About a week or so ago Betty, (my 82 year old beer drinking, Orange Is The New Black watching mother) called me to ruminate about gum or cats or ISIS or something - I can't really remember. In the same conversation she told me she needed to borrow my Instant Pot. There was a recipe in the newspaper she wanted to try but it required an Instant Pot. The Instant Pot, if you don't know, is the new "miracle " small appliance that has taken the blogging world by storm. I have no idea if it's taken the world of regular home cooks by storm or not, but according to my nephew who works at Canada Post a plethora of them are being shipped to homes across Canada on a daily basis.
The Instant Pot, which looks like a large slow cooker, used to be a 6 in 1 machine, but the new and improved version is a 7 in 1 machine.
MY REVIEW OF THE INSTANT POT.
WHAT 7 GADGETS DOES THE INSTANT POT REPLACE?
- SLOW COOKER
- PRESSURE COOKER
- RICE COOKER
- YOGURT MAKER
- SAUTE PAN/OVEN
- WARMING POT
This one machine is capable of doing all of these things. Unfortunately for The Instant Pot, I'm capable of doing all of these things as well, usually without the aid of a special machine. As you may have guessed, this review isn't going to bode well for the Instant Pot.
By the way, it's the yogurt maker that they added to the latest edition of the Instant Pot that turned it from a 6 in 1 to a 7 in 1 machine. And it's a good thing they did because without the addition of that, my review of this thing would have gone from underwhelmed to abysmally underwhelmed. And guess what? They now make a 9 in 1 machine!
I'm Karen. And I'm the only blogger to hate The Instant Pot. Or so I thought but in truth ...
Nope. No, I was not the only person to hate The Instant Pot. I am joined by a long line of people who didn't like the Instant Pot but who aren't quite as vocal about their distain for this thing as the people who are obsessed with it. The obsessed people who will herein be referred to as The Cult of Instant Pot Lovers Who Maybe Don't Actually Love Cooking so Therefore Love That The Instant Pot Allows You to Lock Your Dinner Up And Out Of Sight Like a Kidnapped Baby.
Kaitlin from TheKitchn didn't like it.
Lisa from 100DaysofRealfood didn't like it.
And, and ... well I'm sure I could find more detractors out there if I could just figure out how to make it into the small kitchen appliance section of the dark web.
The Cult of the Instant Pot is the group of people who are willing to do or say anything to prove that this very useable, yet kind of unremarkable gadget is going to change your life. After owning the 7 in 1 Instant Pot for a few months my life has not changed any more than it changed after getting a teeth cleaning and WAY less than it changed after buying a Soda Stream.
But I like cooking. I like the process of cooking. I like stirring, and tasting and adding salt. You do not do these things with an Instant Pot. You put the food in, close it up and hope for the best. Which is my biggest beef with it. Cooking for me is something to be enjoyed and experienced and food is to be nurtured and tasted throughout the cooking process. There is none of that with an Instant Pot.
Imagine you're an artist and you have a blank canvas and all your oil paints and brushes in front of you. You take your time building the perfect painting, adding things and blending them and taking your time lovingly creating it. That's cooking.
Now imagine you whip off a kind of shitty paint by number in 13 minutes. That's cooking with an Instant Pot.
I know The Cult is currently looking for ways to poison me with some sort of Instant Pot concoction (that has gooey, rubbery chicken skin in it) but if that's the case I know I have at least 2 hours because even though the Instant Pot Cult claims they can make "Bone Broth" soup in 20 minutes, what they don't mention is you can't.
Why not? Because of reason #1 I didn't like the Instant Pot.
