I’ve Had My Instant Pot For A Year… and here’s what I think! (An Honest Review Of The Instant Pot)
I woke up giddy on Black Friday last year…
There would be no 4 a.m. let’s-stand-in-line-at-a-department-store craziness happening that day. In fact, we had no plans to even leave our house.
But, the Instant Pot…
I knew it was going to be on sale on Amazon, and I knew this was finally my chance to get my hands on one. (Side note: I had never pressure cooked a thing in my life. Never pressure canned. Never owned a pressure cooker of any sort. But somehow, I just knew I had to have an Instant Pot.) 😉
So I woke up, I clicked, and I purchased. I could barely make it through the weekend, knowing that by Monday or Tuesday of the next week (God bless Amazon Prime!), it would arrive on my doorstep in the blessed big brown truck.
An Honest Review Of The Instant Pot: First Impressions
It was bigger than I imagined. My first thought was, “Where am I going to store this thing?!?” And indeed, that was before we remodeled our kitchen, so storage WAS a challenge. A crock pot got booted out of the cabinet to make room for my new appliance.
Then I took out the instruction manual. I was immediately confused. It was like reading Chinese.
Oh. It was Chinese.
The manual has several different languages printed. Once I found the English section, things were slightly better; although, it did take reading over several sections a few times to really understand how all the parts and buttons worked.
I knew the only way through that manual was to actually plug my new Instant Pot in and use it!
Maybe wild rice was a safe choice. Sure enough, it worked and cut down the cooking time! (Truthfully, the recipe worked just fine for me, but others have tried it since and have reported that there was a lot of liquid left. More like soup than rice, although the rice was cooked nicely; they just had to drain it.)
I understood making bone broth. That was simple enough. And I definitely loved not having my crock pot tied up for 3 or 4 or 5 days while my broth simmered. Yet, I couldn’t seem to get past bone broth and wild rice.
Learning How To Use My Instant Pot
I truly don’t remember the very first thing I attempted. Maybe it was brown rice? Honestly, I don’t remember how it turned out. (It was probably fine, or I would have been really discouraged.)
I remember being really impressed at how fast whatever it was cooked. I did use the “Manual” setting, so it was my first time actually pressure cooking.
But I also remember being somewhat confused by the instruction manual. So confused, in fact, that I don’t even know where the instruction manual is any more…
Finally! I could WATCH and LEARN how to use my Instant Pot!
The tricks and tips I learned from the Pressure Cooking eCourse changed everything.
I didn’t know you could actually put dishes inside the Instant Pot…
I didn’t know what the trivet thing-y was for…
Until Wardee showed me! (More on this in a minute!)
When Things Started To Turn Around…
I remember it as if it was yesterday…
My husband was coming home for lunch. I had remembered to thaw the stew meat, but neglected to put it in the crock pot for beef stew. When I glanced at the clock that read 11:07 — and he would be home to eat at noon — uh-oh, I was in trouble! What was I going to do about the stew? Nothing else was thawed! We had no leftovers!
So I improvised. I just started adding my favorite spices (cumin, chili powder, garlic) to the meat, used the Saute feature, then pressure cooked it and prayed it would turn out.
And it did! Not only did I make lunch in 53 minutes, I made beef stew in 53 minutes! And it was delicious! Who does that??? Me!
From that moment on, I knew I’d be just fine. My Instant Pot has become a trusted kitchen friend that I’ve since relied on to make more lunches and dinners in a hurry.
6 Favorite Things To Make In The Instant Pot
Over the past year, I’ve made lots of things in my Instant Pot. From soups and stews to short ribs and roast, even dog food, cough syrup, and hard lotion bars, I’ve broken down the barriers and become acquainted with this appliance that does all. the. things.
Yet, I do have some favorites:
- Boiled Eggs — perfectly cooked and easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs. I will never, ever, ever make boiled eggs on the stove again!
- Instant Pot Jambalaya — one of my family’s favorite meals ever. I make this huge meal at least once a month, and enjoy the leftovers for days!
- Instant Pot Tikka Masala — another of our favorite meals! It’s also Whole30, Paleo, and a Trim Healthy Mama S!
- Blended Soup — here’s an easy formula to create your own delicious, nourishing blended soups using any veggies you have!
- Yogurt — y’all, this recipe changed my yogurt game. (It’s also the reason why I’m a second Instant Pot!)
