Pressure Cookers are back! Instant Pot has won a following as busy moms struggle to make “real” food faster. Calendar Editor Liz Petroff bought her own and put the trend to the test.
I’m not one to jump on a bandwagon when it comes to trends. I actually have to watch the bandwagon for a few laps before I decide to hop on. That’s how it was for me with Instant Pot.
I read several blogs and Instagram stories and talked with friends who tried out this new seven-in-1 appliance. Then, I dragged my feet. If I’m going to bring another appliance into my kitchen, it has to be worth the precious counter space.
There seem to be two main reactions to Instant Pot: love or hate. The split is what finally pushed me to test it. First, I bought “How To Instant Pot” and a recipe book. Then I researched products. There are several other brands and styles of this modern pressure cooker that range from $40-$150, but I decided to buy the 6-quart V3 name brand.
At one point in the learning process, my husband joked that I brought a bomb-making appliance into our home. I’ll admit, I had a huge fear of operator misuse and visions of exploding dinners.
In a nutshell, Instant Pot has seven cooking functions: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, yogurt maker and warmer. All are guaranteed to help prepare dinners faster, easier, smarter and healthier.
The pressure cooker function requires some reading. It’s the opposite of a slow cooker, and there are three main steps to cooking foods at hotter and faster temperatures: the time it takes to reach the desired temperature, the cook time and the cool-down process (releasing the pressure). This is what can be frustrating. I noticed a lot of first-time users expected the entire meal to be ready to eat in what is actually just the cooking time.
The pressure valve is an extremely important element. It sits loosely — something I didn’t feel comfortable with at first, but felt reassured after researching it a bit. Several warning tags come attached. If it is not positioned correctly at the time of cooking, things can go very wrong, but I managed to get it right.
The first recipe I set out to make was a roasted chicken … in about an hour. Low and behold, it was as easy as they said. The recipes called for sautéing the chicken first, in the pot. I then prepared the appliance for pressure cooking, and 50 minutes later, it was done. I patiently waited another 15 minutes for the pressure to naturally release, and dinner was ready! (I should mention I completed this task all while monitoring fourth-grade math homework.)
The days following my first successful meal included a pot roast, which I shredded and used for Philly sandwiches. I also mastered Instant Pot rice and hard-boiled eggs. All are things that we eat regularly. And I used the sautéing and slow-cooker functions to brown ground turkey and make chili.
How did everything taste? No complaints. The chicken was juicy, and the pot roast was tender. The rice was fluffy, and the hard-boiled eggs really were easier to peel. I wouldn’t say the Instant Pot is life-changing, but it certainly makes prepping dinner easier to manage. Cooking real food faster gives this always-at-sports-practice-or-rehearsal-or-volunteering working mom more options and satisfies my family’s hunger pangs fairly quickly!