WHY I DIDN'T LIKE THE INSTANT POT
- The Instant Pot isn't as fast as its cooking time. Even though it works great and really did create the most delicious chili I've ever made in my life, the Instant Pot takes a really long time to come up to pressure before you can start cooking in it. At least 20 minutes. So you spend all your time prepping, doing whatever you need to do to make soup or chili (just like you would if you were doing it on the stove) and then you have to sit and wait for 20 minutes while it comes up to pressure. Once it does you really do have a reduced cooking time for a lot of things. My chili cooked in the Instant Pot in 10 minutes. You heard me. I pressure cooked it for TEN minutes. Normally I'd simmer that sucker for 3 hours. But then after it's insanely quick cooking time you need to let it depressurize. Another 20 minutes in most cases. For chili or other slow simmering dishes the Instant Pot excels. It really and truly does. The pressure cooking blends and melds all the flavours right into the meat (just like any pressure cooker would). But if that's all you want to do with the Instant Pot you'd be better off getting a better, stronger pressure cooker that comes up to pressure faster.
- The Instant Pot doesn't allow you to taste your food as you go. Or even check on it. Want to cook some chicken or duck or other meat that might dry out and get rubbery if it's overdone? You throw it in The Instant Pot and hope for the best. Ditto for seasoning which I always do at the beginning, middle and end of making almost any recipe. The good news is, because the Instant Pot does such a good job of bringing out the flavours of most ingredients, underseasoned food usually isn't an issue.
- The saute function isn't hot enough. I guess hot enough isn't maybe the right choice of words. The pot gets hot enough for sauteing but the second you add any food to it, the Instant Pot isn't strong enough to keep it hot so you have to wait for it to heat back up again before anything can brown. So it takes 3X as long to saute or brown meat in an Instant Pot as it would in a pan on the stove.
- You can't do big batches. I was really excited about making broth in The Instant Pot because everyone who has done so said it's fast and it's great. Sign me up. Then I started thinking ... that's not a lot of broth. When I do chicken or beef broth/stock I do a LOT of it, and then I can it all. I do this maybe 3 times a year. The Instant Pot comes in 3 sizes: 5, 6 or 8 quarts. By the time I got my ingredients into the Instant Pot and accounting for the fact that you can't fill it up completely because it's a pressure cooker, that wasn't going to leave me with very many quarts of broth. So in the end I didn't even try making broth in it.
- There's no temperature gauge. I mentioned the yogurt maker was the saving grace of this thing and as someone who makes homemade yogurt on a regular basis it really is a feature I liked. BUT ... there is not temperature gauge and with yogurt (as with a lot of other things) you need to know what temperature your food is at. To test the yogurt to make sure it's at 180 degrees you need to use a manual thermometer. The first time I made yogurt it didn't turn out at all. The second and third times it turned out perfectly. I attribute this to the fact that the later times I checked the temperature with a thermometer.
- Most things I did with it I could do better and easier without The Instant Pot. The Oatmeal I made with the Instant Pot was fine but using my method for Overnight Oatmeal is easier and faster. Plus there's something in me that thinks an old fashioned dish is better when cooked the old fashioned way. If I'm making a dinner that includes rice it's easier to just put some rice and water in a pot on the stove than to drag out the Instant Pot. If I'm cooking a whole chicken the only reason I'm doing that is so I can either stuff it or get a nice crispy skin. Neither of which is possible with the Instant Pot.
Over the course of my review I made Cherry Cheesecake, Yogurt, Oatmeal, Chili, Chicken and rice, Hard Boiled eggs and a bunch of other things in my Instant Pot. Some turned out great, some turned out terrible. Some cooked quicker than normal and some took longer to cook than my regular way of cooking them.
Believe it or not I do have some good things to say about the Instant Pot. Really I do. Although I still overwhelmingly hate it for my own cooking needs for the most part, I would say ...
WHY I LIKED THE INSTANT POT
- It's easy to clean. If you don't consider you can't get the stink out of the rubber gasket no matter what you do. I know this is going to get the other two Instant Pot haters riled up but I really didn't find cleaning this thing to be difficult at all. It's stainless steel which means it cleans really easily with just a sponge. The only issue is the rubber gasket which takes on the scent of each and every thing you cook in your Instant Pot. Mine currently smells like ground beef cheesecake. I haven't noticed that the smell of the gasket translates into flavour mingling in the dishes. The gasket itself just doesn't smell good and HOLDS the smells. True Instant Pot enthusiasts order extra gaskets online so they have one for sweet and one for savoury cooking.
