $200. I was able to pick up mine for less than $100 thanks to a promotion here. I would have saved a lot of money if I had registered for this when I got married rather than other appliances, but if sounds like a big up-front cost; especially if you already have all of the other appliances in your kitchen.
• Learning Curve
To be honest I’m afraid of pressure cookers to a degree because I have a relative that burned their face in an accident involving their pressure cooker. While the Instant Pot is somewhat easier to use than other pressure-cookers, it’s still a new method of cooking food that comes with something of a learning curve. I got comfortable using the instapot after a few uses, but I would still recommend reading through the instruction manual before you use it for the first time. While the Instant Pot doesn’t feel as intuitive as other appliances, it’s still pretty easy to learn to use.
• Lower PSI
A stove-top pressure cooker will typically run at around 15 PSI, while an electronic one such as the Instant Pot runs at around 10-12 PSI. This could be a positive or a negative as electronic cookers like this has built-in feedback that allow them to cook more efficiently but they do cook food slightly slower than a stove-top pressure cooker. I prefer electric pressure cookers myself because they are easier to use and they don’t need to be monitored constantly. If you’re someone that is more interested in cooking food quickly, then the Instant Pot can be around 5-10 minutes slower at cooking certain recipes compared to a stove-top pressure cooker.
While the Instant Pot is still safer than other kinds of pressure cookers, it is still a pressure cooker and may release steam and cause burns if it isn’t used properly. I’ve not run into trouble with mine and I didn’t find any evidence of people being harmed while they used theirs properly, but I’m still careful about using the instapot around the kids. I ensure that the pot is kept in a sturdy position to the back or corner of the counter and that there’s no chairs around that would allow the kids to reach the pot and potentially tamper with it.
Instant Pot Recipes
I’m fairly new to the Instant Pot but I get a lot of use out of it because using it is so simple. I’ve started making my own recipes in it – including this current favorite – but I’ve found plenty of recipes to try from other bloggers. I used these recipes a lot when learning more about using the Instant Pot to make sure that I didn’t mess things up. The good news is that it’s pretty difficult to screw up a recipe when using the Instant Pot.
I purchased the 6-in-1 version of the Instant Pot and I have to say I’m really enjoying using it. I found it on sale and it’s already paid for itself and then some in the time I’ve saved across the past few months using it. There’s also a 7-in-1 Instant Pot that is able to make yogurt, but given that we make our yogurt in the oven, I felt that there was no need to pay extra for this function.
The Instant Pot is also available as a Bluetooth-enabled Smart version that I wouldn’t personally recommend because we’re interested in reducing our exposure to Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, and also because there’s not a lot of extra functionality for the extra price (almost double the original cost), outside of being able to program the device from a smartphone.
I had some skepticism about the Instant Pot so I was wary about trying it for myself. I was certainly surprised by how much I enjoyed using it (and there are over 5,000 reviewers on Amazon that agree with me). I honestly wish I’d tried it sooner and can see the Instant Pot becoming my go-to wedding present for friends getting hitched in the future.
The instapot stands out from basic kitchen tools such as knives and pans in that it’s not an essential, but it would certainly come recommended by me. It’s fast becoming one of the most-used tools in my kitchen.
Have you tried the Instant Pot for yourself? What do you think about it?