A 2 WEEK INSTANT POT UPDATE: HOW’S IT DOING?

My quest into the deep, dark underporkbelly of the Instant Pot world continues.  A fantastical world where hard boiled eggs literally, no joke here, this is seriously truthy … hard boiled eggs literally walk out of their own shells after they’re cooked. That’s how easy they are to peel.  I haven’t attempted hard boiled eggs yet but all you have to do is Google Instant Pot + hard boiled eggs and there are perhaps millions of results all of which claim the same thing; Instant Pot hard boiled eggs develop nubby legs and walk out of their shells on their own.  Seriously.  Google it.  Nub Legs.

The second most magical thing about the Instant Pot is the pulled pork apparently.  I cook my pork in a smoker and even though I’ll try it in the Instant Pot, I can guarantee I won’t become an Instant Pot convertee when it comes to pork products.  Much like dry ice … what makes pork magical is the smoke.

I told you a couple of weeks ago that I’d be testing out the Instant Pot for a month before I reviewed it.  I’m a little more than halfway down the Instant Pot rabbit hole and figured you’d be wondering how it was going and what I’d been doing with it.

I have vague criteria for whether or not things get a passing grade.  Like does it taste good?  Is the texture right?  Is it actually easier than how I normally cook the thing or is it just a different way to cook it?  And of course, speed.  Plus there’s just that general gut feeling, like Yeah that was worth it.  Or Wow that was stupid.

Wow that was stupid was my immediate thought after making yogurt in it.  Although, I gave it another shot and my reaction was Yeah, that was worth it.  The one thing that was, is and will always be stupid about the Instant Pot is their instructions and the recipe book that comes with the pot.  It is, without a doubt, the worst I have ever read.  It doesn’t explain anything properly, doesn’t really tell you how to use the Instant Pot and sometimes just flat out doesn’t include necessary and useful information for someone who is using the pot for the first time.

Thank God for the people of the Internet. Without the blogs, sites and reviews of the Instant Pot on the net I would never have figured out how to do anything properly in it. That’s the thing about the Instant Pot. There is a learning curve.  It isn’t huge, but it’s there.  It takes a few attempts at making things in the Instant Pot to understand how it all works and what the buttons all mean.

Of things things I’ve already made I can tell you the big winner was the chili.  It was incredibly fast, easy and had … I hate to say this out loud but … it had better flavour than any chili I’ve simmered on the stove for hours.  It was incredible.

Of the things I’m going to make in the next couple of weeks I’m probably most confounded by the cheesecake.  EVERYONE talks about the Instant Pot cheesecake.  Really?  You cook a cheesecake in the Instant Pot?   Sometimes while browsing Instant Pot blogs (yes there are entire blogs dedicated to cooking with the Instant Pot) I wonder if these people aren’t a bit nuts. Like Paleo people, ya know?   There are also Paleo Instant Pot people which is a whole other level of crazy with bacon on top.

 

Last night I delved into the world of combining a few things because people are also always going on about one pot meals in this thing.  The chicken and rice above isn’t quite a one pot meal. I cooked the rice first with a 1:1 ratio of water to rice which is recommended.  It came out nice and loose and fluffy but slightly undercooked.  Then I cooked the chicken in the Instant Pot along with some peanut sauce and julienned carrots for the recommended time of pressure cooking on high for 10 minutes.  Which had me worried since it wouldn’t even take 10 minutes to cook these chicken slices in a pan.  Not even close. Plus with pressure cooking you have to wait for the pot to come up to pressure, cook for the allotted time and then release the pressure.  So we’re up to around 30 minutes now for 4 little strips of chicken that could be cooked in 3 minutes in a pan.  Why they recommend 10 minutes of pressure cooking for this little bit of chicken seemed weird, but I’m no Instant Pot expert so I did as I was told.

The chicken was done perfectly.  Hard as a rock, dried out beyond belief and of a texture that closely resembled splintered, petrified wood.  Just like mom used to make.   So the chicken was a total fail.  It was edible in that I could actually chew through it, but I do have all my own teeth and very strong jaw muscles due to a lot of clenching and biting my tongue while living with the fella for 12 years.

