I scored my Instant Pot DUO80 8 Qt 7-in-1 Multi- Use Programmable Pressure and Slow Cooker on Amazon during Prime Day. After I received it, I sat on it for a good while until I opened the box, thinking of how to get started with it. Even though I have a traditional stove-top pressure cooker and cook with it on a regular basis, I felt hesitant, fearing the learning curve of this new device.
I read the manual end-to-end and decided to record a video of the unboxing and testing of my new instant pot to help anyone out there who purchased an instant pot and felt the same reluctance to take the first step into this new territory. The brief video below will show you how to get started with your new instant pot, do the initial test run and then also cook a recipe from the recipe book, which comes with the Instant Pot. Before you go ahead and watch the video, a little teaser, it’s not as scary and complicated as it looks.
For anyone who hasn’t felt the wind of Instant Pot craze yet, in its simplest terms, it is a multi-functional electrical pressure cooker. Besides pressure cooking, you can program the pot to slow cook, cook rice, steam, saute and make yogurt. It is the most recent mania in kitchen appliances and a best seller in the multi-cooker category. Its users are raving fans like cult-followers. There are many Facebook groups, websites and blogs just on Instant Pot and Instant Pot recipes.
After watching how to get started video, scroll to read my review including the pros and cons, and my final verdict on whether Instant Pot is worth to buy or not – with disclaimers.
Since I started to using Instant Pot, it’s been in use on a regular basis. I cook meals, steam vegetables, batch cook dried beans, make yogurt and even cook rice. I now use my traditional pressure cooker only when I am batch cooking and need all the pots I can get my hands on. Otherwise, I prefer to use Instant Pot over my traditional pressure cooker.
SET IT AND FORGET IT
I love its programming functionality. You don’t have to babysit like a traditional pressure cooker. With a traditional pressure cooker, first you have to start cooking on high heat and constantly monitor it until the pressure valve pops up. When the pressure valve goes up, you then have to turn it down to medium/low heat. You have to track the time to turn off the heat, so as not to overcook the meal. That’s a lot of attention required from a working mom.
With Instant Pot, you select the program, adjust the time and pressure if needed and then you are set. When the program finishes, Instant Pot beeps. You turn it off and wait for natural release or manually release the pressure in a similar way with the traditional pressure cooker.
EASY TO CLEAN
Inner pot is removable and very easy to clean. It’s stainless steel and doesn’t have any non-stick coating, but I haven’t had any stickiness issue so far, even when cooking rice. When I rinse the pot right after cooking and not let it dry, it cleans like it’s non-stick. It can be washed in a dishwasher but I prefer to wash it by hand, mainly because inner pot of the 8qt Instant Pot is huge.
MAKES YOGURT MAKING SIMPLE
It has made yogurt making so much easier. It still takes about the same time, but as I mentioned in the video I don’t have to change containers and wrap with blankets etc. Now I have no excuses, but to make a big batch of homemade yogurt once a week. You can watch my video explaining how to make yogurt with instant pot here.
RICE MAKING IS EVEN SIMPLER
It makes rice cooking so simple and easy that my kids can cook rice now. Seriously. The trick is to find the right water/rice ratio for the type of the grains you are using. Rice doesn’t come out like a plain steamed rice unless you want it that way. I make rice with butter, broth, salt and better and if you find your ratios and stick to your recipe, it comes out delicious and in perfect firmness every single time.
Saves time compared to cooking in a regular pot or pan. Pressure cooker seals all the heat and steam inside the pot and therefore cooks dishes more efficiently than a cooking in a regular pot with a lid. Especially cooking meat, grains, beans and legumes takes much shorter.
Instant Pot saves energy compared to cooking on a stove top as or in a traditional pressure cooker. It doesn’t heat up the house like stove top or oven cooking does. You lose less energy and cook in less time.
In summary, it is very PRACTICAL.
DON’T EXPECT A MIRACLE KITCHEN FAIRY
It is not a miracle appliance that cooks dishes instantly. You still have to prep, maybe saute and wait for the steam to build up to cook. After cooking program is finished you have to wait for natural pressure release or manual release. Yes, it takes shorter compared to regular pots and pans but don’t expect to cook a meal in 10 minutes.
FUNCTIONALITIES ARE COMPARABLE TO STOVE TOP PRESSURE COOKER
Pressure cooking and steaming functionalities and cooking times are comparable to the traditional pressure cooker, except for the “set-it-and-forget-it” programming. In essence, they are both pressure cookers, one works with electric, the other one with stove heat. If you have a stove top pressure cooker, don’t set your expectations very high in terms of cooking steps and cooking times.
CONSIDER THIS WHEN PICKING A SIZE
I have the 8qt Instant Pot size for my family of four. I also do batch cooking. I can batch cook a meal, serve a 4-person portion for the day and store the rest in my deep freezer. It might sound too big but keep in mind that in pressure cookers (stove top or electric) you cannot fill up the inner pot to the brim. You can only fill 2/3 full with food and 1/2 full with beans and grains.
IT DOESN’T REPLACE ALL POTS & PANS
Instant Pot hasn’t taken over my kitchen. I still use my regular ports and pans when cooking. Sometimes I’ll cook a main dish in Instant pot and make pasta in a my pasta pot on the stove. Sometimes I cook a veggie dish on the stove and cook rice in Instant Pot. It’s definitely very versatile. I’ve read people using it to make hard boiled eggs and steel cut oats for breakfast. But don’t throw away your pots and pans yet.
TAKES UP SPACE
It is bulky, tall and takes up counter space. It is not an easily portable kitchen device like a blender or a mixer, which you can put away in a cabinet and take it out every time your want to cook. At least not in my kitchen. It’s a permanent resident on my kitchen island.
GET A SECOND SEAL RING
Even though it is easy to clean the inner pot and the lid, the inner rubber seal ring holds the odor of the foods cooked. It is recommended that you get a second seal and use one for cooking meals with strong odor and spices and the other less odor for yogurt, rice to avoid flavor transfer.
MIGHT NEED EXTENSION CORD
It has a short power cord. You might need an extension cord depending on where it sits.
Instant Pot has become a regular in my kitchen, cooking, steaming, making yogurt at least 3-4 times a week. Even if I have my stove top pressure cooker, I don’t use it anymore unless I need 2 pressure cookers at the same time. With that said, I am not screaming “Hallelujah! Our savior in the kitchen is here” either.
I think Instant Pot is a great addition to kitchens where fresh meals are cooked at least 3 times a day and batch cooking happens at least every other week. If you love yogurt, that’s additional bonus points. If you keep your expectations medium and know what you are getting, you’ll get your investment’s return in a few months.
If you don’t have a pressure cooker at all, starting with a multi-programmable Instant Pot during a deal is a way better option, considering that a good quality 6qt stove top pressure cookers start at $45-50. You’ll definitely jump 2-3 levels from regular stove top cooking to pressure cooking in one step.
I haven’t used the slow cooker functionality yet. I have never tried slow cooking before and that is a completely new territory for me. I have to try and see what is the benefit of slow cooking vs. cooking faster in pressure cooker mode.
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