Its fans call themselves "potheads" and accessorise their pots
February 22, 2018 12:03 AM   Subscribe

As the nation struggles [molten chocolate cake] through the Polar Vortex, failing and closed restaurants, and food pronunciation, hungry Brits [boil an egg] are staying in and using their eBay acquired Instant Pots [coq au vin]. Paula Cocozza tries one for a week, while Jessica Yadegaran happily makes risotto, and in Houston it faces off against the Dutch Oven. While Americans [baby back ribs] grieve over death by Crock-Pot, in Minneapolis Patricia Lopez makes a safer dulce de leche. Elsewhere [Cuban beef stew], Paul Hope faces off the Instant Pot against the Big Green Egg over pulled pork [Sloppy Joes], Melissa Clark is turned by a pork shoulder, and Urvashi Pitre becomes the "butter chicken lady". Though, [lemon pepper orzo] fried chicken replicators may be disappointed.
posted by Wordshore (114 comments total) 89 users marked this as a favorite
I LOVE OUR INSTANT POT (though we got ours through UK Amazon instead of eBay). We use it multiple times a week, in both slow cook and pressure cook modes. I'm also very charmed by their very low-fi customer service. I recently accidentally put the lid on a hot stovetop and, well, melted it, and the Instant Pot UK people got back to me straight away and sent me a new lid very quickly.

Paul Cocozza, on the other hand, just seemed to use really bad recipes with his Instant Pot. Kenji's mushroom risotto is a favourite in our house. I also often use the slow cooker setting to make steel cut oats overnight. The thing is totally worth it.
posted by nerdfish at 12:54 AM on February 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

I received a generic instant pot as a xmas gift and I've never made so much soup in my life.

I've sinced branched out to curries and stroganoffs and whatnot and I have to admit this thing is pretty nifty. Time will tell whether this will reach the lofty heights of "regular kitchen appliance" (a very exclusive club) or if its destined for the dusty corner where breadmakers go to die.

But in the meantime, I've been enjoying the ease and trying out new recipes, specifically from 29 Pressure Cooker Recipes for Quicker, Easier Dinners
posted by sektah at 1:38 AM on February 22, 2018 [6 favorites]

For the last couple years I've been totally into pressure cooking foods (with a regular stovetop pressure cooker). It's so nifty: it reduces the cooking time of dried beans from 12 hours soak plus 4+ hours boiling to, like, 40 minutes tops. It's revolutionized my curries.

Suddenly everyone's been talking about the Instant Pot and I was so grumpy when I learned it was "just" an electric pressure cooker. Electric models are inferior to stovetop ones! And stovetop ones take less space in the kitchen! Harrumph!

But I'm intrigued. Is there really a benefit to all this computer control and electronical wizardry to the process of heating food under pressure? I'm not sure if I should buy one, or instead use the money to buy an even bigger stovetop pressure cooker and get into pressure-canning my curries.
posted by sixohsix at 1:46 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think there's a relatively marginal benefit over a stovetop pressure cooker - they both ultimately cook the same way - but the additions the electronic stuff provides are helpful. My relatively cheap one has a single removable pot that can be easily cleaned; it has a frying/saute lid-off mode to brown things before the main event ; there's a slow cooker mode which comes in handy when your other slow cooker is the size of a VW beetle ; and it automatically kicks in to "keep (safely) warm" mode for 24 hours after the pressure timer runs out - great for avoiding a giant pot of warm botulism or recreating the Chernobyl elephant's foot within the cooking chamber.

All of that kinda combined gently prods you into one-pot-cooking mode, so you defacto get the extra benefit of having very little cleaning afterward. I'm not sure it would be worth buying one if you already have a stovetop version, but by the same token those little extras might end up being very useful for you!
posted by sektah at 2:33 AM on February 22, 2018 [6 favorites]

Oh god I'm a pothead.
posted by sektah at 2:33 AM on February 22, 2018 [6 favorites]

I have a 4L Hawkins pressure cooker and a 1.5L one. I guess that makes me a pothead.
posted by infini at 3:20 AM on February 22, 2018

Man, I misread almost every link until I saw the first comment.
posted by filtergik at 3:38 AM on February 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

My wife bought me How To Instant Pot for Christmas -- it's by a MeFite, I fuzzily recall (?) -- and I love it. I wish I could say I've made a lot of recipes from it but the risotto is so good it's hard to make anything else.
posted by Shepherd at 3:58 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

It is a bit overhyped but it is nice to have an appliance that replaces the need for two seperate things - a slow cooker and a pressure cooker - when you live in a small apartment.

The curries are more flavorful because nothing is lost but they are also much waterier because nothing is lost. My wife loves it and it saves us a lot of money on things like Trader Joe's curries that used to be a lunch staple. The water content makes these work better as prepped lunches because they don't dry out.

My cat though absolutely hates it. The quick pressure release sends her skidding around looking for a safe hiding spot.

I'm reserving my opinion until I cook some ribs and pork roasts but it has made some pretty nice short ribs.
posted by srboisvert at 4:02 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

As a recent convert from a stovetop pressure cooker, my personal testimony is that the relatively small change from a cooker that needs half on eye on it for the duration of cooking to make sure the pressure stays right, to a completely self-regulating device, is in fact massive. We use it so much more than we did out (decent!) stovetop cooker, and what seemed like a very small improvement in convenience has been a godsend.

