Few things are more favored than a kitchen appliance, which claims to make your life easier. This is why instant pots have become a staple in small kitchen appliances in the past few years.
What is most intriguing about them is their versatility. From yogurt to pot roast, these pots can cook just about anything. If you love to try out new recipes or just want to cut the time spent cooking, instant pots are definitely for you.
However, despite the many benefits of instant pots, the invention is still relatively new to a lot of people. At times, it is still mistaken for the not so distant pressure pot. There are so many questions about this lifesaver like which instant pot to buy, how it works, what’s the best instant pot, and so much more.
This instant pot review will help you understand how these appliances work and decide which instant pot you should be purchasing. Let’s get cooking!
What is an Instant Pot?
Simply put, an instant pot is an electric pressure pot. With the input of technology, instant pots aim to simplify the process of pressure cooking.
Instant pots are multifunctional pressure cookers that cook anything, ranging from deserts to roasts in way less time than other cooking appliances.
Because the instant pot is a combination of pressure cookers and slow cookers, it is designed to make cooking more convenient, consolidating the process to one device. Instant pots are efficient, time-saving devices that allow you to quickly whip up a meal without having your eye constantly on the stove.
Do Instant Pots Actually Cook “Instantly”?
Well, instant pots do not immediately cook food, like in a split second. What they do is they cut down the cooking time, up to 70%, and have your meals ready than other conventional cooking methods.
Vegetables and other smaller foods cook way faster than frozen foods or large meat slabs, even using an instant pot.
Also, because of the pressure and the steam, fluid is forced into the food, making it emerge tender and juice.
It is important to note that frozen foods usually take twice as long to cook with instant pots. Using an instant pot eliminates the need for thawing or defrosting, so expect that 30 minutes recipe to take 60 minutes if you want your food to emerge properly cooked.
Meals made with instant pots also come out more nutritious and healthier than food cooked via regular means. This is because pressure cooking seals in nutrition and locks in the moisture of food.
How Do Instant Pots Work?
Pressure pots are made to cook food in less time than conventional cooking methods at the same time, conserving energy. As the liquid boils in an enclosed pressure cooker, the pressure is built up.
Because of the design of the pressure pot, trapped steam has nowhere to release to, causing the temperature in the cooker to rise above the regular boiling point of water, which is 212 degrees F to as high as 250 degrees F.
The increased heat helps food cook much faster, while the increased pressure forces fluid into the food, creating more moisture and giving it more flavor. After cooking, a valve is slowly opened, releasing the pressure so that the lid can be removed safely.
Like a typical electric pressure cooker, instant pots have three main parts;
- The inner pot
- The cooker base
- The lid
The Inner Pot
This is a container for cooking that you can take out and put back in. When the instant pot is heated, the liquid contained in the inner pot starts to boil, becoming steam. The steam starts to build up and, with no escape route, creates pressure.
Generally, the inner pot is made from stainless steel or aluminum, although some higher quality pots are made with a copper-clad base for uniform heating.
The sizing of the inner pot determines the capacity of the instant cooker and, at times, the pot’s pricing. Typically, the sizes range from 3 quarts to 8 quarts.
The Cooker Base
This part of the cooker contains the microprocessor, pressure sensor, temperature sensor, control panel, and a heating element. With the help of the built-in sensors, the microprocessor automatically works to automatically regulate and monitor the cooker’s pressure and temperature.
Precise cooking conditions are achieved by engaging the heating element periodically to maintain a stable temperature and pressure level. If the sensors housed in the cooker base detect any unsafe conditions, the cooker sends the error signal with a beep, automatically cutting off power to the heating element.
The lid of instant pots is forged from strong 201 food-grade stainless steel and makes use of steel braces plus a lid locking mechanism to stop the lid from being opened while the instant pot is working.
If the pot’s lid is not properly closed, it is detected by the microprocessor triggering a power cut to the heating element.
The lid has several small parts that work hand in hand to help regulate and seal in the pot’s pressure.
- Steam release: this has two positions. The first one, ‘venting,’ allows steam to escape the pot while the second, ‘sealed’ works to build pressure by trapping steam in the inner pot. The steam release is designed to physically push up the release valve if the pressure rises above the safe operating range.
- Sealing ring: fashioned from durable silicone rubber, the sealing ring creates an airtight seal, allowing pressure to build safely as soon as heat is applied.
- Silicone cap and float valve: once enough pressure builds up in the inner pot, the float valve is pushed up, prompting the silicone cap to seal the instant pot completely. When the float valve is pushed up, it serves as a latch lock, preventing the lid from shifting open, even with the application of excessive force.
