10 Things You Need to Know about the Instant Pot

With the meteoric rise in popularity of the electric pressure cooker, the Instant Pot may have landed on your radar in the last few years or so. Instant Pots are all the rage on recipe and cooking web sites, with food and mommy bloggers raving about the wonders of these magical cooking devices.

 

Why magical? With the right recipe, the Instant Pot can significantly reduce your cooking and cleaning time. For example, I often forget to set my meat out to thaw, and sometimes, I’m in such a rush that I can forget about starting my chili in the slow cooker in the morning before leaving for work. The Instant Pot saves the day; it allows me to cook my meat, even large slabs of roast or whole chickens, from frozen. Similarly, my chili is ready in an hour, and I save time on cleaning because I can use the sauté function to brown my beef and onions!

 

So what do you need to know about the Instant Pot?

1. The Hardest Part is Getting Started

Seriously, it took me a long time to finally bite the bullet and purchase my Instant Pot. I was worried about putting all my eggs in one basket, so to speak, and ruining a whole dinner’s worth of food if I timed it wrong. I started with eggs since I am always looking to take the guesswork out of hard-boiled eggs, and they’re cheap and easy to replace if I mess up. It took five minutes, and they were easy to peel, and I was hooked!

2. The Instant Pot is for Tender and Succulent

As the New York Times states, the electric pressure cooker is not the best cooking tool for all types of meals. For example, it can over-steam broccoli and other vegetables until they are limp and soft. On the other hand, anything that you would slow cook is ideal for the Instant Pot. Instant Pot ribs, stews, roast, applesauce, broth and chicken are all favorites staples of mine.

3. The Instant Pot Really Cooks Frozen Meat

This is probably my favorite characteristic of this cooking tool. I’m one of those people who buys a lot of meat and freezes it, but before my Instant Pot, I often scrambled to make meals last minute because I never remembered to thaw the roast or the chicken breasts. It might just be me, but the meat seems to taste even better when I throw it in frozen, so I haven’t thawed meat in a year! When cooking from frozen, plan to cook for approximately 50 percent longer than from thawed.

4. Instant Beans, Every Time

One of the biggest time savers for me is when I use the Instant Pot to cook beans. They are ready in an hour! The best part about it is that they do not need to be soaked overnight, either. Consumer Reports even noted how amazing this is in their 2017 review.

5. This Thing is Multi-Functional

Not only does the Instant Pot act like a super speedy slow cooker, this puppy also performs many other functions. For example, you can use it to make yogurt or rice, or steam or sauté food. The warming function is also excellent for re-heating pre-cooked frozen food. This multi-functionality can also help you dirty a lot fewer dishes!

6. Make Use of the Sauté Feature

One of the best tips to using the Instant Pot came from a friend. She notes that it takes time for the unit to pressurize, and so I could save time by turning the sauté function on while adding in ingredients. Once you get everything in the pot, push manual and select your time for however long you want it to cook at pressure. Voila! You’ve just saved yourself five more minutes!

7. Know how to De-pressurize

Knowing when to use which de-pressurizer option is really important. For more tender foods like meat, use the Natural Pressure Release (NPR) to let the steam vent slowly. Vegetables are better vented using the Quick Release (QR) depressurization knob.

8. Order Matters

Remember that anything placed in the bottom of the pot will cook faster than what ends up on top. When I do a pasta dish, for example, I will put the meat on bottom and the pasta on top. Add some water, and everything cooks together perfectly, and I avoid scorching the pasta and having to scrape it from the bottom of the pot.

9.Read the Instruction Manual

Although most Instant Pots offer plenty of user-friendly settings, the buttons are not very intuitive. I recommend sitting down with the instruction manual, which will give you a fuller understanding of how the Instant Pot works, before starting in on your meal. Understanding how it works will mean you can make recipe adjustments to achieve the meal best-suited to your personal tastes.

10. Join a Community

If you still feel slightly overwhelmed or worried about using an electric pressure cooker, find a community. Facebook has a huge Instant Pot group that has a slew of amazing recipes. There are also plenty of tips and tricks available with a couple quick Google searches. So once your Instant Pot arrives, take a deep breath, print a recipe and get started!

 

The Bottom Line

The Instant Pot is worth your money, and it may even allow you to size down in terms of cooking appliances. For example, I no longer use my rice cooker or my vegetable steamer since the Instant Pot sits on my counter always ready to use, and last month I got rid of them and freed up some necessary cabinet space. You may find it hard to choose the perfect model for yourself. However, you can always read reviews and compare instant pots to analyse their features. This appliance is the perfect all-in-one choice if you find yourself consistently running short on time while cooking.

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