With increasingly busy schedules, people are overcommitted and have less downtime than ever. Even our weekends and days of rest are filled with sporting events, social events and getaways. These commitments leave us with very little time to cook and much less, cook from scratch.
However, one little kitchen appliance is changing the game entirely - the Instant Pot.
In today’s article, I am going to talk about this modern kitchen marvel, its benefits, how to choose the best Instant Pot and also review some of the best models of this appliance available on Amazon.
What Is the Instant Pot?
The Instant Pot or InstaPot is like an electric pressure cooker but with tons of other features. Not only can you use it to make rice, meat and beans; you can even use it for making yogurt, cheesecakes and other delicious starters, snacks, entrées and desserts that you’d never expect an electric cooker to make.
This multifunctional device can easily cook stews, soups and chilli and may even be used for slow cooking, sautéing, and steaming apart from pressure cooking.
It is no wonder that the InstaPot has a cult following among celebs and healthy food aficionados. Hundreds of celebrity chefs have come up with cookbooks for recipes made specifically with the Instant Pot.
Unfortunately, the Instant Pot is currently only available in the USA, UK and Canada and thousands of people are eagerly awaiting its launch in Australia, New Zealand and other countries.
The reason for this is that the appliance is made by a small Canadian start-up having a team of only 40 people. According to the company’s CEO Robert Wang, the Instant Pot is currently only sold online on retailers like Amazon.
In 2015, they managed to sell more than 215,000 units with 24,000 units being sold on the first Prime Day of Amazon itself!
11 Benefits of Cooking With InstaPot
Many people are terrified of using a pressure cooker thanks to the horrific tales they have heard about them exploding. All this can change thanks to the InstaPot. The InstaPot is a completely safe, convenient, kitchen-friendly, time and space saving unit. Here are the salient features of this device:
- InstaPot combines 7 to 11 different functions such as: Pressure Cooker, Sauté Pan, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Yogurt Maker, and Food Warmer. You can thus clear your kitchen countertops of bulky appliances as this single appliance does the work of nearly 7 different appliances.
- This smart device contains a microprocessor which ensures intelligent cooking. The presence of a microprocessor can save a lot of time. It has several pre-programmed features which allow you to program it nearly 24 hours in advance.
- The Instant Pot is also eco friendly - it can give you energy and time savings of up to 70% . As a student puts it: “I can make a stew on school night and still have plenty of time left to do my homework!”
- InstaPot has undergone stringent UL testing. This rigorous certification ensures that the device meets all standards of quality and safety. The appliance uses 10 proven safety mechanisms and patented technologies which make the appliance much safer than a regular stove top pressure cooker.
- Unlike most modern appliances of today which make use of harmful Teflon coating and other potentially toxic surfaces, the InstaPot is made with 100% stainless steel interior. Thus, your food does not come in contact with any hazardous materials.
- Compared to a slow cooker, the InstaPot offers a much healthier cooking option. The combination of heat and pressure shortens the duration of cooking thereby preserving nutrients.
Still, you can also use the appliance as a slow cooker and set the timer anywhere between 0.5 to 20 hours using the + and – keys to set cooking time. You can also use the “adjust” functionality to adjust the level of heating. I will later discuss a bit more about the difference between slow cooker and pressure cooker and how an InstaPot combines both functionalities.
- The company is also constantly improving the Instant Pot technology. They are coming up with newer models and improved versions which are not only available in different sizes but also with different levels of automation. I have discussed later in detail about which model/size is right for you. Currently the 6 quart size model is very popular but many people also buy the 8 quart for larger families or pets etc.
- For people who love their technology and gadgets, the appliance also comes with a Bluetooth based model.
- Considering all these safety features, the InstaPot is highly affordable. The 6 Qt model is moderately priced at $80 at the time of writing this review.
- The stainless steel bowl makes the appliance super easy to clean. It also gives a noise free operation.The InstaPot does not leak steam unlike ordinary cookers. It therefore produces no noise and keeps the aroma and flavours of foods intact. The appliance also helps you avoid messy spills and cleanups.