- Anti-block shield: This stainless-steel cover’s function is to prevent food particles from clogging the steam release pipe, aiding the consistent release of steam when venting.
What is the Difference Between a Pressure Cooker and an Instant Pot?
While defining what an instant pot is, I referred to it as an electric pressure pot. This is because pressure pots are the blueprint upon which instant pots are built.
The main difference between a standard pressure pot and an instant pot boils down to three main factors:
Pressure pots of old were subject to explosions when they could not take the steam build-up anymore. This often resulted in a big mess and, in some cases, injury.
However, the instant pot of today is designed so that it is much safer to use than the original pressure cookers. With the incorporation of digital controls and other technologies, users now have an endless amount of control over the cooking of their various meals.
Although both appliances are still used widely in all types of kitchens, it is undeniable that the level of control an instant pot gives you is top-notch.
The instant pot also boasts of user-friendly features, making it easier to use, which is something many kitchen devices cannot match.
Why Should I Purchase an Instant Pot?
The benefits of instant pots are numerous and cannot be overemphasized. This innovation cuts down meal prep time considerably while ensuring that your food comes out perfectly cooked and flavored.
Some of the benefits of an instant pot include:
- Saves up to 70% of cooking time
- Cooks frozen food, so you do not have to worry about thawing.
- Preserves nutrients from natural ingredients
- Reduces cleanup because of its one-pot meal function
- Conveniently allows you to program your meals to finish cooking by the time you are ready to eat.
- Saves counter space as it is a multiple function appliance
Are Instant Pots Healthy?
Although some people take the high temperatures involved in pressure cooking to mean loss of nutrients, this is not the case. Pressure cooking creates an opportunity for even and quick distribution of heat so that you do not have to immerse frozen foods in water.
All you need is enough water to create sufficient steam. As a result of food not getting immersed in water, their vitamins will be retained for consumption.
The steam surrounding the food will also stop the oxidation process that occurs when it is exposed to air. When your green vegetables emerge from the instant pot, you will observe that they look just as green as they went in and that they also retain their natural flavors pretty well.
Are Instant Pots Safe?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is that instant pots are completely safe to operate as long as you properly follow the instructions or guide given.
Some people have a fear of instant pots exploding like the pressure cookers of old. This fear is quite frankly, irrational.
The original manufacturers of the instant pot Robert Wang and Yi Qin are engineers who took the time to carry out in-depth studies on pressure and how it can be safely incorporated into cooking.
Instant pots come with over ten safety mechanisms that work to prevent burning, overflowing, scorching, and exploding.
Some of these mechanisms include:
Pressure regulators: these regulators work to automatically adjust the pressure. The pressure release valve also allows excess pressure to escape while cooking is going on, preventing excessive pressure build-up.
Microprocessor: The microprocessor found in the control panel is tasked with monitoring temperature, pressure, time duration, and heat intensity, preventing accidents, and allowing food to cook perfectly.
Lid detection system: this is designed to alert you if the lid is not properly locked before you begin cooking. In most cases, it makes a small beeping sound if the lid has not properly clicked.
Function buttons: instant pots have dedicated function buttons used to adjust and correct heat intensity, duration, pressure, and temperature, eliminating guessing and allowing you to cook foods with precision.
Anti-blocking shield: at the underside of the lid, you will notice an anti-blocking shield. Its function is to prevent the vent holes from being clogged by food.
Electrical/temperature fuse: these act as a buffer between the instant pot and the power outlet. The fuses will cut the power when the electricity or the temperature gets too hot.
Instant pots have monitors and regulators put in place to detect changes and adjust in line with the chosen function. If you correctly follow the given directions, you do not have to worry about the pot bursting into flames or exploding.
What Should I Look Out for When Purchasing an Instant Pot?
With instant pots, you do not get so much variety when it comes to material. Most of them are made from food-grade stainless steel or aluminum, while some may have a copper base for uniform heating.
The main thing to look out for when purchasing an instant pot is the sizing and the functionality.
Most instant pots come in three sizes;
- 3 quart: this size of instant pots are perfect for single or couple use. Meals like rice, vegetables, and other side dishes fit perfectly in this small instant pot. It is also great for mobile kitchens, such as those found in RV’s or on boats.
- 6 quart: this is the most common size of instant pots. It is great for families of 6 people max. This particular pot’s size gives you enough space to stack up food, preparing multiple dishes at once.
- 8 quart: this is designed for large families of over 6 people and parties. It is perfect for big batch cooking, and like the 6 quart instant pot, multiple foods can be stacked and cooked at once.
When it comes to functionality, instant pots offer a variety of features. You might want to pick a cooker that has a lot of modes, or you might just want to settle for a cheap instant pot with minimal features. It is entirely up to you.
