Do I really need an Instant Pot? Before you buy an Instant Pot, you must read this first! Today I’m sharing helpful information on which is the best Instant Pot to buy, comparing the 6 quart vs. 8 quart Instant Pot, how fast it cooks food, is the pressure cooker safe, and easy hacks to make the Instant Pot work for you.
It took me a couple of years before I finally decided to buy the 6 quart Instant Pot Duo Plus. Initially, I thought it was just another over-hyped kitchen appliance that would take up precious counterspace in my small apartment.
Plus, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t intimidated about learning how to use a new kitchen tool. I already had a high-powered blender and a food processor – Do I really want an Instant Pot? Is an Instant Pot worth it?
But once the stay-at-home orders were announced in Ontario, we were eating nearly all of our meals at home. It was exhausting thinking about what to make for dinner every night.
I tried meal kit delivery services such as Hello Fresh and Chef’s Plate, but I was looking for a better option to make healthy plant-based meals. I needed to find a way to make meal planning easy and fun, which is why I decided to buy an Instant Pot!
But here’s the big question — should YOU buy an Instant Pot? Today I’m sharing everything you need to know before buying an Instant Pot and if it’s the right kitchen tool for you.
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What does an Instant Pot do?
Many people think that the Instant Pot is just an updated and safer version of an old-fashioned pressure cooker. Yes, the Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker, but it’s also capable of doing the following functions:
- An electric pressure cooker
- Slow cooker
- Rice cooker
- Saute / browning
- Yogurt maker
As you can see, the Instant Pot is a multifunctional pressure cooker and can easily replace several of your other kitchen appliances because it’s a 7-in-1 tool. Some of the newer Instant Pot models also come with additional programs, such as a cake maker, egg maker, sterilizer, sous vide machine, and air fryer.
What is the advantage of buying an Instant Pot?
1. You can saute food in your Instant Pot
The saute feature alone is what makes the Instant Pot superior to other pressure cookers and slow cookers. If a recipe calls browning and moving it to another appliance, you can do both in the Instant Pot, saving you time and clean up.
This means you can toast spices or caramelize onions using the saute option on the Instant Pot. There’s no need to pull out another pan. You can also use it at the end of cooking to thicken up sauces, which can be difficult to do in a slow cooker.
2. You don’t have to “babysit” the Instant Pot
One of the biggest selling points for me was that I could throw my food in the Instant Pot, close the lid and leave it be. I don’t have to worry about the food burning or stirring it constantly such as when cooking on the stovetop.
The only time I need to stir my food is if I’m using the saute function or right before serving. Now dinner time is much more manageable and less stressful.
3. You can cook frozen meat in the Instant Pot
Unlike a slow cooker, where it’s unsafe to cook frozen meat because it may stay in a dangerous temperature for too long – you can safely cook frozen meat in the Instant Pot. This is great for those times when you forget to thaw meat out the night before.
When cooking frozen meat in the Instant Pot, it does take a little longer for the pot the reach full pressure, which can increase the cooking time. But you can safely and easily cook frozen chicken, beef, or turkey in your Instant Pot.
4. The Instant Pot uses less energy than a slow cooker or stove
I recently read from Instant Pot that it uses 70% less energy and cooks food two to six times faster, compared to your stove or oven. Of course this depends on your specific appliance and recipe. Also, because the Instant Pot is on for a shorter amount of time, it uses less power overall than a slow cooker. This can help you save money.
PRO TIP: If you’re making rice and beans, you can cook both items in your Instant Pot at the same time! Simply add your beans to the Instant Pot, then add a trivet into the Instant Pot on top of the beans. Place the rice pan on top of the trivet. This lets you cook two items at the same time, saving you time and makes cleaning easy!
5. It’s just ONE pot to clean
Since we started cooking more meals at home, one thing I noticed was how long it took to prep and cook a meal, it only took 5 minutes to eat the meal, and then it felt like it took forever to clean up the kitchen after dinner.
Using the Instant Pot makes cooking dinner a breeze because it’s just one pot to clean. I can’t believe how much time I’m saving in the kitchen!