Will be checking out all the recipes above - we're mainly doing beans, dahls, and less virtuously pork shoulders.
posted by ominous_paws at 4:22 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

We have a generic one, which wild get more use if we did not have a picky child who feels foods skills not touch. The benefit over stovetop is that also is a slow cooker and a rice cooker, and that it's programmable and has a timer. We can set it up in the morning to pressure cook our beans to be ready in time for dinner. You don't have to sit there and babysit it. It comes up to pressure, regulates itself, shuts itself off and keeps itself warm. I got a real one for my parents for Christmas. They entertain a lot and it gets used for items that they don't have time to monitor and keep warm while also cooking other things.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:38 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

The 230V ones seem to be out of stock everywhere. Ahaha - stock.
posted by anthill at 4:46 AM on February 22, 2018 [5 favorites]

I never used a stovetop pressure cooker, so I can’t compare on that basis. But the multifunctionality of the Instant Pot is legit.

I actually make yogurt, like, regularly. I never made it before getting the thing. (I use this recipe except that I don’t obey the specific brand recommendations, I don’t bother sterilizing, and I heat the milk to closer to 200°F rather than 180°F. That last results in thick, nearly-solid yogurt without straining.)

I really enjoy being able to sauté things directly in the pot before pressure-cooking or slow-cooking. Saves a lot on doing dishes.

Also, pressure cooker risotto. I never made risotto before because it intimidated me (and I’m a pretty adventurous cook). It’s dead easy in the pressure cooker. No stirring.

Criticism: Most of the buttons are just aliases for timed pressure cook at high or low pressure, so I just use Manual most of the time. The extra buttons seem designed to hype multifunctionality at the expense of usability.

But really, it’s a damned useful thing.
posted by snowmentality at 4:58 AM on February 22, 2018 [10 favorites]

I really gotta get into making risotto with my pressure cooker. Thanks for the link, snowmentality.

I can't vouch for the recipe book, but that Hip Pressure Cooking site is a godsend. The pressure cooking time table is my bible.
posted by sixohsix at 5:13 AM on February 22, 2018 [5 favorites]

Of course you shouldn't attempt fried chicken in a home pressure cooker. That's what the air fryer is for.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 5:17 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

They really don't save *that* much time. The whole "45 minutes vs. 3 hours" thing is only counting the time once you've gotten up to pressure, which can take a while. You can make noticeable savings; I translated my mom's pot roast recipe over to my IP and shaved an hour or so off cooking time, which is big, but doesn't make it a weeknight dinner. But what it does do is make the whole thing hands-off. Throw everything in, put the lid on, walk away. Doesn't even heat up your kitchen. Plus I feel better about walking away from a running Instant Pot than a running gas burner.

Oh, and I learned the hard way that it's a good idea to get multiple color-coded gaskets on Amazon. At first I thought this was fussy-ass gadgetry bullshit, but then I made a pot of fairly garlicky red sauce, and after that I made a big batch of oatmeal, and the oatmeal was...not...good. So now I've got blue for sweet, red for savory, and the original white gasket for ALL THE GARLIC.

Criticism: Most of the buttons are just aliases for timed pressure cook at high or low pressure, so I just use Manual most of the time. The extra buttons seem designed to hype multifunctionality at the expense of usability.

The button interface was clearly designed by engineers. It could not be more confusing.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:29 AM on February 22, 2018 [9 favorites]

Starting this year we've finally started doing most of our meals at home instead of going out all the time. My spouse was particularly thinking about a rice cooker, and asked on Facebook about the Instant Pot. She got something like 17 people saying "OMG GET ONE NOW IT'S THE BEST" and one "don't waste your money."

And after reading some stuff about it online we sided with the latter. My spouse likes to experiment with recipes, and if you don't know how long cooking is going to take or whether you want to add something to it partway through, forget a pressure cooker. Smelly gaskets and general complexity and so on don't seem worth messing with either. We have a decent slow cooker already.

Oddly, the county public library has an Instant Pot that you can check out. There's a long waiting list. I shudder to think of what that gasket smells like though.
posted by Foosnark at 5:38 AM on February 22, 2018

Instant Pot annoys me because I am normally immune to hype. I live alone and have plenty of free time for cooking, so I don't have any need for one, and yet I find myself reading about the damn thing over and over again and thinking well maybe . . . BAH.
posted by JanetLand at 5:42 AM on February 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

And after reading some stuff about it online we sided with the latter. My spouse likes to experiment with recipes, and if you don't know how long cooking is going to take or whether you want to add something to it partway through, forget a pressure cooker. Smelly gaskets and general complexity and so on don't seem worth messing with either. We have a decent slow cooker already.

I mean you've obviously made your decision already but I love to experiment with recipes and I have no problems experimenting with an Instant Pot. It seems kind of black-boxish at first but you soon start to get a intuitive feel for it. I definitely find it a lot easier to experiment with than a slow cooker, since the cooking times are so much shorter. And here's Serious Eats guru Kenji on why pressure cookers beat slow cookers hands down (FWIW, I agree based on personal experience - the flavors of foods cooked in pressure cookers are much more intense than those cooked in slow cookers)
posted by peacheater at 5:47 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

We have one. I've made ribs in it (verdict: ok, but not as good as the oven, and neither is as good as making them on the smoker) and a few other oddities, but what I use it for the most is cooking beans. Being able to cook dry beans from scratch on a weeknight is great. It's not instant, but it will cook the beans in about the same amount of time as my slow rice cooker makes rice, for example, and neither requires being watched.

