It Doesnt Replace Your Slow Cooker
Part of the Instant Pots allure is its ability to combine a slow cooker with a pressure cooker, meaning one less clunky kitchen appliance. Too bad the Instant Pot doesnt quite deliver on the slow-cooker front. We are big meat eaters in our house, so we love any chance to slow cook a big piece of meat, like brisket or a rack of ribs. While the Instant Pot does have a slow-cooker feature, you have to buy the lid separately, and the lid does not seal like it would if you were to use an actual slow cooker, so the meat doesn’t turn out as tender or moist. I find its only useful feature to be the pressure-cooking functionality, which means I would have been better off just buying a pressure cooker. Rather than doing a few things really well, it does a whole bunch of things badly, says Matt Gaedke of Keto Connect.
What To Look For In An Instant Pot
By Sara Tane
Theres no denying that the Instant Pot has definitely brewed up a whole lot of hype since it originally came out in 2010. Since its debut, a variety of models and sizes have been launched that all boast different features. Not only does this appliance save you a bunch of time when it comes to big-batch cooking and cleaning up afterward, but it also saves you a ton of counter space because its an appliance that can do it all .
Older versions of pressure cookers are difficult to maneuver and not super user-friendly for the average home cook. Instant Pots have taken pressure cooking and made it approachable and doable for cooks of all levels.
When it comes to choosing the Instant Pot thats right for you, it can seem a bit overwhelming because of all the different models and sizes. Understanding which models offer different features is crucial to determining which Instant Pot is right for you. How much counter space you have, how frequently youll be using the appliance, and how many people youre typically cooking for all factor into choosing the right model. Newer models offer smartphone and WiFi capabilities, so if youre looking to integrate technology into your home cooking, these models could be a great pick for you.
With Its Hundreds Of Preset Programs And Step
- Capacity: 6 quarts
- Inner pot material: Nonstick
- Settings: pressure cook, sear/saute, steam, slow cook, sterilize, keep warm, ferment plus 300+ preset programs in its menu
- Number of included recipes: 1000+ in the Chef iQ App
- Extras: Extra sealing gasket, steam rack, steam basket, heat-resistant pad for lid
Pros: WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, helpful app with 1000+ interactive recipes, full-color screen with 300+ present programs, quickest to cook rice and beans, good at searing, easy to set up
Cons: Didn’t do well in our pulled pork tests
While we’ve given the Chef iQ Smart Cooker the title of best smart electric multicooker in our guide, it was the only WiFi-connected multicooker we tested this time around. However, regardless of its smart capabilities, it performed impressively.
The Chef iQ has the best screen and most precise cooking options of any of the units we tested, and it was easy to set up.
Whereas other models have a button for beans, the full-color screen of the Chef iQ cooker offers much more detail. It has specific programs based on bean type, whether they’re soaked, and how much you’re cooking. And, the customization worked well. The Smart Cooker cooked a pound of beans 13 minutes faster than any other model, and the texture was uniformly excellent.
I followed the app’s step-by-step directions to make a whole chicken, and the recipe was accurate. Plus, the cooker browned the chicken well prior to pressure cooking it.
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How Many Different Instant Pots Are There
Good question. If you’re counting all of Instant Pot’s devices including appliances outside pressure cookers, there are a lot. If you’re only counting pressure cookers, it’s still pretty confusing. Instant Pot added a slew of new cookers in 2019 and again in 2020.
Here’s how to compare each Instant Pot model:
- Functions: Pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice cooking, steaming, warming, sautéing
- Sizes: 3 quart, 6 quart, 8 quart
- New lid with safe steam valve features: No
The Costco Exclusive: Instant Pot Nova Plus
While searching around for Instant Pots, you may have come across mention of the Nova Plus. The Nova Plus was a Costco exclusive that is no longer sold. The Nova Plus had the same functionality and smart programs as the Duo but had the blue LED screen of the Duo Plus. That screen is a small but important detail that provides a superior user experience without the price tag of the Duo Plus. It was originally sold through Costco, but you can find it on Amazon as well.
Instant Pot just got delivered? Put it to use with one of these Instant Pot recipes:
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What Is The Best Instant Pot
Our top pick of the best Instant Pots is the Instant Pot Duo Crisp, which has an air frying lid as well as all the modes you could wish for to get started with multi-cooking. We also like the Instant Pot Duo Plus if you want an Instant Pot without an air fryer lid, and it also has heaps of safety features.
Lastly, while it’s not an Instant Pot, the best Instant Pot alternative is the Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 6.5 Qt Pro.
