Treat It As A Rice Cooker
Speaking of rice, this is another time-consuming food made easier by the Instant Pot. Cooking rice on the stovetop is not necessarily a labor-intensive endeavor, but it can certainly take up a lot of time. Plus, saucepans do have their limits. It can be a task to finish a larger quantity of rice to an even level of doneness. Walk away for a few moments, and you can end up with a burnt bottom despite an uncooked top layer. The Instant Pot takes the guesswork out of making perfectly plumped grains and is especially effective for bigger batches.
One of the best rice-related uses for the Instant Pot goes beyond cooking up an ordinary side item. Turning your weeknight starch into something adventurous can call for a lot of before-hand meal planning, especially when it comes to dishes like risotto. When made from scratch, this Italian favorite demands patience and attention. Boxed risottos are a quick replacement but often have large amounts of sodium and lack fresh vegetables. While the internet is full of recipes for the job, remember these tips from The Kitchn: Use a bit less broth, warm it up before, and save the cheese for post-cooking. Other than that, cooking rice is relatively hands-off.
The Absolute Best Uses For Your Instant Pot
One of the fortunate things about being a home cook in 2022? There are so many different devices and gadgets out there to help you explore the culinary world. Many of those tools lend themselves to fun and creative experimentation, and there are plenty more that just make getting a meal on the table an easier job. When making a list of essential cooking devices, a few shortlist for the top spot: Immersion blenders, electric pressure cookers, and of course, Instant Pots. Since there are so many nifty appliances, it can be difficult to maximize the best uses for your Instant Pot.
Turning dinner into an effortless affair has been a goal of humanity since long before the 21st century. Fortunately, nowadays, the equipment to do so is better than ever, and we have generations of recipes and ideas to accompany these newfangled contraptions, per Delish. Whether you’re a long-time user of the Instant Pot who’s stuck in a dinner rut, or you’re the lucky new owner of one, there are tons of methods to get the most out of this household necessity. After reading this, you may never want to cook without it.
How To Use Instant Pot Safely
Dont ever put any alcohol stronger than wine in a pressure cooker. This is a safety issue. Under pressure alcohol may be turned to a vapour and escape through the steam valve, which makes it extremely flammable.
If you are not following a specific recipe, for each type of food you cook always follow the guide to which fill line to use on the cooker.You need to do this because some foods like dried beans expand as they cook and create lots of bubbles and froth which has potential to block the valve. Never go over the ½ way line for these.
Dont peer over the top of the cooker when you vent steam as it can shoot out quite fast. Also bear in mind that if the pressure rises too much the pot will vent on its own which can make you jump.
Recommended Reading: Can Crock Pot Liners Be Used In Instant Pot
What Size Instant Pot Is Best For You
For a single person or couple, a 3-quart instant pot is usually sufficient. The 3-quart size is also ideal for cooking side items like rice or mashed potatoes. For three to four people, the 6-quart size is usually sufficient and for large families of five or more people, youll want to go with an 8-quart or 10-quart model.
Chef Iq Smart Cooker At A Glance
Because instant pots offer a range of features, its important to consider how you plan to use the appliance and which functions are most important for you.
Here are some factors to consider when shopping for an instant pot:
- Functions. While some people may prefer an instant pot that can also make yogurt or act as an air fryer, others may only plan to use it as a pressure cooker or slow cooker.
- Size. If youre only preparing meals for 12 people or short on space, a smaller size is a good option, whereas those with larger households should select an instant pot with a higher capacity.
- Features. Many instant pots include several built-in safety features, such as locking mechanisms, automatic pressure controls, and high temperature warnings. Choosing a product thats equipped with these features is essential to help prevent injury.
- Cost. Instant pots vary in price. Look for a product that fits your budget but also offers the functions and features that you need.
Also Check: How To Cook Butternut Squash In Instant Pot
Back To School And Instant Pots For Students
Summer will be over before you know it so its time to start thinking about back to school sales. The best Instant Pots for students are always in high demand in the lead to schools returning, so it pays to start shopping as early as possible. For those heading off to college, youll want a convenient, multi-cooker that is suitable for your cooking needs. Right now many of our favorite picks are currently on sale making now the ideal time to buy one of the best microwaves. Be sure to follow our back to school guide for all of your shopping needs this season.
How Do Electric Pressure Cookers Work
Dating back to the 1600s, pressure cooking involves using heat and pressure for cooking food more quickly. Before the Instant Pot revolutionized the industry, pressure cookers were non-electric stovetop devices. But, Instant Pot changed that with its countertop electric version.
For pressure to build in the cooker, the pot needs to have sufficient liquid , and the lid must be airtight. The steam created from the heated fluid causes the pressure to build and permits higher cooking temperatures and thus faster cooking.