It's been a pleasure getting a bunch of varieties of heirloom beans; the flavors and textures are so much better than the usual canned beans which have always been my weeknight go-to. But I mostly don't use it for other recipes, and as other people have noted, you have to consider the entire time (including sauteing, heat up, pressure release, etc) when comparing cooking methods to see which is actually faster.

So I'd give the instant pot a qualified yes -- if you have the space to store it, and you enjoy eating the kinds of things that most benefit from pressure cooking, it is way more convenient and easy to use than a stovetop pressure cooker.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:52 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm totally a pot head. I like my Instant Pot too.
posted by slogger at 5:54 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

I got an InstantPot Ultra on sale over the holidays. I've used it a few times, but I'm struggling to like it enough to justify the huge amount of space it takes up in my relatively small kitchen.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:01 AM on February 22, 2018

Honestly, if you've got the time to experiment with food on the regs, you probably don't need an InstantPot. Most of the people I know who have them and use them have approximately 30 minutes a day in which to think about feeding 3-5 people at least one meal. We don't eat meat, so most of the things that are legit improved by pressure-cooking or slow-cooking are not on our menu and I find most vegetarian foods made with the same methods come out blander than they otherwise would. BUT, we still use it because of aforementioned time crunch. I'll deal with some bland lentil soup if it means that it's ready as soon a we walk in the door because it's been cooking all day on its own. We have 90 minutes between pulling into the garage and putting our son to bed to split between supervising homework, preparing dinner and eating dinner. The math is not favorable.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:07 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was using a stovetop pressure cooker for a few years before getting my Instant Pot (actually, I got a Fagor Lux). Yes, the Instant Pot is just an electric pressure cooker, but it is so much more convenient that stovetop. With a stovetop pressure cooker I felt I had to stay in the kitchen the entire time to monitor the hissing steam and adjust the burner. With the Instant Pot, you set it and walk away, which is so much easier when trying to make a full meal or prepare something in advance. I've mostly used mine to cook dry beans (which is a miracle in and of itself) but I've also made a few soups and curries. I've only had mine since Christmas and I think I've used it more than any other small cooking appliance except for the toaster oven or microwave.
posted by slogger at 6:13 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

He stands by the flavour capacity of the Instant Pot. Sometimes he makes Instant Pot ribs. “One of the best ribs,” he says. “It’s not boasting. I really tried every single restaurant in Ottawa. If I have a chance, I order ribs. I compare that with Instant Pot ribs because it is soft, juicy and the meat falls off the bone.

Sorry man. Rib meat should not fall off the bone. If it does you cooked them too long. Or steamed them. Ribs that are cooked right pull off of the bone. They have a chew like a good steak but are not tough. Please don't pressure cook ribs.
posted by Splunge at 6:36 AM on February 22, 2018 [5 favorites]

the instant pot is missing one feature that my old-school pressure cooker has:
instant pots don't explode.
posted by murphy slaw at 6:53 AM on February 22, 2018

My mom used to pressure cook ribs. The meat fell off the bones and the bones were mushy. It was disgusting. Ribs require long, slow cooking.
posted by fimbulvetr at 6:57 AM on February 22, 2018

grains, beans, stews, stocks

Other than needing to reduce stews a bit on opening, its great for that.

Other things - maybe not so much.

You can pressure cook ribs, just don't overcook ribs in a pressure cooker.
posted by JPD at 6:58 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

My question is, are these any better or different than a regular pressure cooker? I have a pressure cooker that gets use, but everyone keeps going on about these things.
posted by fimbulvetr at 6:59 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

oh my god fine i'll buy an instant pot
posted by palomar at 7:02 AM on February 22, 2018 [14 favorites]

My mom used to pressure cook ribs.

One slow-learned lesson of adult life has been "never judge a food, dish or technique by the way my mum cooked it."

Sorry Mum.
posted by ominous_paws at 7:06 AM on February 22, 2018 [11 favorites]

Heh. For the longest time I thought cooked vegetables had to be mushy. Or that olive drab was the color of green beans. OTOH she made the best meatballs.
posted by Splunge at 7:13 AM on February 22, 2018

green beans shouldn't be olive drab! that's why you add baking soda to them at the last minute after boiling them within an inch of their lives!
posted by murphy slaw at 7:18 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

My question is, are these any better or different than a regular pressure cooker?

Sorta asked and answered? It doesn't do anything a regular pressure cooker can't, food wise. However, it is noticeably less active effort because you can walk away and not worry about managing the heat. Added bonus, the cooking vessel is a dishwasher safe insert that is reasonably sized and thus cleanup is pretty simple. You can also apparently use it as a slow cooker though I've never done it.