- Dairy-Free Instant Pot Queso — hands-down, this is THE recipe that saved my life when I went dairy-free! (Even cheese lovers love this recipe!)
4 Problems With The Instant Pot
The list of pros far outweighs the list of cons, but it wouldn’t be an honest review of the Instant Pot without full disclosure of the negatives, too, would it? In my opinion, these are the top 4 problems with the Instant Pot:
#1 — Smells
The rubber seal in the lid seems to really hold on to smells from whatever was previously cooked. For the longest time, my rubber seal smelled like cumin and chili powder because of a big batch of beans I cooked.
It had a very distinct Tikka Masala smell after cooking Tikka Masala.
We never noticed any off tastes in the foods, but the smell was definitely present. We were also hand-washing then because this was before we remodeled our kitchen and put in a dishwasher.
Now that we’re washing both the stainless pot and the rubber seal in the dishwasher, there are no smells! If you’re hand-washing, perhaps a long soak in baking soda for the rubber seal is the ticket to smell-removal?
I recommend keeping an extra seal or 2 on hand… just in case.
#2 — Too Full = Sputtering Bean Liquid Everywhere
I sprouted about 4 cups of chickpeas to make my Kale Hummus. Of course, I wanted to cook all the beans at once, so I figured it could do it quicker in the Instant Pot.
Unfortunately, 4 cups of swollen beans + the water needed to cover was just too much inside the pot. Bean liquid was dripping out of the catch on the back and sputtering out of the pressure valve. It made a HUGE mess.
#3 — You’re gonna want 2.
I promise. As soon as you figure out how awesome the Instant Pot is, you’re going to use it all. the. time. And then you’re going to want to double up.
I learned this the hard way when I made Instant Pot Yogurt for the first time. Poor me. I had to go without my Instant Pot for 2 stinkin’ days!
I’ve since ordered the 8-quart! I have a friend who actually has 3 Instant Pots!
If you can only buy 1, you’ll want to make sure you get the perfect Instant Pot for your family’s needs. Here’s a great video to help you decide which size Instant Pot is right for you!
#4 — The Instruction Manual
I personally feel that the Instant Pot’s instruction manual is very limited and lacks a lot, especially if you’re into Traditional or WAPF-type cooking.
For example, there is no cooking timetable for sprouted grains or beans. I soak or sprout my beans every time, so I was left guessing how long to cook them.
Another example: I buy sprouted brown rice in bulk. There is NO information in the user manual or online for cooking sprouted brown rice.
I’m also working on cooking soaked grains in my IP — like my Fluffy Soaked Quinoa. It’s soaked to reduce anti-nutrients, cooks in the IP in just 3 minutes, and comes out perfectly fluffy every time!
If you’re going to put dry beans or rice in the Instant Pot and add water, you’ll find exactly what you need in the owners manual. But if you’re going to soak, sprout, or use already sprouted foods, it can be a guessing game.
Unless someone shows you how…
Now, Back To Learning How To Pressure Cook
Learning something BIG, like pressure cooking, when you’ve never done it before, is intimidating.
Sure, you can browse Pinterest for hours on end and find some amazing Instant Pot or pressure cooking recipes. And they can sit, unused, on your “Instant Pot” board — because we know we all do that. 😉
Or you can find someone who will try out recipes, figure out what works, then teach you.
Which sounds more appealing to you?
Personally, having a trusted friend teach me the ins and outs of using a foreign piece of equipment is much more comforting and appealing than pinning random recipes from sources I don’t know or trust yet.
In Traditional Cooking School’s Pressure Cooking eCourse and eBook, I learned:
- why pressure cooking is a healthy choice for a Real Food kitchen
- and I don’t have to worry about my food exploding all over my ceiling
- how to save TONS of time by using a pressure cooker for things I’m spending time on anyway (like rice, bone broth, whole chickens, and more!)
- how to pressure cook grains and beans that were soaked (The Instant Pot user manual does NOT teach this!)
- how to use my Instant Pot to make breakfast, main dishes, side dishes, and even desserts and breads
- techniques (like stacking and making foil slings) to expand the Instant Pot’s uses even further
- plus, I got tested recipes for cheesecake, sourdough cornbread, quiche, bread pudding, broccoli cheese soup, and MORE!
