I might tell some lies in this post.
Mostly in the photos, but we’ll get to that later.
I can’t imagine you haven’t heard of the Instant Pot recently – it does a lot of cool things and we even have packed it up to cook in a hotel room – but if you don’t already have this electric pressure cooker, I’m guessing you’re looking in from the outside wondering why all the hype.
Should I get an Instant Pot too? and then But what would I even do with an Instant Pot? What IS it anyway?
You might be thinking that if everyone is gaga over something, it’s probably too good to be true.
And I’m telling you – it is. In some ways.
An Instant Pot not going to plan your meals and make everything in 9 minutes start to finish. It’s really easy to over-steam your veggies and it’s not any faster on THAT task.
There are some advantages to pressure cooking that can’t be beat.
The Instant Pot cooks normally-slow-cooker meats in under an hour.
It doesn’t make you stir or babysit anything.
And it’s stainless steel, a safer material than slow cookers and other electric do-hickies.
Did I get on the Instant Pot Train Early?
If this intriguing article on the viral success of the Instant Pot is true, then I was one of 200 bloggers to get a free product sample of the Instant Pot. (They don’t even have a marketing department or advertising yet.)
Such an honor!
And do you know what I did?
I left it in the box for 6 months to a year. It moved from my garage to my basement. I know I’m not alone in this — for some reason everyone orders one and leaves it there. But my kids are generous enough to demonstrate how to unbox the Instant Pot in video form for you. 😉
If you’re ready to dive even deeper, my longtime affiliate partner Wardee actually teaches a whole class on the gazillion ways to use an Instant Pot.
Should YOU Buy an Instant Pot?
You might not trust me anymore because I already told you I might tell some lies, but bear with me. The Instant Pot (found on Amazon) is worth watching.
If you’re someone who might forget to prep something for dinner and realize it when it’s too late to catch up on that particular plan…
If you’re trying to cook healthy food but feel a little overwhelmed at all the prep and planning that can be involved…
If you need to save time and money by batching things…
Or if you get so many balls in the air around the house that you sometimes forget you started dinner and bad things happen…
You’ll want to hear me out on the hype over an electric pressure cooker with a bunch of buttons.
My Top 5 Reasons that I do Love the Instant Pot
I’m not usually a rah-rah girl, and as a rebellious traditional food eater, I rarely go with the flow of the crowd. But I promise I’m not lying when I say that I have been smitten by this countertop appliance.
1. Saves Your Dry Bean Days
Cooks dry beans, UNsoaked, in an hour. With no babysitting or boiling over. That truly just saved me this week when I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was. So even though it’s better to soak your beans beforehand whether you cook them slowly on the stovetop or quickly in the pressure cooker, in a pinch, this is healthier and less expensive than canned!
2. Healthy Pressure Cooked Broth
Makes broth in an hour. Priceless when you’re sick and need it NOW, not 8-24 hours from now.
3. So Much Less Mess
No stirring. No boiling over. Do you know how many times I’ve boiled over a pot? Good grief. My poor stovetop. (That’s a real picture of black beans gone wild above, no lyin’.) But no more, thanks to my IP.
Make your Instant Pot work for you!
The Instant Pot has gotten a lot of hype over the last couple years – for good reason. It really can do just about anything.
Although it can seem a bit daunting to use at first, it really becomes quite simple once you give it a try.
Use the techniques, tips and simple recipes from the Instant Pot Guidebook to get started, and before you know it, your Instant Pot will become indispensable!
4. Safe Materials in the Instant Pot
Stainless steel pot. So hard to find in appliances these days! Even among electric pressure cookers, not all the inserts are stainless (Instant Pot might be the only one).
5. Dinner Insurance
Saves our dinners when I forget to get a slow cooker started or just don’t plan right. Start at 4:30 or 5, eat at 6? 100% possible.
We’ve also used our IP in a hotel room and out in the woods camping (this yummy dish was the first try), and I have to say that those are pretty cool features too.
Now here’s where I sound dishonest – because my photos say “5 Reasons to Buy an Instant Pot” since that’s what I started out with when I was planning. But even in the last few weeks, even though I’ve been using the Instant Pot regularly for over a year, I’m still finding reasons to cheer about.
6. The Hard-Boiled Egg Race
If you’ll allow me to add a contraband number 6, it’s gotta be easy-peel hard-boiled eggs.
This was my hard-boiled egg race between a regular pot on our power burner on the stove and the Instant Pot pressure cooker.
You can read the specifics here but basically I expected there to be only a few minutes (if any) difference. I never felt like hard-boiling eggs was a big chore. I was shocked that the IP was a full 10 minutes (40%) faster than the stovetop, not including the cold water bath that you get to skip with the pressure cooking.
