Instant Pot Review
If you are on social media you most likely haven't escaped the Instant Pot craze in which we all broke down and spent $100+ of technology that was popular in the 70’s - the pressure cooker - just with a facelift, a new name and fresh branding. As a part of my job, I create and test recipes, I need to create recipes around popular kitchen tools.and gadgets. I had been skeptical of the Instant Pot as I watched Instagram Live cooking demo’s from all my favorite bloggers. Was it worth the money? Would it save me time and money? Would it cook food so quickly that it would warrant the name Instant Pot? The only way to know was to try it out and give it a go. On Black Friday I ordered the Instant Pot Ultra 8 qt. - I purchased the 8 qt because the price difference between the 6 qt and the 8 qt is barely noticeable and from experience of purchasing other kitchen appliances and know that going for a larger capacity works best for me.
When my Instant Pot arrived it arrived in a GIANT box. Yikes, I was nervous. This thing was so much more of a beast than I had expected but I continued on. Unpacking it, I realized it’s size was more manageable than I originally thought.
After tinkering with it for a while and glancing at the manual, I decided to cook a soup recipe that I found on Pinterest on my maiden voyage. I used the sauté function to soften my vegetables, although I’m pretty confident that if I had skipped that step that all would be just fine. My first impression of using the sauté function is that the inner bowl (that you cook in) in is very thin, lightweight and tinny feeling and sounding. If you are used to cooking in higher quality pot and pans this might be an issue for you, like it was for me. I felt like it just took away from the cooking experience. I then added the rest of my ingredients and adjusted the timing and the pressure.
While I was waiting for the Instant Pot to come up to pressure before starting the cooking time, I cleaned the kitchen and when I finished 15 minutes later, the Instant Pot was still working on achieving pressure. It took another 10 minutes to achieve pressure and then the soup was going to cook for 30 minutes under high pressure and then it would need time to release pressure. An hour and 30 (including prep) felt like the opposite of instant and I surely could have made the soup on the stovetop for less time than that.
Since then I’ve experimented with other recipes and dishes and some have worked and some have been disappointing and seem to take a lot more time than they would if you just cooked them on the stove top. I also feel very disconnected to my food when using the Instant Pot. There’s no sound of my tapping the wooden spoon against my enameled cast iron dutch oven after I stir what I’m cooking, no delicious smells filling up my house, no being able to peek in on the process to see how it’s coming along. To me, cooking is a full sensory activity and I really enjoy about being connected to the process.
Where the Instant Pot does shine, in my opinion, is with tougher cuts of meats that would need hours to cook and braise to be tender in the oven or stovetop. I made ribs one night and those were a success, even though it still took about an hour between achieving pressure and cooking but ribs in my oven would have taken 2-3 hours.
I also think that the Instant Pot would work well if you wanted to make up a few freezer meals to pop in when you get home from work and need to wrangle your kids and get settled in for the night. By the time you would done, Instant Pot would have cooked everything.
The Instant Pot is also good for the instances that you may have forgotten to take something out of the freezer earlier in the day to defrost or if you aren’t into sautéing onions and garlic for a Crockpot meal early in the morning before work.
Will I keep my Instant Pot? For sure, there are enough special circumstances where I can see it working in my kitchen but now I just call it a pressure cooker without the expectation that anything will be instant - maybe expedited at best.