The Instant Pot has a learning curve. If you consider the fact that it is replacing up to 10 other appliances, this shouldn't be surprising. However, the Instant Pot does not work exactly like your other appliances. You will have to commit to learning how to use each function. It may also take some time to figure out how to rework your favorite dishes so you can successfully make them in an Instant Pot. The good news is that there are a LOT of Instant Pot fans out there and many online resources to help you learn. The appliance also comes with good instructions, tips, and recipes.
Instant Pots are fast but it's worth keeping your expectations realistic – you won't be turning out pulled pork in five minutes. If you have used a pressure cooker in the past, you'll understand that part of the cooking time includes the Instant Pot coming to pressure. This time is going to vary according to how much liquid is in the pot. If you have a recipe that calls for 10 minutes of cooking time, that timer does not start counting down until the pot pressurizes. This could take an extra 15, 20 or 30 minutes. Usually, those times are not written in the recipes. No matter what, cooking in the Instant Pot will typically be a fraction of the time of cooking in an oven.
Instant Pots start at about $80. These models are usually the smallest versions which can hold 3 quarts. They can be a good choice for singles and come with the same functions as the larger pots. Most households with more than one or two people will want a larger pot. The most popular model comes in at around $100 for a 6-quart pot. Pots over $100 will come in larger sizes and have more functions. They may also offer you more ability to customize settings. For a smart pot that you can use with an app interface, expect to pay about $150 to $200.
Other important details
While the Instant Pot can help you save time in the kitchen, another important advantage is that pressure cooking helps to keep in the extra nutrients in your food. It can help you conserve water and uses less energy than an oven, or stovetop. It also helps seal in flavor, offering you the opportunity to not only cook better meals at home but enjoy them more, too.
Q. Is an Instant Pot safe?
A. One of the main advantages of an Instant Pot is the safety features it offers for pressure cooking. The only danger point is the steam release valve which can release dangerously hot water when released – just make sure an adult oversees this part of the process. It is primarily a very safe appliance.
Q. Do I have to attend to my Instant Pot while it cooks?
A. You do not have to watch and Instant Pot as closely as a regular pressure cooker and you can use the slow cooker function to cook all day long while you are at work. However, you will want to check your pressure function for leaks every time you use it.
Instant Pots we recommend
Best of the best: Instant Pot DUO60
Our take: Whether you're feeding two people or ten, the six-quart capacity is an excellent size. And the DUO model has all the necessary features, like pressure cooking and slow cooking, without the presets you'll never use.
What we like: 14 preset functions. Six-quart capacity holds a lot of food but doesn't take up as much counter space as larger models.
What we dislike: Sometimes the presets can be glitchy. You will want to try them out when you first get the pot to make sure they all are operating.
Best bang for your buck: Instant Pot Duo Mini
Our take: We like this model for singles or couples. It is a good option if you do not have a lot of space and want to clear out some of your older kitchen appliances.
What we like: It holds three quarts and has all the features of the Duo, which allows you to cook on low pressure. It also gives you three slow-cooker functions and a warming option.
What we dislike: As long as the size works for you, there isn't much to dislike in this model.
Choice 3: Instant Pot Ultra 6 Qt
Our take: This Instant Pot is for those who really know how to use the appliance. It allows you to customize programs and precisely set temperatures so you can develop your own Instant Pot recipes.
What we like: This is a 10-in-one appliance. It comes in both the 3-quart and 8-quart sizes in addition to the classic. Includes an extra safety feature on the steam release and comes with lots of accessories.
What we dislike: It costs more, but if you really love your Instant Pot cooking then this model will give you lots of choices.
Karen Roth Ridder is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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