“Oh no,” you’re probably thinking, “not another lunatic raving about the wonders of that Instant Pot contraption.”
I too was initially skeptical of the Instant Pot, but I’ve come around.
What Is The Instant Pot, Anyway?
In a nutshell, it’s a pressure cooker, which is a device that cooks food by heating liquid to boiling, which forms steam within a sealed pot. The steam cooks the food rapidly and also forces liquid into it, which increases moisture and helps quickly tenderize cuts of meat. Once it’s done cooking, you vent the steam out of the pot through a valve on the top.
I knew nothing at all about pressure cookers prior to getting my IP, but from what I understand, they’ve never been considered a reliable cooking device. I read horror stories about spaghetti sauce and beef stew spattered all over kitchen ceilings because the steam built up and caused the lid of the pot to blow off. The IP, however, has multiple safety settings designed to prevent that sort of thing from happening.
It is intimidating and even a little scary to use at first, but once you learn the ropes it’s like a whole new world of cooking possibilities opens up before you.
What Else Can It Do?
In addition to being a pressure cooker, the Instant Pot is also a slow cooker, a vegetable steamer, a porridge maker, a yogurt maker, a soup/stew pot, a rice cooker, and more. Here are some of the things you can make (some of which I’ve tried, others I haven’t).
- Steamed vegetables (fresh or frozen)
- Steamed seafood, such as shrimp or scallops (fresh or frozen)
- Hardboiled eggs – I usually screw up hardboiled eggs on the stove, but they turned out perfectly in the IP (which worked well when I made Scotch Eggs, a great recipe from my Hobbit cookbook)
- Roasted garlic
- Cheesecake (I haven’t done this yet as you need a 7-inch springform pan, and I only have a 10-inch one at the moment, but I’ve heard it’s incredible — once I can acquire a 7-inch pan, I want to try it)
- Cook a whole chicken, and then use the carcass to make bone broth
- Soup or stew
- Homemade yogurt (sadly, I only have the 6-in-1 instant pot, so I do not have the yogurt setting – you need to buy the 7-in-1 version, linked below, for that particular setting)
- Rice (I’ve made both white rice and brown rice, and pretty soon I’m going to try mango sticky rice
- Mashed potatoes
- Macaroni and cheese (pasta and all!)
There are so many possibilities that I almost wish I had two Instant Pots! The one I have was a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law (who also had no idea what it was but bought it for me anyway), and I’m seriously considering investing in another one someday. I’d like to be able to make both a main dish and a side dish using the IP (for example, honey chicken teriyaki in one pot and brown rice in the other).
Why Is This So Great for Working Mothers?
Two words: it’s fast. You can cook an entire pot roast in 90 minutes, start to finish. Something simple like macaroni and cheese takes around 10 minutes. A few nights ago I made the honey teriyaki chicken I mentioned above, and it was done cooking in the IP before my rice cooker had finished cooking the rice!
My biggest epiphany came when I realized what this magical device can do for the busy working mother.
It can cook a meal in less than an hour even if your meat is frozen.
Did you catch that?
Even if your meat is frozen.
So if you, like me, constantly forget to take your meat out of the freezer in time for it to thaw in the refrigerator, only to suddenly remember you needed to do so the day you’d intended to stick the meal in the crockpot, this machine is a miracle.
Now, there ARE some exceptions to that rule — it’s best not to pressure cook a frozen pot roast, for example, since a roast is a really thick chunk of meat and it will definitely take over an hour, even in the Instant Pot, and may not cook evenly. (This article is a good guide to cooking frozen meat in the Instant Pot.) But for other types of meat — beef stew meet, pork chops, chicken, turkey, even ground beef — it’s amazing.
Most slow cooker recipes can be converted for use in the IP (there’s a good tutorial on that here), so it’s a lifesaver if you plan a crockpot meal and then realize around 3pm that you forgot to put it in (like I do… all the time…).
What’s Your Favorite Instant Pot Recipe?
I’m so glad you asked! My favorite so far is the recipe for Fall-Apart Pressure Cooker Pot Roast. It only has five ingredients, it’s very easy to make, and it tastes fabulous. The five ingredients are a 3-4lb pot roast, an onion, 2 cups of broth or water, sea salt, and oil (I use olive oil). Ninety minutes later (allowing 20 minutes to come to pressure, and 70 minutes actual cooking time) it’s as tender and delicious as if it’d been cooking all day in the slow cooker. (This isn’t one of the recipes that allows to cook from frozen, but it’s still my favorite.)
Where Can I Get One?!
You can usually find them on sale at Amazon. See the affiliate links* below!
*If you choose to buy the IP via this link, I receive a small percentage of the sale. Your support is appreciated!
Okay, I Have One… Now What?
The first thing you want to do is read the manual cover to cover. After that, there’s no shortage of resources available online!
The Instant Pot Community on Facebook is a great resource, although it can be a little overwhelming what with 400,000+ members. I highly recommend checking out the documents in the files section first, as they contain a lot of helpful links to various YouTube videos and such to help you get started.
After that, if you want to join an Instant Pot group on Facebook that’s much smaller and a little more intimate, I highly recommend Instant Pot Recipes with Kara, which is run by a friend of mine. We’re all learning to use our IPs together.
There are thousands of Pinterest boards containing Instant Pot recipes, tips, tricks, etc. My Instant Pot recipe board contains all of the recipes linked in this post as well as others that I’ve tried or am planning to try.
If you have an Instant Pot of your own, feel free to leave a comment with your favorite tips, tricks, and recipes!