Last year when the Instant Pot went on sale on Black Friday, I decided that was what I needed to click this all-in-one pot home. I had been thinking about buying an Instant Pot for months and that day I decided it was time to figure out if the Instant Pot is really worth the hype. I was super elated and a bit nervous to try it out when this seven-in-one kitchen appliance arrived. Today I’m sharing my experience with the Instant Pot. Is it really worth the hype?
I have read so many positive experiences with the Instant Pot that I sort of felt a pressure … 😉 to make this work. But I was skeptical and had some doubts.
What is an Instant Pot?
The Instant Pot is a 7-in-1 multi-cooker that can almost do it all. It’s a slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté/browning pot, electric pressure cooker, warming pot and it can even make yogurt. It’s one appliance that does the job of seven different kitchen appliances. It cooks meals faster, and offers the option for a delayed programmable start time (read: food when you wake up and/or when you come home).
This sounds pretty amazing and life changing for food lovers, right? I justified this purchase by telling myself I’m actually saving space, because I can’t store all of these seven appliances in my kitchen…
What I expected from the Instant Pot
After having read so many positive reviews I expected that the Instant Pot would be a huge time saver. As a plant-based foodie I was dreaming of beans that could be cooked in a fraction of the time that it normally takes to cook beans.
Yes, somewhere in the back of my head I also expected that the Instant Pot would change my life …just a little bit.
Why I waited so long to buy the Instant Pot
I gave it quite a good thought before I bought (another) kitchen equipment. The very first reason is that I already have so many appliances in my kitchen and the Instant Pot is not very small. My kitchen is packed as it is, so I wanted to know whether it was worth its place in the kitchen.
My second doubt was about how useful an Instant Pot is for a plant-based foodie like me. I read that the Instant Pot is a huge time saver if you are cooking up meat, but I never cook meat so what’s in it for us plant-based foodies?
My last doubt was that it would take away all the fun and experimenting in the kitchen. Close the lid, lock it and forget it. How can I even consider that to be cooking? Where is the tasting in between? What about the occasional stir or the adjusting of the taste?
How to start using the Instant Pot
When the Instant Pot arrived I joined an Instant Pot Facebook group (”Instant Pot Beginners Veg Support”) to ask the most basic questions. But I soon realized that it also would be very useful to get myself a book to get the hang of it all. I bought the book ”Vegan under Pressure” by Jill Nussinow and I think it’s a very good one for vegan foodies. I only started to use the Instant Pot after a month and actually only after this book came in. The Instant Pot is not complicated to use, but I think you just need to get comfortable with it and a Facebook group and/or a book can help with that. In the first few weeks I had so many questions and uncertainties that I thought I would be one of the very few people that is just not that enthusiastic about the Instant Pot.
What I didn’t realize is that the Instant Pot is a different way of cooking and just like with (normal) cooking you need to get the hang of it.
The first time using the Instant Pot with all its functionalities is super overwhelming and can be a bit intimidating, but my expectations were set high. The first time using the Instant Pot I expected a miracle. My food would be done in minutes and would be super delicious. I decided to prepare buckwheat to test the Instant Pot. I did everything according to the Instant Pot rules. Locked the lid, checked the pressure valve and waited after the beep. And waited a bit more. It took the Instant Pot 15 minutes to come to pressure before it really switched on. I waited 20 more minutes. I did a quick release (this means you unlock the pressure valve for the steam to be released) and found a disappointing pile of ”buckwheat mash” on the bottom of the pot. What did I do wrong? Why is this supposed to be faster? And if I would have released the pressure naturally this would have even take longer. I didn’t get it. I didn’t use the Instant Pot for weeks after that.
The less pleasant aspects of the Instant Pot
What I don’t like that much about the Instant Pot is the smell of the lid. I like to use a lot of herbs and spices and I could not really get the smell out of the lid (the silicone ring that’s inside the lid). I could smell my curry dish days after using the Instant Pot. Not pleasant. I like my kitchen clean and odor free. What did help was to not close the lid on the Instant Pot, but to put it upside down on the pot. This helps a bit. I read that some people buy a second ring, but I personally don’t think it’s that bad. The inner pot is made from stainless steel, and that one is very easy and fast to clean.
As a food blogger you can imagine that I love to cook. The cooking experience is a bit less when you cook with the Instant Pot, but there is still some cooking involved. However, you can set the timer lower and open the pot in between to taste whether your meal may need more spices, herbs, water and such. And sometimes I noticed that there is actually more cooking to it. There are so many options and I experiment much more and feel more creative in the kitchen.
