The Hearty Stew Experiment
Match-up: Instant pot vs. stovetop
Instant PotTotal time: 35 min
Assessment: In the Instant Pot, the chicken breasts browned in the same time as in a frying pan. But it took about 10-15 minutes longer to cook them through, yielding slightly dry chicken .
Verdict: Hard to beat a frying panits easier and achieves better results.
A Summary Of My Instant Pot Review
Clearly, I am still a fan. A huge fan. And a bigger one than when I reviewed it more than three years ago. I love that it really does save me time. It helps me with meal prep. And it makes a few dishes that just taste better than other methods. While I certainly dont use all the functions on this small appliance, the ones I do use make it worth the real estate it takes up in my small kitchen. If you told me three years ago that I was going to be such a huge fan, Im not sure I would have believed you. But now it makes me wonder: How much more will I love it in three more years when I have a toddler?
How long have you had your Instant Pot? Do you love it as much as I love mine?
Kelli is the Food Editor for Plan & Prep content for Kitchn. She’s a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and author of the cookbooks, Plant-Based Buddha Bowls, The Probiotic Kitchen, Buddha Bowls, and Everyday Freekeh Meals. She lives in New Jersey.
Does Instant Pot Make Any Other Products
Well, funny you ask: The brand launched an air fryer , and just like the company’s original product, this one’s got multiple functions: air fry, roast, broil, bake, reheat, and dehydrate preset smart programswith an option to rotate for rotisserie-style cooking. All that to say, you can basically cook your food any way you want, using less oil, therefore resulting in a healthier dish.
But for folks who don’t want to massive machines taking up their pantry or counter top space, Instant Pot also launched the Instant Pot 8-quart Duo Crisp Combo Pressure Cooker Air Fryer. It’s both productsa pressure cooker and an air fryer, as the name alludes toin one. They’re not cheap , but the reviews are wonderful.
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Satisfying Your Sweet Tooth
Crisp, golden desserts are not going to happen in your multicooker. Instead, as cookbook author Jessie Sheehan wrote for us, focus on items that benefit from cooking with steam: The Instant Pot excels at baking up luscious, custards and puddings, cakes with a dense, moist crumb think sticky toffee pudding or dense snacking cakes , creme brulee, rice pudding, flan, clafoutis, chocolate pots de crème, lemon pudding cake, and cheesecake and bread pudding. As she points out, desserts contained in a 7-inch cake pan work well, as do those you can make in individual ramekins.
Does dulce de leche eaten with a spoon count as dessert? In my book, it does. Homemade dulce de leche is within easy reach with the Instant Pot. See the instructions in Alfajores .
Mistake #: Did Not Deglaze Inner Pot Bottom
Instant Pot is awesome for allowing users to saute directly in the inner pot.
Take note that after sauteing, there will be some brown bits stuck to the the bottom of the pot. Dont worry! These are not burnt food debris.
However, when users dont fully scrub these flavorful brown bits off the pot before pressure cooking, itll trigger Instant Pot to think the food content inside is burnt.
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Turn Your 8 Quart Instant Pot Into A Serious One
I was looking for a beef and broccoli recipe and what I found was either people were eating mushy broccoli OR they were steaming the broccoli separately .
The fix is to use a 6 quart insert INSIDE the 8 quart pot.
Basically, you put the meat and sauce directly in the 8 quart liner and follow the recipe directions. When its done, you put the6 quart liner ON TOP of the cooked meat, inside the Instant Pot and make steamed broccoli in it using the trivet. The extra few minutes of cooking wont hurt the meat, and you truly can cook your entire dinner in the Instant Pot! The only downside is that this only works for the 8 quart Instant Pot
You Can Get A Second Insert
Sometimes dinner needs a few different components maybe youre makingkung pao chicken and youre going to serve it with rice. Or maybe dinner is in one pot AND youre serving from it which means you cant use the Instant Pot for dessert until dinner is over AND the insert is washed.
Heres the solution get a second insert! You can buy a second insert and youll be able to make things back to back .
