The Instant Pot electric pressure cooker has been the kitchen darling for the past 3 years now and still going strong. Touted as the most versatile electric multi-cooker, the Instant Pot has garnered a cult-like following of devoted cooks passionate about sharing pressure cooker recipes for everything imaginable. If you’re still one of the holdouts, wondering if this appliance lives up to the hype or just a passing trend, I’ll share with you some of the reasons it’s my favorite kitchen appliance in this post.
Pressure Cooking – A Bit of History
Pressure cooking has been around for ages, invented in 1679 by French physicist Denis Papin. In more recent times, the 1940’s, pressure cooking became popular when stove-top cookers were invented. I had a stove-top pressure cooker but only cooked with it a handful of times. I used it specifically to cook cassava, beef tendon and dried beans, foods that are typically hard and dense.
I purchased my first Instant Pot in 2014, before it was really popular, intrigued by the many cooking functions. Most of you already know, I am a huge fan of multi-cookers and I love the idea of having a single appliance with multiple uses. At the time, I was looking for a new rice cooker and thought the Instant Pot would do the trick because it’s a rice cooker and more!
I liked it so much I purchased the 8 quart Instant Pot in 2016. I wanted the larger capacity for family-sized recipes and cooking bulkier food. I keep saying I would love it if Instant Pot would introduce a 10 quart pot but I imagine it would be massive. Plus, can I really justify having 3 Instant Pots? 🙂
Instant Pots Models and Cooking Functions
The Instant Pot DUO, like my 6 quart and 8 quart, is a 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer. Pressure Cooking has several preset functions for “Soup”, “Meat/Stew”, “Bean/Chili”, “Poultry”, “Rice”, “Multigrain”, “Porridge”, and “Steam”.
The Instant Pot DUO Plus 6 quart is a 9-in-1 multi-use cooker with all of the functions of the DUO plus Egg Cooker and Sterilizer.
The Instant Pot Ultra 6 quart is a 10-in-1 multi-use cooker with all of the functions of the DUO plus Egg Cooker, Sterilizer and Cake Maker. (The Cake Maker intrigues me. If anyone has this model and has made a cake, please share your results. I’d love to hear about it!)
I’ve experimented with all of the different cooking functions and the ones I use most often are:
- “Soup” – I use this function often for making chicken stock using bones from a whole chicken. I simply add the chicken bones, some vegetables to sweeten the stock, a few spices and water. Cook for 1 hour and allow for a natural pressure release. The stock is so flavorful and delicious!
- “Multigrain” – this function is great for cooking grains other than white rice and small beans (like mung bean) and lentils. I use this function to cook mung bean and I like it so much better than using a rice cooker. The pressure cooker doesn’t release steam during cooking like a rice cooker so adjust the recipe to use a bit less water. Also the deeper pot keeps the the boiling water from overflowing out of the pot which is common in a rice cooker.
- “Yogurt” – I love using this function to make fresh yogurt. The program makes it effortless, no fussing to get the right temperature. You can pasteurize the milk directly in the inner pot or in jars. My family loves homemade yogurt and I make a batch of yogurt just about every week.
- “Steam” – This is my favorite cooking key! I try to eat healthy and love steaming vegetables and seafood. It’s fast, easy and fail-proof.
- “Sauté” – this is where one pot cooking excels. I use this key to sear meats and brown onions and garlic for soups, stews and braises. Another awesome way to use the Sauté function is to steam (without pressure). Simply add water into the inner pot and cover with the tempered glass lid. Select the Sauté function. The water starts boiling in 4-5 minutes. Steam vegetables or reheat food quickly and easily. I’ve been using this function more to reheat my food instead of using the microwave.
- “Manual” – is a pressure cooking mode which allows for manual setting of cooking time. This great for those recipes you’ve perfected and know the exact cooking times like 5 minutes for hard-boiled eggs.
Which Size is Right?
Currently, the Instant Pots are offered in three different sizes: 3 quart, 6 quart and 8 quart. Which one is the right size?
