Did Santa put an Instant Pot under the Christmas tree for you this year? Or perhaps you bought yourself one in the Black Friday sale on Amazon last year when the price was the lowest it’s ever been.
Whatever, Instant Pots are taking the world by storm and since last summer when Instant Pot UK kindly gifted me an Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker I’ve become a huge fan and have been working on adding lots of recipes to the blog to help get your imaginations going when you are using your own IP.
If you don’t have an IP already and don’t plan to get one, fear not – whilst I am offensively enthusiastic about mine, I will continue to bring you plenty of Home Baking which is what this blog was originally created to share. Hopefully there is something for all of you that way!
The Evolution of the Instant Pot
Instant Pot the company started production of their electric pressure cookers only 7 years ago. The Instant Pot Duo 7-in- is the version I have and use on this blog although there is a much larger 8 litre capacity version out now which is suited for larger families or batch cooking in volume. Although it is primarily known as an electric pressure cooker, the 7-in-1 version also:
- Makes yogurt
- Works as a slow cooker
- Can be used to steam food
- Is a soup maker
- Cooks porridge
- Cooks rice (to perfection, I might add!)
- Has a Sauté function so it’s not essential to sear things on the hob first or return to a saucepan to reduce sauces
If, like me, you were terrified by friends and family’s tales of using traditional stovetop pressure cookers years ago, which sizzled, spurted and hissed violently and on random occasion, would explode without warning, then you may be feeling slightly trepidatious right now!
Let me reassure you though, this multi-cooker (as it’s often referred to as) is built with safety in mind and it is almost silent when it’s cooking. The only sounds I’ve discovered seem to be when rice is coming up to pressure, it hisses a little plus when the pressure is released, there is a sudden whoosh of air from the vent but that’s it really. Not so scary after all!
Why Pressure Cook At All?
This is what people ask me when they are contemplating buying an IP. I mean, what can it do that a slow cooker can’t? Well, my slow cooker went to the charity shop after my IP was in use for a matter of weeks and not just because this function is inbuilt into it. There is something extra special about how tender meat is when cooked under pressure rather than being slow cooked. Perhaps it is because there is zilch evaporation until you open the valve. Falling off the bone tender chicken, cooked whole anyone?
How about turning a typically cheap and tough cut of beef into the most mouthwatering and tender roast beef you have ever had, and with just 4 minutes of cooking time?! The Keep Warm function provides just enough heat that the beef continues to cook when left alone in the pot for an hour and it is just to die for. Let’s not forget the superb gravy you can make with the cooking juices too!
Pulses cooked from dried in minutes too make it a winner for vegetarian and vegan cooks too.
It may be an old-fashioned technique absent from most modern cookbooks but thanks to the arrival of the contemporary Instant Pot, it feels safer than ever before and it allows you to cook pretty much hands-free.
What I mean is, once you programme the pot, you walk away, help the kids with their homework, strip the beds, check your emails or hell, just have a glass of wine with your feet up snuggled up to your own Hungry Hubby!
It sounds bonkers coming from a food blogger who spends every spare waking moment either thinking about or cooking food but when a gadget cooks, as well as the IP does, you will be weepingly grateful for the time it gives you back to get on with all the other demands of modern living. Honestly – it’s a revolution. Comfort Food at your fingertips with zero effort on your part![/fusion_builder_column]
Not to mention how perfectly it cooks rice to go alongside your meal – perfect to my western pallet being fluffy, separated grains which are fully cooked. If you like them more al dente, try reducing the amount of water used first before reducing the cooking time and checking to see if t is done as you like first.
The Rice Function is also brilliant to cook a curry in the pot with the rice in a metal bowl on a tall trivet – this function uses low pressure and takes 12 minutes to complete the cycle. You can even put a frozen lump of curry in the pot with a splash of water and it will be thawed and absolutely piping hot by the time the rice is cooked to fluffy, separated grains perfection.