What I LOVE about the Instant Pot
After all of these months my Instant Pot is still in my kitchen on the countertop next to my blender (that’s a honorable spot in my kitchen). I actually never thought about putting the Instant Pot away. Once I learned that the ”magic” of the Instant Pot is not so much about saving time (unless you cook beans or steal cut oats, grains, rice and such), but more about convenience and experimenting, something changed. As of then I started to try out more recipes. I found out that for example the ”sauté” function (something I use all the time now) makes everything so much faster since it brings the pot up to heat. I always start cooking with the Instant Pot on the ‘’sauté’’ function with the lid open. I started simple by throwing in all my veggies, veggie broth, tomato puree, spices, herbs and lentils, closed the lid and left the house. After 6 hours I came back. The Instant Pot keeps your food warm for you ( I think up to 12 hours). I enjoyed the most delicious meal right upon coming home at a really good temperature. And it tasted as if it was on the stove for hours. This is convenient. Very. Convenient.
I’m now making beans from scracth, every day. It’s much more delicious and fresh. No more jars and it’s cheaper too.
After some months using the Instant Pot almost every day I can say that the Instant Pot made cooking indeed faster and more convenient. Cooking beans, steel-cut oats, grains, brown rice and such is really faster in the Instant Pot. But also a last-minute stir-fry takes minutes in the Instant Pot. And, once you cook brown rice (grains) with the rice cooker function on the Instant Pot, it’s difficult to ever go back to cooking it on the stovetop again. It’s easier, faster, and it’s easy to cleanup.
Because I cook (all day) every day I don’t only use the Instant Pot. I use it for example just to cook up beans in 10 minutes instead of one hour and meanwhile I will cook a blog recipe on the stove. However, when I’m on the go, busy writing or have more people coming over, I’ll definitely only use the Instant Pot.
It’s such a delight to come home after a busy day and have a huge pot of warming healthy homemade food available to you.
Stews, soups, grains and beans are done faster and are so tasty. The lid completely seals the food, so less flavors escape and the taste is as if it was on the stove for hours while you’re not even at home. Steaming veggies is also amazing in the Instant Pot. I also noticed it’s easier to cook oil-free and salt-free in the Instant Pot (if that is important to you) which would make your meal truly whole-food plant-based in my opinion.
The convenience is about the time saving and the ‘’set it and forget it’’ feature, but then even better.
The nice part about the Instant Pot is that you can really play around and experiment. I just made my first batch of quinoa in a Mason jar in the Instant Pot and I love the result and convenience; the fluffiest quinoa in 11 minutes (steam the mason jar for 1 minute and 10 minutes natural release). I didn’t even had to look at it, I just walked away. Also, there is no cleaning of the pot involved with this method.
I also LOVE to cook my beans in the Instant Pot which I do every day and I have noticed I’m using no more beans from a glass jar which I did for years. When it comes to cooking beans, the Instant Pot is a life changer. Soaked chickpeas will take about 12 minutes in the Instant Pot instead of an hour on the stove. Before the Instant Pot I actually always bought my beans in glass jars and was rinsing them religiously to get rid of the added ingredients such as salt. But this is tasty, healthier and cheaper. My next ”experiment” is to make yogurt in the pot.
Is the Instant Pot worth the hype?
It sure can be if you know how to use it and the best way to learn how to cook in an Instant Pot is to just do it. Start simple and don’t be afraid, because the more I cook with it, the more comfortable I feel and the more different recipes I want to try out. It also feels more natural and easier to use over time. I also think that the time saving aspect can be for every household different and the only way to figure that out is also to use it on a regular basis.
My recap in a nutshell: cooking in an Instant Pot is different, but I love it. Even if I ever decide never to cook in the Instant Pot again I will keep it in the kitchen to cook up beans in a fraction of the time. It’s all about convenience and saving time.
- If you love to cook beans, rice, quinoa, buckwheat or you want your food to be done (and warm) when you come home or wake up, then the Instant Pot is great.
- Also, if you want to own a pressure cooker, slow cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, and rice cooker, but you don’t have the space to store all of it then you will love the Instant Pot.
- And of course if you value a quick, delicious, and easy way of cooking you will enjoy the Instant Pot.
- If you love the thought of “set it and forget it” you will also enjoy cooking in the Instant Pot.
- Batch cooking for families or when you like to cook your next week meals (meal prepping/batch cooking) is also a breeze in the Instant Pot.
So yes, the Instant Pot lovers are right. It’s not just a hype. Is it life changing? A big YES for me. Super convenient? Yes, and the more you get the hang out of the Instant Pot the more you will use (and love) it.
If you’re using the Instant Pot as a plant-based foodie, I would love to read your experience. And any Instant Pot recipes are more than welcome!
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