Soooo… let’s talk the Instant Pot. You may have noticed a glut of Instant Pot recipes on the blog lately – from Instant Pot Beef Stew to Instant Pot Chilli to Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes – and that, folks, is because I really, really like the Instant Pot.
I first bought an Instant Pot because I’d heard the ‘hype’ and wanted to know what was so special about this kitchen appliance. I was 1) slightly sceptical about its awesomeness and 2) slightly afraid it would explode in my kitchen.
I have since learned that 1) the Instant Pot is very, very awesome and 2) the Instant Pot is very, very safe. I have actually dedicated a whole section of this review – Instant Pot Safety AKA Why the Instant Pot is Safe – to the safety aspect because I know I am not the only one who was a bit afraid of the thing.
In this Instant Pot review, I want to talk less about ‘me me me’ and ‘my Instant Pot’ and more about why I think YOU will love the Instant Pot. (The Instant Pot club is sooo fun. Promise.)
What is the Instant Pot?
Let’s start this Instant Pot review with what the Instant Pot (or ‘Instapot’ as some people call it) is exactly. The Instant Pot is an electric, multi-use programmable pressure cooker.
Instant Pot Models
The Instant Pot makes ‘one-pot cooking’ sooo easy because it replaces so many appliances. It isn’t just one appliance, but 6, 7, 9, or 10 depending on the model you use.
The Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 and Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-1 models are the most popular. The 7-in-1 model (the one I own) performs these functions:
- Pressure Cooker
- Slow Cooker
- Rice/Porridge Cooker
- Yoghurt Maker
The 9-in-1 model performs two additional functions:
- Cake/Egg Maker
- Sterilize (good for canning, baby bottles, etc.)
There is also an Ultra 10-in-1 model (performs an extra ‘ultra’ temperature control) and Lux 6-in-1 model (no Yoghurt function). Each of the Instant Pot models also come in different sizes.
How is an Instant Pot Different from a Regular Pressure Cooker?
- The Instant Pot is ‘set it and forget it.’ You can put in your food, program it, and walk away. You don’t need to monitor it like a regular pressure cooker.
- The Instant Pot has electronic safety features. See the Instant Pot Safety AKA Why the Instant Pot is Safe section below.
- The Instant Pot doesn’t cook at as high of heat. Yeap, it’s true. Electric pressure cookers don’t cook at as high of heat or cook quite as fast as regular pressure cookers, but you are rewarded by ease of use and no need to monitor the Instant Pot.
- The temperature is completely regulated in the Instant Pot. Electronic sensors keep everything regulated for you.
- The Instant Pot replaces between 6 and 10 appliances. A regular pressure cooker does not.
8 Reasons Why You’ll Love the Instant Pot
Fans of the Instant Pot are very, very dedicated. Like ‘the Instant Pot changed my life and I would like to marry it if at all possible’ dedicated. And for good reason – it really does change your life from the second you take it out of the box.
Reason 1. It cooks meals so fast. Perfect for hungry kids, last minute drop-ins and those times when you forget to take stuff out of the freezer. The Instant Pot saves time and energy.
Reason 2. You can cook meat from frozen. Yeap, you can throw frozen meat into the Instant Pot and it’s ready with just a few extra mins under pressure.
Reason 3. It is perfect for very busy people. It isn’t easy to find time to make healthy, wholesome meals, but the Instant Pot makes it simple. I read an Instant Pot review from a single mum who works two jobs and was so happy to find a way to quickly and easily make healthy meals for her family.
Reason 4. It is also perfect for older people. I envision myself using the Instant Pot when I’m 80. No need to worry about monitoring it or doing lots of chopping and cutting beforehand. You can put everything in the Instant Pot and walk away.
Reason 5. You can cook for a crowd… or just cook for yourself. It is big (especially the 8l models) so you can cook for a crowd – but you can cook smaller amounts too.
Reason 6. It’s quiet. It’s sooo quiet you barely know it’s on.
Reason 7. It will save space in your kitchen. It replaces between 6 and 10 appliances, so it is space-saving.
Reason 8. It preserves moisture. Cooking food inside the Instant Pot’s temperature-controlled environment helps lock in moisture. This results in tender, moist cuts of meat, perfectly creamy soups etc.
