I didn’t get dinner in the slow cooker this morning, and I don’t want us to eat at 9:00 pm. What can I fix that’s quick and easy? That’s a question so many of us ask (you are definitely not alone).
There are a number of answers to that question and among them is to make a meal using a pressure cooker (at least in part). Pressure cooking is the Instant Pot’s primary function, and it cooks food in a fraction of the time it normally takes.
Why I bought an Instant Pot
Before buying this Instant Pot I thought, I really want it, but is it worth that much money? Will I use it enough to make it worth the space it takes up? For me, the answer turned out to be yes and yes. I love it!
But here’s why I hesitated. Although I read a number of great reviews, those reviewers loved it because they had not used a pressure cooker before. I have been using a high quality stove top pressure cooker for years. So for me, the advantage of the Instant Pot was that I could set it and walk away from it without having to keep an eye on the pressure gauge and adjust the burner temperature. And honestly, I decided the convenience wasn’t worth the money.
But when the Instant Pot went on sale for Amazon Prime day in July ($70), my husband and Shirley talked me into getting it. As soon as I used it, I was so glad I did. Why? Because I seriously underestimated the advantage of its convenience. Being able to set it and walk away or just focus on other food I’m fixing is so liberating. And because it’s so easy, I’m more likely to use it (as opposed to my stove top cooker) for foods that require a longer cook time.
What I love cooking in my Instant Pot
Eggs – My favorite thing to cook in my Instant Pot is eggs – hard cooked eggs in the shell. Because they are so easy to peel! Yes, even fresh eggs. The shell comes right off. Now, occasionally I get an egg that bursts out of its shell. So I usually put in one more than I need. But that doesn’t always happen, and it might have to do with the eggs that I use (they come from my brother-in-law’s farm). I made a lot of deviled eggs this summer, thanks to the Instant Pot.
Look how perfectly smooth these eggs are!
Beans – I also love cooking dried bean in it because they don’t need soaking. That’s right. I rinse the beans, put them in the pot with plenty of water, put the lid on and start the pot. I come back to nice, soft, cooked beans!
Rice – You dump your rice and water into the pot, close the lid, press the “Rice” button, and the pot does the rest of the work. It doesn’t get easier than that.
I also use the Instant Pot for other foods including meat, vegetables, potatoes, and soup. Small cuts of meat such as chicken legs and wings or beef tips cook quickly. And for those night when I need a quick meal, I add a little barbecue sauce to some meat in the Instant Pot and then fix some quick sides like salad and pre-cooked rice.
The Instant Pot can be used as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, and yogurt maker. However, I don’t think it makes the best slow cooker. Here’s why.
The heating element of the Instant Pot is on the bottom and a stainless steel pot sits on top of that. It is not heated around the sides like a normal slow cooker is. I haven’t actually tried it because the reviews I read convinced me that it was not a replacement for my Crock Pot.
However, the advantage of the heating element and steel pot is that you can sauté or brown foods before cooking them in the pressure cooker without getting a separate skillet dirty.
I don’t have an interest in making yogurt right now, so I haven’t tried that function. And as I said, I love cooking rice in it.
What I don’t like
When the lid is locked in position, the valve where steam escapes is sitting at the back of the pot. If I have the Instant Pot sitting on my counter, that steam goes straight up towards my cabinets. I don’t like that happening, so I either turn the pot sideways, which makes it harder to see the control panel or I set it on the stove top if there is room.
I also don’t like that the valve release has an on and off position. With my stove top cooker, the pressure valve goes up as pressure builds. To release pressure, you push the valve down and steam escapes. So, because I’m not used to the on/off position, I sometimes start the pot with the release valve open. I’m learning, though.
I have been so happy with my Instant Pot and think it was well worth the price I paid. Even at the regular price, I think it’s worth it for someone who doesn’t already have a pressure cooker. But with Christmas coming up, I wouldn’t be surprised if you can find it on sale again.
I need to experiment with using it more. I was disappointed that it didn’t come with a cookbook. If any of you have an Instant Pot, I would love to hear what foods you cook in yours.