I like to cook firmer root vegetables under pressure so I use the Manual setting (which defaults to High Pressure) to cook things like white potato, butternut squash and celeriac cut into 2-3 inch sized chunks. A mere 4 minutes on Manual and they will be cooked enough to mash as a side dish, use a topping for Shepherd’s Pie or to take a shortcut in my Squash, Celeriac and Caramelised Onion Lasagne.
If I want Perfect Roast Potatoes, I give the potatoes 2 to 4 minutes on Manual depending on how big you have cut them, to par-cook before roasting – Sunday Lunch has never been easier (especially as you can cook the whole chicken in the pot as your tender, partially cooked tatties roast in the oven!). You can also cook cook potatoes (white or sweet) and even whole butternut squashes in the IP but just as you would expect if cooking such items in the oven, say, you need to increase the time of cooking to match the size of the food. Simples!
When it comes to the Steam Function, I do believe me and Hungry Hubby have got our money’s worth out of the IP in steamed broccoli alone! No more waiting for water to boil then never ending prodding and poking with a knife to catch it in the moment before it turns from fully cooked to utter mush! 2 minutes on Steam with a Quick Pressure Release, and you are getting your B vitamins by the floret-ful…
Be mindful that softer, delicate vegetables can’t be left in the pot indefinitely as the heat and steam will turn them into soup – a Quick Pressure Release and you are laughing! See the infographic below on the types of release you can do:
Now we’ve got all that broccoli nonsense out of the way, can I make a confession? Brace yourselves…
The most compelling reason there was for me to reach out to the lovely Maria of Instant Pot UK in the hopes of striking up a brand ambassador relationship was not to steam veg or cook risottos with a fraction of the effort or hot and spicy, fall off the bone tender lamb curries although of course, the IP does all of that. No, it was to make cheesecakes!
Cheesecakes as made by angels themselves (angels from weight-bearing clouds but clouds nonetheless…). Oh my, you simply must try one! I lament rhapsodically in all of my Instant Pot Cheesecake recipes about how unbelievable the texture is and if you too are a cheesecake lover, whether you thought you preferred no bake or water-bath baked ones before now, you will be weak at the knees for the creamy, unctuous, silkiness of a pressure cooked cheesecake.
You can even use your IP to make jams, chutneys, preserves and other such stuff you’d be shocked to find out a pressure cooker can handle!
If you are wedded to your Slow Cooker, then be reassured that the IP performs excellently here. With the IP Duo 7-in-1 model, you get three temperatures to cook at, the ability to Sauté again on three temps without having to dirty a pan on the hob and it can be both delayed in it’s start time for up to 24 hours and it will enter Keep Warm for 10 hours after the cooking time is finished. Now, honestly – what more could you want from a slow cooker?! I’ll be updating all my slow cooker recipes with reminders that you can use your IP in due course.
As for the remaining pre-programmed functions – Soup, Porridge and Yogurt, it’s as simple as pressing a button and off you go.
Instant Pot Yogurt is just wonderful. I have guides on how to use the Yogurt function and whilst you can use pasteurised milk and do it the old-fashioned way, can I encourage you to use UHT milk to make yogurt with instead? There is no need for pre-boiling it so it is a case of pushing a button and boom, you’re done!
Each has it’s only pressure pattern and pre-determined cooking time, although you do have some leeway to alter these with the Adjust button. There are programs for Meat Stews, Poultry, Bean/Chili and Multigrains too but personally, I prefer tinkering with the Manual settings to cook these foodstuffs to suit our tastes. The Yogurt function is next on my list of things to try – it’s such a brilliant piece of kit with so many options to use, it takes time to work your way through them all!
Whilst my final word on the Instant Pot is that it is a brilliant piece of kit I would not want to be without, I want to address some of the things which aren’t perfect so you can make an informed choice before deciding that an IP is for you:
1. Instant Pot Recipes
As the IP took off in America first, the bulk of recipes are in cups and Imperial measures. I hope my blog will fill the gap for metric measure recipes but UK readers need to bear in mind the cookbook market is lacking in hard copies of IP ready recipes and the bulk are available online or as ebooks only. That being said, a brilliant little resource is the BBC Good Food: Pressure Cooker Favourites cookbook by the brilliant Barney Desmazery to get you started.
