I remember when I started hearing flutters online about an “Instant Pot” a few years back — or was it InstaPot? Anyway, I’d see pictures of stews and other 1-pot meals and read about the swiftness with which these meals were made, all with excited narratives and confessions of love for this machine.

What was this Instant Pot, and why were people so in love with it?

After some quick Googling I realized the Instant Pot was a pressure cooker. Eek! A pressure cooker? My mom had only told me my entire life at any mention of a pressure cooker that they were super dangerous. Were they safer now? Would this so-called instant-food-maker be something worth investing in?

The answer is a resounding YES! Oh, it has been SO worth having! With a hectic schedule and a 4-person household to feed, it has been a life-saver. Here’s why.

Why I love the Instant Pot

  • It makes food in minutes. According to my calculations, cooking time for most foods end up being about one-fifth of what they normally would be. For example, a dry bean soup mix that needs to cook up to 3 and a half hours on the stove can be done in about 45 mins! White rice that takes 20 mins on the stove takes only 4 mins with the Instant Pot! 
  • Clean up is so easy. It’s a one-pot meal for most of what I cook in it. The pot is essentially a deep stainless steel bowl and is dishwasher safe; the lid rarely if ever gets dirty, so most nights all it needs is a quick rinse! 
  • It’s a “set it and forget it” situation. Throw all your ingredients in the pot, turn the lid, set the setting and time and walk away. It beeps when it’s done and will wait patiently in “warm mode” and slowly release pressure until you’re ready to eat. 
  • It doesn’t just pressure cook — it’s also an amazing steamer and yogurt-maker!

What to remember when cooking with an Instant Pot

  • You do need to learn how to use it safely! Read the manual, and after you do, check out my “quick reminder” checklist  to review before each use (below)
  • Make sure you’ve added enough liquid. The Instant Pot won’t work properly and could be damaged if you don’t use enough water. 16 oz (2 cups) is the minimum amount of liquid you need.
  • If you’re cooking dry foods that expand, like beans, make sure your water to food ratio is about 1:3. That is, for every cup of dry beans/lentils/rice/etc., use 3 cups of water. For example, most of my recipes for dry beans and bean-based soups call for 2 cups of dry beans and 6 cups of water.
  • Don’t go over the food/liquid limit! Learn the markings on your Instant Pot and don’t add more food or water than the unit can handle. My hack: I never make more than 2 dry cups of food at a time (plus veggies and seasonings)!
  • When cook time is complete, hit cancel before you release the pressure valve. Read over how to release the valve in your manual and memorize it! 

What I cook in it: 

  • Beans (from dry beans — no soaking required!)
  • Steamed rice
  • Steamed veggies, including whole carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and potatoes
  • Soup
  • Chili

What do YOU think?

Do you have an Instant Pot? What do you like/dislike about it? Let me know in the comments!