Forget About Baking Your Wedding Cake In It
We hate to kill your dreams of elaborate Instant Pot buttercream cakes and fancy brownies, it just doesnt get the job done right. Bread puddings, dump cakes, and cheesecakes are more its forte. While theres plenty of Instant Pot recipes online, take it from Gaedke of Keto Connect on its limitations. We’ve tried at least a dozen different keto dessert recipes, and just about all of them have been failures. The only dessert that we’ve managed to make a decent version of is a cheesecake. Cookies, cakes, and brownies have all been huge failures since you mostly rely on steam to do the cooking, which results in an unpleasant texture. We mostly stick to the oven when we’re craving something sweet these days.
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Best For Crispy Food: Ninja Foodi Tendercrisp 7
If you’re in the market for a pressure cooker and air fryer in one, this compact device is for you. Ninja is a trusted name in cookware known for its small but powerful appliances, and this model is no differentit acts as a pressure cooker, air fryer, and crisper. But what really sets this 6-quart cooker apart is it’s signature TenderCrisp technology, which allows you to quickly cook your food with the pressure cooking function, then crisp it in the 4-quart Cook and Crisp basket, resulting in delightfully crunchy meals in no time.
One shopper raved: “Since I’ve had this, I have tried the pressure cooker, the air fryer, and the slow cooker options. I love this appliance! It operates so silently that you don’t know it’s working. Clean-up is easy and it doesn’t take up much counter space. Solid and well-made. The only negative is the extra lid that you have to find a place for. Other than that, this is a great product.”
To buy: $240 at bedbathandbeyond.com or $129 at
What Size Of Instant Pot To Buy
Not sure how to choose an Instant Pot size for your circumstances? It can feel really intimidating!
Here are my recommendations for some common scenarios:
Best for Singles or Couples: If you dont want leftovers, go for the 3-Quart Instant Pot. However, if you like leftovers, cooking pot-in-pot , or two-fer meals , Id recommend the 6-quart.
Best for College Students: Instant Pot Duo 3-Quart Pressure Cooker.
Best for Small Families: If youre cooking for two adults and one or two kids, the 6-quart Instant Pot will have everything you need.
If youre a new parent, the Duo Plus has a sterilize button however, you can sanitize in any Instant Pot with a steam setting.
Best for Big Families: Honestly? It depends on how you want to use it. If you plan to cook big batches of dump-and-go meals, then Id recommend an 8-quart Instant Pot or even the new Instant Pot Duo Nova 10-quart.
However, if you typically cook a main dish and a side dish, you may be happier simply buying two 6-quart Instant Pots so you can cook both at the same time. Depending on what youre cooking, the 6-quart will fit a double or triple batch.
Best for Meal Preppers:Seriously, so much food fits in the Instant Pot Duo Nova 10-quart. But until now meal preppers have been using the 8-quart without any problems.
Best for RVs: Instant Pot 3-quart or 6-quart.
Best for Tech Lovers: Instant Pot Duo Smart 6-Quart Pressure Cooker.
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What To Air Fry
I use it for cooking frozen sausage patties for my kids every morning- they come out AMAZINGLY delicious in it! Have you tried reheating pizza in the air fryer? Oh my gosh, its like its fresh out of the oven. No more soggy or rock hard crust!
I use it to warm up tortilla chips before we eat them- squeeze a little lime on those babies and OH MY. They taste freshly fried! Make an easy snack of Cream cheese wontons or Cookie dough wontons and youll gain 5 pounds but be super happy!
My point is, I use it ALL the time. I even have a special shelf in my pantry with an outlet so I can have it plugged in at all times.
Dont Buy An Instant Pot If You Like Eating Unhealthy Processed Food Or Microwave Dinners
Okay, so you can still cook meals that have processed foods in the Instant Pot. But why would you want to when you can have fresh, steamed carrots, corn, or peas in less than 10 minutes. You can steam potatoes in 15 minutes, have a pot of homemade chili or stew in an hour-all cooked in one pot. How about fresh greens cooked in an hour. You can even make hard boiled eggs that are fresh from the farm and still easy to peel.
If youre worried about finding recipes that are healthy and use the Instant Pot, have no fear. There are a multitude of Facebook Groups with hundreds of members all sharing recipes. Theres even an Instant Pot Group that is dedicated to Trim Healthy Mama recipes. Maybe you want traditional foods cooked in the Instant Pot. Wardee at Traditional Cooking School has you covered.
Honestly, there is not a diet or eating style that doesnt have a blog, website, or Facebook Group with an Instant Pot section. Its just that popular and easy to use. A simple google search will locate multiple sources. Ive even added an Instant Pot category here on my blog because of how useful it is in my own kitchen.
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Buying An Instant Pot Here’s What You Need To Know
Select is editorially independent. Our editors selected these deals and items because we think you will enjoy them at these prices. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn a commission. Pricing and availability are accurate as of publish time.
