Monday, December 12, 2016

Instant Pot

I never go shopping on Black Friday, but this year, I was curious to see if Amazon had any good sales that day. I was browsing the website when I came across something called an Instant Pot, and it was on sale for $60. I thought it seemed like a good deal, and the reviews were great, so I impulsively bought one.

I don't know what I was thinking! When it arrived, I actually printed a label to return it, because I regretted the impulsive buy. However, Jerry convinced me to give it a try. I'm SO glad that I did--I love it!


An Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker that can also be used as a rice cooker and slow cooker (which is awesome, because my slow cooker ceramic base cracked recently) as well as a few other appliances.
Pressure cookers have always scared me, because I imagine them exploding all over my kitchen; but the Instant Pot is pretty much fool proof and very safe. It claims to cook food in about half the normal amount of time, which was appealing to me.


The very first thing I made was actually plain old potatoes. Baking potatoes in the oven takes forever, so I wanted to see if I could make them in the Instant Pot. I cleaned six potatoes and put them on the trivet inside of the Instant Pot, then added a cup of water (the Pot needs liquid in order to pressurize and cook the food). I set the timer on manual for 20 minutes.

The Pot is very quiet when it's cooking, so I wasn't sure exactly what was happening or how well it was working. When the timer was done, I turned the knob to release the pressure (a ton of steam came shooting out of a small hole) and when the pressure was released, the lid unlocked. I was surprised (and thrilled) that the potatoes were cooked perfectly! I topped mine with black beans, corn, and avocado, and it was delicious.

The next night, I decided to cook one of my own recipes in the Instant Pot, which was a little nerve wracking because I didn't have a clue how to convert a recipe to an Instant Pot recipe. I just guessed. I was making a recipe for chicken and rice for the family (I was doing the vegan challenge, so it wasn't for me). The recipe just consists of chicken breasts, rice, French onion soup mix, cream of mushroom soup and cream of chicken soup (and water, of course). 

I dumped it all in the Instant Pot and set the timer. When it was done, I turned the knob to release the pressure, but nothing happened--it had never pressurized. I thought maybe the sealing ring was off or something, so I checked everything and did it again. Again, no pressure. Several more tries, and an hour and a half later, it was finally cooked even though it never pressurized. 

I was ready to return it, and then after some Google research, I realized the problem was that the liquid was too thick. When the liquid is very thick, it doesn't steam enough to create the pressure. So, I learned my lesson and kept trying.

Since then, I've made several more meals and I LOVE the Instant Pot! It's a perfect rice cooker, which is nice because we eat a lot of rice. Yesterday, I made white chili using FROZEN chicken and setting the timer for just 15 minutes...

White Chili

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb. frozen chicken breasts
1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 can white corn, drained
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
3-4 cups of chicken broth (use 4 for a more soup-like chili)

First, I set the Instant Pot to "saute" and added the oil and onion. Once the onion was softened, I added the rest of the ingredients and closed the lid. I set the timer on manual for 15 minutes. When the time was up, I released the pressure and it was done! I pulled the chicken out to chop it, and then tossed it back in. Super easy and very yummy.


I was worried the beans would overcook, because they were canned, but they turned out just fine. (The Instant Pot cooks dry beans and lentils SUPER fast without having to soak them!)

Today, I even cooked pasta in the Instant Pot. I put a pound of elbow macaroni in the pot with some salt and water, and then set the timer for 4 minutes on manual. While it was cooking, I made the cheese sauce for macaroni and cheese. The pasta was cooked perfectly! I love that you don't have to babysit the food--you literally just set the timer and don't look at it until it's done. 

Anyway, this is my new favorite gadget... I've been cooking with it every day, and it still amazes me at how fast and easy it is. I just wanted to share in case you're looking for a Christmas gift for someone ;) Here is a link on Amazon (if you purchase through this link, then I get a small commission from Amazon--but I am not associated with Instant Pot in any way, and I paid for my Pot myself). The exact pot that I bought is no longer being sold, but the link above is for the newer model that also makes yogurt. 

There are a ton of recipe ideas on Pinterest for the Instant Pot, so I've made a few of those; but mostly, I've just been using it to cook my own recipes. You just need to make sure that the recipe has enough water in it to create steam. I was overwhelmed when I first started using it, but now that I see the potential, I've just been experimenting and I love it. So far, I've cooked everything on manual; but I want to start trying out the other buttons to see how that works. 

Do any of you have an Instant Pot? What do you like to cook in it? 