I know the easy fix for this is to just cook it less in the Instant Pot, but seriously, it’d be way easier to just cook it in a wok or pan.  Cooking little strips of chicken in an Instant Pot that should only take a couple of minutes in a pan is just dumb.

And yet here I stand before you … with high hopes for a cheesecake.

Like a dummy.

 

79 Comments

  1. I love your can-do attitude to everything Karen!

  2. PNW Jenn says:

    I was legit in my 20s before I realized chicken want supposed to be stringy. Thanks, Mom.

  3. That same guy. says:

    Superdudette.
    Baked beans?
    Boston brown bread?
    Not sure if your new friend who probably moves around the kitchen when you aren’t looking, and watches you sleep, is good for those things, but should be an easy slam dunk.
    Any gadget that makes me work harder becomes an anchor for the kayak, or a tip for the potato digger. (tried to make it goat powered, but Lexie laid down and ate potatoes instead of heroically pulling so well that I never had to pick up another potato fork.) I think the llamas actually laughed that day, there were a lot of noises coming from their corner. Anyway, have at it!

  4. Kristina says:

    Mmmm, well, if you can get tomatillos in Canada, I can attest that chili verde (pork, always) is very fine and quick made in an instant pot. My guess is that time-consuming stews in general are good, but I’m also at the learning stage, so I am watching your progress with keen interest.

  5. My brown rice numbers: 2 cups rice, 2 1/2 cups water, 22 minutes high pressure manual.

    Since Glory Bowls (from the famed Whitewater cookbook – note for the non-Canadian readers) are a staple in our house, this is made at least once a week, often more.

  6. Laura says:

    I’m not a convert. It’s great for things like oats, quick potatoes, chilli, chicken stock and rice but it lacks with things like roasts, whole chickens, even stew.

    There are folks who swear by a whole chicken in the instant pot. I find that it comes out a rubbery mess.

    I like to cook so it was likely never going to be a tool that I worshiped in the kitchen but it does have it’s place if you want to cut a few corners.

  7. JulieD says:

    Thanks for the update Karen! I’m waiting to read about your experiences and opinion on this before deciding whether or not to buy. So far it’s not looking too good. I’m pretty happy with my induction range and pressure cooker combo, so this would have to earn its keep against what I’ve already got. That being said, I cook my cheesecakes in my pressure cooker- 2 at a time. They lack that brown speckled look on top if you like that, but I think it comes out denser and creamier, (and faster).
    Looking forward to your final post on this- thanks for doing the experimenting so we don’t have to!

  8. Diane Palecek says:

    Even though you talked a week or two ago about your new kitchen gadget, when I first saw the title of your post, I latched onto the words “Instant Pot Experiment” and put the emphasis on “pot” rather than “instant.” Not something I’d normally expect from you, Karen, but it started me wondering. It could explain some of the more creative metaphors/similies/comparisons you’ve used in some of your posts. Still, my opinion on this kitchen appliance await your results.

  9. whitequeen96 says:

    I use 1.5 cups of water to a cup of rice and it comes out just the way we like it. Tender but not too sticky. Try that, then back down to 1.25 cups of water and see if you like that better.

    We happen to like boiled chicken, so I throw in frozen legs and thighs with a can of broth, push Meat/Stew and it’s ready in 45 (35?) minutes. After we eat what we like, we shred the rest for other recipes. I use the leftover broth from the chicken to boil up some broccoli and turn it into your delicious soup or make other soups or rice.

    But I’m not really into cooking (too lazy), although I’m certainly into eating! I’m glad you’re going to keep working with it.

  10. Stephanie Hobson says:

    So, I’m reading this post about the Instant Pot and go back to the previous post, “Why I was Going to be the First Person to Hate the Instant Pot”, read through it and all of the comments, of course, and at the very end, the very last comment, came upon this jewel, posted by Nancy.

