Inside: People are going nuts for Instant Pots right now. Is it just a fad or is there something there? I decided to see for myself…
Pressure cooking used to be about as hip as fondue pots, fruitcake, and those old-school rotisserie apple peelers that everyone’s Nana has.
But, pressure cooking’s back on the scene with all the piss and vinegar of the Koolaid man. And it’s not just any ol’ pressure cooker—I’m talking about the Instant Pot.
Last July, me and Zach decided to spring on the bandwagon and see what all the fuss was about. We became the proud parents of our own 8-liter Instant Pot. Yes, they come in smaller sizes, but we like to pretend we’re cooking for the Apocalypse and make big batches of food that we freeze for later.
I was skeptical at first. What kind of overpowered kitchen gadget develops a cult following? After using the beastly machine over a dozen times since purchasing it, though, I’ve come to realize how awesome it really is. But, it’s not the end-all-be-all of cookery.
How To Use Your Instant Pot
Even though it might seem like it the first time you birth forth your Instant Pot from its box like a glorious steel alien baby, it’s not rocket science to use this thing. Which is good, because pressure cookers can be used as bombs. BOMBS, people!
If the idea of pressure cooking scares you or you’re not really sure what recipes to use, I recommend Erin Chase’s Electric Pressure Cooking 101 course. We found it very useful because it teaches you everything you need to know about your Instant Pot by experimenting with a series of ten (tasty) recipes.
The basic idea to use the Instant Pot is simple. Twist the lid off and inspect it to make sure the inner sealing ring isn’t all whacked up. Pull out the cooking pot, put uncooked food in, and return the pot back to the machine. Twist the lid back on, set the lid to Sealing or Venting, and press whichever buttons the recipe calls for.
The Instant Pot will heat up and seal the pressure cooker (if you have it set to Sealing) and begin counting down the given number of minutes for the recipe. Then, at the end, you have three options to open the cooker.
You can use a quick release (sometimes accompanied by the sound of an angry banshee), a 10-minute quick release (just like the one above, but you let things settle down in there for 10 minutes first), or a natural release (takes foreeeeeever, especially at high altitude).
Open the lid and Bob’s your uncle. Follow up by stuffing your newly-concocted nourishment in your face hole.
Why The Instant Pot Is So Awesome
We think the Instant Pot is the bomb-diggity (heh, get it??) because it cooks food in a fraction of the time. Rather than letting a pot roast turn to shoe leather all day in the slow-cooker, it can cook the same recipe to fork-tenderness in just one hour. ONE hour!
The Instant Pot also seems to meld the flavors together better than traditional cooking. We made a three-bean chili with basic ingredients a couple weeks ago. It was some of the best chili I’d ever had.
Moreover, it cooks food consistently. I especially like it for cooking hardboiled eggs, for example. I’m always terrible at getting the timing right when boiling those little suckers. I’ve made three batches of hardboiled eggs in the Instant Pot and I have yet to screw it up. Every time they come out perfectly cooked, without that nasty green shade on the yolk.
Most importantly, we haven’t killed ourselves yet. Last summer Zach got an old-school pressure cooker and that thing scares me more than Kurt Russell’s car in Deathproof. I swear to god that thing is just waiting to get a stuck valve and blow this place to smithereens. The Instant Pot has approximately seven billion safety features, though, and is generally about as scary to use as the bomb calorimeter in my old molecular biology lab (hint: it went pffft rather than BOOM).
Where The Instant Pot Falls Short
The Instant Pot, despite its name, is not always instant. In fact, it can take just as much time to cook some things in the Instant Pot as they do outside of it once you factor in the time it takes for the gadget to come up to and get back down to pressure. For example, it takes about ten minutes until I have fully-cooked hardboiled eggs in me belly, but I still prefer the Instant Pot because it’s more consistent.
Apparently, the Instant Pot doesn’t cook dairy well, although to be fair I haven’t tried it. Maybe the same thing happens as when you mix hydrogen peroxide and potassium iodide. Yep. I’m betting that’s what happens.
Finally, some meats still come out a little on the dry side, even if they are fork-tender. I’ve found this to happen more with meat that has little or no marbling in it. This leads to a weird consistency I can only call driender. So far this has only happened when we roasted a whole chicken and roast beef, although we plan on experimenting with cooking times to get it right.
How The Instant Pot Saves Us Money
Maybe the lamest excuse for how the Instant Pot saves us money is that it’s just a really cool gadget we like to use instead of going out to eat. What can I say? We’re actually five-year-olds. Shiny things amuse us.
Even so, there are a lot of other cool features that we think will keep us interested and saving money in the long run. We used to use a rice cooker and a slow cooker a lot, and our Instant Pot has replaced both. We’ve since given those to Goodwill, and now we even have more kitchen space to boot.
We’re also able to get foods for rock-bottom prices and cook them ourselves. Those hard-boiled eggs I keep talking about? If I have two for breakfast every day, that’ll cost us 33 cents. Compare that to fancy local Noosa yogurt (heavenly, but expensive) at $1.50, and we’ll save $427 over the course of a year.
We can also buy the uber-cheap-but-a-pain-in-the-ass-to-cook dried beans. One pound costs us just $1.00 and makes the equivalent of four cans of beans, whereas one can of beans costs us 80 cents each. That’s a savings of 55 cents for each “can” of beans we make. And, we eat beans a lot in this family. We also have a high tolerance for malodorous miasmas, thanks to our flatulent dog Juno.
The Instant Pot has been the best investment we’ve made since our foldable clothes-drying contraption. Not only are there plenty of Instant Pot fangirls and fanboys out there creating recipes for us cooking nincompoops (see my Instant Pot recipe Pinterest board), but the thing itself is fun to use.
Anything that makes cooking more fun is going to decrease our dining-out expenses and save us money in the long run. Besides, we’ve got better things to spend our money on. Like beans. Lots and lots of beans.
Do you have an Instant Pot? Leave a comment below!
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