Over the past few years, Instant Pots have become a staple in small kitchen appliances. Busy parents use them to get dinner on the table in minutes, while batch cookers use them to simplify midweek meals. Some people prefer them for their ability to cook just about everything from pot roast to yogurt. Staying home has become the new norm to help prevent coronavirus from spreading, so you’re probably using your time indoors to cook more and try out new recipes. Alongside summer cooking staples like grills, an Instant Pot is a relatively quick, easy and affordable way to whip up home-cooked meals while under quarantine. Here’s everything you should know about an Instant pot, including how it works, best Instant Pots to buy and more.
A few years ago the idea that people would be cooking in pressure cookers en masse was unthinkable, says Elizabeth Barbone, a cookbook author and the creator of the pressure-cooker blog Cook Fast, Eat Well. Its been really fun to see folks not only embrace it, but to embrace it in different ways.
Good Luck Nailing That Zero Minute Cook Time
Who doesnt want a meal ready in zero minutes? Thats what some Instant Pot models promise to do with your broccoli and salmon. On paper, this sounds life-changing, but achieving it takes paying attention to the details. According to this Reddit thread, youll have to stand and wait for the pot to achieve pressure and turn it off right away and allow for another 10 minutes of natural release. Hesitate and add 30 seconds or a full minute to this whole process and you may have to throw the whole meal out before taking a bite.
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In Terms Of Function Which Instant Pot Should You Buy
Different models offer different capabilities. Some LUX models have cake and egg functions, the DUO has the yogurt, bean/chili, and poultry functions, and the SMART model is blue-tooth compatible. Then there are the ULTRA and NOVA and DUO PLUS models to consider too.
Personally, you can cook almost anything with the basic Instant pot. As long as you have the manual button and a pressure release valve, I think youre good to go.
Is An Instant Pot Worth The Money
Lets take a look at the instant pot and whether or not its worth the money. Depending on the time of year, and what kind of deal you can find, the average Instant Pot will set you back anywhere from $70 to $150.
While its not the cheapest kitchen appliance on the market, it does have multiple uses and can take the place of other expensive appliances you might need.
You can purchase a stove top pressure cooker or slow cooker for around $25. Does that mean the Instant Pot is overpriced, or something you shouldnt consider buying? I dont think so.
If you arent sure if youll actually use it, the Instant Pot may be a waste of money. On the other hand, youll end up using it quite a bit if you keep it on your counter and use it as your pressure cooker, slow cooker, and rice cooker.
Ive found that those who purchase an Instant Pot and then promptly put it in a cupboard and never look at it again are the ones who say its not worth it. The first step is always the hardest.
If you vow to use it at least once or twice when you first receive it, it will be an investment thats well worth it. After I used mine the first few times, I couldnt put it away. I was using it every day.
Look through some recipes, borrow a friends Instant Pot if possible, and see if this seems like the type of appliance that will work well for you and your lifestyle.
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Why I Dont Recommend The Air Fryer Lid
If you use the Instant Pot air fryer, you have to have the Instant Pot out just to use the air fryer. And then, you have to CLEAN the entire liner and everything just to use the air fryer.
Look at that huge thing. And remember its also an 8 quart. Do you really want to use that huge thing multiple times a day, and then have to clean it out when you want to use the pressure cooker? No thanks!
Its also only ever going to crisp the very top layer of whatever you put in the Instant Pot liner. Theres no way to shake the stuff inside the liner without manually going in and turning it .
With the air fryer, you need room to actually get good results so it can crisp all surfaces. Its just like crisping something in the oven- if you overcrowd your cookie sheet too much, you wont get a very good result.
Choosing An Instant Pot For Your Cooking Needs
When you want a countertop appliance that does more than one thing, choosing an Instant Pot gives you a lot of extra options for how to prepare foods. People also call an Instant Pot an “Instapot” or an “Insta Pot”. The Instant Pot is kind to your budget because it combines several different cooking tools into one device.
These multicookers have integrated software that lets you perform various cooking functions with the touch of a button for a simplified cooking experience. The main functions these cookers perform are slow cooking, sauteing, and pressure cooking. However, there are buttons that break the functions down further to help cooks perform different types of cooking.
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Safety May Be An Issue
While the Instant Pot comes with detailed instructions on how to use it safely, theres always the outlier case where safety is an issue. Follow the basics: Dont overfill it, dont use it as a deep fryer, and replace sealing rings regularly. The most important safety tip though is when removing the lid after releasing pressure, stay away from the steam and tilt the lid to act as a shield between you and the steam rising from the pot. And if youre worried about your cabinets warping from the steam, Elizabeth Barbone, a cookbook author and the creator of the pressure-cooker blog Cook Fast, Eat Well in this NBC interview says, Pressure cookers are safe, but we need to be following good practices. Some of the things you might see on the internet, like covering the steam release valve to protect cabinets or walls from steam, arent safe. Instead, position your pot accordingly if thats a concern.