    “If you have the attention span of a gnat, rice is extremely difficult to cook. Don’t be cruel. However, I have learned that the crispy bottom of a nearly burnt pot of rice is quite delicious.”

    Actually did LOL.

  11. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I tried it once but couldn’t take the pressure!😎

  12. Thandi Welman says:

    You make two cheesecakes at a time in your pressure cooker. Marry me. Or at least share a recipe.

  13. Cary says:

    I broke down and bought one. I made coconut yogurt that came out runny. I will go 12 hours next time and add more starter. how did you make yours? And last night I made Korean boneless short ribs, brown rice (2c. rice / 2 1/2c. stock / 22 min. Best brown rice I’ve ever made!) and broccoli. When I was reducing the sauce on sauté I plopped in some broccoli to cook. It was really good. The short ribs were incredibly tender. can’t wait to do the eggs! It’s kind of fun to play with, isn’t it?

  14. ev Wilcox says:

    To echo Linda-Lard?

  15. Ann says:

    You have sealed it for me. No Instant Pot. With a smallish kitchen, lots of gadgets filling my precious space, I have no room for something that doesn’t do any better than that. I have a true pressure cooker which is very very easy to use. I can keep it in the garage on my extra kitchen shelving til I need it. My rice is best made by boiling for 2/3 normal time, drain and then steam while other things are cooking. My less than 20 bucks veggie steamer takes up less room, is so usable and was so much cheaper.

    Thanks for your really honest and very humorous review. Saved me room and trouble

  16. Mary says:

    Add the caramel from condensed milk in little mason jars to your list – you will not regret it, I promise!

  17. Collette says:

    Baked potatoes weren’t fabulous (in my opinion) but I’ll NEVER make a sweet potato in anything other than a pressure cooker again in my entire life. They are creamy and sweet and I don’t even need to put butter or brown sugar on them! They are a weekly staple now.

  18. Anne says:

    The best thing for me about the instant pot is coming home taking frozen meat out of the freezer and cooking it in 20 minutes. No thawing, pop it in walk away come back and it’s done. You can’t beat that. I agree about their manual and cookbook. I think they have addressed this issue with their latest Instant Pot they released. The only complaint I have other than the manual thing is the seal ring. It absorbs odors and I can’t get the odors out. My steel cut oats came out tasting of pot roast. Gross… I guess I have to buy different rings for sweet or savory or grain. I was thinking of buying some denture cleaner to see if that’ll get the odor out.

  19. Susan Claire says:

    I never seriously considered getting one of these things, and your experiments have assured me that I made the right decision. I just can’t have one more gadget in my house, especially one that evidently is more difficult to use than all the hype suggests. Thanks, you saved me from having to replace the window that I surely would have thrown this pot through when it pissed me off after ruining yet another dinner.

  20. Since I work 10-hr days, and then have to commute 1.5 hrs each way, I love the fact that I can get home, assum-draggin’, and throw some stuff into the InstantPot, and while I attend to the critters on my mini-ranch my dinner is happily pressure-cooking away.

    I also make large batches of homemade soup for lunches during the week. Yogurt, though? Not even going to waste my time so long as there’s a good variety of the Greek yumminess.

    I’ve found that the pressure cooking learning curve for me consists of cutting back on the seasonings some. The pot intensifies the flavors, so I’m learning how much to use.

  21. Karen says:

    LOL! No. No pot experiments going on right now. ~ karen!

  22. Karen says:

    Yes, lol. Lard. 🙂 ~ karen

  23. Patti H says:

    @Anne. I had a cool wine bottle that I used for my “special” olive oil. Who knew that last ounce of olive oil went rancid after 7 years!?! I couldn’t get the rancid smell out no matter what I did so I Googled it and found that a teaspoon of regular mustard mixed with a cup of hot water worked. No smell! I don’t know if that will make the seal ring smell like mustard but you could try it.