Reason 9. It infuses flavour. The flavourful herbs and spices you use in your recipe will be infused in minutes.
If you buy an Instant Pot after reading this Instant Pot review, I’d love to hear your favourite Instant Pot features. Leave me a comment and let me know.
Instant Pot Safety AKA Why the Instant Pot is Safe
The Instant Pot is not your grandmother’s pressure cooker. The Instant Pot is ‘high tech’ (it is 2018, after all – we’re practically at ‘flying cars’ tech level) and has built-in safety features to make the risk of an explosion pretty much zero.
The inventors of the Instant Pot (Robert Wang and Yi Qin) have engineering backgrounds and put that knowledge to work when they created the Instant Pot. They placed several sensors on the Instant Pot to make sure everything functioned as it should:
- Lid properly sealed?
- Perfect pressure?
- No burnt food?
There are other Instant Pot safety features too, like an ‘anti-blocking shield’ that keeps food from being able to clog the vent holes.
Plus, electric pressure cookers like the Instant Pot operate at a lower pressure than standard (stovetop) pressure cookers. Yeap, this means standard pressure cookers cook a bit faster, but that also means there is more pressure to worry about (and you also have to babysit them).
You can do your part too by making sure you keep your Instant Pot clean from buildup. Make sure the inner sealing ring is kept clean and free of residue, check your anti-blocking shield (it can be unscrewed for cleaning) and even make sure your float valve is build-up free.
12 Instant Pot Tips
I could easily give you 100 of these in my Instant Pot review, but I whittled my list down to just 12. (For now…) Here are 12 useful Instant Pot tips:
Tip 1. Do The Water Test. Seriously. The first thing the Instant Pot manual tells you to do is ‘The Water Test.’ I admit my first thought was ‘why should I cook water when I can cook dinner??’ but I am really happy I did it.
Why? The Water Test will familiarize you with how to use the Instant Pot. Although the Instant Pot is easy to use, all the features and buttons can be slightly intimidating at first. The Water Test helped me quickly learn how to use the Instant Pot: how to seal it, bring it up to pressure, how the countdown works and how to use the different types of pressure release.
Here is how to do the Instant Pot water test:
Tip 2. Take advantage of the Instant Pot Delay Start and Keep Warm Features. If you haven’t used the delay start and keep warm functions on your Instant Pot, you are really, really missing out. They’re a great way to save time and you can also use them to wake up to a warm breakfast, come home to a warm meal, etc.
Press the ‘manual’ button, set the timer, and within 10 sec, press the ‘timer’ button. You can then adjust the start time delay. You can delay up to 24 hrs, but you have to keep food safety in mind (e.g. don’t throw a whole chicken in there and delay the start for 20 hrs…).
Set the ‘keep warm’ button to keep the Instant Pot steel cut oats warm as long as you want. As with the delay start, set your keep warm time after you’ve set the cook time. (But make sure to select a time so that it is cooked at least 15 mins before you want it.) Depending on your Instant Pot model, you can keep food warm for between 10 hrs and 99 hrs. Easy peasy.
Tip 3. When doing a Quick Pressure Release, open from the side. You can also use a wooden spoon but from the side works well. Make sure the steam will be releasing FAR away from you.
Tip 4. Buy more than one inner seal. The inner seal can begin to take on the odour of food, so it’s best to have an inner seal for sweet foods and an inner seal for savoury foods.
Tip 5. For even more efficient cooking, buy two inner pots. Cook a meal in the Instant Pot, remove the inner pot, put in a new inner pot and then cook again. With this method, you don’t have to transfer anything out of the Instant Pot inner pot before cooking again.
Tip 6. Utilise the ‘pot-in-pot’ method. What is that, you might wonder? The pot-in-pot method allows you to cook TWO meals in one inner pot. E.g., you could cook Instant Pot Chicken Thighs at the bottom of your pot, place a wire trivet on top and then cook a small bowl of rice on top of the trivet. (Aren’t you so glad you read this Instant Pot review??)