I love my Instant Pot, though I don't do a ton of full-blown "throw everything in and cook" recipes. Mostly I use it to cook things that are part of the rest of what I'm cooking (e.g. braised beef chuck to shred for enchilada filling, or caramelized onions used in another recipe, etc). Kenji's mushroom risotto is great, though.
posted by tocts at 7:22 AM on February 22, 2018

I have not used mine nearly as much as I thought I might, but I've also had a seriously busy winter and haven't cooked much at all. Hopefully with all the spring veggies coming up, I'll start using it more. I have a friend who uses hers almost every day though. She's completely obsessed.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:23 AM on February 22, 2018

green beans shouldn't be olive drab! that's why you add baking soda to them at the last minute after boiling them within an inch of their lives! don't boil them within an inch of their lives and just steam them for five minutes tops.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:23 AM on February 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

Andrea Nguyen's instant pot chicken pho was a revelation. Its really really easy and weeknight-doable (although I usually make it on a sunday to eat all week).

toast coriander seeds and a couple cloves in a dry pot on sautee, add in onion, ginger, and apple and cilantro, and a 4 lb chicken - low pressure 15 mins, 20 mins to let it come back down.

and beans from dry are infinitely better than canned and you'll never convince me otherwise (though I do not put beans in my pho because im not a heathen).
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:24 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

So I don't watch This is Us but I saw the post Super Bowl episode because our party hosts are really into the show. They're on team evil crockpot, but is no one blaming the daughter (or is she suffering guilt) for asking Jack to go back inside to get the dog... or blaming Jack for taking that incredible risk? I love my cat, but that house was completely engulfed in flames. No way.

How long before instant pots start turning up at Goodwill and its ilk, a la bread machines and, yes, crock pots? Inquiring minds want to know.
posted by carmicha at 7:25 AM on February 22, 2018 don't boil them within an inch of their lives and just steam them for five minutes tops.

should have included a <sarcasm> tag.
that is not my method for green beans, i was just sharing an old family recipe
posted by murphy slaw at 7:26 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

We bought an Instant Pot a few months ago, and I would give it a good solid B+ overall. I have been consistently disappointed by almost every meat dish I've tried making, but very pleased with the soup/stew/chili/curry results. It did let us retire the slow cooker, but it's also freaking huge and we've yet to find a good place to put it. I'd say we use it once every couple of weeks, but that's more a reflection of how many nights we don't have any time to cook than any lack of utility of the Instant Pot.
posted by briank at 8:01 AM on February 22, 2018

My big question about the Instant Pot is the question i usually have about most appliances:

Does it come in a "serves one person" size? 99.9 % of the time I am cooking only for myself and want to avoid leftovers that I have to eat through for weeks.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:06 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have been lusting after an Instant Pot for a while now, since clicking on a link that said "INSTANT POT RECIPES!!!!" out of curiosity. I thought pot took a long time to, er, come to fruition. It turned out that it was . . . not the kind of pot I was expecting, but OMG WAY BETTER.

I don't have one yet, because my Grandma says a pressure cooker is a good way to kill your whole family. Also, they're a little expensive for me to justify replacing my perfectly serviceable and underused slow cooker with something I might not use very often, judging by how much I actually use the slow cooker.

I will bookmark all these recipes for when I finally give in.
posted by valerieclaires at 8:13 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I love mine, but as someone else mentioned, my cat is no fan and immediately runs to the other side of the apartment the second I turn it on (not talking about venting or anything). He isn't scared of fireworks or strangers or the vacuum cleaner. But the Instant Pot is another story. Which is freaky, because the thing makes no noise. I've taken to running the thing in the bathroom with the door closed when I'm making long-cooking broth, so he isn't hiding and upset for hours on end.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 8:16 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Does it come in a "serves one person" size?

There is a 3 quart mini version and a 5 quart 'smaller' size. I have the standard 6 quart and while it probably isn't the best tool to cook a single serving, you can totally do something that would be dinner plus a couple/few days of lunches or leftovers. You can also cook "pot in pot" which is good for smaller servings.

Has anyone mentioned the cheesecake yet?
posted by sevenyearlurk at 8:19 AM on February 22, 2018

N-thing the cat dislike of the Instant-Pot; it's really worth it just for their reactions.
posted by octothorpe at 8:21 AM on February 22, 2018

Oh fuck. It can make cheesecake? Goodbye, last pair of pants that fits!
posted by palomar at 8:23 AM on February 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

I've been using my Instant Pot a bit less than expected (busy, chaotic winter), and I agree that the control panel is a complete dog's breakfast, but I think it's a solid purchase overall.

What I love about it is that I can grab a couple of FROZEN chicken thighs, dump them into the pot (on a rack over a cup or so of water and some fresh sage), and set it to come up to pressure and cook for 30 minutes. Fast release, then use the fresh chicken broth to cook rice or another grain in the pot while the thighs brown in a pan on the stove or under the broiler.
posted by maudlin at 8:26 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Hey Wordshore, are you on a diet by any chance? Can't help but notice that many of your excellent recent posts have been about food or, like this one, have been food adjacent. Hmmmm.
posted by Bella Donna at 8:41 AM on February 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

I got an instant pot and a baby for Christmas and it's so nice to know that dinner will just switch to keep warm mode if I can't get to it at a specific time because I'm stuck breastfeeding. Also, you can sterilize bottles and pacifiers in it!

So far our favorite recipes are the butter chicken (made with the vegan options, so no butter or chicken), the barbeque chicken from dinner in an instant, and the 101 cookbooks mushroom stroganoff. It's also great for steaming vegetables like beets or squash.
posted by carolr at 9:09 AM on February 22, 2018

Add me to the list of people who finally purchased an Instant Pot because of this post.