Once you’re done cooking, you must first release the pressure before removing the lid. This step varies by model so consult your multicooker’s user manual to do this safely.
Ignore The Max Fill Line
The max fill line on your Instant Pot insert isn’t designed for pressure cooking. It’s designed for the slow cook setting . When you use the pressure cook setting, fill the pot no more than two-thirds full. And if you’re cooking foods like beans, rice or any other dehydrated food that will expand while cooking, only fill halfway. Any more and you’ll clog the valves and have leaky seals.
Best Budget Electric Pressure Cooker
If you’re looking for a basic, affordable multicooker from the top name in the industry, the Instant Pot Duo Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker is your best bet.
- 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: 100s in the Instant Brands Connect App
- Extras: Extra sealing gasket, steam rack, steam basket, heat-resistant pad for the lid
Pros: Produced tender and juicy slow-cooked pork, builds pressure quickly, good browning, dishwasher-safe and metal utensil-safe stainless steel inner pot, Instant Pot app features 100s of recipes
Cons: Takes experimentation to get cooking times right, controls take some getting used to
The Instant Pot Duo Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker comes in three, six, and eight-quart sizes and features a stainless steel inner pot, which most Instant Pots have. The Duo did okay in each test but excelled in our slow cooker test. The slow cooker pulled pork shredded effortlessly and had an excellent, juicy flavor. The pressure build was quick for the pressure-cooked pulled pork, but the pork was hard to shred. It seemed like it could have used 10 more minutes of pressure cooking.
Read Also: How Hot Does The Instant Pot Get
Use It To Make Stews Or Soups
When it comes to making your favorite pot of beef and barley, nothing could be easier than adding the ingredients to your Instant Pot and letting the slow cooker function do its thing. By combining the aforementioned sautee setting with the Instant Pot’s ability to keep a constant temperature, you can brown the meat and aromatics for your stew or soup, add the stock and veggies, and then take the day off. As Lifehacker writes, it’s as simple as pressing the “Soup” button. The Instant Pot will do the rest, and it’ll do it quickly.
As it relates to soup, there is one Instant Pot drawback to mention. The device may be great at making yogurt, but it does not have the same proficiency when crafting other dairy dishes. Reviewers at CNet state that cream-based soups like bisque or chowder will often separate and curdle in an Instant Pot. Unfortunately, the combination of passive pressure cooking can’t do it all in this circumstance. Still, many soups don’t include dairy, which you can make in a pinch in the Instant Pot.
What To Consider When Buying An Instant Pot
With such a wide array of models available when it comes to Instant Pots and multi-cookers, choosing the right one for you can be confusing.
Start by considering the different cooking methods offered by the best Instant Pots and multi-cookers, and the dishes you prepare most. While some offer a handful of cooking modes including pressure cooking and slow cooking, others including the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus have as many as 48 different ways of cooking and can do everything including proving bread and making yogurt.
Next look at the capacity the Instant Pot can hold and whether it’s sufficient for the number of people you have to cook for. Multi-cookers with a 6 quart / 5.7-liter capacity and above are ideal for those with a large family to feed, or those that want to batch-cook, while a smaller Instant Pot can hold around 3.2 quarts / 3 liters should suffice for an individual or couple.
On top of that, look out for Instant Pots and multi-cookers that have inner pots that can be used on the stove, when browning meat before slow cooking and are dishwasher safe to make sure you have as few utensils to wash up as possible.
Don’t Miss: Instant Hot Pot Meal
Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Reviews
- This review from The Kitchn chronicles eight months with the pressure cooker.
- Wellness Mama reviews the Instant Pot and includes some nourishing recipes.
- CNET reviews the Bluetooth-equipped version of the Instant Pot.
- This handy video review from A Pinch of Healthy outlines thoughts, tips, pros and cons.
How To Use An Instant Pot
As a pressure cooker
Choose a recipe to suit pressure cooking. If cooking meat or chicken, choose cuts that have plenty of fat and connective tissue lean meat and chicken breasts to do not cook well under pressure and will come out stringy. Anything with bones in it will cook well, from whole chickens, wings and thighs, to beef and pork ribs.
Grains and pulses do well but do check the fill line rules if you are starting with dried ingredients. Vegetables cook very quickly in a pressure cooker but will become very tender. We tried it with red cabbage and while the flavour was excellent after five minutes cooking, once wed bubbled off the excess liquid the texture was very soft.
As a slow cooker
You can use the Instant Pot as a slow cooker by cooking with the steam vent open and not using pressure. If you do a lot of slow cooking you might want to buy a glass lid for this function. The Duo has a good base heating element and strong lid seal but you do need to make sure it has got hot enough to cook things through.