The 3 quart is a good choice if you’re cooking for one or two people and have limited kitchen space. The mini cooker is good for cooking small portions of rice, soups and stews. The 3 quart capacity is a bit limiting and too small to cook a whole chicken or larger-sized meats. I have friends who love the petite size so much, they purchased it to keep appetizers and sauces warm for parties.
The 6 quart is sized to cook for a small family of 3-4 people. The larger pot holds a 5 lb chicken adequately. The 6 quart is the most popular size. It’s still compact and can be left on the kitchen counter without taking up too much room.
The 8 quart is definitely designed for the larger family, cooking portions for 4-6 people. I purchased the 8 quart to cook larger portions of stock, soups and stews. The extra 2 quarts over the 6 quart add significant bulk and weight to the Instant Pot. I love the larger size but it’s bulky and too big to leave out on the kitchen counter.
Easy to Use?
The Instant Pot is easy to use once you get the hang of it. I strongly recommend reading the instruction booklet before using the electric pressure cooker. A great way to get started is to try out the “Steam” or “Rice” function. Steam some vegetables or cook white rice. These foods are easy to make and will get you comfortable with your new appliance quickly.
From there, experiment and try a few of your favorite recipes using the different cooking functions. If you’re new to pressure cooking and not familiar with the cooking times, the recipe booklet has a helpful cooking time table for different foods like: seafood and fish, rice and grains, dried beans, legumes and lentils, meat (poultry, beef, pork and lamb), fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits. Of course, there’s a plethora of online recipes, videos and user forums to help you out as well.
Have fun with it!
Love accessories for your appliance? The Instant Pot comes with a good line of accessories direct from the manufacturer. Amazon also sells a lot of after-market products too. Once you get your Instant Pot, you’ll definitely want to accessorize. 🙂 So far, I’ve purchased the silicone steam rack, tempered glass lid and two extra sealing rings.
The tempered glass lid is great for slow cooking, sautéing, steaming and covering the pot for storage in the fridge.
I use the original sealing ring for making rice, desserts, eggs and dishes with lighter aromas. The other ring is for cooking savory, fish or meat dishes like pho, stews and braises. The silicone sealing ring absorbs the aroma of cooked foods so I like swapping them out when cooking sweet versus savory dishes.
I’ve held off on buying Instant Pot-specific pans because I’ve found that my heat-safe Pyrex bowls work great in the Instant Pot. Stainless steel or silicone bowls or pans work really well too.
After 4 years of owning the 6 quart Instant Pot and 2 years with 8 quart Instant Pot, I am happy to report I’ve have no issues. Everything is functioning well. It’s hard to say how long the appliances will last. I think it really depends on the frequency of use and care of the appliance. I use my Instant Pot about 1-2 times per week. Like many appliances, the Instant Pot comes with a 1 year warranty from the manufacturer.
Need More Reasons?
What I love most about cooking with the Instant Pot is the convenience. Pressure cooking takes about 1/3 the time of regular cooking. With our ever-busy schedules, the time savings is a huge win. You can make delicious and healthy meals easily even if you’re short on time.
Cooking with the Instant Pot is truly effortless. Simply choose the desired cooking function, set the time and let the multi-cooker do the hard work. There’s no need to babysit food while it’s cooking.
Cooking with one pot means clean-up is a breeze! There’s just one pot to wash instead of a bunch of pots and pans. Gotta love that!
Last but not least, the Instant Pot is priced to fit most budgets. It’s not an expensive kitchen appliance which makes it worth trying out if you’re still on the fence about it.
With the holidays just around the corner, the Instant Pot is a wonderfully useful and practical gift for the beginner or experienced home cook. They are sure to love it!
My Favorite Instant Pot Recipes
Here a few scrumptious recipes to make in the Instant Pot:
Use the slow cooker function to make these tasty dishes:
Are you an Instant Pot fan? Let me know what you love to cook in the Instant Pot. If you have a recipe you’d like to share on my blog, please let me know. Sharing is caring! Happy Instant Pot Cooking Friends!
Tools I Love and Use in My Kitchen