6. You can make more than just savory food in the Instant Pot
Before I bought my Instant Pot, I didn’t realize how many different things you could make in it. From sweet to savory dishes, such as cakes, bread, stews, curries, pastas, there are tons of Instant Pot recipes available.
PRO TIP: The Instant Pot comes with a sealing ring that fits nicely inside the lid. It’s recommend to get an extra sealing ring so you can use one for savory meals and the other for sweet recipes.
7. The Instant Pot turns off when it’s done
Once your food has finished cooking, the Instant Pot will automatically switch to the “Keep Warm” function. You can also turn the Instant Pot off, which will make sure the food stays warm inside, but stops “cooking”.
8. The Instant Pot is easy to use
As I already mentioned, I was intimidated before I bought my Instant Pot, because it seemed like a huge learning curve. But once I watched a quick video on YouTube and went through the owner’s manual, all my fears were quickly relieved. It’s much easier than I thought and makes cooking dinner simple.
9. The Instant Pot insert is stainless steel
I love this aspect of the Instant Pot and knowing that it’s a safe, chemical-free cooking container. Plus, it’s also dishwasher safe!
You can even put the sealing ring that fits in the Instant Pot lid in the dishwasher. This makes it super easy to take care of your Instant Pot and keep it clean.
10. The Instant Pot will save you a TON of time!
Depending on the recipe, you can cut down cooking time by using an Instant Pot. For example, instead of waiting for meat to thaw, you can cook frozen meat in under an hour. You can also cook dried beans and soup stock in less than an hour.
Disadvantages of buying an Instant Pot
1. The Instant Pot isn’t always faster
While the Instant Pot can save you a ton of time for certain recipes, such as cooking dried beans, soup stock and frozen meat, it’s not always the fastest option.
For example, when cooking minestrone soup, it takes me just as long to cook it on the stovetop as using my Instant Pot.
But the main advantage of using my Instant Pot is that I don’t have to worry about checking on the soup or stirring it. I just put everything into the Instant Pot, close the lid, and let it cook without stress. (See Pro Tip #2)
2. The sealing ring inside the Instant Pot lid can smell funky
Every Instant Pot comes with a sealing ring that fits inside the lid. This silicone ring is what helps seal in the steam to cook under pressure.
After using the Instant Pot, it’s recommended to clean the silicone ring each time. This is because it transfers flavor, so it will smell like whatever you cooked for dinner that night.
But don’t worry – it’s easy to clean. Just put it in the dishwasher or handwash it and leave it in the sun to dry completely. You may also want to consider buying a second sealing ring, which is what most people do. Use one ring for savory meals and one ring for sweet recipes.
3. You can’t check on your food
It took me a little while to get used to putting my food in the Instant Pot, closing the lid, and letting it cook without being able to check on it.
I was used to checking on my food or constantly stirring stuff when stovetop cooking. But it’s great that I don’t have to “babysit” my food anymore and can let my Instant Pot do the work.
Is the Instant Pot worth it?
Yes, the Instant Pot is worth getting if:
✓ You want to save time in the kitchen
✓ You want something easy to clean (it’s just one pot)
✓ You have the counterspace for it. Living in a small apartment with limited counterspace, I was worried it would take up too much room. But it has replaced the need for several other kitchen appliances.
✓ You have the money to buy the Instant Pot. I only recommend buying one if you think it’ll be a good option for you.
Is the Instant Pot good for vegetarians? Yes, it’s absolutely worth it! We cook mainly plant-based in my home and find the Instant Pot great for our needs. I love making soups, stews, chili, pasta, curries, and steel-cut oatmeal in my instant pot.
Some of my favorite cookbooks for the Instant Pot include:
Is the Instant Pot worth it for one person? The Instant Pot can be a great option for one person. The 6-quart is great size for one person, two people or a family of four. But if you’re tight on storage space, you can buy the 3-quart Instant Pot, which is perfect for one person.
You can use the Instant Pot to meal prep for the week or make enough food to enjoy leftovers the next day.
14 Instant Pot hacks you should know
Before you buy an Instant Pot, it can helpful to know some tips and tricks to make using your Instant Pot easy and stress-free.