Tip 7. To reduce the time it takes for your food to get to pressure, preheat the liquid first in the inner pot using the sauté setting on high. Do this before you place the lid on the Instant Pot and before you select the manual setting.
And a few more tips from the Instant Pot Golden Rules…
Tip 8. If your end result is too liquid, remove the lid and use the Sauté function. It will quickly reduce. Stay nearby and stir a few times during the process. (Remove solid food if you don’t want it to continue cooking.)
Tip 9. Don’t forget to deglaze. After using the sauté function and before pressure cooking, deglaze the inner pot using a small amount of liquid (stock or water will work) and a wooden spoon. Scrape the bottom of the pot with the spoon to remove any caramelised or burnt bits.
Tip 10. Use flour after pressure cooking, not before. If the recipe calls for using flour for thickening, do this after you pressure cook.
Tip 11. Always use 250ml water or stock when pressure cooking. The Instant Pot needs this liquid to successfully pressure cook.
Tip 12. Tomatoes, tomato-based sauces, thick sauces and ready-made sauces need special directions. They can cause the pressure to not build up or an OUHT (overheat) error. Here are a few ideas:
- If you own a Duo, cook under Low Pressure and increase the cook time.
- Remember you need at least 250ml liquid in the pot.
- Add water-releasing ingredients, such as courgettes.
- Place tomatoes on top of other ingredients and don’t stir.
How to Clean the Instant Pot
No, you can’t put the whole Instant Pot in the dishwasher. (Pleaaase don’t do that.) But you CAN put the inner pot, glass lid, accessories and pressure cooker lid in the dishwasher.
As for the Instant Pot housing (the outside shell of the Instant Pot), you can wipe it down with a damp cloth to clean it. You can also use a small foam paint brush to clean all the hard-to-reach parts of the Instant Pot (that’s my favourite Instant Pot cleaning tip).
Natural Release vs. Quick Pressure Release
There are two ways to release the pressure from an Instant Pot: a Natural Pressure Release (NPR or NR) or a Quick Pressure Release (QPR or QR).
A Natural Pressure Release means you let the pressure reduce naturally until the float valve falls on its own. A Quick Pressure Release means you turn the steam release valve and let the steam out quickly.
It’s important to note that you can’t use the Natural Pressure Release and Quick Pressure Release interchangeably in a recipe. The food continues to cook when you do a NPR, so if you do a QPR, your food will be undercooked. If you want to change the pressure release method, you will need to adjust the time under pressure.
Where to Buy an Instant Pot
No Instant Pot review would be complete without this information: where to buy an Instant Pot. The Instant Pot is soooo popular that it can be tough to find them in stock everywhere, but the BEST place is Amazon.
The most popular models:
- Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 (This is the one I own and I looove it.)
- Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-1 (also extremely popular)
Awesome Instant Pot Accessories
Want to make your Instant Pot even better? I looove all of these accessories and I know you will too. (I can’t pick a favourite because they’re all so useful.)
- Inner Pot: Buy a second one so you can cook in one pot, remove it from the Instant Pot housing and insert your second pot and cook again immediately.
- Sealing Ring: Use one sealing ring for sweet foods and one sealing ring for savoury foods.
- Silicone Lid: Perfect for storing soups and stews in the inner pot.
- Glass Lid: To use when you’re using non-pressurized Instant Pot settings.
- Springform Cake Pan: For making cakes, etc.
- Egg Steamer Rack: For making hard- and soft-boiled eggs.
Yeap, I’m a little accessory obsessed…
Instant Pot Recipes
A selection of Instant Pot soups from my 75+ Easy Instant Pot recipes post.
Here are a few of my favourite Instant Pot recipes:
Instant Pot Unboxing Video
Here is an Instant Pot unboxing video to get you excited. It will give you a complete overview of what you get and the different features.
Instant Pot Review – Any Questions?
I hope you liked this Instant Pot review post. Peeps I would love to answer your questions about the Instant Pot. What do you want to know? And if you have any Instant Pot knowledge to share (or your own Instant Pot review), I’m all ears.
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Thank you for reading my Instant Pot tips post. And please come visit again as I continue dreaming up recipes, traditional African recipes, African fusion recipes, Sierra Leone recipes, travel plans and much more for you.
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