As a rice cooker
This function works efficiently for basmati rice but you do need to be careful not to overcook it. We took 2 minutes off the recommended time and soaked the rice for 15 minutes first.
When you take the lid off, the rice will all be at the base and needs fluffing up straight away. If you are a fan of fried rice then youll find this the perfect way to cook it as the rice dries very fast and wont stick at all when fried.
Recommended Reading: How To Cook Boneless Chicken Breast In Instant Pot
The Saut Feature Is Everything
This is what sets the Instant Pot apart from other pressure cookers and slow cookers. With the sauté option, you can do things like caramelize onions or toast spices without pulling out another pan. It can also be used at the end of cooking to reduce soups and sauces at a brisk simmer, something that can be a drag in a slow cooker.
Get the Recipe: Instant Pot Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Perfect Your Potato Recipe
Beyond its lactose intolerance, one other category of foods that the Instant Pot struggles with is the crispy kinds. This checks out since the device’s main cooking method comes from using hot water. That said, you might be surprised to learn that perfectly cooked potatoes remain one of the Instant Pot’s best uses.
If the versatility of the potato never ceases to amaze you, then neither will all the ways you can use an Instant Pot for cooking it. One example is mashed potatoes. With the right combination of water and pressure, you can turn spuds into a fresh batch of mash in half the time that the stovetop requires. Furthermore, this also makes quick-work of starchier varieties like yams and purple sweet potatoes. You’ll still need to mix them a bit once the potatoes have cooked, but the full flavor is certainly worth it. Besides mashed potatoes, the Instant Pot can also make soft baked potatoes, per Lifehacker. No more extensive wait times as those russets roast in the oven. As for French fries, well, those are better saved for the air fryer.
Also Check: How To Make Jasmine Rice In An Instant Pot
What Exactly Is The Instant Pot
In case the Instant Pot is still new to you, lets start with an ultra-quick explainer. The Instant Pot is a multi-cooker that does the job of many different kitchen appliances or tools . Some models even have pre-programmed settings for things like eggs, rice and grains, cake, and soup. Sounds kind of impressive, right?
The Pressure Cooking Experiment
Match-up: Instant Pot vs. pressure cooker
Pressure cooker: 50 min
Instant Pot: 1 hour 20 min
Assessment: Browning the chicken took double the time in the Instant Pot, and the pot needed to be cleaned to remove the over-done bits at the bottom, so a lot of flavour was lost from the final result. It also needed double the time to boil down the remaining sauce in the pot.
Verdict: Both were tasty, but for speed and maximum flavour, the pressure cooker took this round.
Total time: 8 hours
Instant PotTotal time: 4 hours 15 min , 8 hours 15 min
Assessment: The Instant Pot did well on both its high and low slow cooker settings, yielding delicious soup in almost half the time.
Verdict: Well played, Instant Pot.
Recommended Reading: Instant Pot Meal Packs
Cleaning Them Is Easy
Its easy to think that time spent in the kitchen is time spent cooking, but many forget about how much time they spend washing the dishes after everyones had their full. Well, thats not something that youll have to worry about when dealing with an instant pot.
You see, they have simple and compact designs, and cleaning them only takes up a couple of minutes . Besides, most instant pots have plenty of non-electric parts, all of which are dishwasher safe:
- The outer surface
- The silicone ring
Note: Even with the best maintenance, the silicone rings can develop a smell if used daily over a long period of time, so always make sure to buy extra one. Ideally, they should be replaced about once every 6 months.
First Things First What Is An Instant Pot
Links in this post are Amazon affiliate links to products we love.
The Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker but also a slow cooker, yogurt maker, rice cooker, big sauté pot, steamer, and more. We have the 6-Quart Instant Pot Duo which is what we use for all our Instant Pot recipes. They also make a 3-Quart Instant Pot Mini and a hefty 8-quart Instant Pot.
The Instant Pot is an absolute game-changer, especially on busy nights. Most recipes are dump and cook, and all you have to do is set it all up and then WALK AWAY to do other fun stuff like watch TV, walk your dog, clean your house, have a dance party, etc.
BONUS: it also cooks food way faster than other ways to cook and its all done in one pot. Do you get why we love this thing yet?
If youre still not convinced, the Instant Pot is PRIME for meal prepping and freezer meals no thawing required. You can check out all our freezer meal Instant Pot recipes here if youre into that kind of stuff .
Well also just drop the obvious: its also a pretty excellent gift for a certain holiday coming around the corner.
Alright, lets get on with it. Here are some of our favorite ways to use this little gem.
Read Also: How Do You Make Yogurt In An Instant Pot