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The Target Person Is Anybody
If you’re not one of the millions with an Instant Pot in your kitchen and aren’t sure exactly what it even is, here’s a run-down: Basically, it’s an electric pressure cooker, slow cooker, steamer, rice cooker, and yogurt maker, all in one. IP enthusiasts use it to do everything from boil eggs, cook meat, and even make cheesecake.
Yes, it’s a multi-purpose dream, but that’s not its main selling point. “The main reason why people love Instant Pots so much is because it cooks food fast,” says Kara Nielsen, the vice president of trends and marketing at CCD Helmsman. Thanks to the technology of pressure cookingâwhich uses pressurized steam heat to cook food really quickly without drying it outâyou can make pretty much everything that you could in a slow cooker in a fraction of the time.
And while it has many similar functionalities to a traditional slow cooker, the Instant Pot is designed for a very different generation. In the ’70s, the Crock-Pot gave a new class of working women a way to feed their families a home-cooked meal while still being in the office for a full day, according to the Washington Post . That’s similar in some ways to how we live now, where everyone still works and yet still wants something homemade. But the big difference is that no one has time to prep food in the morning to eat after work several hours later.
You Can Use The Instant Pot To Reheat Food For Real
I was kind of skeptical on how you could reheat food in the Instant Pot at first. I mean, if youre reheating stew or soup or something else thats okay to touch the cooking surface, I can see how it would work. But what if it was a casseroleor shredded chicken wouldnt that make a mess? Or ruin the leftovers?
Solution steamer insert pans. These pans fit in 5, 6 or 8 quart Instant Pot and allow you to put food inside while putting water or something else on the outside. The Instant Pot heats the water, and the water reheats your leftovers. Done!!
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Setting Up Your Instant Pot
I hate instruction manuals. I get bored after the cover page, quickly skim the steps for setting up any new device, and assume that Ill just figure it out as I go. Of course, that never works and I end up begging my fiancé or parents to read the booklet for me and tell me what I need to do. This is not a great way to set up your Instant Pot, or any other new gadget for that matter. You should take the time to read the instruction manual thoroughly before playing around with your new toy, especially when heat and high pressure steam are involved. But if you too want to immediately recycle the manual, heres what you need to know about setting up your Instant Pot.
Instant Pots contain a few different pieces of equipmentthe cooker base, which is the exterior pot that has the control panel and power cord the stainless steel inner pot, which is what you actually use to cook the food and the lid. You may also find a stainless steel round rack inserted into the inner pot, but you can put that aside for now. You dont need it unless youre boiling eggs. Insert the inner pot into the cooker base, place the lid on top, and then twist the lid clockwise to lock it into place. When youre done cooking, open the lid by turning it counterclockwise to unlock and remove it.
The Instant Pot also includes a small plastic drip cup that locks into the back side of the cooking base. This catches any excess steam or moisture and prevents it from dripping on the counter .
You Need To Clean The Bottom Of The Pot
If you were sauteing meat or veggies in your inner pot, you may have food stuck to the bottom. If there is food stuck to the bottom, it may make your pressure cooker think that the food is already burnt and as a result, it will not come to pressure. Additionally, the ingredients stuck to the bottom restrict the circulation of liquid.
To fix this issue, you will want to open your Instant Pot, stir your food, and make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom. If you do notice food is stuck to the bottom, add ½ cup more liquid and use a spatula to break the food off the bottom. Then, begin to again.
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So What Are Some Things That I Like About My Instant Pot
- I feel like I have to start this list with humble eggs. Eggs boiled in Instant Pot are some of the easiest to peel. Heres one of the ways to make Hard-Boiled Eggs in Instant Pot.
- Also, I think that this totally deserves a sub-point. If you like quail eggs then you know that they are notoriously difficult to peel. Making them in my Instant Pot helped a lot with peeling. It wasnt as easy as with regular chicken eggs but so much better than if they were conventionally boiled.
Choose A Cooking Setting And Time
Again, this is likely when you’ll rely on a recipe. But, in general, now is the time to choose the method of cooking and how long your food will cook. I’ve found I typically use the manual setting and high pressure, since I frequently use the Instant Pot to prepare large cuts of meat. But in general, you’ll choose a setting, set a time, then start cooking.
