What’s an Instant Pot and why do you need one?

What is an Instant Pot? And why do you need one?

Everybody’s asking, what’s an Instant Pot and why do you need one.  The brand name item “Instant Pot” first came to market in 2010.  Some people say that an Instant Pot is nothing more than a pressure cooker, but that’s not true.  You can use an Instant Pot as a pressure cooker, and it does an amazing job of it, but you can also sauté, use it as a slow cooker, use it as a rice cooker, and I’ve heard that you can even bake in them (although I have not done so yet, here is a link to tell you how to do that.)

You can make yogurt, steam vegetables, bake potatoes, cook food from frozen ….the possibilities are many. In fact, Instant Pots can do so many things that they are a bit intimidating when you first purchase one.  Please don’t let all the available buttons and options scare you.  It’s a great appliance to own.

Instant Pots are constructed from 100% stainless steel, not aluminum like most.  Of course, stainless steel is long-lasting and the pot itself is very easy to clean.  Considering how often you will use it once you get used to it, that’s a huge plus.   It’ll replace your rice cooker, your pressure cooker, and your slow cooker, just to name a few items.

You can NOT pressure can food in an Instant Pot, however.  So if you do canning with a pressure cooker, as many of my readers do, hang on to old faithful for that.  (You can do boiling water canning in it.)


Things to Know Before you buy one.

  • You can only fill the pot 3/4 full, so keep that in mind when choosing the size for your family.  6 quarts is really only 4.5 quarts usable.  Most families need an 8 quart.
  • Once you get used to it, you’re going to want to try all kinds of things with it, so buy the very best model you can buy–with all the options you could ever imagine wanting to try.  (Some can make yogurt, for example.)  You don’t want to regret it later that you didn’t spend the extra $20 (or whatever it is.)
  • You can’t use standard pressure cooker recipes with an Instant Pot.  There are, however, many recipes on the internet and there are books just for Instant Pot cooking.

Helpful things to know before you use your Instant Pot the first time:

  • When using your Instant Pot as a pressure cooker, you will need to add at least 1/2 – 1 cup of liquid into your recipe.  If you don’t, the unit won’t fully pressurize.
  • Increase or decrease the temperature when slow cooking or sauteing by pressing the “adjust” button.
  • There’s no need to defrost first when using frozen ingredients in your Instant Pot.  You just need to increase the cooking time a bit.
  • You can pop popcorn in an Instant Pot, using the saute function.
  • When cooking in pressure cooker mode, there’s no need to soak or pre-cook dried beans. Just throw them in with the other ingredients.
  • You will save time, money, and kitchen space with your Instant Pot.

What's an Instant Pot

You’ll find five different models of Instant Pot on the market, each with slight variations in functions and features. Let’s examine all five to help you decide which one best fits your needs.

First up–the “Lux”

The Instant Pot Lux is the most basic Instant Pot. It’s an excellent, affordable option if you mainly use it for basic kitchen tasks; pressure cooking, slow cooking and steaming. It has ten built-in smart programs, or you can set it manually.

It’s a 6-in-1 model with the following functions:

  • Pressure cook
  • Slow cook
  • Cook rice
  • Saute
  • Steam
  • Warm

Next is the “Duo”

The Duo is the next step up from the Lux. It also offers the ability to cook on either high pressure or low pressure. This is the most popular model Instant Pot. According to owner reviews, the Duo does everything they need it, and more. It has 14 smart programs, plus the option to manually set the cooking time for pressure cooking.

The Duo is a 7-in-1 model with the following functions:

  • Pressure cook
  • Slow cook
  • Make yogurt  <——– You can’t do that with the Lux.
  • Cook rice
  • Saute
  • Steam
  • Warm

What's an Instant Pot

Next is “Duo Plus”

The Instant Pot Duo Plus boasting everything the Duo offers, plus a bit extra. The added sterilize function makes it perfect for anyone who wants to use their Instant Pot to sterilize baby bottles.

It’s a 9-in-1 model with the following functions:

  • Pressure cook
  • Slow cook
  • Make yogurt
  • Cook rice
  • Cook eggs
  • Saute
  • Steam
  • Warm
  • Sterilize <—— nifty!

Then comes “Smart”– with app control ability.

It’s just like the Duo, and it has all the same functions except you can control it with an app, which connects from your phone or tablet using Bluetooth.  WHAt!?!?!?  How cool is that?

The Smart model comes with 14 built-in programs, and the app allows you to download and use many more. The app also gives you tremendous control over the cooking temperature, and lets you create your own programs for exact results.

What's an Instant Pot

Lastly, the “Ultra”

If you like creating recipes, you will love to be able to customize each program and create your own detailed programs without the use of an app with this model.  The addition of a twist dial lets you set the cooking at one-degree increments, rather than selecting from a number of preset temperatures. It also allows you to make detailed custom programs, selecting the cook time, pressure level, exact temperature (anywhere from 104 to 208°F), length of the delay timer, and whether or not to switch to “keep warm” at the end of the cooking cycle.

This is a 10-in-1 model with the following functions:

  • Pressure cook
  • Slow cook
  • Make yogurt
  • Cook rice
  • Make cakes
  • Cook eggs
  • Saute
  • Steam
  • Warm
  • Sterilize

Every model of Instant Pot has evolved with different improvements. If you purchase a used, older one, be sure to check the model and its capabilities first.  When you purchase a new Instant Pot, unless stated otherwise you’ll receive the newest version. This should be the best iteration currently available.

Good luck and have fun with whichever model you choose!



 


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4 Comments

  1. I am not of course saying this will happen to all of these but a friend had one. An electrical fault caused it to explode burning her hand badly.

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