Monday, July 14, 2014

Instant Pot Electronic Pressure Cooker: Two Years Later

I've had several people tell me that the Whole Health Source post that changed their lives the most was one I published in 2012-- about a pressure cooker.

In 2012, I first reviewed the Instant Pot-- a "pressure cooker for the 21st century" that also doubles as a slow cooker and rice cooker (1).  Since then, we've used it more than 400 times, and it has saved us countless hours of kitchen drudgery.  It's indispensable for my current cooking style, and a major time saver for anyone who leads a busy life but still wants to cook wholesome food at home.  It's extremely satisfying to be able to put your ingredients into the Instant Pot, push a couple of buttons, do something else until it beeps, and then eat a healthy, inexpensive, and delicious meal.

Pressure cookers are one of the most time- and energy-efficient cooking tools, but electronic versions are even more efficient than traditional stovetop pressure cookers.  They're more time-efficient because you don't have to fiddle with them-- for example, adjusting the heat.  They're more energy-efficient because 1) they stop heating when the interior has reached the appropriate pressure, meaning that they're only using energy for part of the cooking process and they hardly vent any energy-wasting steam, and 2) they're insulated well enough that the sides never get hot.

I've used my Instant Pot for a wide variety of cooking tasks, and this is what it does best:

  • Bone/fish/veg stock.  Two hours in the Instant Pot gives you a rich bone stock while you do something else.  Four hours (two cycles) is even better for poultry bones and larger.  I often make stock while I sleep.
  • Beans/lentils/spit peas.  Beans cook fast (10-15 minutes at pressure) and come out with a smooth, tender texture.  Lentils disintegrate in 15 minutes, making a great lentil soup or stew.  I can't seem to make a decent split pea soup on the stovetop because they never soften up, but the Instant Pot makes short work of them.
  • Rice.  It doubles as a high-capacity rice cooker.  It has an automatic rice setting that makes great white rice in 10 minutes, or brown rice in 40 minutes (at pressure).  The rice comes out better than it did in my conventional rice cooker.
  • Stews.  The Instant Pot lets you brown vegetables and/or meat in the bottom before adding liquid ingredients, simplifying the cooking and cleanup process.  I don't usually perform this step, but it does help develop a richer flavor.
  • Pot roast.  Comes out best when you use the slow cooker function.
  • Whole chickens.  The Instant Pot is large enough to fit a whole medium-sized chicken, and it makes the bird fall-apart tender in 45 minutes at pressure.  You have to place the chicken on the (provided) wire stand insert so it doesn't touch the bottom.
  • Beets.  How else do people cook these things?  They take forever to boil.  18 minutes in the Instant Pot.
  • Artichokes.  Same as beets.  It takes forever to steam a globe artichoke.  I can prepare two huge globe artichokes at a time in 19 minutes at pressure.
At the time of my first review, I predicted that the (uncoated) stainless steel insert and silicone gaskets would result in high durability.  After using it more than 400 times, I can confirm that the Instant Pot performs as well today as the day I bought it, and it looks almost new, aside from discoloration of the gaskets.  It has already performed beyond its modest price, but I expect it to last for many more years of heavy use.

It seems I'm not the only one who likes it-- the reviews on Amazon.com average 4.6 out of 5 stars.  The following links are via my Amazon affiliate account.  If you purchase the Instant Pot using one of the two links below, you'll be supporting Whole Health Source at no additional cost to yourself.  

Instant Pot LUX60
This is the version I have.  Europeans can buy a 220V version here (this link is not through my affiliate account).

Instant Pot DUO60
This is the latest version.  It's very similar except it also has a yogurt maker function.  It's a bit more expensive.



19 comments:

Unknown said...

I bought one a year or so ago because you reviewed it. I agree 100%. It is a GREAT kitchen item. Thanks for the heads-up.

SamAbroad said...

Shame there's no UK version (unless you get a transformer). I really want one of these!

Unknown said...

Hi Sam, there is one available in the UK. Check out Amazon UK

brec said...

