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The other day, someone in my daughter’s cheer group was asking about a recipe for the Instant Pot which then started a flurry of texts raving about the Instant Pot. Which of course made me curious about the Instant Pot.
I decided to do a little research on the Instant Pot and I found some interesting things that has made me consider buying one.
The Beginner's Guide to the Instant Pot
The Instant Pot is a safer pressure cooker
The Instant Pot is a smart pressure cooker with plenty of built-in safety features.
If you want your food cooked in a fraction of the time that it takes the oven or slow cooker, the Instant Pot is your kitchen’s best friend.
What makes the Instant Pot much safer than traditional pressure cookers is that it automatically brings up and holds the pressure at a safe level and will not allow you to open the pot while it’s pressurized.
This makes it as easy to operate as a microwave. You simply set it, and then walk away until you’re food is ready.
It has all the advantages of using the slow cooker, but takes a fraction of the time. Perfect when you want to get a home cooked meal on the table fast.
The Instant Pot saves time (and your sanity)
Home cooked meal during the week? Well, if I’m lucky I can get the ingredients into a crockpot in time for it to be ready by 6:00 pm.
Not only does your food cook faster with the Instant Pot, it’s also very hands-free – most of the cooking time doesn’t require you to be there.
Forgot to thaw the chicken? No worries! You can cook frozen meat and veggies for those days when you forget to thaw ahead of time.
This means that you can come home, throw some ingredients in the Instant Pot, turn it on, and then focus your attention on something else.
Or, help your kids with homework, start a load of laundry, catch up on work email, or just sit back and relax for half an hour before dinner is served.
Instant Pot vs. Slow cooker
There are lots of similarities between the Instant Pot and the slow cooker.
Both are great at cooking beans, soups, stews, chilies and the likes.
Both are also great for busy home cooks, since they allow you put everything in, turn it on, and let the food cook itself.
What sets the Instant Pot apart from the slow cooker? Cooking time.
The slow cooker typically takes six to ten hours to cook. The Instant Pot will cook most meals in under an hour from start to finish.
Another big difference is the Instant Pot can replace your rice cooker as well as your slow cooker since it has a slow cooker setting. Depending on the model you choose, you can even make yogurt.
If you’re good at planning ahead and starting dinner first thing in the morning to slow cook a roast, you may not need an Instant Pot.
If on the other hand, you’re like me and forget to get it started, the Instant Pot may just be the solution you need to get dinner on the table quickly.
Is the Instant Pot worth it?
Now the Instant Pot is a bit of an investment, even if you find it on sale. Expect to spend anywhere from $70 to $150.
The expense of buying the Instant Pot will easily be worth it, if it keeps you from going out to eat, or picking up food on your way home.
If you know you can get dinner cooked in 45 minutes, it becomes a lot easier to go home and start that pot of chili, or the pot roast, and relax while it cooks.
If it keeps you from ordering out even just once a week, it won’t be long for the Instant Pot to pay for itself.
On the other hand you can pick up basic slow cooker for around $25. Does that mean the Instant Pot is overpriced? I don’t think so.
Just making one frugal meal per week using your pressure cooker will make a different in your food budget.
You can go even further by using it to meal prep by cooking double batches.
While the Instant Pot may not be for everyone, it can quickly become one of your most-often used kitchen appliances.
Does The Instant Pot really cook that fast?
The Instant Pot does cook food fast. It really makes a difference when cooking stews or roasts which take a long time on the stove or in the slow cooker.
Can it cook a chicken breast in 5 minutes or a roast in 20 minutes? Yes and no.
It’s all about the actual cooking time.
The actual cooking time takes into consideration how long it takes for the Instant Pot to come up to pressure. This can take anywhere from ten minutes to half an hour.
The fuller the pot, the colder (or even frozen) the ingredients, and the bigger the cut of meat, the longer it will take to come up to pressure. Once it does, the countdown timer will start.
All in all, you won’t be able to cook your meals in a matter of minutes.
You have to figure in the time it will take for the pot to come up to pressure, and for some recipes, additional time to allow the pressure to slowly drop back down.
Does this mean the Instant Pot isn’t fast? Of course not. It’s still a much quicker method of cooking roasts, beans and the likes than any other cooking style.
In short it’s not super-fast for everything, but great for things that take a long time otherwise.
Is the Instant Pot safe?
The Instant Pot is a much safer version of the traditional pressure cooker.
With its built-in safety features, the Instant Pot is a much safe version of the traditional pressure cooker.
Lets take a look at the some of the safety features in more detail:
The locking mechanism
With a regular stove-top pressure cooker, it’s easy to try to lift the lid while the container is still under pressure. If you try to open it too soon, you can burn yourself with the hot steam.
The Instant Pot lid will not open until the pressure is back to normal.
Automatic pressure control and pressure regulators
These keep the pressure in the pot under control. This means you can’t generate the kind of pressure inside your pot that could cause it to explode all over your kitchen.
It also has built-in sensors that keep temperature in check and prevents you from burning your food in case there’s not enough liquid in the pot.
If this happens, it just switches to the ‘Keep Warm’ function allowing you to add liquid and start over.
You can check the Instant Pot website for full details on all its 10 safety features.
As long as you make sure the device isn’t damaged and keep the sealing ring, lid, and vent clean, cooking in this smart new appliance is as safe as anything else you do in the kitchen.
Best Instant Pot for beginners
The Instant Pot Lux
The Instant Pot Lux is their base model that’s best for most people who are new to pressure cooking.
It’s also referred to as a 6-in-1 model: a slow cooker, pressure cooker, steamer, rice cooker, along with saute and keep warm functions for a total of six different ways of cooking.
The Instant Pot Duo
The Instant Pot Duo does everything the Lux can, but is also a yogurt maker.
If making your own yogurt at home is on your list of things you want to do regularly, spring for the duo, otherwise, go with the basic Lux model and save a few dollars.
Saving time and money with an Instant Pot is quick, easy, and will make weeknight meals a breeze. The only trick is that you have to actually get in the habit of using it regularly.