Do you work on commission, Wordshore?
posted by cardioid at 9:10 AM on February 22, 2018

It totally changed our relationship to food. Use it nearly daily.
posted by k8t at 9:12 AM on February 22, 2018

"Instant Pot mac ‘n’ cheese will change your life (in 4 minutes!)"

(linked because of the picture of a large bag of slightly confusing shredded cheese)
posted by Wordshore at 9:13 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Man this job is a real instant pot

Nope doesn’t work
posted by freecellwizard at 9:13 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you are considering purchasing an Instant Pot (or anything else) through Amazon, then please consider using the affiliate link at the bottom of this page. It doesn't cost you anything extra; it does mean that a few bucks more make their way into MetaFilter coffers, and a few bucks less into Bezos's wallet (he ain't gonna starve).
posted by Wordshore at 9:21 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

I got a Fagor several years ago, and while it does most things quite well, it can occasionally be a bit iffy on the pressure cooking front--sometimes I need to give chicken a bit more time to finish. There's also the factor that, as quick and easy as it makes some things, I'm still the guy who will occasionally make a "meal" out of a fistful of Costco precooked bacon.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:28 AM on February 22, 2018

I love how the instant pot has replaced my crock pot. No, I don't use it as a crock pot. It's just that I used to have to crock pot any meat that I wanted to end up at the falling apart stage. Now I just pressure cook it, needing less planning and foresight! One of the things I hated the very most about slow cookers was the smell. Who wants to smell their food cooking for six to eight hours??? With the instant pot you don't smell a thing until you release the pressure.

I bought my instant pot after my stovetop pressure cooker started losing it's seal. I actually find that I burn things less often in it.
posted by kitcat at 10:20 AM on February 22, 2018

Who wants to smell their food cooking for six to eight hours???

Actually, I kind of love the smell of dinner cooking all day. (Not that I mean that as an argument against pressure cookers at all.)
posted by JanetLand at 10:30 AM on February 22, 2018 [6 favorites]

I used to love cooking with a pressure cooker, but after I moved out of my parents' place, I never wanted to shell out for one of my own, so it's been over a decade since I've used one. Pot roast was so easy! Bean curries were so quick! I'm tempted. But would I REALLY use it? Especially as a single person who home-cooks fewer than half my meals these days?
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:37 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

For you potheads out there: back when I had access to a pressure cooker, I made a lot of good (for some definitions of good) pressure cooker recipes from this cookbook - Best Recipes from the Backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans, and Jars. It is an absolute chronicle of mid-to-late-century middle-American trashy easy comfort food cooking. There was a slow cooker short rib recipe made with, like, instant onion soup mix and onions and rice which was so delicious yet so fatty that my parents eventually and sadly forbade me from making it again.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:43 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

My favorite appliance I've ever owned was a commercial microwave. One button press took care of 90% of cooking tasks. It heated evenly, and when time was up, it just stopped. No beeping, no fuss. Super, super usable.

The 12-digital-button-panel Instant Pot looks like an 80s VCR. The newest one has a little knob and digital screen, is it any more usable?
posted by anthill at 10:44 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Almost everything I make is experimental, and it's quite easy to quick-release and do something and seal back up, and the contents of the pot are still so hot that it seals again within a minute or two. You don't want to do that to big pieces of meat or they'll get tough, but smaller ones can handle it. It's pretty much the only way to make one-pot meals with a long-cooking component (protein, beans, broth/stock) and a fast one, like potatoes or frozen veg or pasta.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:46 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

(linked because of the picture of a large bag of slightly confusing shredded cheese)

product placement on a mommy blog
posted by infini at 11:05 AM on February 22, 2018

The 12-digital-button-panel Instant Pot looks like an 80s VCR. The newest one has a little knob and digital screen, is it any more usable?

The vast majority of recipes you will come across on the internet just say to use the manual button. All of the buttons (except the Rice and Yogurt ones) are just presets and you can change the time on them to do the same thing as the manual button.

The cookbook that came with mine even tells you to use the manual button for rice.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 11:11 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

There is something unseemly about my love for my Instant Pot. Not only am I a full-throated convert to the Way Of The Instant Pot, I have now entered the phase where I am buying them for other people.

My go-to site for Instant Pot recipes is Pressure Cook Recipes (fair warning: they love the word umami like Joanna and Chip Gaines love shiplap). My staples from them are the pot roast, mushroom risotto and teriyaki chicken and rice, but I've never had a misfire from using one of their recipes.

I think one of the things I love most about the Instant Pot is that I'm cursed with an electric range which takes forever to heat anything up, and the Instant Pot seems to get up to heat and get stable there about ten thousand times faster. Even if I'm not using the pressure cooking function, it's by far the quickest risotto maker in the household. Speaking of risotto, you've heard of strawberry risotto, right? WELL IF YOU DIDN'T KNOW BEFORE NOW YOU DO.

So, uh, yeah. Instant Pot is a thing. And I'm here to tell you that you can have a perfectly serviceable pressure cooker and perfectly serviceable cookware and a perfectly serviceable CrockPot and you can swear through a nine-inch plank that you will never fall prey to One Of Those Gadgets and then six months later you find yourself not only owning one and selling all the other stuff but gifting Instant Pots to others like some sort of deranged gadget zucchini BUT ALSO you may find yourself putting Instant Pot accessories on your Amazon wishlist because you know you really should have different sealing rings for savory and sweet things.


posted by scrump at 12:22 PM on February 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

Who wants to smell their food cooking for six to eight hours?