"Beans cook fast (10-15 minutes at pressure)"

Is this starting from dried beans? E.g., I make a "refried" beans from dried pinto beans, diced onion, minced garlic, spices. It takes several hours in a Crock Pot. Would it be 10-15 minutes in this?

Nadege said...

Being european, I've used a pressure cooker for years. I am going to look into buying the model your recommended. Thank you!

SamAbroad said...

I stand corrected! It's available on Amazon.co.uk at last!

Stephan you should add the link for your UK and Ireland readers. Once you do I will use your link to buy it.

Nonni said...

It looks like there is a UK/European version now.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Instant-Pot-IP-LUX60-Programmable-Generation/dp/B0073GIN08

Chris Stevens said...

SamAbroad and others - Instant Pot is now on sale in the UK - available via Amazon UK - shipping to 26 Eu countries with a UK 3 pin plug.

Chris Stevens said...

SamAbroad and others. Instant Pot is now available in the UK via Amazon UK. 220v with a 3 pin UK plug - also ships to 26 EU countries.

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi Folks,

Thanks for the UK link. I've added it to the post. I wasn't able to get an affiliate link for that, but that's OK.

JanKnitz said...

If I could take only ONE cooking appliance to the proverbial desert island, this would be it. It makes the most amazing bone broth--clear, gelled, delicious and just like my grandma used to make.

Joyce said...

Yogurt-maker?! Agh, I'm so tempted to upgrade now! :)

Unknown said...

@brec - Un-soaked beans might take a little longer, but not much. I usually soak mine overnight to activate their enzymes before cooking them in my OnePot. I usually cook on Sundays making 4-5 days worth of some kind of bean chili or curry to take to work for lunch the next week. The default chili setting on the OnePot is 30 minutes, and it cooks soaked beans just fine in that time.

Aaron Stroud said...

Can anyone recommend a pressure cooker for use on an induction stove?

Stella B. said...

If I didn't have a perfectly good slow cooker, I would buy one of these puppies in a heart beat. I bought a Kuhn Rikon PC when I got my first induction cooktop. Perfect risotto in six minutes, fork tender brisket in an hour, perfectly tender and mush-free beans.

Chris L said...

I read this with interest on the day that Stephen posted it. My wife uses our old-fashioned pressure cooker pretty often, I love cooking with a crockpot slow cooker and since my wife is from Indonesia, we make a lot of white rice!!

Well, this morning I broke our traditional pressure cooker (yes, it's actually possible to break one of these things....the locking mechanism had about 5-10 little bitty parts, including tiny springs and the housing for all this broke off) so now I need to show this little device to my wife. If I can get rid of three applicances....I'm in!!

David Gold said...

I am very interested, since I frequently make meat/bone stocks.

But as for beets, I find that the flavor that results from roasting them in coconut oil or butter with a bit of salt makes them worth the wait. This especially for the small ones - roasting and eating these whole (with the skin on) is worth trying!

ben nguyen said...

Any plans for doing a cookbook? Or is there an existing cookbook you'd recommend well zuited for this cooker?

Even an electronic distributed version

tomR said...

From what I've read about pressure cookers there's a "real-pressure" controversy/drama/scandals going on. It is about the value of cooking pressure, and stems from the fact that in the old days old-gen pressure cookers were standarized at 1 bar / 15 psi pressures (over atmospheric). Most recipes have been adjusted to this.

Right now most top-end stovetop pressure cookers still utilize this 15 psi / 1 bar (over atmospheric) pressure. But electronic pressure cookers have typically lower working pressures, like 9 -12 psi over atmospheric, rather than 15. This is because they are a derivative of the evolution of rice cookers toward becoming multicookers, rather than bein an electronic version of a stovetop pressure cooker. Some low quality stovetop pressure cookers also deliver lower pressures, but because of the cost-cutting reasons.
Which means when utilizing some recipes for pressure cookers times have to be increased; but the results won't satisfy the purists anyway.