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Instant Pot Is the Best Electric Pressure Cooker

| 3/12/2014 12:00:00 AM

Instant PotIn looking at electric pressure cookers last year, I was dismayed to see that virtually all the models on the market have a non-stick lined inner pot. I dislike Teflon and other non-stick coatings on pots, pans and appliances because I mistrust their safety. Moreover, I have a parrot companion, and the fumes from overheated non-stick coatings can kill birds in just moments. (See Teflon Dangers: Deadly to Chickens — and Us.) In an electric appliance, I can’t control how hot that coating gets. 

Then I found The Instant Pot. This stainless-steel pressure cooker has a durable, easy-to-clean, heavy-duty stainless steel inner pot, and I knew I’d found what I sought. Wow! It’s not only an electric pressure cooker, it’s also a rice cooker, slow cooker and steamer. Its stainless steel insert allows me to sauté or brown some foods before fully cooking them, and it has a keep-warm function which automatically kicks in when the food finishes cooking. There’s also a delay cooking timer, so I can set it up in the morning and have hot, cooked dinner ready when I arrive home from work. Although the Instant Pot arrives with ten pre-set cooking modes, it’s fully programmable, so I can easily adapt my favorite pressure-cooking recipes to its use.

At about $120, the price was right for me. I knew I’d give it a good workout, and that I could depreciate its cost in a short time.

One virtue of electric pressure cookers is economy. Like all pressure cookers, they permit quick cooking of inexpensive ingredients. Unsoaked dried beans cook from scratch in 30 minutes. A pot roast can go from fridge to table in about the same time. Budget-priced cuts of meat that typically require long hours in the oven, such as pork shoulder, speed to the table, even if you don’t start cooking until you get home after work.

2/20/2019 11:08:39 PM

Great review, and I am especially happy that you included the inventor's info. So this will be the one I'm purchasing. Thanks, I was also trying to find one without teflon.

12/4/2014 7:57:32 PM

I too had been interested in getting an electric pressure cooker when I read your review of the Instant Pot and quickly ordered one. After the first use I was hooked! I use a pressure cooker regularly, but I have to admit I'm still a little frightened of them. I remember as a child watching my Grandmother use her big canner and watching the little needle getting closer and closer to the red "DANGER!" zone on the pressure guage. That image stayed burned into my mind (never literally, fortunately) from a very young age. Even though today's cookers are much safer, it still requires a constant monitoring of the flame below the cooker and the pressure guage. Not so with the new electric cookers. You put in a sufficient amount of water with your food, set it to cook for a specific amount of time at either high or low pressure, and walk away. No watching, and no adjusting of the heat. With the ease of use, energy savings, speed of cooking, and nutritional benefits of pressure cooking, I seriously feel that these are going to be the next must have appliances for the home kitchen. Here, however, is my reason for writing: After having my new cooker for a couple of weeks, and loving it, I saw that our local Aldi store was advertising a Kitchen Living electric pressure cooker for $39.00. I had just paid $139.00 for mine! If you're not familiar with Aldi, they are a German chain of supermarkets where you "rent" your shopping cart for 25-cents and get it back when you return it to the corrall (no more carts all over the parking lot), you bring your own bags or have to buy them, and they only stock one size and one brand of food items (not 10 different brands and sizes of pork-and-beans) and their prices reflect those savings. I bought two of the cookers to see how they compaired to the one I already had, intending to keep one, since I had already decided that I wanted another, and one to give as a gift this Christmas, if I thought they were a good product. Bottom line is the lower price cooker seems to be as well made as the $100 more cooker! I'm keeping them both and using them side-by-side to see how they both hold up in the long run. The higher priced cooker does have a stainless steel inner pot with a thicker bottom, which I'm not sure really matters since a pressure cooker has to have a couple of inches of water in it and the heat gets evenly distributed by the water. The cheaper cooker has a non-stick inner pot which I'm not really worried about since I usually cook smaller amounts of foods, and I use smaller stainless steel mixing bowls resting on the canning rack inside of the pot to save having to mess up the big pot. Incidentally, the cheap cooker has handles on the rack to make it easier to lift out when hot, the other one just has a flat rack so you have to reach through the water to remove it. The cheaper cooker has a removable power cord that you can store in the pot when not in use, the other does not, so the cord is always dangling off when you store the appliance. The expensive cooker has 7 more buttons on the control panel pre-programmed for things like beans/chili, porridge, multigrain, soup, stew, poultry, and yogurt. The instructions say you can pasteurize milk. I've never had porridge in my life, I hate yogurt, and I go 40 miles out of my way to a farm to get non-pasteurized raw milk! I tried the poultry setting once on a whole chicken for chicken and dumplings and it way overcooked the chicken. I actually prefer to select my own cooking times and high/low pressures depending on the foods I'm cooking. They both have sear settings for browning meats first, and settings to function as a slow cooker or a rice cooker. Both have a delayed start timer that can be set to not start cooking until hours later, so you can come home to an already cooked meal. Both automatically switch to a keep warm setting after the cooking time has elapsed. I'm not sure I like this on either cooker, especially for canning, because it doesn't let it cool down naturally and tends to keep pressure in the pot until you switch it completely off and wait. Speaking of canning, they both do it beautifully. They can hold 4 standard size pint-sized jars, or even more of the smaller jars. Perfect for saving a few leftovers, or jars of stock that you've made from things you've cooked earlier. Just put in a couple of inches of water, put your foods in sterilized jars on the rack, set the time, and walk away. Be sure to use the proper processing times for canning. (This is why I don't like the keep warm function of either cooker. I'd rather they just turn off and let things cool down naturally but it can't be defeated on either cooker). So, I have to say that after a few months of use, I actually tend to be using the lower priced cooker more than the other. It seems to be less complicated and gives me a more personal control of what I'm cooking. Will it hold up as long as the more expensive one? I don't know yet, but if I think there is a one-hundred dollar difference between the two, I'll have to say NO!

