You may have heard about the Instant Pot and thought, “Nah, I really don’t need another kitchen appliance.” If you’re like most people, you have a kitchen cupboard of shame where all the novelty machines and gadgets go to gather dust after the newness has worn off. That egg topper? That preserving kit? Life’s too short to keep collecting more kitchen stuff. And besides, you already have a slow cooker.
But an Instant Pot has the potential to turn your cooking upside down. It could even change your life!
What is an Instant Pot?
So, what is an Instant Pot? Isn’t it just a fancy pressure cooker? People are calling the Instant Pot the Swiss Army knife of cooking appliances. Not only is it way more than a pressure cooker, but you can even clear out that kitchen cupboard of shame as the Instant Pot replaces many of your existing appliances.
The Instant Pot is an all-in-one pressure cooker, sauté pan, slow cooker, steamer, rice cooker, and a yogurt maker. And that’s just for starters. You really can do all your cooking, from thawing frozen foods through browning to making stock, soups, and casseroles.
How Does an Instant Pot Work?
The Instant Pot is a third-generation electric pressure cooker. Unlike earlier versions, the Instant Pot doesn’t sit on your stovetop, doesn’t need careful supervision and won’t explode all over your kitchen. The Instant Pot is an electric, benchtop appliance that is programmable with a range of cooking functions.
It cooks food in a sealed cooking environmental in working pressure of between 10.15 to 11.6 psi (pounds per square inch).
What’s an Instant Pot Good for?
Many people buy an Instant Pot as an improvement on their pressure cooker, but soon find it can do so many more things than make soup or corned beef.
You might be surprised to hear that with this handy-dandy appliance, you can cook a family meal in less than half an hour. You can broil a chicken, steam vegetables, and cook rice, slashing the average cooking time by seventy percent!
Check these cooking times out:
- Pot roast takes about 45 minutes
- Ribs take 25 minutes
- Mac and cheese takes 10 minutes
- Baked potatoes take 12 minutes
- Boiled eggs take 6 minutes
You can even make dessert in your Instant Pot! It’s perfect for New York cheesecake.
However, this device doesn’t just make meals. You can use it to make yogurt, spiced apple cider, hard boiled eggs, mashed potatoes, kettle corn, and stir-fries. You can even make wine!
Unlike pressure or slow cookers, you can buy a range of accessories to extend the range of recipes you can make too. Most popular accessories include:
- A 7-inch springform pan (perfect for that cheesecake)
- A steam basket and steaming rack
- Stackable steamer inserts
- Extra silicone sealing rings to keep in reserve for when the original sealing ring wears out
- Sweet and savory sealing rings (silicone can absorb cooking odors, so separate rings for sweet and savory foods is a good idea)
- Extra stainless steel inner pot (great for storing leftovers)
- Nonstick inner pot
- Tempered glass lid for when you use the Instant Pot as a slow cooker
- Silicone cover for the inner pot, so leftovers can go straight in the fridge
Is There Anything I Shouldn’t Do with My Instant Pot?
Probably the most important thing to remember when using your Instant Pot is always to use liquid when cooking. It needs at least one cup of liquid to be able to generate enough steam to come up to pressure and cook your food.
The thinnest liquid should be added first, and any thick sauces or gravies should be layered over your other ingredients.
Milk and cream will scald if used directly in the pot. You can either use these liquids in the stainless-steel inner pot, or add heavy cream to soups after cooking, blending, and straining.
The other thing to be careful of is overfilling it. If you’re cooking rice, beans, or dried vegetables that will expand during cooking, don’t go more than half full. For other recipes, you can fill it to three-quarters full.
This may sound foolish and not something you would ever do, but please don’t put your Instant Pot on the stovetop! It’s just too easy to be forgetful and turn the heat on. If you have a workspace issue, you can put a wooden chopping board between it and the stovetop.
Are Instant Pots Safe?
You’ve probably heard stories of the perils of old-fashioned pressure cookers exploding and covering the kitchen with a casserole or tomato preserves. Rest assured that the Instant Pot has more than 10 safety mechanisms, from high-temperature warnings to safety indicators that let you know if the lid isn’t closed properly.
Follow the simple directions, and you will get hundreds of easy meals from this one little appliance. You may even start enjoying cooking more!