1. Get a second sealing ring
The silicone sealing ring inside the Instant Pot lid tends to absorb the flavors of whatever has been stewing in the pot the night before. An easy way to fix this is to wash the sealing ring each time after using the Instant Pot – just throw it in the dishwasher or leave it out in the sun to dry.
But if you’re planning to use your Instant Pot to make both sweet and savory foods, then you may want to consider buying an extra sealing ring. They only cost around $10 on Amazon and are well worth it.
PRO TIP: Some Instant Pot models, such as the Duo Plus come with an extra sealing ring included. Be sure to check what comes with your Instant Pot before you buy any extra accessories.
2. Freeze meals in round containers so it’ll fit inside the Instant Pot
With the Instant Pot, you can cook straight from the freezer. This can save you a lot of time and make meal prep easy. Simply plan out your recipes and freeze the raw ingredients in round containers that fit perfectly into your Instant Pot.
I love having freezer meals handy for those busy weeks when I don’t have time to think about “what’s for dinner?”. It helps us to stick to our monthly food budget and I feel good knowing that we’re eating a nutritious meal.
3. Clean the Instant Pot in the dishwasher
One of the top selling points for me to buy my Instant Pot was that it’s easy to clean. All parts of the Instant Pot – with the exception of the cooker base – are dishwasher safe.
This means you can put the stainless steel inner pot, the lid, the sealing ring and the steam rack in the dishwasher.
For the cooker base, you can simply wipe it down with a damp cloth when necessary. I really dislike the clean up that comes when cooking on the stovetop, so buying the Instant Pot was a no-brainer for me.
Steam clean your Instant Pot with water and lemon or vinegar: If you’re sealing ring starts to smell like whatever you cooked the night before, here’s a great way to clean both the inner pot and the silicone ring at the same time.
Fill the Instant Pot insert with two cups of white vinegar OR the same amount of water and a lemon rind. Then seal the lid and run the appliance on the “Steam” setting for 2 minutes. Wash out the pot, remove the sealing ring and let both dry completely. Your Instant Pot will be as good as new!
PRO TIP: Another smart way to clean the inner pot is to use Barkeeper’s Friend. This can easily get rid of any cooked on gunk and make your Instant Pot look brand new.
4. Save your kitchen scraps to make soup stock
After making homemade soup stock in the Instant Pot, you’ll never want to use store-bought stock again.
When making soup stock on the stovetop, it can take up to several hours. But with the Instant Pot, you can have flavorful soup stock in less than 90 minutes.
5. You can make popcorn in your Instant Pot
Did you know that you can make homemade popcorn in the Instant Pot? It tastes waaayyyy better than microwave popcorn and is much healthier for you too. It’s best to use a glass lid when making popcorn.
You just need coconut oil, popcorn kernels, salt and butter (or your favorite popcorn topping). I’m a HUGE fan of putting nutritional yeast on popcorn – it gives it a cheesy flavor.
6. Use a glass Instant Pot lid when your slow cooking
Speaking of using a glass lid, this can come in handy when using the Instant Pot as a slow cooker. This lid has a steam vent and stainless steel rim. It’s also clear, which is nice so you can take a peak inside.
7. Use the Saute function to speed up the “coming to pressure” time
To speed up the time it takes to pressurize your pot, you can press the “Saute” button before you add any ingredients.
This will help heat the pot up quickly, especially if you are putting something cold inside the pot, such as water or broth.
8. Short on storage space? Use this tiered utility cart to store your Instant Pot
I live in a small apartment where storage space is limited. If cabinet or storage space is tight for you too, consider getting a utility cart.
Having a utility cart in your kitchen can be a smart idea. It can be a great way to store your Instant Pot or other bulky kitchen gadgets. Plus it looks nice too!
9. Use the built-in lid rest to make cooking simple
The Instant Pot has a built-in lid holder, so you don’t have to worry about resting the lid on the counter. Simply use the handles on the Instant Pot itself to hold the lid. It’s easy, saves space, and oh-so-convenient.