2. Time to come to Pressure
No matter whether you use an electric or stovetop pressure cooker, there will always be a lead time during which it is coming to pressure. Exactly how long this takes depends on the settings used and the amount of contents in the IP. You can reheat food from frozen in the pot but this takes extra time to come to pressure due to the freezing temperature of the solid lump of food. But it is so convenient to plug it in and forget it.
Lots of Instant Potters have two or three IPs after they release how great they are but if you only have one, and need extra veg, rice or pasta, then you will need to learn how long you need to allow for the pot to come to pressure whilst you cook the extras on the hob.
3. Cooking Preferences
As so many of us are new to pressure cookers, I think a lot of recipe writers produce IP recipes which are very prescriptive. By that I mean, they are more precise than you need to be when cooking on the stove. My advice is to follow trusted sources of recipes the first couple of times you cook something new in the IP but don’t be afraid to add or subtract time. You may like your chickpeas with more bite, your lamb shreddable, your sauce thicker. Just like you will vary things you cook on the hob, you’ll learn how to vary them in the Instant Pot. It’s just a matter of confidence and a little experience.
4. Sealing Ring Cooking Odours
There is a silicone seal which is essential to the correct functioning of the Instant Pot. The problem is, it sucks up cooking odours like no one’s business. Whilst I have rarely noticed transference into the taste of a dish, it certainly is off-putting trying to cook a cheesecake after you have cooked a curry!
The answer is to have separate seals for sweet and savoury recipes (consider a third for seafood or if you make a lot of curries) and see below on how to clean it. Also, the new coloured replacement seals by Instant Pot seem to not retain odour like the one which comes with the pot – I haven’t had as many issues since buying these red and blue ones:
5. Using Sauté Mode
This is a bit “all or nothing” and the IP can overheat when Sauté is set to high, meaning you are best to turn off/unplug the IP and allow it to cool before continuing. This has only happened to me a handful of times but it is worth bearing in mind. Also, the inner pot is very deep, have a convex bottom and tends to spin when stirring like when you’re frying onions.
I am sure these issues will be worked out in future models as Instant Pot are keen to keep on improving their products but for now – be mindful of the potential for overheating, and buy a wooden spoon with a very long handle and a good quality oven glove for the times you need to use this function!
Keeping the Instant Pot Clean
To combat odours building up in the sealing ring, be sure to store the lid upside down after cleaning to allow smells to dissipate. Although no method will completely eradicate the odour impregnated silicone, the following methods have helped me a lot. Especially the lemon one as I often have a ropey old lemon in the fruit bowl and this is a perfect use for it. One other thing – the inner pot is stainless steel and dishwasher safe so it easy to keep clean.
Accessories to Consider Buying
And finally, when you receive your IP, it will come with a trivet, a measuring cup plus a couple of plastic utensils. The trivet is indispensable for things like steaming whole potatoes or “boiling” eggs but there are just a few bits you may like to buy to make life easier.
A tall trivet makes pot-in-pot cooking super easy (like for curry and rice, or mince and potatoes for mashing):
A steaming basket is so much easier to cook your veggies in:
Extra sealing rings are essential! They will wear out even if they don’t retain odours. Make sure to buy an Instant Pot approved one to be safe:
A glass lid is helpful when slow cooking so you can keep an eye on your food (but isn’t essential as you can use the lid the IP comes with). The 6-litre size lid is out of stock after Christmas so do be sure to double check what size you are ordering when it comes back in:
This post contains affiliate links, meaning I will earn a little commission if you chose to buy items I’ve advertised, helping me to bring you all these recipes for free!
Like this post? Then why not try these related recipes:
Other helpful resources:
- Online versions of the official Instant Pot manuals can be found here
- For further background info on the IP this is a good read