- There is also an active Facebook community of InstaPot users. You can discuss recipes, and get your queries about the products answered there.
What is The Difference Between Slow Cooker, Pressure Cooker and InstaPot?
Unlike a pressure cooker that you might have seen your grandma use, the InstaPot does not squeal. Nor will it explode thanks to its safety mechanisms.
In fact; the InstaPot is much like an electric cooker but much safer and definitely capable of doing much more.
Not only does it pressure cook your food; it reduces cooking time by at least half (you can cook dried beans in 45 minutes without soaking). It also has a built in slow cooker so you can set the cooking time and get warm food the moment you enter your home after a long day at work.
The main difference between a pressure cooker and a slow cooker is that in the former, pressure builds up, raises the boiling point and cooks food faster.
On the other hand, in a slow cooker, the temperature is lowered drastically and the time of cooking is increased so you can simply toss in all your ingredients and forget about them.
Conventional ressure cookers work at a range of pressure level, commonly at 12-15 psi. Meanwhile Instant Pot operates at slightly lower (safer) pressure between 10.15 and 11.6 psi.
The InstaPot combines best of both worlds: you save time of cooking and also add diversity to your meals.
The sauté mode sautés onions and garlic to bring out their best flavours. It also sears meat to perfect golden brown colour bringing out its rich taste. You can also simmer sauces on this mode and bring them to the right consistency.
What Makes The InstaPot Safer than a Pressure Cooker?
The InstaPot uses pressure for cooking, so, as with any pressure cooker, you must follow basic safety precautions. That said the appliance has been manufactured using the UL safety standards with different safety mechanisms. The mains ones are:
- Lid position monitoring
- Locking lid under pressure
- Electronic pressure and temperature control
- DIY burn detection with auto shutoff
- Over-pressure protection
- Temperature and electrical current limiting fuse
The InstaPot also has a float valve and until it drops down; you cannot open the hot cooker. This safety feature keeps the lid locked down to prevent burns and hazards.
Also, the display will flash “lid’ if the lid is not positioned or closed properly. On the other hand, for the sauté function, you cannot close the lid.
These and other safety features mentioned above make your Instant Pot one of the safest appliances in your kitchen.
How To Choose An Instant Pot
All models and sizes available in the Instant Pot are streamlined modern appliances that are completely safe and easy to use. Once you learn the quirks and differences in them, you will be hard-pressed to choose.
All models and brands come with sturdy, stainless steel interiors. They also have more or less the same safety features mentioned above. Since all models are great, I have come up with a list of features you should look out for when selecting your InstaPot:
Ease of Use
I must admit, that Instant Pot’s only drawback (if you can call it that) is that it takes a bit of getting used to. In the beginning, the buttons and control features did overwhelm me a bit.
That’s partly because I had no experience. As with anything else in life, a bit of practice and I was cooking like a pro. Make sure you read the manual carefully before cooking.
Note that the pot does not need a lid when you are sautéing food. At other times, you will need to ensure that the lid is in place.
Worry not; things are a lot easier than that in traditional pressure cookers. I for one always struggled with the lid of pressure cookers - I could never get it right. In case of Instant Pot, the display will indicate if the lid is not placed or positioned right.
Cost: Is Instant Pot Expensive?
Ounce for ounce and quart for quart, the price difference between different models is significant. The 8 Qt model costs around $130 while the 6 Qt model costs around $80.
Do not balk at the price - it is a downright bargain when you consider what you are getting. This quality cookware is useful for not only cooking rice, beans and meat; you can also make yoghurt, cake, porridge and other favourites. You can also use it to boil water for your pasta or simmer it down for your jams.
What Size of Instant Pot Should I Buy?
