Does the Instant Pot Live Up to Its Hype?
By Elisheva Blumberg, Lubicom Staff
It’s 5 p.m.
Do you know where your family’s supper is?
I knew where it was. Problem was, it wasn’t ready.
Supper that night was Miriam Pascal’s Crockpot Brown Sugar Beer Chicken (delish, by the way.)
Dinner was bubbling under the glass lid of my crockpot, which I kept lifting up every 17 and 1/2 minutes, waiting, WAITING until the chicken was no longer in that rubbery stage of limbo (technically edible, but far from that ideal chickeny, melt-in-your-mouth stage).
It was ALMOST ready...but at 5:17 (and 1/2) p.m., when you’re waiting to serve (and to eat!) almost doesn’t count.
You’ve been there, right?
When you gotta deal with homework, or bathtime, or cleaning up the cereal bowls that were left on the table since that morning, suppertime stress can bring you to the brink of madness. And possibly over the edge.
Could the Instant Pot be the answer to our dinner-making woes?
The Instant Pot has a cultish following. On Prime Day alone, Amazon sold a staggering 300,000 Instant Pots in 36 hours (that’s more than 138 Instant Pots per minute!)
Super convenient and very safe (a completely different appliance than the old-fashioned stovetop pressure cooker), the Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker that can take the place of seven kitchen appliances.
We investigated and discovered Instant Pot users’ plentiful pros and handful of cons.
Pros of the Instant Pot:
- 7 functions in just one appliance. The Instant Pot functions as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, yogurt maker, and warmer.
- Lightning-quick cooking. The crockpot chicken recipe I made had me waiting 6 hours for the chicken thighs to cook completely. With the Instant Pot, dinner would have been ready in a total time of under 30 minutes; the chicken itself only needs 15 minutes of cook time, but the pot needs 10-15 minutes to be brought to full pressure before it starts cooking. Not including pressure time, the Instant Pot can fully cook dried beans in 30 minutes (no soaking required!) and baked potatoes in 15.
- No defrosting needed. With only an added few minutes of cooking time, you can cook frozen meat and chicken directly in your Instant Pot.
- Improved tenderness. A pressure cooker quickly melts the connective tissues in meat, making roasts much more tender than standard oven or slow-cooking.
- Retains nutrients. Long cooking times over high heats can destroy nutrients. Pressure cooking speeds up cooking times, thereby retaining valuable nutrients.
- Foolproof. Instant Pot recipes and programmable cook times make it easy for virtually anyone to cook. It’s just set and forget.
- Eggshells slide off like magic. This may seem like a minor benefit, but if you cook hard-boiled eggs often, you can appreciate not having to peel off tiny bits of stubborn eggshells piece by piece.
Cons of the Instant Pot:
- Expense. A 6-quart slow cooker retails for about $25, the same size Instant Pot hovers at around $90. However, extra cost may be worth it for you considering the time savings. Plus, if you’re on a budget look out for seasonal sales when the price can dip considerably. (Check out deals on Black Friday/Cyber Monday in November, or Amazon Prime day in July.)
- Steep learning curve. We’re so accustomed to cooking on a stovetop fire and in our ovens, but the Instant Pot is a completely different way to cook. You prep the food and the pot does the rest of the work (no midpoint stirring, sipping, or smelling the dish you’re preparing!) Many users say they mess up when they first use the Instant Pot.
- Special recipes. There’s no relying on prior cooking knowledge — because the Instant pot cooks in such a unique way, you’ll need to follow specialized Instant Pot instructions.
- Not crispy-crunchy. Despite its meat-browning “sauté” function, you can’t get a truly crusty finish or a fried texture with the Instant Pot.
- Not for every food. Pasta, fish, fresh vegetables, and other delicate foods can be tricky to cook in an Instant Pot. Since the high pressure cooks the pot’s contents super fast, it’s easy to overcook foods that need short cooking times.
Overall, the Instant Pot can come to the rescue on days when dinner can’t be ready fast enough!
Have you tried the Instant Pot? Let us know in the comments if you think it lives up to the hype!