- YOGURT! I know how to make yogurt with my eyes closed, my hands tied behind my back and a gag ball in my mouth. This is the method I have used for years and it's served me well, but the Instant Pot really does make it easier. And as long as you check your temperatures the results are perfect.
- Flavour enhancing qualities. Stews, chilis and other meat or bean based dishes will taste better because of the pressure cooking. Pressure cooking not only cooks meals faster because it raises the temperature inside the pot, but because it pulls liquid into the meats and beans making them softer and full of whatever flavour your sauce/liquid has. It took me years to perfect this chili recipe of mine and with God and all the Instant Pot nerds as witness, I will never cook it on the stove again. Instant Pot all the way.
So what about that newspaper recipe my mom wanted to borrow my Instant Pot for? After explaining the Syrian conflict in a nutshell to her and asking her if she had any white thread, I asked her to read me the recipe over the phone. Turns out the recipe said you needed an Instant Pot but ... you didn't. Not even a little bit. In fact, they were just using it to cook the chicken for a stir fry which would be 10 gazillion times faster to just cook in a pan.
And therein lies my true distain for The Instant Pot and it's gurgling cult of followers. They want you to think you can and should cook EVERYTHING in the Instant Pot. Just because you *can* do something doesn't mean you should.
I'll fully admit that I kind of had my back up about this whole Instant Pot craze right from the beginning but I truly kept an open mind throughout my review.
I do not recommend the Instant Pot to anyone who enjoys the art of cooking.
I don't even recommend it to people who want to be able to make cooking easier. It doesn't really do that.
It's not like The Instant Pot chops and measures out your ingredients for you. If you're looking for something to make cooking easier, I'd recommend Blue Apron or another food delivery service that pre-portions meals and ingredients and delivers them to your door before I recommended an Instant Pot. Yes, I've worked with Blue Apron before on posts and no they aren't paying me to mention them in this post. It just truly makes more sense to me.
But ... I like cooking. I like stirring and tasting and seasoning. I like the smell of something simmering on the stove all day long. I like the take my time with the painting.
If you don't by all means ... buy an Instant Pot this instant.
This post was paid for by Instant Pot.
I was talked into buying one from all my co-workers who swear by it. I personally hate it. Used 3 times now and was disappointed with the results. I am not a “follow the recipe” kind of person, and I hated not being able to taste as I go. Now this bizarre cult my co-workers belong to think I’m crazy for not liking it. I really believe this is a fad. I will probably sell it at my next yard sale along with the Eggie I got for Christmas last year.
It has its cult of supporters and they do LOVE it. I just don't get it. And I guess neither do you, lol. ~ karen!
I agree with you. This device is not very useful.
I agree with you wholeheartedly. The instant pot is a gadget that those who love cooking can completely do without. My partner bought me an Instant Pot and since then I have cooked with it for several months. It does not reduce the cooking times of most meals, it does not enhance the flavor of the food at all, and it is tedious to use. I make soups and stews all the time from scratch, the truth is that the soup on the stove is as quick as the Instant Pot when you consider the device needs to build up its steam, then pressure cook, then you need to wait for it to release the heat. What a fussy device. I cannot see what the hype is. I agree, it makes good yogurt. I would not recommend the Instant Pot over cooking on the stove, in the oven, on the BBQ, etc. A gadget that takes up room and does not add to my kitchen.
And now I've discovered my food dehydrator (which takes up a lot of space but is actually useful for me) does an even better, easier job of making yogurt! ~ karen
I'm glad I stumbled across your blog because when I got a cooking system so that I didn't have to use my utterly ginormous crockpot anymore [still have it, that thing's 15 years old, works great especially for large gatherings but what a pain for just me yet I didn't want to get another one that was just smaller] what I hear is 'why didn't you get an Instapot?'
I didn't want one?
