Instant Pot 101


In an effort to answer the increasing amount of questions we are getting about Instant Pots, we thought we’d create a resource page. Hope this can help answer some of those burning questions about the Instant Pot!

A great resource page for Instant Pot beginners! This post answers basic questions you may be asking about the newest craze, The Instant Pot.

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Home cooks are loving the ease and versatility of the Instant Pot. Any appliance that allows you to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your people is a win in our book. We especially love that the Instant Pot can cook freezer meals straight from frozen! This means if you forget to thaw your meal out the night before, no sweat! Pop it in the Instant Pot, set the machine and walk away.

What is an Instant Pot?

An Instant Pot a single electric cooker that does multiple things. It can work as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, saute pan or warming pot. 

Why should I get an Instant Pot?

Can you live without this contraption? Well, of course. Humanity has until now. But, humans are always searching for faster and easier ways to do, well, anything. The Instant Pot is a product that meets both of those needs in the kitchen. Here are a few reasons you might want an Instant Pot:

  1. It Cooks Food Fast! Well, faster than the normal time anyway. A pork roast which takes 8 hours in the slow cooker is done in 60 minutes in the Instant Pot.
  2. It can cook food from frozen. Since it’s not safe to cook frozen meals in the slow cooker, the Instant Pot is a great solution. If you take some time to prep meals ahead and freeze them, dinner is as simple as plopping that frozen block into the Instant Pot, pushing a few buttons and then kick back while it does it’s magic.
  3. Less dishes. Since the Instant Pot is so versatile, you don’t have to use multiple appliances and dishes to get the job done.
  4. It’s kinder to the environment. With a faster cooking time and an efficient use of energy, electric pressure cookers are eco-friendly. When compared to stove-top and other cooking methods, pressure cooking uses two to three times LESS energy.

Which Type of Instant Pot Should I Get?

Wait, there is more than one type?

Well, yes. There are actually many Instant Pots.

I think the first question to answer is: Do you want a 6 qt or an 8 qt? 

I personally use a 6 quart (the one right below). There have been a few times that I wish I had a bit more space but for the most part, the 6 quart has been plenty big. If you DO go with an 8 quart, know that you will need to always add a bit more liquid. More on that later though.

Most of the models are very similar in terms of pot size, wattage, and voltage.; where they differ is mostly in the software—how many “smart programs” are built in with preset levels of heat, pressure, and time. Hang tight. We’ll walk you through some of the options.

The “Bang for Your Buck Classic” (the one we use!): Instant Pot DUO60-6Qt

This model is the Instant Pot we use and recommend to anyone who asks. It has all the functions you probably need. It’s not too big (although you can snag and 8 quart if you’re feeling crazy) and it’s not too small like it’s little sister, the 3 quart (who works great for a small space like a dorm room).

 

The “Just Give Me The Basics” Instant Pot LUX60 V3

This one is similar to the “Bang for Your Buck Classic” mentioned above, but with a few exceptions: 1. This one doesn’t have one-touch yogurt-making capabilities. 2. This one can’t toggle between low and high pressure cooking, whereas the model above can. This one IS however, about $20 cheaper.

 

The “I Like Bells and Whistles” Instant Pot DUO Plus 

If you’re taking this Instant Pot thing VERY seriously, you will love all of the bells and whistles on this model. You’ll love its big blue LCD screen and additional cooking programs (egg cooking, cake-making, and sterilization) to name a few. This model is also more fingerprint-resistant than other models. A small perk but never hurts, right?

 

The “I Just Got a Raise” Instant Pot Smart Bluetooth 

This model is no joke. It sports an impressive 14 “smart programs,” plus two programs you can customize and save yourself. It is Bluetooth-enabled which means you can start cooking and watch the cooking progress from afar on your phone. I love the idea of being able to play outside with my kiddos and not popping my head in to monitor how much cooking time is left. This model has got it all.

Setting Your Instant Pot Up

I kind of hate reading the manual. And if I remember correctly, the Instant Pot Manual isn’t all that helpful. I think this is a great tutorial through the parts you’ll find in the Instant Pot.

Why are There So Many Buttons?

At first glance, an Instant Pot can be a bit overwhelming. So many buttons!
We get it. And we have good news. We don’t use all of those buttons. In fact, we only use a few! We’ve found that just using the manual setting for adjusting your cooking time works just fine.
Keep it simple. Just use the manual button and add the minutes needed to cook your meal.

Where do I Find Recipes?

 When we started tinkering with our Instant Pots, this was our biggest struggle. There didn’t seem to be one solid resource available. It has been a lot of trial and error and practice to getting the hang of what types of recipes work well in the Instant Pot. We do have a 2nd cookbook in the works that will have loads of delicious Instant Pot recipes (sign up for our email list to be kept in the loop on the book’s progress).
Until then though, we’d recommend searching Pinterest for recipe ideas. We have also found the Instant Pot Community on Facebook to be a great resource on where to get recipe ideas and questions answered.
I’ve found this to be a good resource on Instant Pot cooking times.

How Do I Cook a Freezer Meal in the Instant Pot?

Here are a few tips when preparing a meal to freeze for the Instant Pot

  1. Freeze your meal in plastic bag in a circular shape. I’ve tried a few different methods to get the perfect roundness. I’ve found that the best way to do it is to simply use the inner pot from your Instant Pot to be the mold for your shape. So put your ingredients in a plastic bag, put the bag in the pot and throw it in the freezer for a few hours. Boom. Your meal is now in the perfect shape to put back in the Instant Pot when it’s ready.
  2. Adjust your spices. Not only does freezing food increase the flavor, but the Instant Pot does as well. Meals that are seasoned perfectly for the slow cooker will often come out too spicy after the Instant Pot.
  3. Add extra time…for some meals. Unfortunately, there isn’t really hard and fast rule on how long to cook frozen meals in the Instant Pot. Some don’t need any extra time (because they take a lot longer to come to pressure and thaw out in the process) while others need an additional 5-10 minutes added to the original recipe. Our forthcoming cookbook will have instructions on each recipe but for now, it’ll just be trial and error.
  4. Saute the meal before cooking. We’ve found that sauteing the meal for about 5 minutes in the Instant Pot releases some of the liquid in the meal and helps the meal cook quicker. This is something we advise for every freezer meal in the Instant Pot.

 Do I Need to Buy Any Accessories?

In addition to the stainless steel insert pot, you may want to consider these additional accessories:

  1. Glass Lid: Great to have if you plan to use your Instant Pot as a slow cooker. It’s also helpful for storing leftovers in the fridge. No need to dirty another dish-just put this lid on the pot and refrigerate!
  2. Steamer Basket: This basket makes it easy to hard boil eggs or steam vegetables. 

 

Hopefully this helps answer some of your basic questions about the Instant Pot. Like I mentioned above, we have found that the Instant Pot Community on Facebook has been really helpful when asking specific questions about recipes or cooking methods.

Have fun!


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