Apart from the multicooker, which includes the pressure cooker and the slow cooker, instant pots can also have the following features:
- Yogurt maker
- High pressure
- Low pressure
- Slow cooker
- Rice cooker
- Porridge cooker
- Air fryer
- Sauté/sear feature
If you are going to be making a lot of delicate vegetables or soups with cream bases, you should look out for an instant pot with the low-pressure option. Likewise, if sautés are your thing, get a pot with the sauté setting. With this setting, your pot can function as a skillet, and you do not have to move to sauté from pan to pot.
Other features to consider are Bluetooth connectivity, WiFi connectivity, and voice prompts. If you are into high-end technology, you might want to find an instant pot with several features that work for you.
How to Clean Your Instant Pot
Cleaning your instant pot is surprisingly easy. All you need to do is follow these steps:
- Take out the liner and the lid.
- Wash with dish soap and warm water or conveniently run it through the dishwasher
- Store the lid upside down to dry
- Add a bit of vinegar and lemon juice to the pot and run it using the steam function to combat any lingering odors.
The sealing ring found on the lid can trap scents, so most people like to have two sealing rings, one for savory dishes and one for sweet foods.
Best Instant Pots – Which Instant Pot Cooker Is Right For Me?
If you are new to the world of instant pots, picking the right one might be a little challenging. You have to consider certain features such as the size, functionality, special features, and, most importantly, your budget.
Let us take a look at the best instant pots, along with all the important information such as specifications, pros, and cons, that you need to know.
We begin with this 11.8 pounds 6 QT instant pot. With dimensions 13.38″ x 12.2″ x 12.48″, this cooker is perfect for a family of 6. With 7 functions (pressure cooker, sauté/sear pot, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, and warmer), this pot is just what you need if you like to cook a variety of foods.
- Low maintenance, very easy to clean
- 10+ built-in safety features including safety lock, overheat protection, and all to ensure advanced safety in pressure cooking
- PTFE and PFOA free
- The inner pot is stainless steel, made with a 3-ply bottom to ensure durability and even heat distribution
- Dishwasher safe
- Non-stick coating chips easily
- You have to purchase the glass lid that allows deep-frying separately.
This is a 6 in 1 instant pot with an electric pressure cooker, sterilizer slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté, and warmer features. Weighing 11.53 pounds, this pot sports advanced microprocessor technology allows you to monitor pressure, temperature, keep time, and adjust heat intensity and duration, resulting in tasty, healthy dishes.
The dimensions for this pot are 13.18″ x 12.2″ x 12.5″
- Alexa guided cooking with 1000+ recipes, a personalized grocery list, and more
- Large display panel
- Stainless steel, fingerprint-resistant exterior
- Comes accessories like stainless steel steam rack with handles, soup spoon, rice paddle, measuring cup and condensation collector
- Dishwasher safe
- It cannot be used on a counter with cabinets above as the steam released will ruin the finishing of the cabinet.
- When on pressure cook setting, it makes a loud whistling noise that may be uncomfortable
Check out this 8 QT instant pot that replaces ten common kitchen appliances with its 10 pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice/porridge cooker, yogurt maker, cake maker, egg cooker, sauté/searing, steamer, warmer, and sterilizer functions.
It weighs 15.7 pounds and has dimensions 14.8 x 14 x 14.5 inches.
This pot is perfect for families with 6+ people and small gatherings. The central dial, which is easily activated with a simple turn and press, gives increased precision in regards to program selection and adjustment.
- It has automatic temperature control, which reduces the amount of time you spend watching your food cook.
- Burn protection which prevents it from overheating
- Safety lid lock with lid position detection helps secure your lid in place to prevent steam escape.
- It has an electrical fuse and thermal fuse that serve as a buffer in the event of any electrical fault occurring.
- Leaky lid detection to prevent spills and escape of steam
- Makes use of food-grade 304 (18/8) stainless steel for all components that come in contact with food
- It is a bit pricey
- The controls might be a bit difficult for first-time users to master
This is an amazing 11-In-1 instant pot. Its one-touch cooking programs include; pressure cooker, sautés, steamer, slow cooker, sous vide, warmer, air fryer, roast, cake maker, broiler, and dehydrator. Put your cooking on autopilot with this pot for the most delicious results.
This 8 QT instant pot’s dimensions are 22.05″ x 17.32″ x 16.14,” and it weighs 33.4 pounds.
- The protective pad on this instant pot makes it great for countertop use.
- Makes use of a new EasySeal lid, which automatically seals for pressure cooking
- It is healthy and BPA, PFOA, PTFE free.