7/20/2014 3:16:17 PM

Count me as another besotted fan of the Instant Pot. I have the DUO 60 six liter 2014 model. I've been using it almost daily for 7 months, sometimes 2-4 times a day. I keep telling my husband it's going with us on the next road trip so I can make supper and breakfast in our motel room. I've purchased two more IP DUOs as gifts for my college student nieces, and as soon as the DUO is available in the UK, I'm buying one for my SIL, who lives with a super tiny London kitchen and is very busy caring for her elderly mother while doing shift work as a hospital nurse. My commitment to preparing a family supper without using takeaway or commercially prepared meals was challenged more than ever this year when my son entered high school and participated in JV sports. Halfway through the past school year, with car pool duty, practice and game schedules that often ended later than expected, and a teenage boy arriving home with a ravenous appetite, I struggled to get a home prepared dinner on the table in a timely manner. Though I had 3 slow cooker appliances in various sizes, my cooking style tends to be rather spontaneous, and we quickly tired of stewy, soggy slow cooked main dishes day after day. Our veg bin backed up with the less perishable veggies from our weekly CSA boxes that take more time to prepare and/or cook - beets, artichokes, winter squash, etc. The Instant Pot has been a much better fit than slow cookers for my spontaneous cooking style, too - the IP certainly can make excellent stews like a slow cooker (it has a slow cook program), but with pressure cooking I don't have to start supper in the morning and smell cooking food all day or even plan our evening meal quite so far ahead. The Instant Pot takes up about the same space as my medium sized Crock Pot, but it does so much more than the Crock Pot and in far less time than even conventional stovetop or oven methods - it pressure-steams veggies; scalds milk and incubates yogurt right in the single serve wide mouth half pint canning jars; does small batch (up to 4 pints) pressure canning; steam-"bakes" desserts like cheesecake and custards; pressure-steams rice and other grains; and makes the best beans/lentils I've ever had - I donated all the canned beans in my cupboard to the local food pantry. Now we have homemade hummus whenever we want and brown rice doesn't delay our dinner after a busy day. In 60-90 minutes the Instant Pot makes rich homemade bone broth that's as good as the bone broth I simmer in a slow cooker or stock pot for 24 hours, so I make smaller, more frequent batches of broth now, which saves fridge/freezer space; the Instant Pot is sealed while under pressure, too, so it doesn't stink up the house like a slow cooker can. I make veg broth as needed in a few minutes prior to starting a recipe that uses veg broth. The Instant Pot s/s/ liner pot is very high quality - it's shiny finish hand washes more easily than my s/s All Clad pots & pans, though it washes nicely in dishwasher at the tend of the day, too. After one month of using the Instant Pot I found myself using it so often that I bought an extra liner pot so I could cook with the IP while starting or finishing a dish on the stove - making a quick liner pot switch without having to empty and wash the pot. I've cut back on stovetop and oven cooking so much that I can even see a difference in our electricity usage. I have donated my small and medium sized slow cookers, a yogurt maker, and a big stockpot with steamer/pasta insert, which has emptied a significant amount of cabinet storage space. However, in 7 months of use I have yet to put the Instant Pot away in a cupboard; I use it so often it has earned the approx 12" x 12" real estate on my countertop. The lid-holding handle design on the DUO model is ingenious - the lid stays out of the way and off the countertop - any condensation on the inner lid drips into a channel on the housing lip and collects in a cup clipped to the back side. There are clips on the housing to manage the cord, too. I've always liked to cook. I place a high priority on home prepared meals with real food so I outfit my kitchen with good tools But I can also be a somewhat lazy cook, preferring recipes and cooking techniques that aren't especially fussy and don't require a lot of continual attention and hands-on effort. The Instant Pot fits my needs perfectly - yes, the measuring, peeling, chopping, and/or soaking of most ingredients is the same, but Instant Pot's "set & forget" microprocessor means I can cook dishes like risotto while doing something else, without having to constantly stand, stir, and monitor at the stove. I can't think of another item of cooking equipment that has reinvigorated the meals I prepare as much as the Instant Pot - far more than my stand mixer or even my hi-powered blender!

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