The Instapot craze is still just everywhere and I have played with them before but honestly? It doesn't do a lot for me. I like being able to see and manage my food during cooking and most of the things I cook on a daily basis are fast prep and often fast to completion. What I got actually reduces the pans I use and works well for a variety of things from slow cooking to even making baked dishes. It's especially helpful to me since my stove is getting fritzy and due to bad construction by the previous homeowners, it's going to be a nightmare to replace [and sadly, it has enough problems that it will have to be, eventually]. It works well enough that I can still make dark chocolate Amaretti cookies in it, but it's nice to have an alternative, especially in summer.
The Instapot has uses, don't get me wrong, and I can definitely see it as being great for people in situations where they limited room/appliances or simply want something that helps with a task they aren't thrilled with. I'm sure it does some things really well. I just wish the people live or die by this thing would back off those of us who aren't into it. It seems like if you aren't dying to get one you're just doing it wrong.
A couple of relatives own the IP and love it. I'm more of a traditional cook and really love to cook. The review was extremely helpful and I believe I'll stick with traditional cooking. The comments are pretty hilarious too.
Along with you and so many others, I didn't buy our IP. My son=in=law bought it as an easy way for him to cook roasts when he has forgotten it's his night to cook and didn't think about it till 20 mins before dinner. He does use it a lot, but I rarely use it for so many of the reasons slmost everyone is stating. I, also, like to "cook" I enjoy the process, the joy of playing with my food, tasting, smelling it, all those things. I have done chili in it. But usually when I cook it I need much more than the IP makes. Large family gatherings, etc. I just am not into it and it takes up space om my counter I could better use for prepping. Love you and your posts. I sometimes get behind in readng due to "life" but I never miss one, even late. Keep us informed, laughing and " doing Stuff"
Watching foodtubers cook meat from raw to falling off the bone in 10 minutes has temped be to consider the IP even though I hate crock pots & have absolutely no space for something I won't use often.
I love slow, low, fill the house with delicious aroma cooking, but, I'd love to have the option to do it quickly.
Will a pressure cooker cook meat to tender quickly & will it taste the same as slow cooking on the stove top or in the oven?
The issue I have with pressure cooking meat is that there's such a high chance of the resulting meat becoming mush. I've tried beef stew in the Instant Pot for instance and didn't like it because I couldn't control the exact doneness of the meat. I like it fork tender, but not mushy. Don't forget as well that it isn't actually 10 minutes, because you have to bring the pot to pressure, and let it release. Some people LOVE the Instant Pot and do everything in it, so you might just love it! I'd make a bet you can find someone like me who doesn't love their Instant Pot and is willing to lend it to you for a couple of weeks so you can see whether it's worth the space in your kitchen. :) ~ karen!
I bought a 6-quart instant pot during Amazon prime day in July for $50. I usually think things through. This thing is gigantic - slightly smaller than my kitchen. It lives on top of the stove because I literally have nowhere to store it. I've used it several times and so far any type of roast has turned out the best. I do love it for that. I was looking to buy a slow cooker and since this was/is all the rage I bought it instead because the price was about the same. But damn, this thing is huge.
I made the hard-boiled eggs, but I'm an expert so mine turn out better on the stove.
I've made chicken...what a disaster. There's no way to brown a whole chicken in that thing. Anybody else have trouble maneuvering a giant piece of meat in there to brown it, flip it over and not burn the hell out of yourself?
Guess I could try the yogurt. I do like yogurt. I buy organic Greek yogurt from Aldi for like $2.50 so it better be worth it. Obviously, I'm a little grumpy about my instant pot. Maybe I should take a nap.
Leslie Russell, I'm grumpy about it too. I don't eat yogurt but my husband does daily and he swears the IP makes the best Greek-style yogurt ever and it saves dollars in the process. Like you, I found that cooking chicken in the IP was an uneven cooking disaster. Also, the "sear" function is a joke. No thanks. I much prefer my reliable cast iron pots and pans. I mean, the IP does have some useful applications, but it's so gimmicky and just takes up way too much room in my teeny kitchen.