- The shelves and baskets are not coated.
- Does not have a yogurt maker option
Let us take a look at this instant pot that combines 9 kitchen appliances in one: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, egg cooker, yogurt maker, warmer, and sterilizer, cooking up to 70% times faster.
It is a 6 QT instant pot weighing 11.83 pounds with dimensions 13.4″ x 12.2″ x 12.5″ and is convenient for making family meals.
The new and improved programs this instant pot features support a fast-paced, health-conscious lifestyle.
- Easy to clean with dishwasher-friendly components and fingerprint-resistant steel
- The bottom of the inner pot is made from 3-ply steel for durability.
- Has a cooking progress indicator for you to keep track of your meals
- It is pricey
- Does not get hot enough for canning
Marketed as the largest instant pot, this product combines seven kitchen appliances in one. It is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, food warmer, and yogurt maker.
The bigger cooking capacity of this pot makes it perfect for the preparation of larger meals, ideal for a room full of guests, or prepping a week’s worth of meals.
This instant pot has its product dimensions as 16.8″ x 15.31″ x 16.34″ and weighs 27.8 pounds.
- Dishwasher safe
- Comes with a bonus sealing ring
- The smart lid automatically and securely seals your instant pot.
- The size of this pot makes it unsuitable for small kitchens.
Perfect for traveling, this energy-efficient pot is favored for its non-emission of steam when cooking. It is designed to contain all smells and automate cooking.
The 16 microprocessor-controlled programs offered by this pot gives you a more precise cooking experience, eliminating the need for guesswork. It serves as a replacement for 10 common kitchen appliances, which include a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice/porridge cooker, yogurt maker, cake maker, egg cooker, sauté/searing, steamer, warmer, and sterilizer.
It weighs 9 pounds with 11.5″ x 10.2″ x 11″ as its dimensions.
- It features Alexa-guided cooking
- Designed with 11 different safety mechanisms, including anti-block shield, lid position detection, automatic temperature control, overheat (burn) protection, among others.
- It is pricey for a 3 QT pot.
Highly recommended for new users of instant pots, this highly customizable instant pot is an absolute delight to use.
Its bright, bold display allows you to read easily from a distance. It also has a cooking progress indicator that clearly shows the stage you are in during the cooking cycle.
This instant pot’s dimensions are 15.8″ x 14.6″ x 14.5,” and it weighs 19.66 pounds.
- Pressure time is shortened with the new quick cool technology.
- The stainless-steel inner pot has easy-grip no-slip handles, and its flat inner surface makes it easy to use on gas, electric, and induction stovetop/cooktop.
- The inner pot is dishwasher safe.
- Comes with accessories, including a stainless-steel steam rack with long handles and an extra sealing ring
- The pricing is a bit on the high side.
Weighing 12.2 pounds, this 18-8, 6 QT instant pot combines 8 kitchen appliances in one: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, cake maker, sauté pan, steamer, and warmer.
Its large capacity makes it perfect for families and meal prepping or batch cooking in smaller households or for singles. The inner pot is made from stainless steel with a 3-ply bottom for even heat distribution and durability.
The dimensions for this instant pot are 13.2″ x 12.2″ x 12.5″
- Compatible with Alexa and can be controlled via WiFi.
- Comes with accessories such as a stainless-steel steam rack with handles, rice paddle, soup spoon, measuring cup, and condensation collector.
- It has advanced safety protection with 10+ built-in safety features, which include overheating protection, safety lock, and so much more to ensure the user experiences safe pressure cooking.
- Does not have a sous vide function
- Air fryer lids do not fit this model.
This cooker aims to bring innovation, technology, and science into the home kitchen to completely revolutionize the cooking experience.
With dimensions 13″ x 13″ x 13″ and weighing 20.2 pounds, this multifunctional smart pressure cooker gives you a premium culinary experience that you cannot find anywhere else.
- 300+ cooking presents built into the cooker for easier, more convenient cooking
- Has an inbuilt scale which makes provision for “cook by weight” functionality
- Comes with touch screen options
- It is pricey
It is undeniable that the instant pot is a game-changer in the world of cooking appliances. These magic food cookers abound in a lot of varieties, and their manufacturers continue to step up the game so quickly, we can hardly keep up!
If you are new to instant pots, try to select one that offers the basic functions, nothing too fancy, at least till you get the hang of it.
Do not forget to check out the sizing before placing your order! The last thing you want to do is order an instant pot that cannot fit in your kitchen.
Above all, remember that an instant pot is supposed to make your life easier, not harder. So, make sure you have fun trying out new recipes and whipping up the tastiest, healthiest meals with the speed of light.