And better yet? Even farm-fresh eggs are easy to peel, as easy as a banana, no joke. If you’ve ever hard-boiled farm eggs, you KNOW how much of a huge plus that is!!! So my apologies, but I had to include 6 reasons.
Where to find a Pressure Cooker
This is the 6-quart Instant Pot I started out with. After a few years, we added an 8-quart partly because I knew I would use two at the same time often enough, partly because it was the Prime Day sale, and also because I wanted more space for certain recipes. Both are a pretty basic model and you don’t need more bells and whistles than that!
If you’re deciding on size, most people say it’s better to get a deal on the 6-quart and just have 2 rather than go big, BUT if your family has 5 or more people or you really like to batch cook or do more than a pound of beans, the 8-quart may be the best choice. You can even get a carrying case to travel with it!
If you really want an old school pressure cooker for the stovetop, you can browse them at Amazon – this is the set that I got for our wedding so very long ago. Mine is actually a 7L size (which is over 7 qts) and the one included here is only a 6-quart.
The best thing about these is that they have a glass lid for normal cooking, and they are the two pots we use MOST of all in the last 14 years! So if you have no extra space, just replace a big pot with a pressure cooker and you only need to store the lid additionally. I admit I’m not sure I ever used the pressure function with the smaller pot, but I love both sizes for normal cooking.
If I had to do it over, I’d get this set because it has an 8-quart pot and a larger steamer basket that could also do pasta or potatoes. The members of our Kids Cook Real Food eCourse often ask about how to help kids heft a heavy pot of water to the sink to drain, and this is the best solution – pulling out a basket insert rather than lifting boiling liquids around.
And One (ish) Reason Not To (Yes, there are pros AND cons!)
I’m rather known for honest reviews, and I don’t pull punches when it comes to sharing my opinion, whether positive or negative. (For example, over 60 natural sunscreens reviewed over YEARS here, and over a dozen reusable sandwich bags here.)
I’ll tell you straight up that it drives me crazy when recipes seem to say that you could have dinner finished in 7 minutes, when it takes 15 additional minutes for the pot to heat up first.
That’s not even the reason, by the way – that’s just why the recipes some people write are sub-par.
I have two food techniques that people use the Instant Pot for a lot that I don’t think are worth beans –
soup and steaming vegetables.
Because soup is NOT hard to make on the stovetop. The most you usually have to simmer after boiling is about 15 minutes, and I like being able to add food to the pot while it’s coming to a boil and stir while it’s simmering. I don’t know that it’s something I’d bother with very often. I did share this smoky Mexican chicken soup, but it uses raw meat and I typically use already cooked meat for stovetop soups.
Steaming veggies seems a little hit and miss – I don’t feel that it’s faster than the stovetop because you can use so little water on the stovetop that you get steam going pretty quickly. For me, frozen broccoli takes less than 10 minutes total on the stovetop.
With the Instant Pot, it will be at least 10 minutes to get that cup of water to pressure, so there’s no time savings and it’s really easy to overcook the veggies. I’ve found that setting it on manual for ZERO minutes is actually the best way to do it, unless you have a pretty hearty, solid veggie that would take longer than 10 minutes of steaming to get done.
That said – I did steam broccoli in the IP last night and was grateful I knew how, although it wasn’t a time thing.
My stove was full of other things for the meal, and the electric pressure cooker was already cluttering up my counter because I had just poured off the beans for that dinner. I realized I could make use of that space and keep dinner moving without juggling anything, and I rolled my eyes at myself because I was already in the middle of this very post where I was going to throw pressure-cooked veggies under the bus!
So maybe don’t listen to me. I’m just a crazy-busy mom of 4 trying to keep it all together. Sometimes I change my opinion.
I will be sure to let you know if the ol’ Instant Pot ever falls out of my favor, but for now, let’s just say that I reorganized a cabinet to make room for it in the kitchen, rather than the basement, and that’s just not something I do very often!
Where to Find an Instant Pot
It’s always worth checking prices on the Instant Pot – the IP-DUO60 7-in-1 is what I have, in the 6-quart size (also tied for first place in this big review). I’ve had conversations with readers about it and will write another post on “which Instant Pot is best for me?” but for now, the bottom line is that the 6-quart goes on sale a lot and is plenty big enough for a double batch of most slow cooker recipes that you can make in a pressure cooker, so I’m very happy with it.
My dear friend Wardee at Traditional Cooking School can do just about anything with her Instant Pot – cakes, bread, main dishes, veggies, even “stacking” multiple kinds of food at once!
She’s offering a free sourdough cornbread Instant Pot recipe!
This cornbread is delicious, nutritious, super easy to make, and it only needs 12 minutes of cook time.
I’ve proven that I’m terrible at numbers, but maybe I’ve given you a few things to think about.