Ohmygoodness...thank you for this. You have described most eloquently and with great humour, all the good and the bad of the IP. I love the process, fragrance, and act of cooking, much of which is missing when "cooking" with the IP. My husband was convinced he wanted an IP for the Yogurt function alone. I balked. Just one more appliance we have no room for in our tiny kitchen. But his previous yogurt-making ventures required even more space and time, so I acquiesced. I eyed the IP with great suspicion, but I gave it a go. It didn't take long to find out that the superlative claims of "fast cooking time" was a bunch of BS, as none of the food blogs noted how long the thing actually takes to come up to pressure before actually cooking. It IS easy to clean, I'll say that, and you'll appreciate that fact after many disasters. I was so naieve and excited to think I could cook an entire head of cabbage, uncored, and save myself a ton of time boiling a cabbage head to make cabbage rolls. Big mistake. I'm glad I bought a second head of cabbage, as the IP turned the first one into mush in 5 minutes (after 17 minutes pressurizing time...there seems to be no rhyme or reason to how much time the pressurizing takes). I'm talking cabbage pablum. I had to throw it out and start all over with the old-school method. The biggest missing factor for me with the IP is the loss and anticipation of long, slow braising and the warm hug of same, plus no ability to taste and test and adjust seasonings along the way. I do like that I can throw a peck of beets in there and they're done in 15 minutes (including pressurizing time), but that small luxury really doesn't outweigh anything. Are our lives better for the IP? Doubtful for those of us who are accomplished cooks. Maybe for college students on their own for the first time and clueless? I guess.
I bought the IP and thought it was going to change my life--it didn't. I got so frustrated with the settings buttons and ruined 2 dinners. I gave it to my sister.
>>If you don’t by all means … buy an Instant Pot this instant.
This post was paid for by Instant Pot.
I think it was paid by Instant Pot.
I have to cook everything from scratch because of food issues. I don't cook everything in it, but I do use it 2-3 times a week for recipes like soups and casseroles. Then we live on leftovers and things that are easy on the stove.
I love my InstantPot. Yes, it does take awhile to get up to steam, but I now factor that into my cooking time. Cooking -- and reading your blog -- are two of my greatest pleasures in life. As you do, I love to stir, sniff and taste but don't you have times when you just want to get the kitchen all cleaned up before dinner, have a glass of wine and veg out for a minute or two? That's what the Instant Pot does for me, as does the slow cooker but hey, it is slow! The InstantPot isn't as instant as they say it is, but, heck, it is faster than I am for most things. I also have the InstantPot ACE blender and love that, too, also a multifunctional tool. It does almond milk well and smoothies and even chilled desserts. It was between that and a Vitamix and I just could not see spending all that money at my age when I could get something that worked almost as well for a quarter of the price.
I know this post is super old, but I'M SO GLAD I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE! My cousin swears by this appliance and has multiple ones. I find joy in cooking my stuff, not just putting it all into something and leaving it. I've seen too many posts about Instant Pots exploding, and find the effort required redundant when you compare the time overall (prepping, cooking, cooling, etc.).
The Instant Pot cult seems to think their "cooking" superior to actual cooking, as if putting forth the effort of cooking is not actually cooking. As you said, I think they just hate cooking and love having all the cool appliances in their homes. Every Instant Pot cult member I've been to the home of has had nearly every popular appliance -- but not used them nearly as much, even the $900 Vitamix (which, loving blenders, I would be all over esp. since it costs more than Instant Pot).
I was at Target yesterday and came across an IP WITH an air fryer attachment on clearance for $44.99. Woohoo!! Can't pass up a bargain. After reading through the very sparse instructions, I'm tempted to return it. The rice function is under pressure, so there's no way to add veggies in a steam tray halfway through the process (so, the rice function is almost worthless to me, so no it doesn't replace my rice cooker). So I thought I could use the steam function for rice -- but even that is pressurized! I thought steaming was a gentle cooking method! I don't see any good reason to put steam under pressure -- if I want pressure, I'll use the pressure function. On this model, the bake function uses the air fryer lid -- what's up with that?! I confess, I'm not a good cook, nor do I like to cook, but I do like good food! As a lifetime (69 years) single person, I cook in larger batches and reheat the leftovers (easy peasy, no need to cook every day and don't have to think about my next meal). I'll probably try the slow cooker function. I'd be willing to pay full price for an IP if every function had a dual mode for pressure and unpressurized (except yogurt)). (By way of full disclosure I have an Instant Vortex Are Fry Oven -- another $40 "bargain" -- which sounds like a jet getting ready for take off -- the best use I've found is for hard cooking eggs!).
