My Week With an Instant Pot

posted in: Tips | 4

So, I’m sure most of you have heard of the instant pot electric pressure cooker and some of you probably have one. I’ve been debating about getting one for several years now, but haven’t taken the plunge for several reasons.

  1. Is this really for me? I have a cooking blog and enjoy cooking, so…
  2. Do I really want another large kitchen appliance to take up space in my kitchen?
  3. Is it too similar to a crockpot?
  4. Will I use it enough to justify purchasing it or will the novelty wear off?

These were some of the things stopping me, but I recently noticed one in a friends kitchen and asked her about it. She had been gifted it, but had never used it. She offered to let me borrow it and try it out, so of course I jumped on it. The one I borrowed is a 6 qt Instant Pot Duo. The model is able to be a Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer. There’s also a neat little slot on the handle for the lid to sit in instead of laying it on the counter!

First I spent about a week stalking the Instant Pot Community facebook groupThe facebook group currently has over 700,000 members and is continually growing. People in the group post questions, recipes, tips, really anything you can think of relating to the Instant Pot. It was a little overwhelming at first because it is a very active group and it hijacked my facebook newsfeed. On the other hand, since it is such an active group, your question will be answered pretty much immediately.

Then, I created a Pinterest board for Instant Pot recipes that I would be interested in trying, then I planned my menu for the week. I wanted to try cooking a variety of things so that I could get a good idea of what it could do.

So here is what I decided to make:

Sunday – Hard Boiled Eggs

Monday – Pumpkin Pie Spiced Oatmeal, a “Rotisserie” style Whole Chicken, and Chicken Stock

Tuesday – Smoked Sausage, White Bean, and Vegetable Soup

Wednesday – Hard Boiled Eggs again to make Deviled Eggs

Thursday – Pot Roast

Friday – Used it to heat up leftover soup

Saturday – Banana Cinnamon Oatmeal and Quinoa with Cilantro Lime Dressing

Sunday – Sweet Potatoes and Mushroom and Parmesan Risotto

 

The very first thing that I did was the water test just to make sure that the pot was working correctly. The directions for the water test are included in the manual. Everything seemed to work fine, so I started with hard boiled eggs.

Hard Boiled Eggs

I started by searching how to do hard boiled eggs in the Instant Pot and various different methods and times came up, so it was hard to decide which method to try. Some people use the steam function, some use the pressure function with various amounts of time. I just picked a method and went with it. I had a little anxiety after I started because I put 8 eggs in. Probably not smart to use that many for the first try in case it didn’t work out. I put 2 cups of water in the bottom of the pot, then a put my steamer basket in (you don’t want to put the eggs directly on the bottom of the pot). I pushed the manual button and set it to high pressure for 4 minutes, then manually release the pressure and transfer the eggs to ice water. Verdict – they turned out perfect. The shells practically fell off when I was peeling them and the centers were yellow with no gray. So you may be thinking, wow, perfect hard boiled eggs in 4 minutes! Well, not exactly, it takes time for the pot to come to pressure before the 4 minute countdown starts. I timed it and it took 14 minutes start to finish for the pot to come to pressure, 4 minutes under pressure, then the manual pressure release.

Hmmm, that’s not much shorter than cooking them on the stove. But, for anyone who has been making hard boiled eggs and forgotten about them on the stove (cough cough… Mom) and had all the water boil out and burn the bottom of the pot and make the entire house smell like burned eggs, will appreciate this method. Yes, you still might forget about them, but the pot switches to warm after the 4 minutes is up so while the eggs would still be overcooked, you wouldn’t have to worry about ruining a pan or accidentally burning the house down.

And more hard boiled eggs turned deviled eggs to take to my book club that week.

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Oatmeal and Banana Cinnamon Oatmeal

I had a brunch to go to and thought this would be a great dish to bring in the fall season. This is the recipe I used and it turned out great. I doubled the recipe and used regular rolled oats instead of steel cut. It did take about 40 minutes start to finish for the pot to come to pressure, cook, and release, which may not be quicker than the stovetop. But, after I started the pot, I was able to leave the kitchen and get myself and my kids ready without having to babysit and stir the oatmeal. That was a definite plus! I’ve enjoyed having a bowl of oatmeal and a hard boiled egg for breakfast every morning thanks to the Instant Pot. After the Pumpkin Pie Spiced Oatmeal was finished, I made a batch of Banana Cinnamon Oatmeal, pictured below.

“Rotisserie” style Whole Chicken

I’ll start this by saying that I rarely cook whole chickens mainly because I can never seem to tell if it’s really done, I keep sticking the thermometer in and checking, then I’m never really sure if I put the thermometer in the correct spot. Anyway, it seems I either overcook it or not cook it long enough and end up microwaving pieces in order to eat it. So, I was excited to try in the Instant Pot. The recipe I used was for a faux rotisserie chicken. I don’t really think the seasoning was very similar to rotisserie chicken, it could have used a lot more seasoning. But the chicken itself turned out great, it was fall apart tender and the meat was moist. Instant Pot will definitely be the way to go for future whole chicken cookery in our house!