If it's curry or apple spice cake, sign me right up.
posted by Foosnark at 12:27 PM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Do you work on commission, Wordshore?

I invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege and refuse to discuss my relationship with Big Instant Pot without my attorney being present.
posted by Wordshore at 12:46 PM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

When I'm making a big batch of something and want it as fast as possible, I start boiling water before even chopping the onions. This is (a) from Lorna Sass' pre-Instant-Pot pressure-cooker cookbooks, q.v.; (b) easier yet because I have an electric kettle with a Strix switch; and (c) also in the tradition of dear Edouard De Pomiane.
posted by clew at 1:28 PM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Our favorite Instant Pot site is Pressure Cook Recipes from Amy + Jacky. I've had other recipes from other sites fail, but theirs work every time.

Big fan of their pot roast recipe as one of the steps is to "high-five your family" and it's totally important to do that. Plus all that umami goodness.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:03 PM on February 22, 2018

I just checked out Amy + Jacky and was charmed by their sweet potato cooktime(diameter) table! (They measured a bunch of sweet potatoes and tested different cooking times for smaller and bigger ones. Right proper.)
posted by clew at 2:22 PM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

My crockpot just cracked (not a euphemism) - whatever shall I buy to replace it??
posted by ninazer0 at 2:56 PM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I bought a stove-top pressure cooker years ago and used it often, but I got the Instant Pot for 2 specific reasons: 1) I don't have to watch it while it cooks and 2) we had a heatwave and no inside AC so cooking on the stove or in the oven was really, er, off the menu. The differences between the IP and the stove-top for me have been mostly that the stove-top goes to 15PSI and the IP only goes to 12 something I think on high pressure. I don't live at a high altitude so not having the extra pressure is not a deal-breaker for me.
I would like to say that, when making soup or beans or something, the way a pressure cooker cooks the onions to a big bloated waterlogged item is not my favorite thing. Because of this I have been using more dried onion powder in my pressure cooker (only from fresh good sources) than fresh onions. Also, there is a sauce or liquid reduction that happens in a pan on the stove or in the oven that doesn't happen in a pressure cooker, so if your soup seems watery, simmer it for a bit longer with the lid open.
So I'm not a fanatic about the IP but it certainly has its place in my kitchen. If you're going to build flavor in a dish you still have to stand over it browning or sauteing or whatever, that step doesn't go away, so it's not as huge a time saver for me as I'd hoped. But it keeps the kitchen cool and that's super important to me in the summer.
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 4:05 PM on February 22, 2018

My crockpot just cracked (not a euphemism)

At least it didn’t kill your dad.
posted by middleclasstool at 4:20 PM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Getting an Instant Pot has gotten me back into cooking. My favorite thing I've made so far is this Beef Pho recipe that Rakdaddy mentioned in this AskMe thread. One of the best meals I've ever made, and it is super easy!
posted by JDHarper at 4:31 PM on February 22, 2018

At least it didn’t kill your dad.

I've not seen the show in question but, mine is a cheap, old pot from a manufacturer that's been out of business since the 80's. My husband has been going "But it's still good!" for the last 10 years which is why I'm so happy that he's the one that cracked the damn insert. The fact that I can also shed my pressure cooker is a bonus as far as I'm concerned - both space-wise and safety-wise. Woohoo!
posted by ninazer0 at 5:01 PM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's not a ton faster for most things, although it makes quick work of a hunk of pork shoulder or dried beans, but I love that you can set it up and walk away (without 8 hours of advance planning like a slow cooker). I came home from work today, decided at 5:30 I should make a curry, assembled it in 15 minutes while making use of the saute function for the ginger/shallots/chicken, put a bowel of rice on top of the curry stuff on a trivet to cook at the same time, set it to start, went to the gym for an hour and a half, and came back and had dinner ready.
posted by geegollygosh at 5:43 PM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

My dudes, I made the best cheesecake I have ever made in my life inside an Instant Pot. Just 20 minutes in the IP and it was glorious.
posted by emeiji at 6:20 PM on February 22, 2018

This butter chicken is going to be the next thing I make in mine.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:38 AM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

So, is it possible to get one of these (or an equivalent) in Australia? There's plenty of multi-function pressure cookers, to be sure, but I'd rather not buy a cheaper one that just conks out on me in six months.
posted by solarion at 2:00 AM on February 23, 2018

They don't sell them in Australia yet but I believe the UK one will work there and you can get one on Amazon UK.

I've heard really good things about the Tefal Cook4Me which I believe is sold in Australia on an instant pot Facebook group I'm part of.
posted by peacheater at 4:05 AM on February 23, 2018

I bought the 6-quart Instant Pot on a really great sale a year or so ago, and it's been amazing. I ought to do more beans in it, really. But we've done tons of soups and pulled meats and pot roast and so on. It's so much more convenient (and better) than a slow cooker for those sorts of things, which were already staples in our house.

Plus we're going to be without a kitchen for a month or so during a remodel, and between the microwave, toaster oven, and Instant Pot, there's not much we won't be able to cook (although we did spend the last week cooking to stock the freezer with pre-made meals so we won't have to wash the insert in the bathtub too often).
posted by uncleozzy at 5:38 AM on February 23, 2018

So, is it possible to get one of these (or an equivalent) in Australia?