If you have an Instant Pot, but haven’t quite figured out how to use it to its fullest potential, you need this book.
And if you don’t have an Instant Pot, but it’s on your wish list, you need this book!
About her Pressure Cooking eBook, Wardee says:
The Pressure Cooking eCookbook will give you the skills and confidence you need to quickly and easily pressure cook whole foods to increase nutrition and intensify flavors, without losing any of the benefits of Traditional Cooking methods. If you want to get dinner on the table faster, while also increasing its flavor, texture, and nutritional value*, then pressure cooking is for you. The nice thing about this Pressure Cooking eCookbook is that it’s 100% in alignment with Traditional Cooking principles. As far as I know, there’s no one else out there sharing information like this. We defy that unwritten rule that says, “If you want to have nutritious food, it’s gonna be hard work and take a long time.” With pressure cooking, it’s simply not true!
So what’s in Traditional Cooking School’s Pressure Cooking eBook Package?
- First, the eBook package is valued at $64, but you can get it for $20!!
- 88 pages, 11 lessons — for all levels of cooking experience (Yes, even if you’ve never touched a pressure cooker before in your life.)
- 5 master class cooking videos
- how to set up whatever kind of pressure cooker you have — Instant Pot or other electric one or a stovetop pressure cooker
- how to determine exactly how much liquid and cooking time you need for recipes
- 4 warnings for all pressure cookers — so you can be safe every time
- how to make perfect pressure cooked grains, beans, breakfasts, veggies, main dishes, and even desserts every time
- how to adapt your favorite quick bread and muffin recipes for pressure cooking
- how to “stack” inside your Instant Pot so you can cook multiple things at once
- how to cook frozen meats without thawing
- tips for handy, must-have tools to make using your Instant Pot soooooo much easier and more fun
And recipes like:
- Lemon-Garlic Hummus (made from soaked beans, of course!) — page 36
- 3-Minute Steel Cut Oats (also soaked, of course!) — page 42
- Instant Pot Crust-less Quiche (for low-carb eaters) — page 40
- Amazing Pot Roast — page 50
- Herb Meatballs in Tomato Sauce — page 51
- Chicken, Sausage, & Potato One-Pot Meal — page 55
- Mac-N-Cheese (not kidding!) — page 61
- Lemon Cheesecake (and flavor variations like Key Lime and Orange & Dark Chocolate) — page 64
- Chocolate Sourdough Cake — Page 69
- and soooooo many more!
Valued at $64, the Pressure Cooking eBook + 5 master cooking videos is a heck of a deal — especially if you’ve invested in an Instant Pot but find yourself lacking the confidence to use it and recipes that work!
What’s Next For Me & My Instant Pot?
A few weeks ago, we were at a friend’s house, and I brought some dairy-free chicken and wild rice soup to share. I transported it in my Instant Pot (because the lid is much more leak-proof than either of my crock pots!) since I knew it would stay warm, even when unplugged.
My Instant Pot got all kinds of attention. For 15 minutes, ladies ooohed and aaaaahed over it, wanting to know anything I could tell them about it.
It felt good to be able to give a positive, honest review of the Instant Pot to my friends in a personal setting. It’s so practical and can be useful in so many settings that I just can’t imagine life and cooking without it any more. I use it on a daily basis!!
Over the past year, I’ve used my Instant Pot all over the place:
- My wild rice and quinoa pilaf and Instant Pot Sweet Potato Casserole were both hits at recent community potlucks.
- I’ve provided potato soup and crab bisque for board meetings.
- I can count on my Instant Pot every Sunday when I prep foods for the peeps’ lunches for the week — a dozen boiled eggs in 4 minutes? Yes please!
- My Instant Pot has bailed me out of failure-to-plan lunches and dinners many a time.
- Bone broth is ready in 90 minutes! I can debone a chicken from supper, throw it in my Instant Pot, and put it all away before bed!
- I’ve cooked a whole chicken in 35 minutes!
- I’m home alone all day as a work-at-home mom, but I still cook for myself. I recently figured out that I can steam a single serving of broccoli in 2 minutes!
I hope to experiment with desserts, specifically sugar-free desserts, more. Furthermore, I hope to learn and develop more recipes for pressure cooking, baking, and steaming in dishes inside the Instant Pot. (This Sweet Potato Casserole was my first successful try!)