Chicken Stock

After eating and deboning the remaining chicken, I put the chicken carcass back in the pot to make chicken stock. Here’s the recipe I used. So easy! Now I have about 12 cups of broth ready to go. This prompted me to order some silicone trays to freeze the stock in.

Frozen stock cubes! Each cube is 1/4 cup.

Smoked Sausage, White Bean & Vegetable Soup

I picked out this soup recipe to see how the pot does with dried beans. I don’t know how many times I have planned to make a recipe that calls for dried beans and then I forget to soak them the night before. This recipe says to soak them for a few hours, but I think they would have been good not being soaked at all. They ended up a little bit overcooked and falling apart, still good though. I love that the Instant Pot has the saute feature. I was able to saute the onions and garlic in the pot first, then add the rest of the ingredients. I followed this recipe except I add the spinach at the end after the soup was done. I felt like the spinach would have disintegrated if I had pressure cooked it. The soup turned out great and definitely was more flavorful the next day. Also, my microwave is currently broken, wah! I decided to heat up the soup in the Instant Pot the next day. I set it for manual and 0 minutes. Basically, the pot comes to pressure (boiling) then turns off. Perfect!

The next night we had pot roast. My kids had an activity from 6-7 that night and I usually don’t have my act together to have dinner before 6. I put the pot roast in the pot at 5 and it was done when we got home at 7, Yay!

So, here is my failure of the week, the Quinoa with Cilantro Lime Dressing. The recipe called to soak the quinoa ahead of time, which I forgot to do, so I just added extra liquid and hoped it would still get cooked. Well, whomp whomp, it did not. I kept having to add time to get the quinoa cooked and it was still a little crunchy. It was edible, just not the consistency that it was supposed to be. Lesson learned – soak the quinoa!

Sweet Potatoes

I’ve been trying lately to eat less processed foods and incorporate more vegetables into my diet. This week at Dollar General Market, the sweet potatoes were on sale for $1/bag so I decided to give it a try in the pot. I put a couple of cups of water in the pot and put the potatoes on the steamer tray and set it for 18 minutes manual pressure. It took about 45 minutes total with the time it takes to come to pressure. Sweet Potatoes with my lunch this week!

Mushroom and Parmesan Risotto

This recipe was one that I was anxious to try but also the most skeptical of. If you’ve ever made risotto, you know that you have to constantly stir it while gradually adding hot broth until it gets to the right consistency. It’s a pain, but also really delicious once it’s done. I don’t make it that often because of the constant stirring. I’d read reviews and people said that it turned out great in the Instant Pot and they would never go back to the stovetop, but I didn’t really believe it. Well, it’s TRUE!!! When I first opened the lid, there was still liquid on top so it didn’t look like it had absorbed all the liquid. But after stirring it and adding the cheese, it was just right. Next time I make it, I’ll probably do 1 minute less, but so so good!

So there you have it – my week with the Instant Pot. So, I’ve already ordered one for myself and it should arrive today or tomorrow. I ended up ordering the 8 qt Duo. The 6 qt has been a good size this week, but my kids are still young and don’t really eat a full portion of meals most of the time. Just planning ahead for when I have 3 teenagers in the house to feed, the 8 qt will probably be necessary. The thing that ultimately convinced me to get my own Instant Pot is all the busy nights where my kids have sports at dinner time. I don’t want to hit the drive thru 3-4 nights a week, but I can’t cook if I’m at the soccer/baseball field. I do like the slow cooker as an option, but a lot of times, the food (especially the meat) is overcooked after cooking all day. With the instant pot, I can put the food in there right before we leave for practice/games and it’s done and ready to eat when we get home.

 

Pros

  • Hands-off cooking – while your food is cooking it frees you up to do other things
  • Faster cooking times for many meals that would generally take hours to cook
  • There are tons of recipes in the facebook group and on pinterest
  • The people in the facebook group can provide help quickly if you have a problem or question
  • Great for busy evenings when you don’t have time to cook.
  • You can put frozen meat in it and still cook it fairly quickly
  • All the other functions – yogurt maker, steamer, rice cooker, etc

 

Cons

  • Another appliance to take up space
  • The silicone ring that goes inside the lid tends to absorb odors – I lay it out in the sun and it really helps to knock down the smells
  • Learning curve if you’re trying to adapt a recipe yourself
  • Slow cooker function is not very good (I did not personally try this function, but the consensus seems to be that it doesn’t work well as a slow cooker
  • It’s hard to know exactly how long a recipe will take because you don’t know how long it will take the pot to come to pressure

 

So, have I convinced you? Who’s getting one and wants to have an Instant Pot Cooking Party with me!? Now I guess I better start creating some Instant Pot recipes of my own!

4 Responses

  1. Michele Thompson

    So, is this the same as other electric pressure cookers or is this brand different? I have an electric pressure cooker and have just never used it… If it’s similar I’d love to get together and come up with some ideas!!

  2. Noah

    I did hard boiled eggs this evening and then yellow rice for dinner.
    Will have to try some of your recipes here!

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