  24. Karen says:

    Have you ever made homemade yogurt before Cary? It is fairly thin compared to what we’re used to in stores now. I always thicken mine by draining it in a tea towel for an hour or two after it’s chilled. Or … it could be the temp/or sitting time. I’ve made yogurt a few times now and other than the first it’s always come out perfect but I’ve been very careful about using a thermometer to make sure the temps are correct and not relying just on the Instant Pot to tell me they’re good. ~ karen!

  25. Karen says:

    Yep. Lard. 🙂 Post coming up on Wednesday all about it. ~ karen

  26. Karen says:

    Well the review isn’t done yet but no, I’m’ not as gaga over it as everyone else. It *is* useful but … ~ karen!

  27. Karen says:

    Good to know Collette. I’ll add it to my list! I grow SO many sweet potatoes. I still have a ton from last season I need to use up! ~ karen

  28. Karen says:

    Someone mentioned soaking in water/vinegar solution I think. ~ karen!

  29. Gaeyl says:

    Thanks for the research & development on the instant pot the manufacturers failed to inform on. I have a galley kitchen without much storage so I believe I’ll pass. I understand breaking down & rendering pork shoulder would be wonderful I can already accomplish that the old slow poke way with a wonderful fragrance wafting through home.

  30. Katie Schneider says:

    My findings? Anything that is good in the crockpot is as good or better in the Instant Pot…with the added bonus that you can sautee/brown in the same pot. Granted, haven’t tried eggs or yogurt yet. Anything that takes less than 30-40 min. on the stove is not going to be faster cooked in the Instant pot. We’re fans of stews and curries around here, so it’s a win!

  31. Cary says:

    I have made homemade dairy yogurt before where temperature is key. But since I was using coconut milk I figured the temperature didn’t matter as much?… (not having to take it up to 180* then let it go down to 115*) so I just added the coconut milk and starter yogurt and set it to ‘yogurt’ for 8 hours. it wasn’t as tart as I like so I think some extra time will make it more tart. And maybe if I add more starter that will increase the thickness? if not, it’s still OK.… really good with sliced bananas and as a crème anglaise-ish sauce over cake! coconut yogurt is yummy! btw I am really loving Flo Lum on youtube. i’m going to try her fast roast chicken soon. thanks Karen!

  32. shannon says:

    Crock pot lid broke yesterday, and I am waiting for your review to see if I will just replace it with an Instant Pot. I don’t use a crock pot very often, so I would like to replace it with something I would use more often. Like you, I’m a bit skeptical of the IP hype. Anxiously awaiting the full review.

  33. Kathy says:

    Why can’t something occur to me before someone else does it? Sweet potatoes in a pressure cooker makes sense as does brown rice. Eating more of both seems good. I don’t read your info as negative. I really don’t see it as saving anyone from a useless purchase. Having an egg walk out of its shell is a miracle in the kitchen, all those raggedy Easter eggs. I did read that boiled eggs go bad faster than fresh, surprised me. This research is very interesting.

  34. Kathy says:

    I forgot. Lard, wow. But it’s the chili I’m hoping you’ll share. How about some beans?

  35. Suzanne Herbruck says:

    Did you try denture cleaner tabs in HOT water? Works really well on many things, flower vases, my engagement ring, old glasses from rummage sales, tho haven’t tried it on dentures!

  36. Bellygrl says:

    I bought an Instant Pot last year, and I do like it, but I don’t love it. We’ve made stock, soup and lots of beans in it. I should try rice and hard boiled eggs. I agree w you, Karen, the guide that came with the pot sucks! I also bought the ‘Pressure Cooker Perfection’ cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen and I have to admit, that is a little confusing also. I read recipes in my spare time, and I love cooking, so it surprised me that this piece of equipment is kind of daunting. Anyway, I’d recommend it for someone who does not already have a pressure cooker and is willing to fool around with the recipes a bit.

  37. JulieD says:

    Haha! I just use a standard cream cheese cheesecake recipe, and stack the wrapped 7″ pans on a trivet in the cooker, cooking them 15 minutes under high pressure (with two cups of water.) Let steam release naturally. Of course, the p.cooker needs to be tall enough to accommodate both.
    My point is that I bet the instant pot cheesecake turns out pretty good!