Downshiftology has an "egg" cellent way to hard boil (or soft) eggs on the stove, wow! Who knew!
While making a second attempt at a meal in the IP, I was thinking about taking an online course in understanding how the thing was supposed to work. Then I tasted the food and decided not to bother. And food was stuck to the bottom of the pot, so even after soaking a few minutes, I had to scrub with steel wool.
Totally hate this thing!
Here we are in 2022 & Instant Pots are still going strong. But why? I was given one & here's my take. There are a lot of people out there who can't cook at all. They can't even cook rice & they've never produced a good meal in their life. That's all I can think of to explain the rave reviews online for recipes that just plain don't work. And there are a lot of Instant Pot recipes out there. Rice in 4 minutes on high pressure with a 1:1 water to rice ratio just doesn't work. If you like that rice, you must have been making something really awful before you made Instant Pot rice. Brown rice in the Instant Pot is terrible. Pasta cooked in the Instant Pot comes out with a strange consistency. I tried a roasted chicken recipe tonight & it cooked the chicken to death. All the juice & fat ran out of the chicken into the pot. This recipe had amazing reviews, each saying how wonderful, tender, and tasty the chicken was-even better than Sam's Club's roasted chicken. There may be a way to cook a good chicken in the Instant Pot, but you're going to have to do a lot of experimenting with your little pot to find it. I call BS on some of the reviews. I posted a review of a supposedly amazing brown rice recipe. The recipe, followed exactly, produced terrible, gluey, under-cooked rice. I gave the recipe 2 of 5 stars but was not rude when describing my results. My review was NOT printed. I posted another review the next day with 3 stars, stating that I was just not a fan of Instant Pot rice. The review was not printed. The little Yummy Mummy recipe bloggers can't cook & sure can't develop & write a recipe, but they can censor any comments that are less than glowing. My Instant Pot made beans that were delicious & firmer yet softer than I've ever been able to get my beans on on the stove or in the oven. I made a chicken soup by throwing in the pot chunks of frozen chicken breast, chopped veggies, some wild rice & bricks of frozen broth. I pressed the soup button, took off for an appointment & when I came home I had soup. Great. There are some things an Instant Pot does well for week night cooking. But I just ruined a $10.50 chicken buy using an online recipe written by someone who can't cook & probably wrote most of the rave reviews for her horrible recipe. I am going to save the Instant Pot for beans & soup & go back to making delicious, well-cooked meals for my husband.
The original post by Karen B. is spot on. I could not agree more with her summation! Highly disappointing, unnecessary P.O.S. I've had to complete just about every meal via more conventional means. Full disclosure: I have not tried to make yogurt using it. At any rate, it is out of my house tomorrow. Trashing it, along with the cookbook. What a waste, by why frustrate others.
Perfect post Karen! I had wrote a fab story for you and lost it! Unexpected page error! Not my world! Love you! Mi kind of “Girl”! Will try again.....Loved your article and had such a lovely story for you! Promise to redo! Just ordered Fagor old fashioned belly pot....Loved it in a rented Spanish condo this winter getaway!
You had summarized my research perfectly!
I do cook and I do paint!
Oh no, lol! Well, if you work up the energy to rewrite it, I'm here to read it. ~ karen!
The Instant Pot cooks awesome. But, most of the Instant Pot recipes I've tried are inaccurate as to ratio of water to beans or rice and time. Also, it doesn't show time on display, just "on". No alarms when time is up and no alarm for food burn! I pretty much have to watch the pot like I would if I cooked it on the stove!