When it comes to the InstaPot, size does matter. If wishes were kings, I would buy both the 8 Qt and 6 Qt models. The 8 quart size is ideal for normal family use: you can easily make risotto, soups etc for 4-6 people. You can also make the occasional pot roast or brisket for 8 people or so, including guests. This size is also ideal for stacking custards.
I am also completely enamoured by the 5 Qt size. It is ideal for a college student or for those who cook meals for 2-3 people. Its handsome look makes it worthy of the table top or countertop. This size is also easy to transfer cooked food to the serving-ware without having to raise your elbows high or use tongs which can risk mashing your fruit, vegetables or meat.
In general, consider 1 litre or 1 quart per person. So 6 quart is ideal for up to 6 people, 8 Qt for up to 8 people and so on. Do note that you cannot and must not fill the InstaPot all the way to the top. This is also one of its safety features. I hope that answers the question: What size of Instant Pot Should I Buy?
Instant Pot Models Review: Which Instant Pot Should I buy? 5 Best Instant Pot Models
There are different models of the InstaPot: Lux, Duo, Ultra and Smart. The latter comes with the Bluetooth technology. Duo also has a more advanced DUO Plus addition.
If budget is a criteria in buying your InstaPot, go for this model which is the company’s economical offering. You can call it a 6-in-1 model which does pressure cooking, slow cooking, sautéing, cooking rice and warming. Note that it does not make yoghurt and is not compatible with the company’s Smart App.
Best for: This is the basic model. Buy it if budget is a concern and if you do not make yoghurt at home.
This is the most basic Instant Pot with fewest features and yet it has helped many customers discard many appliances in the kitchen.
- It is easy to use, clean and maintain.
- Cooks eggs to perfection and also works very well for soups, broths, rice, beans, lentils etc.
- Many users have even carried it to hotels to cook and saved tons of money.
- It does not have low pressure option.
- This model does not make yogurt.
This model has 7-in-1 functionality and makes yoghurt apart from the above listed functions of LUX. There are certain other enhancements such as convenient handle design that allows you to comfortably hold the pot. The pressure cooker also works on 2 different settings. Like Lux, this model is un-compatible with the Smart app. Note that this comes in different capacities including 3 Qt, 6 Qt and 8Qt.
Best for: The Duo 3 Qt is the smallest InstaPot in the market in case size is an issue.
Instant Pot Duo is a bestselling InstantPot with 7 functionalities, 14 smart programs and yoghurt making option.
It has received more than 20,000 positive reviews (at the time of writing this guide)!
- Comes with easy one-touch controls
- Gives consistent results with 3rd gen technology.
- Offers dual pressure settings for fast reliable cooking.
- Comes with several temperature options for sautéing, searing and thickening etc.
- Can be used for boiling-water canning.
- Wonderful for boiling eggs, cooking frozen meat and pasta, making dairy based yoghurts etc.
- Has a bit of a learning curve
- For some users, the pot died within 5-6 months of use. Company’s customer service did not respond.
See the Instant Pot Duo 7 in 1 on Amazon.
Duo Plus comes with extra features like pre-set pressure and timing for cooking eggs, baking cakes etc. You can thus call it the 9-in-1 version of the basic Duo InstaPot. It comes with an attractive display which clearly indicates what the InstaPot is doing at a time (keeping food warm, sautéing etc).
DuoPlus also remembers the past timing/pressure settings. There is also a sterilize option which may be used for cleaning baby bottles etc.
Best for: Duo Plus 6 Qt offers 13 preset temperatures and 14 smart microprocessor controlled programs. It is ideal for people who do not need the Smart/Bluetooth technology.
Instant Pot DUO Plus can make yoghurt, rice, eggs, and many other delicious dishes. Makes cake too and reduces cooking time by nearly 70%.
- Comes with high, low, normal and manual settings.
- You can mute the beeps for night cooking.
- Yoghurts turn out great-even non-dairy ones.
- Wonderful for whole grain porridge, oats, polenta, brown and white rice, coconut rice, chicken thighs and so on.
