Are Instant Pots all they are hyped up to be?

Do they really live up to the hype? Pros and cons

Instant Pots are one of the new, safe pressure cookers that act as a better slow cooker (more like a fast cooker), with multi-uses.

I got my first Instant Pot last year and fell in love with it immediately. But that doesn’t mean everything about it is positive. In fact, I have learned over the last nine months some drawbacks as well.

For those curious, this is the version we own: Instant Pot 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker.

While there are certainly many uses for the Instant Pot that I haven’t yet tried out, using it over time has allowed me to see both its uses and the disadvantages. I wanted to give you all an update on my thoughts on this kitchen tool.

Let’s start with the negatives.

By far the biggest negative surprise for me was that despite a lot of the hype around the Instant Pot regarding its speed, not everything actually cooks faster or better in it. For example, some favorite lentil soups of mine take longer in the Instant Pot. This is because it takes a significant amount of time to bring it to pressure when it’s at full capacity. And it also takes some minutes (or upwards of 30 minutes when doing a slow release) to get the pressure down again before you can take off the lid. For something like lentils which cook fairly quickly on the stove top, it’s far faster to simply make it on the stove top.

Some food bloggers have the habit of listing the time for cooking as “at pressure cooking time.” You need to understand that you need to add significantly to that time for the total amount of time it will take to cook because that number doesn’t include the time it takes to get to pressure and releasing pressure at the end of the cooking time.

The other more obvious negative is that when cooking for a large family, the Instant Pot is smaller than the large pots you can get for the stove. I’ve also occasionally had an issue with it malfunctioning when getting to pressure. When that happens, it will keep it warm instead of pressure cooking until you restart it.

The other drawback is that when pressure cooking you can’t check the progress of your dish until the cycle is complete, and the pressure is released. Sometimes this has meant meals not quite cooked enough, or meals over-cooked.

That said, here are the reasons I still love it.

For someone who often needs things to be as simple as possible during Lyme treatment, I adore that it is a dump and leave it machine. There is no babysitting here. That’s why sometimes even when I know that it will take a little longer in the Instant Pot, I use it anyway.

I love that it keeps it warm after it’s done cooking. This allows me to start something early in the day, when needed.

While some recipes may be better suited for stove-top, there are others that are well suited for the Instant Pot and cook faster, and end up more tender. Tough cuts of beef, for example, end up tender and moist when cooked in the Instant Pot. And we’ve made many times a simple shredded pork dish with pineapple that ends up flavorful and perfect – even when using lower quality meat. Beef stew, pot roast, and all those sorts of dishes are extremely well suited for the Instant Pot.

Oh, and for broth making it’s amazing! You end up with a rich broth in two hours that would take 24 hours to make on the stove.

For those with small kitchens, the fact that you can use it for so many different things (like making rice or other grains, yogurt, etc.) is a big advantage.

And finally, for those of us without air conditioning, I adore that it doesn’t heat my house up.

My conclusion is that while there are limitations to its use, I’m extremely thankful to own one and think it is well worth the cupboard space.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

Comments

  1. Liz T. says

    Is the pot insert stainless steel? Or nonstick? I’ve considered getting one since my nonstick rice cooker started peeling into my rice!

  2. NanaX6 says

    I just bought one this last week. So far, I’ve made numerous batches of apricot/pineapple preserves and apricot/pepper jelly. I did not use the pressure cooker because, not ever having used the Instant Pot, I didn’t know timing and couldn’t find a recipe for either jam/jelly. I used the saute button and I was amazed at how quickly it was done! So much faster than on the stove! So far, I’m very happy! I plan to do a roast tomorrow and I’m excited about that! Thank you for your article!

    • says

      Hope your roast turns out super well! And yes, the saute function works quickly! Good to know that it works well for jelly and preserves. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Toni says

    I’ve just got my Instant Pot. Quite an adjustment!
    It’s definitely not as fast as my stovetop pressure cooker due to the heating up time but I think once I get the hang of it it will be very effective. I have certainly noticed the absence of washing up and dirty range. And, it’s stainless steel and easy to remove the inner pot for washing or refrigerating. The lid can attach to either side of the Pot which solves the problem of where to put that great linking thing!
    I’m sure I can be more positive when I’ve had more practice.

    • says

      That’s a good point! I should have mentioned how much I love the fact that you can remove the pot and refrigerate things in it (We also have the separate lid for this purpose and for re-heating on the simmer setting). Thanks for sharing your experience!

  4. lburrell says

    We eat vegan; there are two of us during the week and a table of 10-15 on Friday night. We have two slow cookers, a rice cooker, and a pressure cooker as well as a yogurt maker. Based on what I’m reading here I can’t think of any advantage to acquiring an Instantpot. Any thoughts?

    • says

      You sound like you are well outfitted! Unless you needed a new pressure cooker (perhaps one that doesn’t have to be used on the stove top?), I don’t think you would *need* the Instant Pot at all. 🙂

      • Sharon says

        My cousin is vegan and has an Instant Pot. There’s a vegan instant pot group on Facebook with lots of great recipes.

  5. Heidi says

    Regarding FAST broth, I once read somewhere (perhaps Nourishing Traditions??) that a lot of the benefit is the length of time, and that hurrying it up means you miss some of the real benefits of homemade broth.

    Having said that, I have seen SO MUCH HYPE about this, so I am glad you could present both sides for us. It helps to make purchases after getting more information on things. It is so much better when we can be well-informed. Thanks!

  6. M. J. says

    I wasn’t sure about its making a tougher-cut roast (top round) more tender and didn’t want to mess up a not-inexpensive grassfed and finished hunk of meat, so thanks for that information! The other issue I have with it is storing the bulky appliance. I don’t have enough counter space to leave it out, which would make it useful more often. But, yes, bone broth! I get beautiful gel every time. Big win!

    • says

      Yes, we’ve had good success! The one thing I’ve found is that I like cooking my roasts and meats longer than many of the recipes I’ve found. Not sure why, but I like my meat to be more spoon tender, so I’ll add time to the suggestions I see.

  7. Suzette Carlin says

    Thanks for the article Kimmi, I’ve been considering an instant Pot, but wondering if my pressure cooker can do the same things ( although it’s considerably bigger) ?

  8. says

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m really thinking of buying one because I actually don’t have any slow cooker or pressure cooker yet. Then again I found that I can make most things with my rice cooker, only the speed is probably a little slower.

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