The Instant Pot: Not Your Grandmother’s Pressure Cooker

How to Create Meals Instantly With the Instant Pot

Summer is here, and so is the heat wave! Days are long, nights are warm, and as much as I enjoy cooking, I don’t want to spend my evenings in a hot kitchen. The Instant Pot company read my mind. They have the perfect solution with one-pot dinners, everything from appetizers to desserts, all done in minutes, and no heating up the kitchen.

If you aren’t familiar with the Instant Pot, you aren’t alone. I don’t quite remember how it happened or when exactly but about three years ago I jumped on the IP bandwagon. At the time there were a few thousand of us, and then Black Friday happened, and the numbers grew into the tens of thousands. When Amazon Prime Day happened, the numbers grew into the hundreds of thousands.

Instant Pot
Photo Courtesy of Williams-Sonoma

Before 2014 I had not heard of an Instant pot. When I asked friends and family about it, the most common response was, “My grandma used to have an electric pressure cooker, it sat on
the counter and rocked and rolled, and we waited for it to explode.” I wasn’t sure why I would want something like this in my house, but my love for anything culinary and a curiosity for both new and old kitchen gadgets got the best of me. I bought my first electric pressure cooker and watched the revolution happen.

The first thing I made was hard boiled eggs. Lots of them. Lots of times. Lots and lots of eggs. After a week I got adventurous and added a potato to the pot, and discovered I could make homemade potato salad in less than five minutes. There was no boiling, no overflow of water, no broken eggshells, and virtually no mess to clean up. I was hooked, and as my infatuation for my new appliance grew, so did the instant pot community.

One of the many culinary pages on social media I follow now has over 500,000 members; many of them jokingly refer to themselves as Pot-heads, and a good percentage of those users have named their pots. I inquired about names, and the people were more than happy to share. There are names like Stewy, R2D2, Tin Lizzy, Potner (as in Howdy Potner), Quicksilver, Mary Jane and my personal favorite, “Thomas Edison, because it’s the world’s best invention.”

The IP is used primarily for pressure-cooking and the units are built with up to ten different features including slow cooking, sautéing, rice cooker/porridge maker, sauté/browning pan, steamer, yogurt maker and stock pot warmer. The ability to use the pot for so many functions has home chefs tossing rice cookers and yogurt makers, and a good percentage of us have more than one instant pot in our kitchens.

It is a great gift for newlyweds, college students, RV travelers or anyone with limited kitchen space. The pot is lightweight, plugs into standard 100-volt outlet electric receptacles and because of the multi uses; less cooking items are needed leaving more space on the counter and in the cupboard. The clean up is easy, and most of the pieces are dishwasher safe. There are multiple inserts available for making different dishes, and most home good stores carry a large variety of inserts or users can purchase the (non-required) additional pieces online.


From The Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Cookbook by Sara Quessenberry and Kate Merker, ©2017 by Sara Quessenberry and Kate Merker. Used by permission from the publisher, Quarto Publishing Group.

One can make lasagna (Have a family secret sauce recipe? Make it in a Hex Clad pan), sushi rice, yogurt, hot sauce, short ribs and cheesecake using the same pot, each dish ranging from one minute to an hour with just a press of a button. There is a learning curve when first using the pressure cooker, but once one gets past the curve, meal options are endless. After using my pot for a few weeks, I realized I rarely used the stove. Most everything that I prepared stove top could be done in the IP or sous-vide ( Saute magazine: What is Sous Vide?). Both are great options for staying cool in the kitchen on hot summer days.

It’s never been easier to create one pot meals; add a simple salad on the side (Make sure to try the Urban Trends gadget line) and your favorite bread and homemade butter ( Saute magazine: Churn your Own Butter) and dinner can be on your table without turning on your stove or oven, giving you more time to spend your warm summer nights with family and friends.

Electric pressure cookers have evolved substantially since our grandparents had them rattling on the countertop. Based on the cooking control capability, the company has classified electric pressure cookers into three generations. All Instant Pot models are 3rd Generation electric pressure cookers. There are different types and sizes and dimensions including the Ultra, Smart Bluetooth, Duo Plus, Duo Series, Lux Series and CSG. Detailed information for each of these can be found at www.instantpot.com.

To date from the introduction, over 4 million units have been manufactured. If you haven’t gotten yours yet, now is the time. Get one, or maybe two, at www.instantpot.com and join me, The Gadget Gourmet, and make 500,000 new friends as we continue to play with food and the latest and greatest kitchen gadgets.

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