10. You can sterilize baby bottles in the Instant Pot
The Instant Pot can be a great tool for making easy and healthy meals. But it can also be helpful for parents too because you can use it to sterilize baby bottles and more!
Simply use the steamer insert or trivet that came with your pot to sterilize baby bottles, bottle nipples, breast bump shields, and anything else you want to sterilize.
11. Make homemade yogurt
If you enjoy eating yogurt, the Instant Pot just might be a game changer for you. Some Instant Pot models like this one come with a “Yogurt” function.
You can use it to make non-fat, full fat, Greek yogurt or dairy-free vegan yogurt! It’s pretty amazing and can save you money from buying expensive yogurt packages at the grocery store.
12. Skip the microwave and reheat leftovers in the pot
Yes, you can use the Instant Pot to reheat any leftovers such as soups, chilis, stews, or large amounts of food. Simply use the Warm or Slow Cooker function.
13. Take it with you on vacation
Think about how much you spend dining out on vacation. Consider using that money and investing in an Instant Pot instead.
Eating out is one of the biggest expenses when traveling. You can save money by bringing your Instant Pot on your next vacation or camping trip.
Make a plan for easy “one pot” meals that you know your family loves. You don’t have to use it every night on your trip, but it can be a great way to save money.
14. Take advantage of pot-in-pot cooking
If you know someone who has an Instant Pot, you may have heard them mention “pot-in-pot” cooking. This is actually one of the coolest things you can do with the Instant Pot!
Pot-in-pot cooking (or PIP for short) is a technique that allows you to cook things inside an oven-safe dish placed on a steam rack inside the Instant Pot. This means you can:
- Cook multiple dishes at once, such as chili and rice
- Bake desserts such as cheesecake
- Reheat leftovers
- Cook dishes with little or no liquid, such as casseroles
What is the best Instant Pot to buy?
The are other pressure cooker options available, but the Instant Pot has become the most popular choice for at-home cooking.
One of the reasons why I waited so long to buy my Instant Pot was because there were so many different models – I had no idea which one to get.
After doing a ton of research, I decided to buy the 6-quart Instant Pot Duo Plus. Below are some tips to help you decide which Instant Pot model and size if right for you.
The first thing you need to ask yourself is how big is your family?
The most popular size is the 6 quart, which is big enough to cook meals for a family of 3-6 people. I have a family of 2 adults and decided to choose the 6-quart size because I like to make enough so we can enjoy leftovers.
The 8 quart is ideal for larger families or if you’re cooking meals for a party. It can also be helpful for weekly meal prep. This is a great size for a family of four or more.
If you’re just cooking for 1 person or using the Instant Pot to make side dishes, then the 3 quart is ideal.
The second question you want to ask yourself is what do I want to cook?
Different models offer different functions and capabilities. All Instant Pot models can pressure cook and come with standard Smart Programs that offer pressure cooking, sauteing, slow cooking, making rice, steaming and keeping food warm.
If you want to make yogurt, all models come with a preset Yogurt button, except the Lux and Duo Crisp. However, you can use the Sous Vide button on the Duo Crisp to make yogurt. Below is some more information on the different Instant Pot models.
The classic Instant Pot: Instant Pot Duo (the most popular and best-selling model)
Best Instant Pot for parents: Instant Pot Duo Plus (includes all the features of the Duo, plus it has the sterilization button and a few other options)
Best Instant Pot for beginners: Instant Pot Duo Nova (comes with an updated display similar to the Duo Plus. Also comes with an auto sealing lid, which is a great added safety feature)
Best Instant Pot for the at-home chef: Instant Pot Ultra (includes all the features of the Duo and a lot more, including sterilization and sous vide)
Best Instant Pot for techie cooks: Instant Pot Smart WiFi (allows you to control and monitor your cooking from your smartphone device using a free app. Similar to the Duo with the addition of smart technology)
I hope you found this post helpful in deciding if you should buy an Instant Pot and which Instant Pot model is right for you. I have been using my Instant Pot for the past several months and have no regrets! It was a great investment for my family and has helped making cooking dinner easy and stress-free.
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