Be advised, it can take more than 15 minutes for an Instant Pot to preheat and pressurize, depending on the amount of food and liquid in the pot. That means the number of minutes you chose to cook your food might not show up on the display for more than 15 minutes. That is OK. That is normal. Do not freak out and stop the cook. You might see small amounts of steam release through your valve. This, too, is normal. If you accidentally set your valve to “venting” you will know it. It produces a lot of steam.
After some amount of time, the Instant Pot display will show how many minutes are left in your cook. You’re off to the races. Set it and forget it, baby.
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The Top 6 Reasons Your Instant Pot Wont Pressurizeand What To Do About It
1. Theres Not Enough Liquid Inside the Instant Pot.
Instant Pots use steam to create pressure. This steam is created from the liquid thats inside your pot as the liquid circulates, it creates steam and thats what creates the pressure needed for your Instant Pot. No liquid, no pressurization, its THAT simple!
The Solution:Open the Instant Pot and add 1/2 cup 1 cup more liquid. And absolutely DO NOT STIR any ingredients in the Instant Pot at the time that you add more liquid. Warning: This is one of the most difficult things NOT to do it just LOOKS WRONG in there.
You must resist the urge to stir! Once youve added more liquid to the Instant Pot, securely lock the lid into place and begin the pressurization process once again.
**Please note: The majority of foods and ingredients cooked in the Instant Pot will require only enough liquid to cover the bottom of the pot, which is about 1- 1 1/2 cups, depending on the size of the electric pressure cooker you are using.
This rule only changes if you are cooking one of these three foods: grains, beans, or pasta. These three foods need to be fully covered by liquid by one-inch above where they fill up the pot. **Make sure your Instant Pot is never filled more then two-thirds full of ingredients.
Get The Recipe Here
2. There are Ingredients Stuck to The Bottom of the Pot.
If there is now no liquid in the bottom of the pot, add just enough more liquid to cover the bottom of the pot Now begin the pressurizing process again.
Why You Should Trust Us
Serious Eats has long promoted the benefits of stovetop and electric multi-cookers, but we are not Instant Pot evangelists. I personally have now been living with these five machines for over a monththey have taken up residence in my life, and we are currently in an intimate and complicated relationship, sprawling across every inch of my kitchen counter.
I am a seasoned cook and pretty darn familiar with following a recipe. I went to both culinary and pastry school and developed and tested recipes at Americas Test Kitchen for five years . I’m able to use my trained culinary background to recognize good outcomes and know what matters in the kitchen, and my Instant Pot agnosticism makes it easy to assess the usability of these machines.
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.
What About Safety Features
Traditional pressure cookers have safety features built in, but the newest generation of electric pressure cookers, like the Instant Pot, are designed with a slew of self-regulating safety features that make them safer to use than ever.
The safety features on an Instant Pot include:
- Sensors to monitor the units temperature and pressure.
- Lid close detection
- Extreme temperature and power protection
- Pressure regulator protection
All of those features are designed to protect you from burning yourself, having the machine blow up, or scorch and burn.
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First Things First: Your Instant Pot Isnt Sealing Properly
Its an undisputed fact that if your instant pot is leaking steam, its because its not sealed properly. Instant pots require an air-tight seal in order to cook the food, and when this seal is disrupted, it results in leaking steam. Following this section, well be delving into some reasons why your instant pot may not be sealing as it should and what you can do to solve the problem.
Something Is Wrong With Your Sealing Ring
If you notice steam coming out from around the sides of the pot and around the lid, you may have an issue with your sealing ring. The rubber ring that fits snugly around your Instant Pot lid is called the sealing ring. When the sealing ring is not fitted around the edge of your lid correctly or it has been used too much it loses its shape, your Instant Pot will not pressurize.
Examine your lid and make sure that the sealing ring is fitting around the edge snugly. If you notice that the sealing ring has a yellowed color and shapes into an oval instead of a round circle, you will need to buy a replacement sealing ring.
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