36 comments:

  1. I just got one too! I don't have any advice but I'm looking forward to hearing from those who do!

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    1. Awesome! I hope you like it as much as I do :) Just don't be afraid to experiment... each time I've cooked with it, I think of it as trial and error. I've only had one disaster, and that was the chicken and rice dish I described ;)

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  2. I got one too! Also over Black Friday. Join the Facebook group: instant pot community. There are almost 225,000 member. (Yes I typed that correctly). It's a treasure trove of knowledge!

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    1. Wow! I had never even heard of an Instant Pot, but now it seems like I'm seeing it everywhere. Thanks!

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  3. Is it easy to clean? Does the texture get mushy? My tiny apartment doesn't have a real kitchen, so I use a toaster oven and microwave for most things, which means there are foods I just never make because I don't have a way to make them.

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    1. It's VERY easy to clean--you just have to clean the stainless steel pot that fits inside, and the lid--the lid is mostly stainless steel as well. I was expecting the texture to be mushy, but it wasn't at all! Even the pasta that I cooked was perfectly al dente (in a slow cooker, pasta always comes out SO overcooked). I think it would be a good option for you! There is a learning curve (like with the chicken and rice recipe I made), but once you learn the "rules" for cooking with it, there are tons of possibilities.

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  4. H wow, you have me intrigued! Thanks for sharing. I'm definitely going to take a look at this!

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    1. I love one-pot meals, and this takes it to a whole new level! ;)

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  5. Yum!!
    I have to say -- I've had a Korean style rice cooker in my life for all my life. I don't know how other people cook rice, beans, or anything that needs to be pressure cooked!

    There's even a recipe out there where you put marinated/seared beef in a ziplock back and place it in the bowl full of hot water -- and let it "cook" (I guess poach our sous-vide)... out comes the most amazing roast beef of life!

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    1. I'm curious what the difference is between a Korean style rice cooker and a regular rice cooker... does it taste different in some way?

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  6. Holy cow. I'm super intrigued by this!! I might have to wait till my birthday though but luckily that's in April so not too far away ;) I'm obsessed with getting new kitchen gadgets. Anything to make getting dinner on the table easier!

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    1. It's definitely made cooking more interesting lately! I was getting so bored with cooking, but this is new and exciting (well, as exciting as cooking in a pressure cooker can be, haha).

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  7. I got one earlier this year during one of Amazon's sale days and I've never used it! I joined the FB group but the volume of posts was amazing so I need to manually go look at them - maybe after the holidays I'll figure it out because everyone I know who has one swares by it.

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    1. I know what you mean, because I was really intimidated to even give it a try at first. Even looking at the recipes online felt like way too much information! I'd start with something extremely simple (like the "baked" potatoes that I did) so you understand how it works. Then branch out a little and experiment!

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    2. Congrats on your Instant Pot purchase, Katie! I'm linking to your review over on my FB group today, Instant Pot Recipes (https://www.facebook.com/instantpotrecipes/). I only post a few times a week, and there's a "search" function on the page if you're looking for specific recipes . . . I hope it's helpful to you!

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  8. Thank you so much for sharing this! I'm getting it for Christmas (it went on my list as soon as I saw that black Friday deal too haha) and I'm SO excited to start using it!

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  9. I have been wanting to get that so bad! Pasta in 4 minutes?! Is this real life? Was the water hot when you put it in or just normal water? I am going to need to wait until next black friday.

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    1. I should've mentioned that it's 4 minutes of pressure cook time... it has to come up to pressure beforehand (like you would wait for water to boil before putting the pasta in on the stove). You set the timer for 4 minutes on the Instant Pot, but it doesn't start counting down until it reaches the right pressure inside. Regardless, it's still faster!

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  10. My go-to recipe blogger, melskitchencafe.com, often uses an Instant Pot. She will have some ideas for you.
    I don't have one, but your post (plus those on Mel's site) have me so intrigued!
    Jen

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  11. I do most of the cooking around here, or I did until my husband got "his" pressure cooker. Now he won't get off Pinterest.
    My favorite things: roast (sear in the pot first, season it)--cooks a 3-4 pound roast in about 25 minutes--then add potatoes and carrots for another 10 or so.
    Frozen chicken breasts with whatever canned tomatoes we have handy--takes about 15 minutes
    Pork loin, RIBS (yes, ribs), and his boxed rice meals like jambalaya or dirty rice. We will literally decide at 6pm what to eat and we'll be eating before 7. Read up on some of the many sites out there and watch YouTube--I didn't think I'd like anything made in the PC, but the meals are really good.

