An instant pot can seem like either an incredibly intimidating or amazing thing. They save space and time in the kitchen and while cooking. Surely you’ve heard that they can be used for just about anything, but what are they best used for? Read on as I break down just what an Instant Pot is and the dos and don’ts of using one.
What is the Best Thing to Cook in an Instant Pot?
What is an Instant Pot?
An Instant Pot is a multi-cooker that is essentially a combination of a pressure cooker and a slow cooker. A pressure cooker reduces cooking time by increasing the boiling point of water while also trapping in steam. When the food is done, you either wait for the pressure and steam to release naturally or turn a knob to do it. A slow cooker operates on low heat so that you can throw everything in and leave it alone for hours.
Instant Pot was introduced in 2010. It is a multi-function cooker that includes slow cooking, pressure cooking, steaming, warming, sautéing, and rice cooking. Instant Pots come in all different models and a 3-quart and 8-quart size. They consist of an outer pot or base and an inner pot made of stainless steel with a lid.
The Best Things to Cook
Some of the best functions of the Instant Pot revolve around its ability to save time while also making cooking easy.
While eggs are easy to make without an Instant Pot, they’re even easier with one. Instant Pots are great for making hard-boiled eggs in five minutes, soft-boiled in four minutes, and poached-style eggs in one minute. Eggs make a tasty and quick breakfast or even a snack! All you do is place them in the steamer basket in the pot, close the lid, and wait.
Instant Pots are also great for soups, stocks, and chilis. They eliminate the need for excessive amounts of pots and pans (also saving you clean up time later). There are tons of great soup recipes out there featuring meat, vegetables, or both.
Why bother buying a rice cooker along with all those other appliances when you can buy an Instant Pot? Most Instant Pots come with a rice cooking setting, making cooking easier if that was even possible. Rice is a staple in dishes of all cultures and flavors.
Instant Pots are great when cooking a meat-centric dish: chicken, steak, ribs, and more. Instant Pots cook through and through, ensuring a nice, juicy meal in no time. They save a few extra dishes in the process too.
The Worst Things to Cook
Despite the wonders of the Instant Pot, there are some things it can’t do, or shouldn’t.
Dairy-heavy dishes are not the best thing to cook in an Instant Pot. A dairy-heavy dish is anything where a dairy product like milk is the main ingredient. This includes macaroni and cheese and creamy soups. The high heat of the pressure cooker can curdle the milk, which will ruin your dish.
Fried foods don’t work so well in an Instant Pot. The pressure cooking function isn’t able to get the oil needed to fry foods hot enough. The capabilities of an Instant Pot will suffice for sautéing or light frying, but it is not equipped for deep frying, not unlike an air fryer. You’ll have to save your fried chicken for another time, but the Instant Pot works with other chicken recipes like a nice roast.
Making jams, jellies, and other preserves requires monitoring the cooking temperature very closely. Since the Instant Pot is about everything but close monitoring, that means it’s not well-suiting to these types of foods.
The Instant Pot also doesn’t work well with bread because it doesn’t create the crisp crust on the outside. It’s also important to remember the parameters of the Instapot, it’s deeper than it is wide, meaning it doesn’t do well with stir-frys which rely on large surface areas to successfully sear everything.
Instant Pots are great for families, for people who don’t have time to spend hours cooking, and for people who like to meal prep. They take the place of multiple appliances, both in function and in space. An Instant Pot is a great addition to any household but before you buy one, it’s best to know how to make the most of it!