The Instant Pot is a cooking phenomenon with millions of these appliances sold over the world. One survey estimates that over 20% of Americans own an Instant Pot so that is a staggering 53 million pots in the States alone.
How is it that a fairly regular cooking appliance has managed to become so ubiquitous in the American household? Below you can see some of the reasons this multi-cooker has become so popular, and why you might want to join the 3 million followers on Facebook.
What is the Instant Pot?
The pot is a multi-cooker. That is to say that it cooks food in a variety of ways. There are several models and they come in different sizes. Each of these models may contain many features and there are also attachments available that may or may not come with the Instant Pot depending on which model you buy. The cooking modes that the Instant Pot has are as follows:
- Pressure cooking
- Slow cooking
- Keep warm
On top of these, there are various options for cooking different things and these may include yogurt, rice, multigrain, eggs, and others. Despite all the buttons, the cooker is simple enough for a beginner to use and this is one reason why the Instant Pot is so popular.
Ease of use
The cooker is popular with beginners and experienced cooks and indeed, even some professional cooks have professed their love for it. Cooking as a hobby has exploded over the last decade as TV shows about food have taken over networks and streaming channels. This means many more people are looking at how to start cooking at home and the Instant Pot is an accessible way to do this.
Although there are many accessories like steamer baskets and trivets the appliance is still simple and there is a guide on Corrie Cooks to help newbies along with many other internet resources.
It is eco-friendly
Another reason why so many people choose an Instant Pot is that it is an energy-efficient way to cook. You may have heard that it cooks at very high temperatures and it is true that it will cook at a higher heat than your normal cooker. However, because it cooks under high pressure the actual cooking time is reduced significantly meaning it becomes the most energy-efficient way to cook.
Also, the lid is sealed so far less of that heat escapes as opposed to say steaming on a hob. The actual savings in cooking time are up to 70% so you can look forward to saving money on utility bills which will eventually pay for the Instant Pot.
It can cook almost anything
Unlike some kitchen gadgets and microwaves, the Instant Pot isn’t limited. Sure, microwaves can heat and cook and it is possible to cook some meals in a rice cooker but nothing can match the Instant Pot for versatility. To give you some idea of what the Instant Pot can cook look at the list below:
- Cakes and desserts
- Soups, stews
- Frozen meat
- Shaved ice syrup
- Sushi rice
Most likely you would use the pot to make one-pot meals and it is ideal for making vegetarian stews and Thai or Indian curry. One other thing it is good at is cooking meat.
It tenderizes meat very well
Not only can you cook a whole frozen chicken in an Instant Pot but it is also good for those cheap, tough cuts of meat. This has the benefit of reducing your shopping bill too. Before, cooking brisket or other cheap cuts meant hours in the oven but with a pressure cooker you can speed up the process.
Because of the way the Instant Pot cooks a piece of brisket will be cooked in a third of the time. Because all that moisture is trapped in the pot the meat comes out tender, moist, and never dry as it might from other cooking methods.
It cooks healthy food
Of course, if you choose to use the Instant Pot to make cakes and creamy curries then it won’t be so healthy but the actual cooking methods used by the pot lend themselves to a healthy diet. The Instant Pot can make a meal out of a bunch of ingredients and some liquid; water or broth. So a vegetable stew would be your choice of root vegetables and any herbs and seasoning plus some stock. Switch the Instant Pot on and in no time there is a vegetable stew with no added fat.
The cooker rarely needs any fat or oil added to it – unless required by the recipe – and because it cooks by steam means you are avoiding fried or fatty foods. Another benefit of the Instant Pot sealing in the moisture is that it also locks in more vitamins and nutrients along with a lot more flavor.
The Instant Pot has a bunch of accessories too to keep cooking with it fresh. Egg racks, trivets – to keep the food above the moisture, non-stick replacement pots, cake tins, steamer baskets, tempered glass lids – for slow cooking and an air fryer attachment, plus dozens of others. Not all the attachments are necessary but the air fryer is one that may be handy for many because the Instant Pot has one fault.
Online resources and recipes
Because there is such a strong following there are also thousands of posts about the Instant Pot so if you are looking for the perfect goulash recipe there will be one on the net somewhere. If you need any help as a beginner then you will find many sites that can help too.
Disadvantages of using an Instant Pot
While the Instant Pot has many positives there is one thing that many cooks have found disappointing is that it cannot make chicken skin or other foods like potatoes or French fries crispy. Making sweet potato chips in an Instant Pot means having perfectly cooked potato but they will lack that crispy exterior that many desire.
There is a saute mode on the Instant Pot but many find this lacking. The other option is to take out the French fries or freshly cooked chicken and put it under a broiler for a short time to crisp it all up. This is not ideal on many levels, firstly, you are increasing the cooking time, secondly, you are using more electricity, thirdly, it just isn’t very convenient. By using a broiler you are rendering the benefits of using the Instant Pot mute. Luckily there is a solution.
The Air Fryer is a separate cooker that produces fried style food by cooking with air instead of deep-frying. The Instant Pot has its own Air Fryer attachment that comes separately and fits on the top of the cooker to crisp all your food up without adding any fat.
When you consider sprucing up your kitchen you might want to update your appliances and the Instant Pot is worth consideration. It saves time, money, energy and makes healthy food that is easily digestible and retains both flavor and nutrients. The only downside is you may have to shell out for an Air Fryer for that crisp, golden look that many like on some food.