I don't know if this is available there, but: If you don't mind going spendy on this, Serious Eats recommends this Breville cooker as being a superior choice to the IP. Downside is that it's more than twice the IP's MSRP, and the IP often sells at well below MSRP. Still, it looks like it's worth the extra, from the review. My only concern is how long that ceramic finish will hold up.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:42 AM on February 23, 2018

Some Instant Pot models are being recalled. For melting.
posted by carmicha at 6:45 PM on February 23, 2018

So, is it possible to get one of these (or an equivalent) in Australia?

I'm currently eyeing the Breville Fast Slow cooker that middleclasstool refers to above. It's the one that Serious Eats recommends. The only thing holding me back is the coating on the insert because I absolutely HATE coated cooking surfaces on anything I want to use long term. I have a non-stick pan and I buy the cheap ones because I know I'm going to replace it in 12 months no matter how much I baby that thing.

The cheapest I can find it is $279AUD via Myer, of all places. Payday is in 2 weeks. Hmmm...
posted by ninazer0 at 7:04 PM on February 23, 2018

OK, I made the butter chicken tonight and it was amazing. Just delicious.

But there's a missing postscript -- if each batch yields an extra full portion of sauce (actually more than that, because the chicken doesn't actually need half the sauce in the pot) how to do I use it to make more chicken without starting from the beginning (and so always producing more sauce than can be used).

Just on the stovetop? Or put the chicken on the sauce in the IP and start from there (despite the cream and etc already being added)?
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:20 PM on February 23, 2018

FYI the recalled Instant Pot appliances are multicookers (crock pots), not pressure cookers.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:37 AM on February 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

snuffleupagus, the second batch of sauce should be warmed on the stovetop, the recipe creatrix says running it through pressure cooking a second time makes it too thin. I suppose one could pressure cook the chicken in the IP and then add to stovetop warmed sauce, or use the IP open in sauté mode to cook the chicken and sauce together perhaps.
posted by palomar at 8:02 AM on February 24, 2018

Yes, it's cooking more chicken that I'm unsure about -- I'd think it should be cooked in the sauce. I guess I'll try it in a small dutch oven.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:12 AM on February 24, 2018

I make a lot of what I call "neutral chicken" in the Pot - sauteed onions, salt, usually one or two chili powders and cumin, maybe a dash of soy sauce if I'm going that route, scant 1/2 cup water (the chicken is going to give off a lot of liquid, and you can go down to 1/4 if you want). 7 minutes manual, usually it sits 10 minutes and may or may not NR completely in that time, and then open the pot, take the chicken out to rest a bit before cutting up (or I let it cool and put it away for another day) and cook down the pot liquid on saute a few minutes.

Then the chicken goes back in with the reduced pot liquids and I add the sauce and set to Slow Cook (press Slow Cook, wait, it'll come on and set to 4 hours, I just leave it at that and set a timer but you can change it down to ~10 minutes if you want). That's a little cooler than Saute but will still come to a sturdy bubble, and in fact you want to keep one eye on it because a thicker sauce will capture heat in the bottom and then bloop up dangerously, so it needs a stir.

I don't think it's entirely critical to cook in the sauce, because the pressure is real hard on delicate sauce flavors, but you can always add a ladle of sauce to your cooking liquid before pressure cooking and you'll get some extra layering of flavor that way. You could also par-cook the chicken (maybe 5m manual + 5 then QR) and finish it in the sauce on slow cook for maybe 20 minutes.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:22 AM on February 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


So today is my birthday, and my bestie sent me - as a gift - a 3-quart size Instant Pot.

Which of the many links in this post should be my first place to investigate? Especially for someone who would be cooking for herself alone?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:58 PM on February 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Well, I just made butter chicken for the first time (not the recipe linked above, but one from an IP cookbook I got for a gift, but it’s similar), and it was awesome. I would say halve the recipe in that link and give it a shot, if you like Indian food. That’ll give you a good dinner and at least one lunch to boot.
posted by middleclasstool at 4:08 PM on February 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

I made that butter chicken on Saturday as a test and then again tonight to take round to my friend with a new baby. I just used all the sauce, it was delicious.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 9:10 PM on February 26, 2018

I looked at that recipe again and it was twice as simple as the one I made. If it really is that good, I'mma do it next time instead.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:48 AM on February 27, 2018

I bought the Instant Pot last year, maybe two years ago, during one of the early big Amazon sales for it. It's basically retired my rice cooker, allowing us to eat brown rice in 30-ish minutes, even when accounting for allowing the pan to heat up and come to pressure.

It's great for when the beau comes home late, but we want to eat dinner together. I can come home from work, throw in a roast, ingredients for pasta sauce, soup, whatever, and when he gets home, we can eat right away.

There are only two things I really can't stand about the Instant Pot. 1) It's slow cooker function. I don't know if mine's a dud but it doesn't get nearly hot enough. I tried making jambalaya in it with the slow cooker function, and it was cold and not cooked through after several hours. Disappointing. 2) You can't check on things in it after you've started cooking it, so the one time I tried making penne alla vodka sauce in the IP, the cream curdled. Next time, I'll probably make it up to the adding cream step, and finish on the stovetop or using the saute function in the IP.
posted by PearlRose at 7:24 AM on February 27, 2018

I mean, if you're just trying to maintain upper-70s F, you can probably stick the bottle on top of the fridge. The Instant Pot seems like a silly way to provide a couple of days of extra-warm fermentation.