  38. SusanR says:

    It’s probably the vinegar in the mustard that does the trick. Vinegar removes odors, and is excellent at cleaning things.

  39. Baxter says:

    I think all of the smoke taste gets into the meat after the first 1/2 of cooking, so why not try a combo smoke and instapot for the pork?

  40. Lin N says:

    My bog crock pot bit the dust last weekend so, I too, am awaiting more of your fabulous blogginess on the Instant Pot. Lard??? OK will look forward to hearing about this artery clogging preparation and use of the IP….

  41. Donna Taylor says:

    I am putting my decision to buy or not buy an Instant Pot on your reviews. :-} No pressure – pun intended. Several friends in my age group (we qualify for everything senior) swear by them, but I am very skeptical so am looking forward to your opinion.

  42. Catherine says:

    Yes, but make sure you use Cleaning vinegar (or double strength), 10% acetic acid.

  43. Jan in Waterdown says:

    I must be incredibly out of touch. I had not even heard of an Instant Pot until reading about it here. Think I’ll wait ’til Karen’s done reviewing it first. And then not buy one lol. Right up there with a spiralizer . . . meh. Cripes do I sound like an ol’ fart or what eh?!

  44. Maureen says:

    There were some fun posts on 4/20 on the IP Facebook group. Until the admin deleted them, dammit.

  45. Jennie Lee says:

    When I saw that you thought the instructions for the Instant Pot were the worst ever, I thought “Oh, no, they’re not!” My Dad bought an item once that had such bad instructions that they are about the funniest thing I ever read. Usually, I’d make you guess what the item was. I’ll send the answer in a little while. Now, I’m not good at making this into paragraphs, but otherwise, this is verbatim. USE EXPLAIN MADE IN TAIWAN R.O.C. 1) Please with [RU YIN WISHES EXPAND AND CONTRACT KAN]soft turn left or right to turn round and round. To feel hollow, you can pull up to you need size. 2) To fix, please again with [RU YIN WISHES EXPAND AND CONTRACT KAN]soft turn round and round to person habit turn left or right, so can fix, will not fall down. 3) If need recover [RU YIN WISHES EXPAND AND CONTRACT KAN], please soft turn round and round to turn back to feel hollow, turn put down, you can recover. What do you think these instructions are for?

  46. Jeff says:

    The comments about pressure cookers reflect a lack of understanding of what the Instant Pot is. It’s an electric pressure cooker that can work as a slow cooker. If you have a stove-top pressure cooker you like, stick with it. If you want a pressure cooker that is a lot easier to use, get the Instant Pot. It has a lot of buttons but most of them are pointless.

    It does a spectacular job with eggs, steaming them rather than boiling, and they are simple to shell. I’ve found it to be great with chili, stews, quinoa, brown rice, and “carnitas”/pulled pork. I was also able to take some frozen fish out of the freezer and make a perfect soup with no defrosting.

    And the one thing I didn’t expect before I bought it – it’s terrific for reheating meals. Haven’t touched the microwave since I got it. Put a heatproof dish on the trivet, some water in the bottom, and it reheats without hot spots or drying.

    The biggest problem is that a lot of people try to make things with the Instant Pot they shouldn’t and they rave about it even if it isn’t that good. It’s like the early days of food processors when people would use their processor to do all sorts of things that didn’t benefit from it at all and then required cleanup.

    Oh, one more thing – the odor-absorbing seal. You can buy two color-coded rings made by Instant Pot from Amazon for a little over $10, or knockoffs for less. Very easy to use one for food that will create odors.

  47. Shelagh says:

    Try your local thrift store for a second lid!
    It worked for me!

  48. Shelagh says:

    Omg, I have no idea but laughed all the same!
    Lost in Translation!!!!
    Please tell!

  49. Robyn says:

    I am grateful that you are getting this all figured out so I don’t have to. I hope you try air fryers next. I want to buy one but I am scared….and skeptical. Love and admire your many talents!

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