After hearing all the hype about the Instant Pot (commonly nicknamed InstaPot), I recently had the chance to borrow one purchased by another family member. I had coworkers claim they loved their first InstaPot so much that they purchased two additional InstaPots to aid in food prep. In other instances, I had friends who have never cooked a day in the lives start cooking all their meals at home with the help of an Instapot. And my family's experience with it so far has been positive, in that they had no problem figuring out how to use it themselves. So since I had a chance to borrow one, I figured why not!
I had a short experience with pressure cooking before the InstaPot became mainstream popular. I had a friend who loved cooking who owned a traditional pressure cooker that uses a gas stove instead of electricity, a gauge that measures the pressure, and heavy duty bolts to all around the edge to secure the pressure. In one word, the traditional pressure cooker was overly complicated! But he would make us the most delicious home cooked foods and soups. At first glance, the InstaPot appears to be much easier to use with tons of recipes available online.
My First Day Instant Pot Experience
I decided to try making brisket purchased from Costco. Although the Costco portion was almost 8lbs worth of meat (and lots of fat), I decided to only use about 2lbs for my first InstaPot try. It involved pressure cooking the brisket with a dry rub for 1 hour and 15 minutes with about 1 cup of water in the InstaPot (full recipe via website). In a slow cooker, it can be done in 8-9 hours! Long story short, the meat came out extremely tender and very delicious.
Later that afternoon, my wife decided to try making a Pho soup base. Surprisingly, we had most of the ingredients already in the spice cabinet, so it was a perfect fit. This recipe also took about 1 hour 30 minutes (full recipe via YouTube video). In the end, it made approximately 8 bowls of delicious soup perfect for a cold winter day.
Instant Pot Takeaway
My takeaways from my first day with the InstaPot:
- Minimal preparation: I think that is in part the power of pressure cooking. There's only so much preparation before I can be pressure cooked. Some chopping, applying spices, and maybe some searing.
- Easy Cleanup: Other than washing the inner pot and emptying out the steam catcher, there aren't many more parts that require cleaning. If you use the InstaPot a lot, you may want to occasionally wash the lid.
- Built-In Safety: If all the parts are working properly (ie, float valve), the InstaPot will prevent you from absentmindedly opening the pot without releasing the pressure. Doing so would cause of explosion of super hot liquid (not fun!)
- Short Cook Time: Instead of the recipe taking many many hours, the cook time can be reduced down to a bit longer than an hour. Great if you don't have much time to cook after work, like those working an 8am to 5pm schedule. Note that depending on the recipe, it may take 15-20 minutes for the InstaPot to "pressurize", before the official cook time begins.
- Low Counter Top Usage: Counter top space is precious, and so appliances that have a permanent place need to provide real value. Though the InstaPot is bigger than our rice cooker, It still doesn't take up that much space and be easily stored when not in use. The pots, accessories, and power cables all fit nicely inside the pot when not in use (just make sure the pots are dry).
- Tons of Recipes: From websites to YouTube, InstaPot recipes are everywhere! From soups to meats. I think of the InstaPot as the exact opposite of a slow cooker.
- Safe Cooking: Similar to the slow cooker, I feel comfortable setting the InstaPot on cook and leaving the house to run errands. I would never do this is I had the fire running on the gas or electric powered stove. After the InstaPot's timer is complete, it slowly depressurizes if you're not around (or the recipe calls for it). Conversely, you can quick release the pressure, but stand clear of the stream of steam.
- Easy to Use: Perfect for you with a busy schedule, all you do is set the pressure type (high or low), cook type (select from a list), and set the time. From there, the InstaPot self pressurizes, cooks, and then even self depressurizes.
With those reasons after one day of use, we are highly considering purchasing a Instant Pot. I've seen it sold everywhere, like Costco, Amazon, Khols, and I'm sure other brick and mortar stores. For all the healthy meals that can be created in a pinch, we're looking forward to the day we can add the Instant Pot to our kitchen.