- Many users have reported a C-6 error display on the unit within 4-5 days of use.
- Some people also faced issues like leaking steam/puddle formation during the initial test run itself.
This wonderful InstaPot model allows you to choose temperatures between 104 to 208 F and time between 1 minute and 6 hours. You can also vary the temperature one degree at a time which is very handy feature if you want to have total control over how you cook.
It also has all the cooking functionalities offered by Duo Model. So you can pressure cook, slow cook, and sauté, make yoghurt and also customize and remember previous settings. To let you in on a little secret, the Ultra happens to be my favourite model. It is the only InstaPot model that comes with a super convenient dial and no-buttons control panel.
Best for: If you are after a model that has all the important features and would like to control every setting, the Ultra 6 Qt is an Instant Pot for you. It comes with 11 safety features as compared to 10 of all other models. It also has 10-in-1 functionality. Oh, and did I mention that it comes with 16 smart built-in programs and 21 preset temperatures? It has all the features of the other Insta Pots apart from the SmartApp feature.
Amazon's Choice Instant Pot - Ultra model allows for full customization!
You can literally replace 10 common kitchen appliances with this baby!
Use it for sautéing, cooking eggs, baking a cake, making rice/porridge, pressure cook or slow cook, make yoghurt, steam or warm food and also sterilize stuff.
- The Instant Pot Ultra 6 qt model comes with 11 safety features.
- You get many accessories with it including steam rack with handles, recipe books, spoons, measuring cups etc.
- The dial control gives you a greater degree of control than the buttons alone.
- Display is large, bright and easy to read. It is larger than other InstaPot models.
- This Instant Pot is highly customizable. The Ultra feature is what sets this appliance apart from other models. As explained above, it allows you to set a specific temperature from 104 to 208 and cook at a set temperature in a no pressure vacuum.
- Another feature very specific to this instant pot is the sterilize feature.
- Push the ‘egg button’ and your eggs are perfectly cooked without your having to do any calculations or measurements. Same goes for yoghurt.
- Excellent customer support as per most users.
- Instructions are complicated to understand so most people have had to rely on the Internet to solve their queries.
Here is the link to buy your own amazing Instant Pot Ultra on Amazon.
This baby literally has a million functions. You can make yoghurt, kefir, breads and ricotta cheese in it and can also sync your smart cooker with the SmartApp on Android or Mac via Bluetooth connectivity. (The app is available for free download even if you do not buy the InstaPot).
It can take your cooking to a whole new level. You get access to hundreds of recipes and can also write your own recipe scripts by setting time, temperature and pressure. These can even be shared with your friends once you have perfected the scripts. It has 12 preset temperatures and 14 smart in built programs.
Best for: Use this InstaPot if you need to control your appliance using a smartphone or tablet.
Top of the range Instant Pot with Smart Bluetooth
This is the Smart version of Instant Pot. You can download the app to not only get great tips and recipes; you can also enter your own recipe in scripts to share with friends.
- Comes with 14 smart program features.
- Affords nearly 70% time and energy savings.
- Replaces 7 different kitchen appliances and devices.
- Compared to the DUO Model, this Smart Instant Pot has many more temperature settings.
- The Bluetooth technology allows you to sync the appliance with your tablet/computer. It works for Android and Apple IOS both.
- For many people with large family and pets, this unit is a huge blessing and a complete timesaver.
- Breeze to clean and super quiet.
- For some users, the Bluetooth technology did not work or stopped working after a few days.
- Customer service was not great as experienced by most users.
The InstaPot will change how you make your meals and believe me when I say that there will be no looking back once you own one.
Whether you are in a mood for perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs that literally peel themselves off, or some delicious yoghurt or cheesecake, or even tasty frozen buffalo wings thawed and cooked to perfection in under an hour to hearty bone broth for those chilly winter evenings, the Instant Pot is there to help you make delicious, time saving meals.
In short, the Instant Pot is an obsession you’d want to indulge in again and again!
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