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  12. Thank you for this post! I've been super curious, and going back and forth. This may make its way into my kitchen afterall!

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  13. I'd been considering one for a while and finally took the plunge on Black Friday too. My first project was hard-boiled eggs, and they were great! Beef and Broccoli was a major hit, even with my picky kids. I'm made rice several times now. And we had ribs over the weekend that were SO tender.

    The only thing that we didn't love was my first attempt at a whole chicken. We were hoping for a roasted chicken and it was more like chicken soup. I may just need to find a specific roasted chicken recipe, if one exists. The meat from that was very good--we were just hoping for whole pieces of bone-in chicken.

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  14. I absolutely love mine and got one for my DIL for Christmas as she has loved what i've done with mine. rice is my favorite, but also orange chicken, roasts, french dip, potatoes, pasta...i love that i can put it in frozen and it will do its thing and keep it warm for 9 hours, so i can leave and when we get home we have a nice hot meal. cooking dried beans is amazing in it!

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  15. I'm getting one for Christmas! It's wrapped and under the tree. I can't wait to use it!

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  16. I have the 7 in 1 and I love it! I've tried all kinds of things in it, but I love being able to throw chicken, sweet potatoes and cabbage in the pot and have it all cooked to perfection in about 10 minutes! I cooked a 7lb turkey breast in it last weekend and it was so juicy in and perfectly cooked in 22 minutes! So many wonderful things you can do with it.

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  17. Thanks for posting about your new gadget. I have heard many great things about Instant Pots. People seem to love them! Sounds like you do too. I'm going to considering getting one.

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  18. Oh I've never even heard of this and now I'm very intrigued! Do you keep it out on your counters or do you put it away? Does it take up much space? I find I'm always stashing my appliances (aside from the coffee pot and toaster) in the basement and they get less use.

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    1. I put mine in the cupboard, but I have an insane amount of cupboard space. It's fairly large to leave sitting on the counter--it's a little bulkier than your average crock pot.

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  19. I love mine. I use it all the time. Rice and quinoa mostly but yesterday I made hot apple cider in it (basically quarter a bunch of apples, fill with water and some spices and slow cook all day.) I suppose it could have been made with pressure as well, but I wasn't in any hurry.

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  20. I'm so glad that you wrote about this! I've heard about the Instant Pot but never knew anyone that actually used one. I consider myself a real "foodie" but the thought of using a pressure cooker scared me because I remembered my mom using her ancient one when I was a kid. It just seemed way too complicated. Your review is great...I'll be getting one soon as my Christmas present to myself! Thanks!

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  21. We bought an InstaPot last year on Cyber Monday and have used it a handful of times but after hearing you've used it for your regular recipes I think I might give it a try for more things!

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  22. I've had my instant pot for over two years. I use it all the time. It's awesome. There are so many wonderful websites. This is my favorite:www.hippressurecooking.com/. My favorite go to dinner is for mexican shredded chicken. Dump frozen boneless, skinless chicken breast into the instant pot, add a jar of your favorite salsa. Put on the cover. Set it for poultry. 14 minutes later you have awesome chicken that shreds with a fork.

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  23. I've had a pressure cooker for a couple of years. I make a dish I got from Wolfgang Puck / HSN channel. The rice fleis. Its a sausage, bell peppers/ veggies and rice meal. My family loves it. I even through in other left over meats like chicken. It just adds to the flavor.

    You can do soo much with these pots. And they're easy to clean. Easy to use.

    One suggestion: use your own timer instead of relying on the timer of the electric pot. I've found a difference of 2 minutes at times when cooking. I start my own timer right when the pressure cooker seals. You can tell because all of a sudden it's silent. :)

    Good Luck and enjoy!

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  24. I'm making yogurt in mine now. I love this thing. I've cooked eggs, sweet potatoes, chili, beef stew, yogurt, spaghetti, and collard greens so far. For yogurt, I just heat the milk to 180F, let it cool to 115F, add some plain yogurt, and put it in the IP for 8 hours. Then I strain to make it Greek.
    Recommendation is to get a seal for the sweet foods and use the one that came with it for savory. The seal gets a weird smell after a while that will not come out haha.

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  25. I got one on black friday too! I've made potatoes, a one pot spaghetti and meat sauce, macaroni and cheese, chicken and rice, hard boiled eggs. I also got an air fryer for Christmas. I pulled it out of the box today and made chicken and okra. Both turned out so good. I'm thinking I might try some sweet potato fries as a snack in a minute. :)

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