Also if you're satisfied with the taste of Welch's grape juice fermented for a week, there are probably some 24oz cans at 7-11 that would do the job for even less money.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:32 PM on February 27, 2018

But now you've taken all the small-batch DIY pride out of it. It's not the destination, it's the journey.
posted by middleclasstool at 12:44 PM on February 27, 2018

We ferment plonk at home all the time (not in an IP--the floor in the corner of the kitchen near the heat duct works just fine). I mean, I could go to the store and buy an alcoholic beverage, but that's no fun! (We also make genuinely good mead, and occasionally some passable cider, but that's been more hit or miss.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:52 PM on February 27, 2018

Oh I'm not against fermenting whatever at home (I've more than once done this with apple juice), but involving the Instant Pot just to get the temperature up to early-summer-kitchen seems wasteful.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:57 PM on February 27, 2018

No part of my house *gets* to the upper 70Fs in the winter, much less stays there overnight. Even slow-rise bread dough usually has to be in the oven.

PearlRose, the slow-cooker setting on my Instant Pots has definitely cooked both big chickpeas and collagen-y meat stews, so maybe you do have a dud.

EmpressCallipgyos, Smitten Kitchen has a small IP-adapted section and I like her balance between fancy and practical.
posted by clew at 1:36 PM on February 27, 2018

I made the butter chicken last night. Yum! And I finally found poblano peppers yesterday so I am going to make this green chili chicken next.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 5:45 AM on February 28, 2018

I think I may actually try making fiasco beans first, which admittedly uses a different definition for "fiasco" but the double-meaning in the name makes it sound all daring.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:45 AM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

oo, I just made the fiasco beans, very satisfactory. And with frozen kale, nearly a pantry dish.
posted by clew at 10:52 PM on February 28, 2018

Oh, I definitely have the frozen kale (my CSA goes a little nuts with it over the year and I've started blanching and freezing the excess for later). And the rosemary will be cut from the aggressively-growing pot on my windowsill.

I actually will be spending the whole month of March in a "let's eat down some of the stuff in the freezer" phase; I have one roommate moving out today, and the next one isn't coming for a month, so I'm in a major "use what you have and ditch what you don't use" phase all month to make extra room for the new guy. My freezer and fridge are stuffed with lots of CSA stuff still and I'll be needing to branch out on a lot of food. Having a Thing To Help Cook Quick will come in very handy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:20 AM on March 1, 2018

Oh hey Mark Bittman is even getting in on the Instant Pot.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:33 AM on March 1, 2018

I don't go all out with bacon and sausage or whatever, but I do make something like Bittman's choucrote garnie in the Instant Pot: brown some pork chops in butter, then remove and cook some thinly-sliced onions until translucent. Dump in a big bag of sauerkraut, undrained, some cubed apples and potatoes, put the chops back on top, and cook for 20ish minutes under high pressure.

I usually make a gravy with the juices afterwards, because I like gravy, but it's fine as-is.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:01 AM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

FYI - There's a recall on the Gem 65 8-in-1 Multicooker (sold at Walmart)
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:55 AM on March 1, 2018

My dad just had a horrible experience with them. Bought an IP, then noticed that one of the feet of the ring the gasket sits on wasn’t properly welded to the lid. Called to ask about a replacement lid, and when they determined he didn’t have a recalled unit, refused to replace the lid and didn’t even pretend to care. The guy was rude as hell.

Dad said “So I should return this to Amazon?” They said “Sure, whatever you want to do.”

So they lost my business.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:31 PM on March 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

How infuriating and unfair. Also utterly unlike my experience with their customer service, I wonder if they're having trouble handling growth.
posted by clew at 6:48 PM on March 12, 2018

(Did Amazon take it back and reimburse?)
posted by clew at 6:48 PM on March 12, 2018

I think they did, yeah
posted by middleclasstool at 7:48 PM on March 12, 2018

Okay peeps. I went and bought the Breville Fast Slow Pro ($277 from Amazon Australia). It's huge and intimidating! I'll be working my way through the recipes in this thread eventually, but for today - just plain steamed rice. The auto-release steam thingy has frightened both my cat and my husband so I'm counting that as a win as both are now hiding somewhere in our home office.
posted by ninazer0 at 12:23 AM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've since made a couple stews with my Instant Pot - I found a Facebook Group devoted to the Instant Pot Mini, with links to various Instant Pot-able recipes - all of which have been tested by the group's owner and deemed "successful to scale down" for the mini size.

But the biggest use has been for simply cooking beans for other recipes; I was doing a big cook-and-store-for-future-meals cooking session this weekend, and realized "oh hey, if I throw some beans in the Instant Pot and just get them cooked, I'll be able to make these two other stew recipes." I always use a quick-soak on beans (boil them like hell for a couple minutes, then soak for an hour or two), so cooking up the beans only took ten minutes; plenty of time to get the stews together afterward.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:13 AM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

The auto-release steam thingy has frightened both my cat and my husband so I'm counting that as a win as both are now hiding somewhere in our home office.

Oh god you just sold me.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:23 AM on March 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

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